Category: virtual rides

Sightseeing From Your Pain Cave – And a Shared Experience

RECENTLY, Mrs. California Alps Cycling has taken a shine to my KICKR and the Fulgaz account connected thereto, and has been doing some sightseeing in preparation for this year’s Tour de France.

WHILE she’s been jumping on the trainer here and there for a few weeks, it hasn’t been until recently that she has really become aware of a benefit of riding in the pain cave she hadn’t paid attention to before: sightseeing!

SURE we get to see some amazing scenery here where we ride (as I suspect you do too), as witnessed by the image at the top of this post, but to be able to ride inside and not just watch sports, or cooking shows, or your avatar, or all of those avatars in front of you for that matter, is a game-changer.

INSTEAD, you get some fascinating glimpses of other parts of the world, and the people in them going about their daily lives.

Rode this one the other day as a cool down. After a harder, longer ride on Zwift.
Later that day, at my recommendation, Mrs. CAC road part of it.

FOR my wife, it’s been an almost transcendent experience.

SHE now looks forward to getting on the bike and checking out a new locale. It also has given her renewed motivation; some days she saves the ride for later and then resumes it the next day so she can get farther into the course or conquer that little roller that she didn’t have the poop to conquer the previous day.

FOR me, though, it’s always been about the workouts. As you know, I’ve spent countless hours on the trainer, in that pain-cave, either on Zwift or Fulgaz, getting my groove on.

Icicles outside? Riding inside!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the scenery, whether it be real or virtual, and the air guitar sessions are pretty righteous, but until until my wife started sharing her perspective (e.g. the interesting buidlings, the pretty flowers, the people walking nearby), I’d never thought of it as a way to sightsee.

THAT shared experience is perhaps that best ROI, though. We’ve been enjoying recounting our adventures with each other. She doesn’t glaze over quite so easily when I start talking watts and rollers and I have a renewed sense of appreciation of my surroundings, albeit virtual ones, and even find myself craning my neck to see things on the screen I wouldn’t normally notice.

I’VE even caught myself waving to the locals and other cyclists!

Next Steps?

WE’RE going to get my “other-half” and fellow tourist her own Fulgaz account and she’s already talking about budgeting for her own trainer so we don’t have to switch bikes so often.

EVEN better, we’ll be able to ride some of the routes together! Fulgaz does have a group ride option!

Kudos for us at the end of that Pingvallavatn ride.

SO, if someone you know needs a little incentive, or you just want to share more of what you love, maybe you need to show them some love and go on a little day trip together somewhere in France, or Africa, or Australia.

YOU choose!

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.

What’s the Number One Rule of Cycling? It’s Not What You Think

IT’S “If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.”

Last week was a week of climbing here in Markleeville. In honor of the Deathride I did three of the five climbs of the legacy DR (i.e. with Carson Pass). Virtually. On Fulgaz. And yes indeedy, I do plan to do the other two this week.

Without high-speed (ahem – even when we have internet here in Markleeville I wouldn’t call it “high-speed”) internet, though. Thanks to a previous hint, courtesy of Fulgaz during its French Tour, I had downloaded all the climbs to my Apple TV (ATV) so I could ride them w/o internet connectivity. Note to self: When our super-fast DSL is back online, download a bunch more rides for future use.

I had to chuckle after ride number 2. Changed kits for the next one and this thought, with the associated Tom Hanks voice, came into my head: “There’s no coasting in (on?) Fulgaz.” Just like there’s no crying in baseball. Well I guess I could have done some coasting on those downsides of the rollers but I was too busy building up speed for the upcoming upsides!

Bad Air = Ride Inside

WITH all the smoke about from the wildfires I’m not really too excited about riding outside. I was able to get a couple rides in the week before last, in the blue-mountain air, but sadly, not so this week.

Not quite as pretty as it usually is at El Dorado Beach (South Lake Tahoe) That wildfire smoke is having a regional impact.

OKAY, so anyway…Friday was Carson Pass with its just over 3000′ of climbing, pain cave fans, and portable A/C, a blazin’! Was a hard ride; I pushed it. Sunday last I did two (2) more. Ebbett’s South (from Hermit Valley up to the pass) and after a short break, Ebbett’s North from Monitor Junction to the top. Those bad boys gave me another 4700′ of climbing.

