Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Flashette's Hill Training Plan

Thanks for checking into Flashblog.  I realize its been a while since the last update but its for good reasons:  European vacation, lots of Team Alameda group and solo riding, working, gardening, watching Tour De France and now the Olympics in addition to everything else.

In this installment I'd like to share with you a quick accelerated hill training plan I devised for Flashette, aka Cathy, my scintillating cycling wife.  She recently got the bug to hill climb and enlisted my aid to train her up.  I've done this with her before, and at that time the rides were up to the Montclair/Tunnel road areas, and usually took 2-3 hours to complete.  I've got two days off during the week this summer, so in addition to all the things that need to get done on those 2 days, and meshing our two schedules to ride together,  I came up with an idea to get her the maximum climbing in the shortest amount of time.  Like in an hour.

I've recently been exploring the Cleveland Heights area of Oakland, which is bordered by Lakeshore on the west, MacArthur on the north, and Park Blvd. on the south.  This large triangle is built on a hill 162' in elevation and features up and down streets with grades, in my estimation, of up to 20% or higher!

The Cleveland Heights area of Oakland (click for larger view)

The neighborhood streets twist and turn, run up and down, and it is possible (today's ride) within 30 minutes to gain 800' of climbing in as little as 4 miles of up and down riding.   Consider that the rule of thumb for hillage is that 100' climb per mile is a good effort, so we are climbing about 400% above that mark.  Consider also that half of that 4 miles is downhill, so we are really gaining 800' in 2 miles!  This is a tremendous workout up some hills ranging from mild to extremely steep.  Flashette regularly reaches her max heartrate of 160...me, somewhat less, so I climb most of them in my 39 chainring for added benefit.  Again, be reminded that the tallest point of this area is only 162' above sea level!

The street running left to right is Cleveland, its steeper than Google Earth represents it, I would guess at least 20% if not higher

Today's ride was 10 miles, 800' of climbing, in just over an hour.  The distance to and from Alameda to the first hill is about 3 miles each way.  So I'm pretty stoked by this new, very close training area.  We both get a great workout in the same amount of time it takes to do a flat leisure ride in Alameda.   And I'm becoming very familiar with a new area which I'm sure will be featured soon on Team Alameda rides.

Flashette, Flash, and Paula (hidden) at the top of Butters Canyon  (900') recently on TA group ride...the plan is working! (photo: Dr. Bruce)

So I've come to see that short, intense efforts can have great dividends, and if you are time constrained you can still get in a worthy ride in on hour or so.  And I've got a sated riding partner---icing on the cake!   Give it a try!

Keep on Pedaling,


Sunday, July 8, 2012


Back in the day at Linguini's, when we had our leaders take days to lead, I took this one even knowing I would have just returned from Europe less than 48 hrs earlier and would be in the throws of time/space distortions.  So it was left vaguely labeled "Flash's Jet Lag Ride".  Now, lacking further information, some people's imagination grappled with the concept of such a ride and concluded that it must be a "recovery ride".  I can't fault that logic.  That would be the natural assumption.  They were incorrect.

The meaning of this ride was to impart a feeling of the usual but done differently, as seen differently, felt differently.  A sense of jet lag given.  Also, it bought me  a certain freedom to do unexpected things as I can't be fully coherent in my present state.  This might be interpreted as liberal Flashcutting by some, but I think it would be too limiting to apply that label.

Digressions aside, 11+ of us departed the Kaiser station for 38th Ave.  Somewhere in Oakland, Lisa's machine developed a shifting problem, which MacGyver and I attempted to fix, but Lisa wanted paid professionals only to attend to her steed, so she turned back for home.  Not a bad move.  Besides those two TA stalwarts, we had additional celebrities such as Bob F, Professor Nideker, Ken "Shaft" Jones, Stacie, Ren, Dave and Virginia, Lars, Jason (back after a long hiatus with back surgery), John Williams,  and new rider Monique on her Diva.  Nice to see some Velos mixing in with us as well.

Virginia soon disappeared.  Dave had told her this was a recovery ride, and soon enough she said to herself "Flash sucks, screw this!" and went home.  Sorry about that.  We climbed Monterey, descended Monterey, climbed Leimert hill, crossed St. James into downtown Piedmont where we took a well deserved pit stop.  After that, I got the idea of a climb up Moraga canyon, and a left onto Harbord over to Broadway Terrace.  That went well.

I was impressed by the women, Rens was showing a new fire and climbing strong, and Monique was making the whole thing look like a flat ride around Alameda.  (later I questioned her on her palmares, and trust me, she is good to go with just about anything) Stacie was looking good as usual, pedaling her metronome-like tempo.

  It was at the top of Broadway Terrace that the fateful idea to climb all of the terrace entered my mind.  John Williams stated it was "not that bad", so off we went.  "not that bad" is of course a relative term.  Its a bad ass climb, steep the whole way except for short flat respites.  Everyone shined on this, Lars was giving his all, Rens gave up her back to spasms (but recovered nicely)  Our sagely riders Bob and Nideker were game for this and once again proved that age is just a number.  Ken was somewhere off the front as expected with John, Dave and Monique.

I found it a challenge as my legs were somewhat shot from Brian's ride yesterday(and 2 weeks of off time), but what a great feeling to get to the top only to be subjected to Prof. Jone's pontifications on what is and what is not a Flashride.  He thinks he knows me inside out, and that warms my heart as I love Ken as a brother, so I will let him continue to think that.  Just then the PINK LADY came riding up Tunnel!  What an auspicious omen that was.  That told me everything I had done today was absolutely right and true and synchronicity is not only a concept, but a way of life.

We had a nice rest in Sibley, then descended the not usual way as now I was in full Flashcut mode, and decided to throw in as many tasty cuts as possible before ending up on Fruitvale.  This meant a nice dive down the Fruitvale "wall" at Dimond Park, one of my favorites.  Back home, we enjoyed a stop at Nob Hill Peets.  And I did my grocery shopping by Dutch bike today, so my legs are REALLY shot.  In a good way.

2500' in 23 miles, not bad for a recovery ride!

Keep pedaling,