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Month: March 2013

Heart Rate Testing Confuses Me

I’m following the LW Coaching 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race – Finisher Plan again this year, again in hopes that it’ll get me ready to complete the Lumberjack 100 race in June. Part of this involves testing my Lactate Threshold Heart Rate, or basically, my average heart rate over 20 minutes of riding my bike as hard as I can. This average is then run through a formula (one of many — I’m using this one from LW Coaching) to determine heart rate zones. When working out (really, just riding my bike) I then try to stay in the prescribed zone for the listed amount of time, with the idea that this helps build endurance at that zone.

For example, the zones that were calculated for me off of today’s test with an average heart rate (HR) of 170 BPM during the test are as follows:

Zone 1 – Recovery: 111 – 137 BPM
Zone 2 – Aerobic: 138 – 152 BPM
Zone 3 – Tempo: 153 – 159 BPM
Zone 4 – Sub Threshold: 160 – 169 BPM
Zone 5 – Super Threshold: 170 – 180 BPM

Much of the planned riding in preparation for finishing a 100 mile race involves hours of riding in zones 2 or 3, which seems easy at first, but gets difficult as the hours progress. It does seem to work, though, as it helped me get up to riding 8+ hours comfortably, as long as I was capable of pacing myself. Hopefully this’ll continue to help this year, and I won’t quit early like I did last year. I’d really like to finish this race at least once.

Last year I first performed this test on the trainer on the second day of the plan, but ended up with a low-seeming heart rate of 153 BPM. I tried again on April 4th, 2012 and got a result of 166 BPM†, which is what I’ve used for my HR zones for training last year. This current result of 170 BPM has pushed the zones up a bit from last year, and I hope this helps push me a bit more.

Despite using the same route as last year for the test and following a similar warmup I can’t help but question the variances in numbers. Today was much colder than last year (42.3°F vs. 59.7°F), the bike used had slightly knobbier tires and a suspension fork, and there was a lot more wind today. Maybe the harder conditions and higher average HR mean I’ve become a capable of a little bit more over the last year? I’m not really sure.

The more I read about HR zones and LTHR calculation the more confused I become. I was pushing myself as hard as I felt I could go without failing, so with Joe Friel‘s (a pretty well regarded coach) simple adage…

Do not be concerned with anything other than are you going as hard as you can go right now. If the answer is “yes” then you are doing the test right.

…maybe I am doing it right.

† This was then recalculated on May 8th, 2012, but likely due to a loose HRM strap I ended up with a maximum of 225 BPM and an average of 187 BPM, clearly erroneous numbers. As a result I just stuck with the previous number of 166 BPM from April.

Update on May 8, 2013: Yesterday, as prescribed, I performed another LTHR test. Riding the same route (but with a different warmup) in 35°F warmer weather (79°F vs 34°F) my average HR was 2 BPM faster and average speed was 1.5 MPH faster. I think it may have been a bit less windy, which likely explains the higher average speed.

This pushes each of the zones up slightly to the following, which is what I’ll likely use for the remainder of the training plan:

Zone 1 – Recovery: 112 – 138 BPM
Zone 2 – Aerobic: 139 – 154 BPM
Zone 3 – Tempo: 155 – 161 BPM
Zone 4 – Sub Threshold: 162 – 171 BPM
Zone 5 – Super Threshold: 172 – 182 BPM

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Barry-Roubaix: The Clothing

Rob’s post on Barry-Roubaix which included a description of the clothing worn made me want to note the same thing. Not for any reason of style, but because I find dressing for longer cold weather rides to be a bit confusing for some (they sure were for me!), so I hope these notes can help others in a similar situation. (It’s also an excuse to post this photo of Roger, Nick, and I just after starting the race.)

Saturday’s weather in Hastings was right around freezing. My bike computer recorded an average temperature of 32.5°F during the race, and the temperature when I last checked the weather before leaving for the start was 28°F. There wasn’t much wind, but being a road race I had to be ready for 10-20 MPH headwinds throughout the day, plus more while riding down some hills.

Here’s what I wore, which is fairly typical for me in these conditions:

  • Pearl Izumi Barrier GTX Shoes
  • Generic Kirkland (Costco) Tall Wool Socks
  • Voler Thermal Bib Knickers (Trail’s Edge logo from team order)
  • Under Armor Thermal Base Layer (usually a generic Costco one, but this was a gift and is more form fitting)
  • Voler Short Sleeve Jersey (Club-Cut, Full Zip, Big Ring Coffee from team order)
  • Voler Wind Jacket (Trail’s Edge, also from team order)
  • Descente Coldout Beanie
  • Giro Xar Helmet
  • Pearl Izumi Gavia Gloves

For other rides around this temperature or colder I’ll often use Trail’s Edge Moose Mitts with springtime-weight gloves. I really like these for keeping my hands warm and bike controls accessible, but on warmer days like this when I’ll be trying to push myself (such as a race) they can get too warm. Thus, just as during Iceman, I opted for simple gloves. Regardless of what I chose for keeping my hands warm they always seem to get painfully cold within the first 5 or 10 miles, then suddenly warm up and be fine for the rest of the ride. I guess that must when I warm up and my internal thermostat decides that there’s sufficient heat that some can be spent on warming extremities.