AND earlier in the week I did one easy ride on Fulgaz, but it did give me another 719 feet of climbing. Hey, it all counts damn it!

Why Am I Telling You This?

I’LL get to the point. After we realized we wouldn’t have our bad-ass internet for awhile we went out and bought our fine-selves a cell-signal booster. Works pretty well. Went from two bars to three, or four. Smart guy here…Just keep reading…Tethered my cell iPad to the computer. Functional. Irritating, especially at certain times of the day, but functional.

I could blog. As long as I didn’t upload photos. That I had to do up at Whorehouse Flats. Yes, you read that correctly. ‘Twas apparently named thusly because there was a house of ill repute located there back in the day. In any case, it has a direct line of sight to Hawkins Peak, where the (only) Verizon cell tower is located, and so there I can upload images. Even though I have the same number of bars as I do at home with the so-called boosted signal.

SIDE NOTE: WHY, pray tell, does it seem to not boost when it’s really, really, supposed to frickin’ boost? Huh? Riddle me that, Batman!

ANYWAY, I’m telling you this to explain the constraints we’re under here without reliable internet. How the hell am I supposed to function without it? How am I supposed to sync my photos; upload my recent cycling quests to Strava; update Fitness Pal with the day’s caloric intake and hydration? C’mon man! It’s impossible and it’s just not fair.

The Gauntlet has Been Thrown Down

SO, here I was, a new member of Chris’s recent Sparks Cycling Challenge Group on Strava, of which the goal is 30000 feet by the end of the month, and I was sucking wind (or more appropriately writ perhaps, sucking elevation), but only because I hadn’t uploaded the past week’s rides! A ha! I had an idea.

I’LL just change my network settings and connect my ATV to my super-boosted iPad (now you’ll understand what I meant earlier about smart guy…) and upload them. Nope. Apple TV won’t recognize a cell hotspot. Makes sense I guess; too much bandwidth needed.

WAIT, I’ll upload them from my FulGaz app. on my iPad. Uh, no, I didn’t download them there. Smart guy downloaded them to the ATV.

WHAT’S next? This week I’m going to take the ATV into South Lake (Tahoe, that is) where I got a really sweet deal at Cowork Tahoe and rented a desk for a month (it’s a pretty cool place as it turns out) so I could do those parts of my job that require FAST internet (meetings, video-conferences, important ca-ca like that…).

I should be able to connect it to the WiFi there, and upload my rides to Strava so I can prove myself worthy. Key word = should. Another should…I should (would) be in 3rd place a/o today had my big week of climbing last week been included.

BUT you know what? If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen!

WE’RE supposed to have our super fast Markleeville internet back sometime before the end of the month. Until then it’s gadget hell. No Netflix. No Apple Plus. No Zwift workouts. No Fulgaz real-time rides. And most put-offingly, no Strava.

I guess if nothing else I can manually enter those rides but that feels like the easy way out, so I shall continue my quest. Maybe. I’m wearing myself out and perhaps I should instead save that energy for the bike.

For Related Musings…

Click here to read a previous post that, now that I look back, was a bit of foreshadowing to my latest travails.

Click here to read more about the Tour of the California Alps (aka the Deathride) climbs and other routes I filmed for Fulgaz.

Click here for a trip down memory lane and a post with some riding and hiking options here in Alpine Co., once the perverbial smoke clears that is – no parking or camping allowed on the local highways currently due to the ongoing Tamarack Fire.

AND a not so related musing but I wanted to share it nonetheless. In last week’s post I wrote briefly about the animal oasis here in the middle of the charred forest. Here’s more evidence of that:

STAY safe, watch out for bears, be good to yourself and others, and let’s kick some passes’ asses! Preferrably the non-smoky ones.

Deathride News – Virtual and Actual

AS I mentioned in last week’s missive…COMING to a theatre near you: a virtual version of the Tour of the California Alps – Deathride. It begins on April 2nd!

I’VE also got some news about the real version, which takes place on July 17th.

