Month: December 2021

Snow Outside Means Tweaking Your Training – Here’s What I Did Last Week

SURE, there are other things you can do to augment your cycling training besides hitting the trainer. In the long-term, it’s definitely NOT just about the bike.

I have a goal, though, damn it (5000 miles for the year – and I’ve significantly curtailed that from what it was at the beginning of the year) and I’m going to hit it, or I’m going to hurl trying. Maybe…

MY quandary is that I need to chillax a bit (and I’m a firm believer in that being a big part of the fitness regimen – see this post from May). I’ve got 131.8 miles to go; I’m in dire need of a rest day; the snow keeps falling (which means it has to be moved) and we’ve got family coming for the New Year’s weekend.

REST may win. I am sore from head to toe, okay more like from calves to shoulders. And a little neck. Head, good. Toes, okay.

Here’s How I Got Here

  • MONDAY the 20th
    • Rest Day
  • TUESDAY the 21st
    • Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende
    • 29 miles
    • 1:25:42
    • TSS = 108
    • Worked in 5 miles of Sweet Spot Training (SST) and 3 sets of HIIT (Tabatas).
  • WEDNESDAY the 22nd
    • Zwift – London
    • 21.1 miles
    • 1:07:21
    • TSS = 74
    • Mostly Tempo and a PR up Box Hill!
  • THURSDAY the 23rd
    • Fulgaz – Creede Highway 149
    • 21.9 miles
    • 1:04:14
    • TSS = 62
    • An easy and fast spin (85 RPM avg.) on a mostly downhill course.
  • FRIDAY the 24th
    • Fulgaz – Hidden Valley RT; Golden Gate Cooldown; Pacific Coast Highway Cruise
    • 22.9 miles
    • 1:12:31
    • TSS = 76
    • Did these three (3) different rides I had never done, mostly to get some miles in.
  • SATURDAY the 25th (Merry Christmas!)
    • Zwift – Yorkshire; Duchy Estate Sprints
    • 18.2 miles
    • 1:00:03
    • TSS = 68
    • Short course (~2.5 miles) with a sprint (total of 8) on each lap
    • Felt it today. As hard as a tried I could not get the HR up to what I normally can. Tired legs and body…
  • SUNDAY the 26th (boxing it up)
    • Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende again
    • 29 miles
    • 1:26:53
    • TSS = 79
    • Mostly about the miles today and I knew there were several hours of moving snow to come.
    • Moving snow afterwards (see pic below)
      • 2:36:38
      • Avg. HR = 103 (max 135)
      • TSS = 103
      • Editors note: Did another 2+ hours Monday the 27th, this time recording the distance; about 3/4 of a mile walked.

Moving snow, I’ve learned, is a great workout too – especially for the core, back and shoulders. Combined with, or as a follow up to a ride, it makes for a great day of training! The blower does a lot of the work certainly, but a shovel is still needed for those hard to blow places.

And there is something else that can be done with that snow…

Zwift and Fulgaz – a Great Combination

FOR me, having the ability to ride both in an animated and in a “real virtual” format via Zwift and Fulgaz makes all of this inside riding much more bearable. Add some good tunes, and focus on those (get through the song, then check the stats), or the scenery, depending, and plowing through those miles indoors can be fun, or at least do-able.

I’VE done several posts on the Zwift and Fulgaz dynamic over the last several years so if you’re interested in learning more just search for either term and you can meditate over those missives.

What About the Results?

AS it turns out I took another day off yesterday (somewhat forced due to the day job and some chores that needed doing (did those over the “lunch break”), and today, voila, a 96% recovery and Whoop tells me I’m primed for strain.

Today’s Adventure?

I’M not quite sure yet but I think it’s going to be a Zwift workout: Matt Hayman’s Paris-Roubaix. I have yet to complete it; it’s a challenging all around effort that is best done after a rest day (or two). Maybe today’s the day I’ll actually finish the entire thing.

IT doesn’t look good for that 5000 mile goal (132 miles to go with only 3 days left).

REST did win out and I still received the reward – my CTL (Chronic Training Load) score is trending up and so is time in the tub!