I’ll also tend to refrain from shaving my head or face for 4 or 5 days before an event like this. The bit of scruffy facial hair does a great job of keeping the cold away.

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2013 Barry-Roubaix on a Fatbike

Today was the 2013 Barry-Roubaix dirt road race, and I participated riding my 2012 Salsa Mukluk 2 fatbike. I ended up with an official time of 2:39:09 and 14.2 MPH average, placing 33rd of 58 in the 36 Mile Fatbike category (results here). I would have liked to have finished in a quicker time than I did last year (2:21:42 / 15.2 MPH average), but as this year’s course was a mix of frozen dirt roads and ice with some rutted mud and I was on a heavier and slower rolling bike, I’m happy. There were many hills that I would have normally pedaled down, but this year’s ice found me (and many other folks) gingerly coasting down them, not braking or changing course. Had conditions been like they were last year times probably would have been faster across the board.

Earlier forecasts looked like the roads would be greasy, peanut-buttery mud, so I set out ready to stop and fix my bike a number of times, but this wasn’t needed. Even with the ice I didn’t fall or step off my bike once, and my bike was almost as clean at the finish as it was at the start. From what I could see my dripping nose added more filth to the bike than the course did.

Differing from previous years the race started and finished in the beautiful town of Hastings, Michigan. In the past it had started at Yankee Springs with the easternmost point near Hastings, but this time the western-most point was near the old start. This worked wonderfully, as the entire town was set up for the race with businesses open early and staffed up for the almost-3000 participants and family members, with the start and finish lines right downtown. Most intersections had police directing traffic, there was a blocked-off street post-race party area, and it all felt like a whole-town event. This venue change was an excellent move.

On the suggestion of our friends Nick and Marty we booked a room at the Parkview Motel, which was a great choice. Not only were a bunch of other friends and acquaintances staying there as well, but it was four blocks from the start/finish area. All I had to do for the start of the race was dress, put my stuff in the car, to check out, and ride to the start. It wasn’t even far enough to be considered the remotest of a warmup! After I left the room at about 10am Danielle continued to sleep, then being in a downtown-ish area she wandered into some shops then sat in a coffee shop until it was time for me to finish. This all worked out very well, and I hope to stay here again. While the place was a bit old, it seemed reasonably well cared for and everything was very clean. At ~$66 total for the night’s stay it was a great choice.

There was one scary part to today’s ride, but thankfully I didn’t see much of it. At the top of one of the most sustained climbs in the course a rider apparently fell off his bike and wasn’t breathing. An acquaintance of mine was one of the folks giving him chest compressions (for a total of 18 minutes) right in the road before the EMTs arrived and got to work on the guy. From what I’d heard and read a few places online he had a pulse when he left in the ambulance, was airlifted away, and is still in the hospital. I really hope he’s all right. (More info starting here in the MMBA Forum.)

This sort of event is scary, but one could have a heart attack doing stuff around the house or just sitting and watching TV. So long as one doesn’t overdo it, the benefits to strenuous exercise (particularly if it is fun) likely outweighs the potential risks.

The Strava page showing my statistics from today’s race can be found here. Official results from the 36 mile race can be found here.

(That photo above is Roger Class’ Pugsley, Rob Tranter’s 2012 Mukluk 3 (which he’d purchased from Nick Shue), and my 2012 Mukluk 2 with different tires and chainrings from stock, all propped against a wall outside of the motel rooms. The three of us, along with Nick and Marty, and Rob Ritzenhein all entered the fatbike class. Erik and Kristi rode their normal 29ers.)

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Mukluk Lights: Removed

This evening I removed the front and rear lights from the Mukluk 2 and washed it in preparation for Barry-Roubaix. With the longer-than-hoped-for winter and the predictions of snowy and icy roads during the race I figured it’d be best to bring a bike with big, fat tires. I think it’ll be fun, too.

Built up at the very end of 2011 this light has worked out extremely well for night time and winter riding. I won’t need it during the race, the days are rapidly getting longer, and after the race I’m anticipating most of my riding happening on a different bike, so I don’t think it’ll be needed much more for now.