Read on McRider…

Virtual Version

MEMBERS of California Alps Cycling, including yours truly, will be taking part in this epic event and we hope to see you as well. Be on the lookout for an invite to our Strava club so you can earn some bragging rights, and CLICK HERE to register. And if by chance you can spare a few more ducats (there is a donation option) we’d sure appreciate it. Ruptured vinyl here…Our little community, like many others, perhaps even yours, has taken a big hit event-wise due to the pandemic and the Deathride, which was canceled last year, is our biggest revenue source at the Chamber. Thank you in advance for your support.

LET me give you just a bit more background…

LAST year I filmed all of the climbs of the Deathride. GoPro mounted on the stem, top tube pack with an extra battery and a bit of trial and error. I rode them on my Emonda so had to pay the piper if you will, and if you listen closely you can hear my cycling gesticulations as I grind. I promise though, nothing X-rated. I recorded them so that riders, including me, could tour the area anytime, from anywhere – the beauty of FulGaz. For a complete list of all of “my rides” take a look at last week’s post.

I’VE participated in a couple FulGaz Fondos and they are fun! Leaderboards and a course map on your display, while you ride through the scenery, make it an immersive experience. If you haven’t tried FulGaz, whether it be as a subscriber or a “Fondo-er”, you really should check it out.

BY the way, you will not need to be a FulGaz subscriber to particpate. The Chamber will send you a code once you sign up for the Virtual Tour.

Again, starting the 2nd day of April. And again, you can get more details AND register here.

Actual Version

ALPINE County’s Planning Commission recently approved the permit for the Deathride to be CLOSED on both Highway 89 (Monitor Pass – like it has been) and Highway 4 (Ebbetts Pass – like it has been).

WITH one exception…

THE ride will NOT INCLUDE CARSON PASS this year but instead will go farther down Highway 4 to just before Lake Alpine and then back up and over, to eventually finish at Turtle Rock Park. Yup, Pacific Grade x 2. Ouch! The route will be shorter (just about 103 miles) but will still have ample climbing (~14000 feet) and therefore lots-of-weakness-leaving-the-body opportunities. 😉

IT’S going to be so sweet to only have to worry about cars between Turtle Rock Park and Monitor Junction. Alpine County Public Health has been a partner throughout this process and continues to be. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the ride is dependent on our progess with the pandemic. Fingers crossed we’ll all be climbing on July 17th.

WE’RE currently working on an extra event or two around the Deathride as well. Part of our mission it to bring back that fondo-like experience and while we don’t want to over-promise right now we’re looking to host a kids/family type event the day before, or even the day of the event, to give rider’s families something to so while we’re out there enjoying the beauty of the California Alps.

A kid’s MTB race (maybe even one for the big kids), a safety clinic/fix-it clinic, a yoga class, and a course on Native American art, culture and influence are all being discussed. We’re hoping to have this event at the Hung A Lel Ti reservation here in Alpine County.

Some cool giveaways are also in the mix!

IDEALLY your appetite is now whetted!

HERE’S hoping we’ll all have some images of our own to add from this year’s Tour of the California Alps. I’ve never ridden Pacific Grade so am really looking forward to that. And, to signing the poster!

Remind me I said that when you see me on the course in July, k?

IN the meantime, we’re looking forward to seeing you in April. So please be safe, stay healthy and get those climbing legs ready!

Bike the California Alps Virtually? Here are Some Options!

FIRST and foremost I’d like to announce the Death Ride Tour of the California Alps – Virtual Tour! We’ve (the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce) been working with FulGaz to put together this event and it takes place starting April 3rd!

A Few More Event Details

YOU loyal readers know that I’ve filmed a bunch of rides for FulGaz over the last year or so. Part of the library includes all five (5) climbs of the iconic Death Ride (formally known as the Tour of the California Alps):

  • Monitor West Ascent
  • Monitor East Ascent
  • Ebbetts North Ascent
  • Ebbetts South Ascent
  • Carson East Ascent

COME April 3rd you’ll be able to conquer all of these climbs from the pleasure of your pain cave! (If you’re a FulGaz subscriber you can tackle them already).