HERE’S hoping that my recap gets your juices flowing and gives you some ideas as to how you can mix things up a bit.

WE hope you had a very Merry Christmas and we wish you a joyful New Year filled with exciting experiences and fantastic fitness. Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses! next year, or even this year.

IF you have skies or snowshoes, that is. It’s starting to snow again.

Snowfall in the California Alps – A Welcome Sight

WELL, it finally happened; a good snowfall that is, and among other things it helped make the unsightly remnants of the Tamarack Fire a bit more sightly. Those blackened trees look much better with a coating of snow.

MORE importantly, the white gift from above is a good start (albeit one that is a bit later than we’d prefer) to what (fingers crossed) could be a decent winter season.

SINCE moving to Markleeville in the summer of 2016 we’ve experienced two (2) good winters: 2016-2017 and 2018-2019. We had only one serious dumping of snowflakes last year and we feared we were going to have another dry winter this year. While it’s certainly too early to prognosticate, we’re cautiously optimistic that this year will be different.

MARSHAWN, our two-stage snowblower purchased last year, is finally getting to do some beast-mode blowing this year. My neighbors suspected it was that purchase that canned last year’s snowy season. While I wish I was that powerful, however, I’m not. Marshawn is, though, and he moved these recent snowdrifts with ease. No choking on the Sierra cement, and that dude can throw it let me tell ya!

SNOWBLOWERS were something I had only heard of, or seen on post-east coast blizzard highlights on the news, before we moved here. Initially I figured I’d just shovel the white-stuff. It would be a good work out I told myself. Well, after about two (2) weeks of that, and the sore shoulders and back that came with it, I made a call to Sears and picked up our first snowblower. A one-stager it was but it did the trick.

UNTIL last year that is when the snow got so heavy and deep that we realized it was time to upgrade. That’s where Marshawn came in and it was the wife who named him. If fact, he’s such a beast that he took out (Honey, it wasn’t me, it was Marshawn!) one of our deck pickets and also cut out a nice chunk of one of the 4×4 posts. I definitely need some more practice managing Mr. Beastmode. Let’s hope I get plenty in the days and weeks to come.

That’s Marshawn and me cutting a rug just yesterday.

AS for riding, I’ve got a plan there as well. Farley (read this post for more info. on him) and I are looking forward to our first fatbike foray out on the trails. Fingers crossed we can get out there this weekend, if not sooner.

WHILE it’s an agreeable alternative to riding outside, the pain cave isn’t quite the same. It is, however a must-have here in Markleeville, and other snowy regions I suspect. I also find that for the most part I can do a better job at structured workouts on Zwift or FulGaz; it’s challenging to do sprints, intervals, HIIT and such when you’re climbing as soon as you leave the house.

Avalanche warnings are coming fast and furious lately, too. This recent snow on a weak snowpack is cause for concern and yesterday we received some advice to stay out of the backcountry for a few days. Good advice indeed. An avalanche is NOT a good thing to experience (stating the obvious I suspect), especially when you’re not trained in what to do or don’t have the right equipment, or both. This weekend, Mrs. CA Alps Cycling and I will be attending our first avalanche course. It’s not the full blown outside experience but it’s a start and we’re looking forward to learning more about snowslides.

RIDING a road bike in snowy and icy conditions can be a kick, though, as long as the roads are plowed. If the gates are closed at Monitor Junction it can be a sublime experience with no cars to worry about. On the other hand extraction can be an issue so you really need to be comfortable in those conditions, have the necessary emergency gear and make sure “your people” know exactly where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

I’LL follow up with a post-ride post on my fatbike experience once I’m brave enough to take the plunge.

IN the meantime, if you do decide to confront the crystally conditions yourself, whether it be on a bike, snowmobile, snowshoes, skis or what have you, please be prepared and most importantly

BE CAREFUL.

I’D like you to be able to keep reading my posts, k?

Geologic History of the California Alps – A Primer

BACK in October, as I made my way home from a So. Ca. business trip, I stopped in Lone Pine for a nature break. It was there, at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, that I came across the “Geology of the Sierra Nevada,” a Caifornia Natural History Guide, by Mary Hill.

