Bike vs. Car

Great one via Twitter from @therunningwench

Bike Versus Car - Bike Wins

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Free Speed on the Bike from Cervélo

Here is a decent piece of research from Cervélo, testing the P4 and a bunch of other tri bikes with various bottle mounts.  For the full bit of research recently published in Lava magazine, click here.  I’ve copied the good stuff below – the part that demonstrates how hanging a normal bottle in a hammock between aero bars (NOT aero drink) actually REDUCES drag.  Quoted article begins from here:

Bottles in Front

Having the most aero solution for bottle storage is no good if you don’t drink. As one athlete put it, “weaving down the road with advanced dehydration is not very aero either.” The big advantage of mounting your hydration to the aerobars is that you always see it. It reminds you to drink, and you drink more because it’s easily accessible.

We compared two options for aerobar mounted drinking systems: a system that hangs down vertically in front of the head tube, and one that mounts a standard round bottle horizontally on the extensions between the arms. What the testing indicated was that the vertical bottle added some drag depending on the system and shape of the head tube, but not as much as a standard bottle mounted on the frame. The really bad part was the straw sticking up.

Figure 2: A vertically-mounted aero drink system between the aerobars increased drag, but less than adding a bottle on the frame.

A standard round bottle mounted horizontally between the rider’s arms, however, was a revelation! It filled in the turbulent area behind the rider’s hands and actually reduced drag. This set-up was not only faster than the vertical bottle, but surprisingly, faster than no bottle at all.

Figure 3: Adding the horizontal bottle between the rider’s arms actually reduced aerodynamic drag by a huge 56 grams on average. That’s a power savings of about 5.6 watts when riding at 40 km/h.

Read more: Free Speed: Cervélo’s Tips on Aerodynamic Hydration : LAVA Magazine
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Quote of the Day

Bite off more than you can chew, rip it to pieces, and chew it up! – Sean Swarner follow him on Twitter

I love watching triathlon forums – this attitude is everywhere.  Some new guy will post something like, “they should increase the time limit for an Ironman from 17 to 18 hours”, and all of a sudden you get 100 people responding, ripping the idea to shreds, saying if anything that they should make it harder, and that if he can’t meet the challenge, go home – just awesome! (this actually just happened here).  Triathlon is one of the few sanctuaries in the world where the envelope can never be pushed far enough…I mean hell, a handful of people every year complete a double-deca Ironman – that’s TWENTY Ironmans in TWENTY days – talk about pushing the envelope of the impossible.  There are still people that think the SINGLE Ironman is next to impossible, so twenty is just off the charts.  It just proves that impossible has everything to do with perspective and nothing to do with what is doable.

How cool is that.  When people bite off something bigger than any human is supposed to be able to chew, and then swallow it in one gulp just to move onto an even bigger bite, that gets my blood pumping… just imagine what we’re capable of when we put our nose to the grindstone when people like John Price complete a 314 MILE bike race in 5 days and 16 hours, for the THIRD time, and his FASTEST time by a whopping 15 hours at age FIFTY-FIVE.  THAT is hard-core.

John A. Price, American ultra-endurance athlete, AGE 57.

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I love my trainer!

Now that I’m back “home” in Kabul and almost over the jetlag, it was time to set up the bike, the trainer, and get my ass in gear.  Yesterday was trainer ride #1, and it was soooooooooo much better than expected.

Man, my first trainer ride getting started at the beginning of 2011 SUCKED, so I kind of expected the same after a few months without biking – but damn it felt good to kick my own butt with a sprint burst turbo workout.  Just 80 minutes or so, and enough to get started.

Bike & trainer setup in my livingroom in Afghanistan

I love the feel of sitting on the Felt B14 again, which I had built on a B16 frame as a part of a closeout deal (2011 B16 frame, but it’s the same frame as the 2011 B14, save the paint).  I seriously LOVED my last B14, and I have no doubt this will be the same…just too bad I can’t take her outside and open ‘er up on the flats!

The trainer is a CycleOps Jet Fluid Pro trainer – and let me tell ya, that thing was HEAVY to bring over here.  From what I can tell, though, it may have been worth it – it’s definitely the best one I’ve ever ridden on (and the only one over $100!).  Extremely smooth and crazy quiet.

Ok, time to go pick up some more trainer endorphins to make it through the last day of the work week tomorrow.

Game On…Again

I haven’t posted in a few weeks in order to be sure about my next step, but now it’s crystal clear.  I love triathlon, and just don’t want to give it up.  Afghanistan is a tough place to make it work, though, as I mentioned in my last post – no pools to speak of that I can actually go to, no outdoor running, and absolutely no outdoor cycling.  I wanted to take a few weeks and think long and hard about whether I was going to pick up training again, and whether or not training for long-distance triathlon was even possible in this environment, and essentially my decision was this:

Screw it – I want it – game on.