IT’S a great opportunity to do a bit of training, and if you haven’t done these climbs before, it’s a great chance for you to get a glimpse of what’s to come (fingers crossed) this July 17th. Heads up that this year’s “real ride” won’t include Carson Pass (at least that’s our plan) and will instead offer Pacific Grade. We’re still working out those details and of course the ride is dependent on how things progress pandemic-wise but we are cautiously optimistic, and we hope to see you this summer in Markleeville.

IN the meantime we’d love to have you fondo with us beginning April 3rd. They’ll be some cool prizes (winners will be selected randomly) and some bragging rights to be had as well. Registration isn’t open until March 1st, and we do have a few minor details to work out, BUT it’s sure to be a good, and relatively inexpensive ($35.00) time. You’ll be able to register here.

AND…as the title of this post mentions, there are some other alternatives too.

Markleeville Area

IN addition to the DR climbs noted above, you can also ride from Markleeville to the Snowshoe Thompson memorial out in Diamond Valley. There’s also a return route from Diamond Valley to Markleeville. The Alta Alpina Markleeville Time Trial is in the library too.

FOR a bit of context…these rides were all filmed in the summer of 2020, as were the Deathride climbs.

Lake Tahoe aka Big Blue

These rides went live just last week!

THE screen grab above is from the announcement email that was sent to all FulGaz subscribers. Here’s what’s available:

  • DL Bliss State Park to Camp Richardson
  • Meeks Bay to Incline Village
  • Incline Village to Glenbrook

Unfortunately, due to a my error, I didn’t film the section from Glenbrook to Meeks Bay. I thought I did but you’ll have to read that post for the back story. Suffice it to say it’s on my list.

Other California Alps Virtual Ride Options

YOUR sharp eyes may have caught the reference to Hope Valley in that screenshot above. I filmed that ride on October 22, 2020 and even though the fall colors weren’t as glorious as I’ve seen in the past, they were/are still pretty awesome. You’ll definitely want to check it out!

YOU can also do just the Blue Lakes Road Ascent, which is part of the Hope Valley to Lower Blue Lake ride, but shorter, and not quite as vibrant color-wise since it was filmed in July, 2020 (on Independence Day actually). If you pay close attention you can catch some shots of Old Glory on this ride.

How Can You Do These Rides?

LIKE the last sentence reads…

JUST search “SCHWARTZ” on FulGaz for the complete list. I thought of saying “May The Schwartz Be With You” here but I’ll leave that up to Mel.

YES, you do need to be a FulGaz subcriber to enjoy these rides. Keep in mind that there is a 14-day free trial though so you can check them out relatively risk free. FulGaz offers some great rides, including group rides, as well as coaching and training options too, so if you’re like me and doing a lot of riding inside, it’s another great option, or addition.

BTW, you WILL NOT need to be a subscriber to ride the Virtual Deathride. You’ll get a special code that will give you access for that event.

Feedback Has Been Positive So Far

Chris from the United Kingdom wrote that “those rides have made me feel really connected to a place I love.”

Curtis from Michigan said “It’s great to relive the Death Ride and riding around Tahoe even though I haven’t done them in person for a decade now.” Curtis also asked about that “missing link” from Glenbrook to Meeks Bay.

Jim from New England had this to say a week ago: “Great ride Mark, did the Meeks bay one last night and it was super nice given the current winter in New England. Thanks for uploading it!”

Lastly, a bit of praise from Bob (whereabouts unknown): “Mark you made me homesick. I lived in South Lake Tahoe for 12 years riding every single mountain bike trail, every dirt road, and every road event from “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” to the “Death Ride “. Thanks for giving me the chance to ride Tahoe again. 👍👏”

I can’t thank you enough Chris, Curtis, Jim and Bob, for taking the time to ride ’em and especially for letting us know what you thought. It makes the effort so worthwhile when I get this kind of feedback.

There you have it…some virtual choices for you and your faithful steed.

So let’s kick some passes’ asses! Virtually…

Right now, with the exception of Carson, they’re all closed for the winter anyway, but the gates are open and you won’t see any snowplows in your pain cave.