BEING a knowledge junkie, especially about my favorite mountains, I had to pick up the book. Unlike some other guides in my library this one is a good read, made all the more so by some of the nuggets I’ve picked up about the area in and around Markleeville.

BY no means is this an authoritative list, and I’ve just now gotten to chapter 4, yet I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far about my adopted home. By the way, the image at the top of this post (taken just before last weekend’s tree lighting ceremony) has some geologic significance itself, or better writ, the buidling upon which everyone is standing does.

IT’S made from volcanic ash and tuff (remants of a nuΓ©e ardente) and as it turns out, so is the Markleeville library.

Ebbetts Pass

EBBETTS Pass, the north/eastern side of which is my favorite climb in the area, has some interesting history too.

JEDEDIAH Strong Smith, a mountain man and trapper, who was 27 at the time (1826) was the first non-Native American to cross the Sierra, and interestingly, he and his party did it from west to east, contrary to what I had always believed, that the Sierra was first crossed by white folks from east to west.

“ON May 20th,” Ms. Hill writes, “Smith tried to cross the mountains again, this time taking two men, seven horses and two mules. It took them eight days, but they made it, probably at Ebbetts Pass, losing only two horses and one mule. It was the first crossing of the great Sierra Nevada by non-Indians, and it was done from west to east.”

SILVER Mountain City on Hwy. 4 between Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Junction (remnants of the old jail can be seen behind Chris) wasn’t even there yet! It too was made of the same material as the courthouse and the library.

A few other data points, if you will:

  • Markleeville Peak, Alpine County (an andesite dome)
  • Silver Peak, Ebbetts Pass (carved from rhyolite dome)
  • Highland Peak, Ebbetts Pass (rhyolite dome; cinder cone on one side)

Carson Pass

IN 1844 it was John Charles Fremont’s (per Ms. Hill called by his admirers “The Pathfinder”) turn to be lucky. Ignoring the map given to him by the local Native Americans (yup, even then – probably since the beginning of time – men ignored directions) he became lost “but did not admit it, and to keep his company’s spirits up, he attempted to cross the range at what today is called Carson Pass. It was February 1844 and the crossing was a very foolhardy thing to do. The party made it by eating half of their horses and mules and on March 6th arrived at Sutter’s Fort.”

THANK goodness for good BBQ, eh? Okay, likely not the best smoked meats (certainly not as good as ‘Toph’s deep pit meat) but I couldn’t resist. πŸ˜‰

That’s me on Carson Pass, headed towards Markleeville, on my first visit (July of 2016).

SOME other data that matta:

  • Carson Spur, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar – Volcanic Mud Flow)
  • Thimble Peak, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar)
  • Coincidentally there is a nice lahar just north of Markleeville too. Hwy. 89 cut rights through it.

Snowshoe Thompson

JOHN A. “Snowshoe” Thompson was an immigrant, “pioneer Sierran skier. For 20 years, beginning in 1856, Thompson carried the mail across the Sierra Nevada from Placerville, CA to Genoa, NV (then called Morman Station) using long skis (then called snowshoes) of his own making.”

THIS guy was a stud to say the least. Ms. Hill writes that “he carried no blankets and ate lightly. No blizzard ever lost him. He never had an accident and was rarely paid.”

HE did that for twenty years? Holy snow, Batman!

Looking northwest over Diamond Valley, from the Snowshoe Thompson markers.

LUCKY me, I get to say hi to “‘Shoe” as I call him, often, when riding one of my favorite loops out to Diamond Valley from Markleeville. He lived and died at this site.

That’s a wrap!

LIKE I wrote…a primer this post is.

STILL, I hope it gets your lava flowing a bit. What I’ve learned from this book, as well as other sources, since I’ve lived here makes me appreciate the region even more. And to be able to see a lot of these features, and travel some of the same roads and trails as these early explorers and indigenous peoples, is such a privilege.

COME on up, down, or over and experience some of it yourself. It’s an awesome place geologically and hey, there’s some good beer and grub, and soon, SOME SNOW here too.

YOU coming πŸ™‚ ?