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No More Tables

For the last ten (or so) years that I’ve been posting to a weblog (first as c0nsumer on LiveJournal and now here on I’ve regularly posted images at the top of the post. Embarassingly, up until today I’ve been using a templatized HTML table with 1px of padding and a black background to make the 1px black border around each image:

<center><table cellpadding=1><tr><td bgcolor=”black”><a href=””><img src=”” height= width= border=0 title=””></a></td></tr></table></center>

I’ve know that this is the wrong way to go for a while now, but not knowing much about CSS I didn’t want to take the time to learn what was needed to change things for the better. I also had something that worked, cross-posted properly to LiveJournal, and wasn’t hard to maintain. One thing that it didn’t afford me was the ability to use WordPress’s visual editor; something which would allow me to easily create more image-laden posts and edit posts more quickly.

With the recent implementation of the new MMBA Trail Guide and some updates that needed to be done I’d been reworking a few different parts of the server, and it was time to change some things on this, my personal site. The main page had been MediaWiki (MW)-based for a while, but I now prefer WordPress (WP) for a main-website CMS, especially as I make blog posts far more frequently than the long-form technical writing that MediaWiki is best for. I started by upgrading MW and returning it to a more default theme, then moving WP to be the main page reached when one visits Content on MW was the adjusted to house only Technical Pages, and links to the most useful pages were added to WP.

The result of this will be that the main page of is now WordPress based, and brings about all the ease-of-writing features that it is known for. MediaWiki remains present, but has been relegated to a repository for technical info that’d be difficult to write up cleanly in WP; something which I intend to continue using whenever I work on detailed technical topics.

Thanks to help from my friend Rob I was able to get my head around using Chrome’s Elements Panel to easily figure out what was needed to style the images with a nice 1px border without using a silly table. Hopefully I’ll stick to the use of CSS in the future, avoiding more silly hacks like using tables in 2013. All posts going back to the beginning of the year have been updated to remove the use of a table for a border, but previous posts will end up stuck with a 6px border: 1px for the original padding plus 5px added by a margin on the images. I don’t think this is terrible and is probably just part of the price of progress. I had to do it at some point.

Going forward I may also move some of the less-technical content (such as a journal written while on a solo cruise to Alaska in 2003 or mixes) to WordPress just as I did with the About page, but I’ve yet to decide on that. For now I’ll just enjoy the enhanced writing capabilites, growing CSS knowledge, and improved writing tools.

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Free Recliner and Filing Cabinet

Would anyone like either this two-drawer plastic filing cabinet or this light brown cloth Lay-Z-Boy recliner? Both are used but in good shape. I no longer have a need for them and would like them gone, but I’d prefer to see them go to a good home where they will get used.

The filing cabinet served me well for a number of years, but has been replaced with an upright metal model. The recliner doesn’t work out with the house setup, and while still comfy has found itself relegated to the basement, sitting idly, and facing the furnace with no one to sit in it. Help give this recliner a purpose again by giving it a place in your home.

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A Clean Closet

The closet in the office has always been a bit of a dead space. It’s housed a filing cabinet and been used for a bit of storage, but ever since moving in here eleven-some years ago it’s been rather neglected. It was originally a basic particle board shelving closet with the curved metal faces to hold hangers, but something more was needed. Previously I had fit a plastic filing cabinet and old wood CD rack in one side, and two cheap shelves and the printer on the other side. This worked, but something more was needed, so with Danielle here we decided to make better use of the space.

By picking up a HON 510 four-drawer filing cabinet the plastic filing cabinet could be replaced and more stuff filed away. ClosetMaid-brand wire shelving was installed as shoe racks in the lower half of the right side, and the upper half was fitted with a rail-based adjustable shelf system. This provides much more storage on the upper part of the closet, better filing of paperwork and things that I want to save such as old manuals and receipts, and a place to put shoes that isn’t right next to a door.

Total cost for this project, including the filing cabinet, was $343.78, with $178.47 of that being the new filing cabinet (after tax and shipping, purchased on a sale at Costco) and $165.31 being the wire shelving and some extras that Danielle wanted for the bedroom closet. This also provided the impetus for cleaning out the closet and disposing of a fair bit of old paperwork and media that I’d let accumulate over the years. I still have a bit of filing of old data and audio CDs to do and some cables to put away, but that should only be an evening’s work.

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Advance Auto Parts Marine Grease is PEAK Performance Synthetic Marine Grease

En route to work today I stopped off at Advance Auto Parts and picked up some house brand Marine Grease to use when reassembling my bike rack after fixing the hitch retention piece. I wanted to find the MSDS for this product so I could try to figure out what materials this product is compatible with, but after the Advance Auto Parts MSDS Page didn’t return anything when searching for the product (SKU #A2953013) I called the listed phone number and asked for help.