Feeling a Bit Sluggish on the Bike? Perhaps You Need a Plan!

MY fitness was flagging. There was no “go” in the gams. The brain was befuddled and my slumber was sub-standard.

a roaring lion

AND in addition to all of that I was a bit cranky.

YUP, you guessed it! I was overtraining. Over reaching. Well, just over.

IT was time to find a training plan I decided. I’ve done a few structured plans in the past (click here to read about one I did a couple years back that is climbing focused) and they’ve always done me right.

ZWIFT Academy had some options as did TRAININGPEAKS. I tried one of the workouts on Zwift and it was really good. I’ve done quite a few of the other generic workouts on Zwift as well but I was looking for something or someone to tell me what to do, and mayhaps more importantly, what NOT to do, or when NOT to do it. 😉

I needed some structure and I couldn’t really afford a coach. Frankly, I don’t feel I’m at the level where having a coach is even justified, anyway.

SINCE I’ve been using TRAININGPEAKS for some time now, and digging the feedback, I decided to go with one of its plans.

FTP FOCUS 2021 – Power/Threshold Improvement – 4 Weeks’ Training Plan

WAS the plan I chose. I went with it because it was only four (4) weeks long and I had a good base fitness. My new job starts on March 1st too (so stoked!) so I didn’t want to go with a longer program. As it was, I’d be doing that last week during my first week of employment, but in looking at the plan particulars I could see that was do-able; the last week was the easiest and least time consuming.

THE other reason I went with it, and this is a biggie IMHO, is that it syncs with Zwift. Once you purchase the plan you can access each day’s workouts in the training area of Zwift! You can pick any course and then just select the workout you want to run. Zwift will run in ERG mode, provide the prompts for each interval and “yell” at you if your watts are too high or low or your cadence is too fast or slow.

Get those watts up! Not low enough to get “yelled at,” though. The intervals that have been completed, and those that are coming, are displayed on the left.

HELPFUL tip: Pick a flatter course if you want to get more miles in or a hilly course if you want to get the elevation. Since you’ll be in ERG mode the trainer won’t adjust based on the terrain. Instead the resistence will be set according to the workout parameters.

Doing the Work

THE week before I started the plan I noticed my VO2 Max was flat. If I’m doing things right that doesn’t happen; it typically rises as the week progresses. That was another sign (of over-training) as was my steadily rising resting-heart rate.

SO, to kick things off I took two (2) days off, one of which was Day 1 of the training plan. Every Monday is a rest day. Each week ramps up and culminates in a tough weekend. The day before each workout I get an email reminder with the necessary details and the sessions also appear in my TRAININGPEAKS calendar (image below) so I’m prepared for the next day and focused on the current day’s nutrition, recovery and hydration.

My trainingpeaks calendar for this week. The calorie info. is there because TP also integrates with MyFitnessPal, yet another cool feature.

SO it was that on Tuesday, February 9th, I jumped in, or on really. That first week was fairly difficult. It started with a “Power and Fast Cadence” workout, some sweet-spot training (SST) on day 2, a two (2) hour endurance/tempo workout on day 3, some more endurance work on day 4, three (3) max FTP efforts on day 5 and it finished off on Sunday with a two (2) hour SST and endurance ride.

Let’s just say I was happy to have a rest day this past Monday.

UP to this point I’ve done all of the rides on the trainer, which for me is better because there just aren’t that many flat roads here and trying to maintain certain watts and cadence while hitting the rollers, for example, is problematic. Mentally, though, it’s hard being on the KICKR for two (2) hours and I find it somewhat formidable when the sessions are focused on maintaining the same power for a long period of time, like the endurance workout I did on day 4.

203 watts at the same cadence for an hour took some discipline!

WHAT about that four (4) hour ride that’s coming up this Saturday, the 20th? I’ll be doing that one OUTSIDE. In Monterey. The bonus: it will give my wife and me a chance to smell some seaweed, feel some fog and gorge on some good seafood.

