Thursday, July 26, 2012

Weight Training for Cramps

This post takes up where my last post about cramps,  Muscle Cramps and Me, leaves off.

First, I'm happy to say "no cramps" lately. That being said...up until recently I was still feeling that my calf and hamstring muscles were still tight while riding, as long as I knew my limits they would be kind to me. I say "up until recently" because I feel that I have the upper hand on the dreaded cramp by adding resistance training to my conditioning routine.

Good nutrition (which sometimes I still mess up and get Bonked) and stretching are big players in avoiding cramps. But something was still not right! A couple of months ago I started paying attention to the fact that, while simply standing, I could not do a full and hard contraction of my calf or hamstring muscles without them threatening to cramp. For a lack of a better understanding it seems as though my muscles had developed a "cycling memory". Any contraction of my muscles beyond what is needed to spin pedals would bring on a cramp like tightness. Even though I've been riding for some time without a cramp my calf and hamstring muscles seemed to get tight early on in a ride. 

I though of my old weight training days and decided that a little resistance training might bring the ole muscles back into shape. All it took was a weeks worth of calf raises and hamstring leg curls using a simple elastic band to be able to do full contractions of my muscles without the fear of a cramp. It's been over a month now and it has made a marked difference in how I ride. The legs feels loose and I can push the pedals harder. I'm just about ready to join my son at the gym and really start working my legs with weights. 

Monday, July 23, 2012


I'm a dummy...I didn't adhere to my normal nutrition plan and hit the proverbial wall. In other works I "bonked' after just three hours of riding (I wasn't even riding for all of those hours). One minute I'm fine and the next I'm screwed. It was yesterday and I was doing one of my regular rides to the market. It was still early, about 10:00 in the morning, the heat is steadily rising into the high 80's and it's not slowing down. I'm well into what was planned to be a 30 mile ride, loaded down with groceries from a stop at the market. Most of the 1,700+ feet elevation gain is behind me. I'm keeping hydrated and I'm enjoying the ride and not paying attention to what I'm eating. All of the sudden I'm paying the price for being an idiot and I feel lousy. Right away I know I need to get my blood sugar back into gear...I need food and I need it now! I have energy bars with me but my brain is crying out for a banana! Luckily there's a gas station directly ahead with a convenience store and a pile of bananas in a basket. A banana has always been my "go to" fruit when the body doesn't feel right. One banana and an energy bar later I'm back on the road. For the remainder of my ride I never feel quite right and slowly made my way home. I cut about 5 miles off my planned ride and ended up with a total of 25 miles. 

With stopping at the market, some slow climbs, a couple of unplanned rest stops to recover I was out almost 4 hours. I'm not young anymore and I need to keep nutrition up to par while riding. At the minimum I should of had 1,200 calories of high energy eats (300 calories an hour) for the entire ride. With the heat, elevation gain and time on the road add another 600 calories or more. In the three hours, up to the time I bonked, I had only 220 calories from an energy bar. The last part of the ride, about an hour, I downed another 600 calories. 

I feel I should of had 1,800 calories or more while out for 4 hours. I ended up at a little over 800. I wasted no time chowing down a lunch when I got home. The rest of the day I was zoned out. I took advantage of my diminished state to plant my butt on the sofa and watch "Wuthering Heights" on TCM.

Getting "bonked" by low blood sugar is "so" avoidable. I was at the market, why didn't I buy some food to eat while riding!!?  Whether you're riding 10 miles or 100 miles pay attention to the riding conditions and give your body what you know it needs before it's to late. If you wait for your body to tell what it needs you may be screwed for the rest of the day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Betzi Wants a Ride

As soon as I put my cycling clothes on Betzi will not leave me alone. Many times I have planned a ride without the ole girl and many time I have given in and taken her.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Pretty soon this road that I usually take a long cut on will be overcome with traffic as the site behind the green fencing turns into another big box retail store. Bye bye mom and pop time to be overtaken by "progress." 

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."
Ed Abbey

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shade of the Old Oak Tree

I can't resist taking a break under the old oak tree on my way back from a run to the market. The twenty mile ride makes for a nice Sunday outing with about 1,200 feet of elevation gain. 

I like to chow down about 300 calories an hour while riding. If I can't find a nice place to take a break and eat I'll munch while riding. I eat and drink more or less on a schedule and never wait until I'm hungry or thirsty.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bash Guards

I've been running a mountain bike crankset on my Expedition  for over a  year now (New Crankset ) with good results. For awhile now I've been trying to find a bash guard for both the outer and inner chain rings. It turned out to be a little harder then I thought to find good bash guards in a size that would fit the MTB crankset. I needed an outer guard to accommodate a 44t-104 BCD chain ring and a 64 BCD guard for an inner chain ring. Two goals in save my leg from being attacked by the exposed chain rings and save me from dropping a chain on a sloppy shift.

Finally after some searching I found BBG Bash Guards. They have a good assortment of quality MTB aluminium guards and I found what I wanted at a good price..

BBG bash guards. They come without the longer bolts and spacers which have to be ordered somewhere else. I happened to have some on an unused crank set hanging in my garage. A local bike shop will probably have the right hardware.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Little Bit of Shade

Things are warming up here in So Cal. The long shadows of the early morning provided a little shade for Betzi and yours truly. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

End of the Shoulder

Time to "take the lane"...more or less...and ...

put my bright yellow (lime green if you prefer) cycling gloves to good use by waving at the crazies roaring up my from behind.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Market Run

Every now and then I like to leave the ole fossil fuel burner at home and take a run to the grocery market on my trike. I ain't going to save the world but at least I can spew a little less toxins in the air by riding my trike on an errand. I managed to turn what should be a 15 mile round trip ride to the market and back into a nice 20 miler. Where I live there is always some climbing to do. I ended up with a little over 1,200 feet of elevation gain.  I did manage to get a few miles of peaceful level riding around the lake in Westlake Village.

I would also like to take a moment to apologize to a few of the Lance wannabes for embarrassing you on the flats around the lake. I didn't realize that you were trying so hard to pass me, I would have so slowed down sooner if I had known. To the couple of you I passed...I just wanted to get home for lunch. Even loaded down with groceries and the burden of age it's easy for me to forget how much faster I can ride without my dog and trailer in tow.

Sunday morning is a nice time to ride...little traffic.

 Loaded up with groceries and making a pit stop at a local park.

Taking a long cut on a quiet rode.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


The road smooth, the grade is a gentle long incline and there's no traffic. In front of me my legs and feet, bonded to my pedals, are steadily and smoothly moving chain over chainwheel. I'm hypnotized by the rhythmic motion of the well oiled chain connecting with the teeth of my chainwheel. Moving over the top and disappearing below the chain is soon released in a never ending cycle of propulsion. My trance is deepen my the smooth lubricated sounds of gears and chain and the subtle road vibrations. My body the engine and my Catrike my faithful chariot. 

All to soon I'm brought back to the reality of the road. Out of the corner of my eye I see movement in my mirror and within a few seconds my mirror is filled with the shiny grill of a ridiculously raised SUV. It roars by me with it's altered mufflers claiming to be mighty and powerful but only backed up by a fossil fuel factory engine. The doppler effect rattles my brain and my trance is broken.

Still...all is good.