The person who answered the phone was very helpful and — despite not being able to find the product by SKU — found the MSDS and emailed it to me. You can get a copy of it here. Embedded in the email was the path I:\M9\OLD WORLD INDUSTRIES\ELRMA14OZ.PDF, which I find interesting as it shows both that the company has a simple directory structure full of MSDS, and that this product is actually made by Old World Industries, the parent company for PEAK and a number of other automotive companies. Per a recent press release:

Old World Industries, LLC is among the largest privately-held companies competing in the automotive aftermarket. The Northbrook, Illinois-based company enjoys a presence in various consumer product markets in more than 30 countries worldwide. Old World’s brands include a full line of PEAK® Performance Products including Antifreeze, Motor Oil, Washer Fluid, Electronics and Wiper Blades; SIERRA® Antifreeze; Fleet Charge® Fully Formulated Coolant; Final Charge® Heavy Duty Global Extended Life Antifreeze/Coolant; SmartBLADE™ Premium Wiper Blades; HERCULINER® Truck Bed Liner Kits; and BlueDEF® Diesel Exhaust Fluid. For more information, please visit

Comparing this product’s MSDS to the one from Advance Auto Parts SKU #A2953013 shows them to be identical (including the contact person and his phone number), save for some slight formatting and naming changes. Based on this I think this $3.99 tube of Advance Auto Parts-brand Marine Grease is the same as PEAK® Performance Synthetic Marine Grease. Thus these should also be the specs for the Advance Auto Parts grease.

Isn’t research via MSDS great? Digging into these lets one peer behind the labels on lots of products…

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Elegant Cadence Sensor Magnet

My friend Jeremy lost his Garmin cadence sensor magnet so he replaced it with a simple neodymium magnet. After hearing about how well that worked for him I picked up some similarly sized ones from eBay and put one on the crankset for my new bike. I opted for a 8mm thick (10mm diameter) magnet where he’d gone with the 6mm thick version. I picked this based on how far out from the crank arm the normal Garmin sensor sits, although with the additional strength of the larger magnet this may not have been necessary.

The magnet sticks solidly to the end of the pedal spindle, nestled inside of the 10mm hole in the Race Face Crank Boot. It’s a bit difficult to pry off with my finger, but easy enough to remove I can’t help but wonder if I should have opted for a thinner version instead, so I just purchased some 3mm thick magnets on eBay and will give those a go as well. Whichever I end up using it’s a very elegant solution that I expect to work out quite well, as long as it doesn’t come out and become stuck in my drivetrain or something terrible. It also looks much nicer (and is much easier to fit) than the normal Garmin magnet, as it doesn’t use adhesive nor require a cable tie around the crank arm.

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Chilly Evening MOT Ride

This evening I headed home from work early enough to get a ride in, and found myself parked at Onyx and ready to go at about 5:15pm. Being in the 40s I was fairly comfortable in a jersey + wind jacket, knickers, and autumn-weight gloves at the beginning, but by the end of the ride it wasn’t enough. With the sun setting temperatures were dropping, making it cold enough that I was shivering in the car on the drive home and needing a long, hot shower before I could feel my toes.

The route ended up taking me to Armada and back, and on the way out I got to experience my first serious leg cramp after trying to push myself hard for ~10 miles straight. Just as I stepped on to my pedal to cross 32 Mile Road my right calf clenched, and I had to stop for a few minutes afterward to let it loosen up. It felt odd throughout the entire rest of the ride, but thankfully never got as bad as when it’d locked up.

Not long after turning back in Armada I crossed paths with Tom Payne, with us seeing each long enough to say hi and hit hands (or whatever that thing you do when passing people where it’s sort of like a high five, but not up high and not with a full hand). I kept pushing on back towards the car, keeping an eye on the setting sun, when not long after passing through Romeo I received a call from Danielle asking for help while she was in a spinning class. It seems that the cleat had come off of her shoe becoming stuck in the pedal, and she was looking for suggestions for how to get it back out. I was cold enough at this point that I had difficulty holding the phone, but a few minutes of rest did help warm my hands again.

Just as I was taking off from the phone call someone a guy named Chris rode up behind me, and he and I ended up finishing up my ride together. He does mostly road riding and thus was pushing along at 19-20 MPH for most of the route. I was able to keep up riding side by side for most of it, but as we got near the end I tucked in behind him and drafted for a bit. 30-ish miles of road-ish riding is a fair bit for me, and not being accustomed to that kind of sustained output I really needed the help.

This ended up being a very nice ride. While I was cold it was great to see someone I knew, get to ride with someone else, and just to get out and about. The photo above was taken at my turnaround point near the grain elevator in Armada. The Strava data for the ride can be seen here, showing what seems like a weirdly straight route. That’s how it goes this time of the year, though.

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