The Data Points

HERE’S what I’ve noticed so far, after completing eight (8) workouts:

  • My VO2 max has gone from 45 to 49
  • I feel stronger
  • I’m sleeping better
  • My resting-heart rate is back to where it should be (low to mid-40’s) and is stable
  • I’m not “that lion” anymore
  • My Garmin watch is providing validation – I’ve been “productive” since I started the plan whereas before I was in unproductive mode for quite awhile.
  • FTP – Currently it’s 290. I’m certainly interested to see how (if?) it improves. The plan does include a test on the last day.
  • Weight – Currently about 218 pounds. Getting it down further, and FTP up at the same time, is an important bench-mark as to the overall success of the plan.

SO, whether it’s TRAININGPEAKS, Zwift Academy, TrainerRoad, or some other application, I suggest you give it a try if, like me, you were somewhat stagnant on your steed.

What are You Doing?

EVERY body (and mind) is different so please feel free to dole out your advice by commenting on this post.

IN the meantime, ride on, stay safe and healthy, and let’s train, so when the weather allows and this virus has been sent packing, we can kick some passes’ asses…together!

Today’s Forecast? Blizzard Conditions With a Chance of Zwift

Fulgaz is an option, too. Perhaps a Wahoo or Garmin workout instead? I dunno. I do know this, though:
the chance of moving lots of snow today (blowing, shoveling, etc.) is extremely high!

FOR now, since I’ve finished moving some of those flakes (so I could get the images for this post), I’m content to just blog away, watch the snow fall and revel in the fact that we finally have a shit-ton of that white stuff. About a foot or so since last night, with a lot more expected. Hallelujah!

AS a professional cyclist — written with tongue firmly planted in cheek — I have the luxury of not being too hasty in my decision making this morning (or any morning for that matter). “Professional cyclist,” at least in my case, is code for unemployed. My most excellent friend, Mr. Keno, gave me that moniker, around the summer of 2020 I think it was, because I was able to spend an extraordinary amount of time (and still am) training.

ALAS, I wish the situation was different. I do need to earn more ducats than I am currently but am appreciative of the EDD help and oh so cognizant that there are people far worse off than I.

Indeed, I continually wonder how I held down a full-time job, got those many homestead chores done, stayed involved in the community, and trained.

I did it, but as my wife points out, I was a lot more stressed. And admittedly I didn’t spend quite as much time working out then as I do now. That’s something that will change at some point; either I’ll be back into the corporate grind or working at the California Alps Cycling shop, or both, in the near future.

IN the meantime, I wish you a happy hump day and hope that you too got the weather you needed or wanted.

I’m off to the pain cave.

I’LL leave the icicles alone for now.

MAYBE later, when I’m doing some serious snow-moving, I’ll pull a few of ’em down and start my ‘cicle garden.

Decisions, decisions…

Ride Inside Without the Tech? How Do I Do That?

Last week we had an internet outage just before I was going to get on FulGaz and ride the Ebbetts Pass North Ascent (which as you may recall I filmed last summer).

Here at Chalet Schwartz, aka California Alps Cycling HQ, we do have a sweet generator (thanks Generac) but alas, it doesn’t do much good when it’s a Frontier outage.

I still had cell service, although as you can imagine, it’s not even close to five bars here, but what the hell I thought, I’ll give it a try. No dice. Not enough bandwidth for those videos. Zwift neither. Alright I said to myself, I’ll just ride and watch something on Apple TV.

Uh, no. No internet you fool!

How about a nice slide show of all of my photos I’ve taken over the years?

No joy there either – I sync my photos via iCloud – who knows, maybe the images were hung up in this cloud?

Okay, so there’s my story of woe, the set-up if you will. There I was, trying to get my swell on, but without the usual distractions I needed to keep my monkey-brain at bay. What to do?

As a former mechanic once wrote on my service slip a long time ago…RIDE YOUR BIKE. This was after I had brought the bike in to get something perfectly dialed-in; for the 3rd time! I was, and still am I confess, a bit OCD.

To my credit, and so you all know that I didn’t get too hung up on these issues, I kept pedaling during my ordeal.

And then it came to me! You can still sprint. You can still work on those circles. You can still get in a good workout. You’ve got music at least, and a smart watch, so get to it!