So there we are.  My decision was to make it work – I don’t care if it’s been done in this environment before or not, and it’s going to be an awesome experience to try and crack this puzzle.   So I made a list, did several days of planning – including a solid set of excel documents – and then boarded a plane (6 flights on the way back) with 100 lbs. of checked luggage, including a triathlon bike, a (very heavy) trainer, and the basic gear that I would need.

Just hauling that luggage around, I think, was my first strenuous strength exercise of the training season!

So what am I training for?  Here’s the goal.  We’re 30 weeks out, which leaves me plenty of time to get things in order and train effectively – the trick, though, will be exactly HOW to train effectively without being able to do anything outside, and without access to a pool.

Over the next few months, here’s what you can look forward to from me:

(1) There is a new tab on this blog called “Indoor Tri Workouts” where I will post some of my favorite indoor training workouts that will (hopefully) get me across the finish line.

(2) Regular updates on training indoors – expect a rather extreme love-hate relationship.

(3) Thoughts from myself and others about indoor training for Iron-distance tri, as well as new strategies to get through it.

(4) Lots of frustration, and hopefully celebration.

So off we go – the trainer is up and workout #1 is in the books (75 minute turbo session on the trainer – loved it!).  On the road again to becoming a semi-decent triathlete…wish me luck!

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Now you’ve got my attention…

I came over to Afghanistan with a million questions, but one thing for certain – training for an Ironman, or any triathlon for that matter, would be impossible.  There are only 5-6 pools in Kabul, and the only two indoor pools for winter training cost $30/day to use and for most people are off-limits for security reasons.  There’s no chance of running outside, and that puts biking (basically running with $3,000 worth of equipment under you) even lower on the list of possibilities prior to hell freezing over. All that, and of course we’re here to work – this place is notorious for slipping an 80-hour work week past you without even blinking.

But then I got to thinking (and getting fatter by the minute) – I’ve at least got to keep up my fitness…as I mentioned in the interview with Tri for Time, bearded is fine, but bearded and fat is simply not an option.  So I implemented my typical “working out while traveling routine”.  But the problem with that is that it gets BORING without an objective.  It also gets crazy repetitive, and it’s hard to convince myself to put up with the boring repetition without doing it for anything.  Body image and boredom locked in an epic battle atop my motivation, and I found myself riding a yo-yo of desire to continue.

But then something hit me – if I can figure out this pool thing, I might just be able to train for triathlon here.  I’m not sure for what distance, but if I could get a pool in the picture, hey – maybe, just maybe, I could work it out.

But the battle for a pool hasn’t been so easy, and I still haven’t figured it out.  But my far-from-dead motivation towards triathlon kicked in as this newfound hope threw it a life raft … granted, it’s still stranded with no land on the horizon, but there’s hope now.

Then I started looking around the house – I knew I had a treadmill and a spin bike.  My hatred of spin bikes, however, had kept me to the treadmill only up until now.  But my tri motivation brought me to look closer today – take a look.

Well I’ll be damned if that’s not a spin bike with adjustable aerobars!  I couldn’t help myself, and wouldn’t you know, that same distant hope of tri training in Afghanistan got me on the thing within 5 minutes for a pretty intense 75-minute spin…and it felt awesome.  Granted, I really dislike the trainer and have an even greater disdain for spin bikes on general principle, but if that’s all I’ve got I may just have to make it work.  The bike even held my attention – these aero bars are so big that I can actually fit a book on the upward slope at the end of them…a perfect spot for Chris McCormack’s I’m Here to Win (awesome book, by the way).  First time I’ve read on the bike, and maybe something that can help me pass the hours semi-productively if I were to take this on.

But really, would it be possible to train for an entire Ironman, for example, on the SAME spin bike, in the SAME place, locked in the SAME room for what will have to be at least a few HUNDRED hours?  And is it worth it?  What would life be like if I took nature out of Ironman training?

My hope for tri training now has a new battle – would I really have the mental toughness to pull something like this off?  And even if I trained my butt off, would I actually be able to do it well – the way I really want to do it?  How will the treadmill and the bike translate to the road?  So I turned today to the Beginner Triathlete forums – here’s what I got back.  Great motivation, and some really good tips and thoughts.  At least these comments have proven that it CAN be done, and that training on a spin bike for so long, if done well enough, will actually be enough to support me once I get on a real bike on race day.

So then I started to looking into swimming alternatives.  I can extend a few layovers in Dubai and use R&R for swimming, but that’s only every few months.  We’re looking at only a few real swims every few months.  There are guys, though, who have done this.  As the BT folks said, NBC did a story on two Navy guys who overcame this same thing by using exercise equipment, focusing on core training and doing movement imitation exercise with only a few sporadic real swims.

Well, all of this has certainly captured my attention.  I have quite a few more logistic questions to evaluate, and I need a rather serious self-check on mental toughness, desire, and sacrifice.  Who knows, maybe Ironman training is possible in Afghanistan, after all.  But can I do it?  That will, no doubt, remain a nagging question for the next few weeks.

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