And so I did. And I had a great workout and learned that yes, Mark-inia, you can get in some good training without all the bells and whistles. And really, like you’re probably saying right now, I still had some of those jinglers and toots (e.g. Apple music and Garmin) so technically I was still techy.

That makes me feel better. And keeps it in perspective.

After all, this was only a bike ride.

Deathride Dreaming? Need Some Ride-Inside Options? Check These Out!

As you likely know by now I’m a FulGaz devotee. That’s not to say I don’t use other “inside apps”, I do. Lately though, FulGaz (FG for short), has been my go-to. With the FulGaz French Tour now complete — my stats: 26:53:40 hours, 221 miles and 50,017 feet of climbing — and the smoke for the wildfires still lingering somewhat, I’m now looking forward to riding all of the Deathride climbs (and other local rides) from the pleasure of the pain cave.

And next week (Tuesday the 29th to be precise), I’ll have my chance and so will you!

Every Tuesday, FG does an email entitled Top Up Tuesday and yesterday I received a preview of ours! The library includes all five (5) of the current Deathride climbs (Monitor East & West, Ebbetts North & South, and Carson East) as well as the climb up Blue Lakes Road and some additional nuggets:

  • Markleeville to Snowshoe
  • Diamond Valley to Markleeville
  • The Alta Alpina Cycling Club (AACC) Markleeville Time Trial.

So here’s your chance to virtually explore some of the rides of Alpine County, and you can do so for very little, or no, money.

How can I do that? you ask. FulGaz offers a 14-day free trial so if you want to hit ’em all up in two (2) weeks you can definitely go that route (no pun intended). After the trial period, it’s only $12.99 per month or $108.99 per year. And no, I don’t work for, nor am I being compensated by FulGaz. I just wanted you to be aware since the application is so bitchin’ and I’ve found that a lot of riders just don’t know about it.

The email will go out to subscribers next Tuesday, September 29th, and the rides will be live that day as well!

Now I put in a lot of miles (~6000 per year), mostly outside, so riding inside isn’t my first option – most of the time. I do find it a great way, however, to do certain workouts in a more controlled environment. By that I mean FTP tests, HIIT work and so on; some of those external forces (e.g. wind, heat, rain, smoke, etc.) can wreak havoc on that day’s plan.

So why not take them out of the equation?

For example, yesterday morning, when I wanted to do some sprints, every two (2) miles, on flat roads, I turned to Zwift. But, when it comes to hill charges, hill repeats or the like, I prefer FulGaz. There I can find steady climbs, or rollers, or both. The steady climbs, like those on the Deathride, are much more conducive to steady efforts if you get my drift. It’s hard to maintain a certain power level when you have to go downhill.

I’ve found it to be an immersive experience, too!

Put on some tunes and put your fine-self in the heart of the California Alps without the need to stuff those jersey pockets, figure out where you’re going to get water or worry about traffic.

And, if you’ve not yet experienced the climbs of the Deathride and so you’re not sure what to expect, these rides will allow you to get a bit of practice in before next year.

Just be sure to put down that sweat mat, turn on those fans and if you’re like me, have an extra kit standing by.

Enjoy the rides and…Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses!

Smoky Where You Are? Here’s How You Can Mix Things Up

I’m a California boy, born and raised, and like you I suspect, have never seen anything in my 56 years like we’re seeing now with these fires. I’ll leave the hows and whys to the scientists and instead offer a glimpse into how I’m continuing to ride as well as what else I’m doing to stay engaged and fit.

The FulGaz French Tour

This tour has been my primary source of entertainment since the end of August. BTW, I’ve previously published a handful of posts that mention FulGaz so check those out too if you’re so inclined. It’s a great application and currently it’s even better with the addition of the FulGaz French Tour.

The Tour kicked off on August 28th, the day before the Tour de France started, and the idea, as you can imagine, is to ride twenty-one (21) stages by September 18th. Virtually. Just like the “real tour.” Not the same stages, no (there are some), but no less challenging, at least so far.

Last week I climbed over 17000 feet, with all but 3000 of it from the smokeless confines of Chalet Schwartz here in Markleeville!

Quick chest thump…

Thanks to the extra climbing that comes with the FulGaz French Tour, I was numero uno in climbing for the week in Alta Alpina’s 2020 Social Distancing Road Race Series. Sweet!

So far I’ve ridden the following stages:

  • Stage 1, Col de Turini – 9.29 miles, 3555 feet of climbing
  • Stage 2, Monaco Grand Prix Circuit – 16.21 miles, 1089 feet of climbing
  • Stage 3, Col du Galibier – 11.17 miles, 3998 feet of climbing
  • Stage 4, Harrogate Street Circuit, UCI Worlds 2019 – 8.48 miles, 821 feet of climbing
  • Stage 5, Luz Ardiden – 8.39 miles, 3379 feet of climbing
  • Stage 6, Ninove to Ghent – 23.03 miles, 785 feet of climbing
  • Stage 7, Lac de Cap de Long – 8.39 miles, 3398 feet of climbing
  • Stage 8, Els Angels – 9.05 miles, 1490 feet of climbing
  • Stage 9, Col du Chaussy, 6.19 miles, 2457 feet of climbing

I’ve still got eleven (11) more to do by September 18th and those stages include the Col d’Aspin, the Col d’Izoard, the Tour of Romandie TT, Six Laps of London, the Col du Telegraphe, and Mont Ventoux (that one’s going to be the hardest and longest I fear). It all wraps up with the Alpe d’Huez!

A challenging stage race to be sure. Oh, and did I mention that there is live tracking as well as stage results for each stage, and a GC too? After nine (9) stages I’m 94th out of 115; 11h 41m 44s of time on the bike so far. The leader of the GC after the same stages: 6h 26m 13s. Overachiever!

Other Options

Don’t forget strength training! I try to get two (2) workouts in a week, focused mostly on my upper-body and core. In the above pic are some of the systems of suffering I utilize. Take note of the red medicine ball, a “no-bounce,” which among other things lets me do squat and slams without the ball bouncing up and hitting me in the mug. Some Bowflex dumbbells, an inexpensive bench, a regular medicine ball and some kettlebells are the other items you see.

On the cycling and running front there is of course that ol’ standby, Zwift, which has certainly been getting a lot of press (and paying heavily for it I would imagine) during the Tour de France. I’m so thankful for my DVR – watching all of those commercials would be painful.

I’ve recently started using TrainingPeaks and it too has workouts of which one can partake. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading “Training + Racing with a Power Meter” by Hunter Allen, Andrew Coggan and Stephen McGregor and it syncs up nicely with TrainingPeaks.

Wahoo’s application has some “good grinds” (not the food kind, sorry) too and there are myriad others, including TrainerRoad and Strava. And, here’s an article from PC mag that provides some additional data.

I should mention that the FulGaz French Tour allows riders to do more than one stage a day, and out of order, if you so choose. I’ve taken advantage of this on a couple occasions by doing a flat(ter) warm-up stage before a climbing stage. A double whammy!

Some Additional Suggestions

Especially if you’re going to put in some long rides/hours on the trainer:

  • Extra kits, or at least a jersey, depending on how much you sweat, that are accessible from the bike so you can change mid-stage if you need.
  • Same with water – fill some extra bottles beforehand.
  • Food is good. I made a turkey and cheese sandwich after one stage and to save time ate it during the next stage. It also made it feel more like I was doing a “real event.”
  • I hooked up a portable A/C unit because without it, things got a little steamy in the cave. Combine it with a couple fans, especially if you have a smaller workout room like I do.
  • Lastly, speaking of fans…I just started doing this and it works well: Put a fan behind you and one in front. That backside breeze lessens the drips and it just feels nice.

One last bit of advice: Get a bike fit. I spent a couple hours doing just that yesterday. The fitter, also a physical therapist, made some adjustments to my seat and my shoes and after just one ride I can already feel the difference. The jury is still out on whether or not what we did is good enough or if I need more; time will tell. Still, it was something I had been avoiding because of the time it takes but I thought why not do it now? it’s too smoky to ride outside anyway!

What about you? What are you doing? Any suggestions for your fellow readers? Let us all know by commenting on this post.