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Three Double Centuries, a Week Apart

A double century is a great way to establish and prove out a deep aerobic base for any hard race like the Everest Challenge. I completed these three double centuries on March 7 and March 14 and March 21, 2015—three Saturdays, a week apart.

I chose to do 3 in a row with the explicit intent of reducing body fat and laying in a deep aerobic capability for more intense training for the rest of the year. The effort was a success on both counts.

See also To Draft or Not to Draft: What Does it Accomplish?

  • All of my double century efforts are solo time trials, meaning I do ZERO drafting (though I might pull others). This is much harder than expending 2/3 to 1/2 the effort in a pack. Even two riders sharing the load give each other a considerable break.
  • Actual mileage can vary from what is shown in the graph. Not having calibrated for 25C tires (vs my usual 22C), my SRM PC7 seems to have been off (low) by a percent or so.
  • All three events ridden with Veloflex Roubaix tubulars tires and a Lightweight Standard rear wheel and Lightweight Autobahn VR front wheel.

Southern Inyo Double Century, March 7 2015

This double century starts from Lone Pine, CA. This was my first double for 2015.

The far reach on the ride was to the border of Death Valley National Park. Here I had to wait briefly for a required sign-in, but I also had to take a 'dump' really badly and no restrooms, so I then had to stop again for relief about 5 minutes later. Somehow this shut me down and broke my mojo; up until then I had been feeling terrific. After that I felt marginal, and later, downright crappy. :;

Later at the high point of the course (mile ~133) I ate a sugar cookie, thus breaking the “never eat untested food” rule. I paid for it dearly with a terrible gut ache for miles 150-200 or so (after the descent).

Something went very wrong in general with fueling and hydration; I lost all appetite and sense of thirst at about mile 140, or rather I had no desire to eat or drink anything of any kind. Even Hammer gel I could scarcely gag down. It was literally having to force myself to eat and drink, but the gut ache made it a very unattractive proposition. The power decline is obvious by mile 150 but actually started earlier around mile 100 (just after the 'dump'). Physiologically I had goofed somehow: clear and excessive urine (overhydration) for the first 6 hours of the event was a constant nuisance. I did take Endurolytes so it wasn’t lack of electrolytes.

Together with painful big toes (new shoes and orthotics, 3 weeks with them prior), the last 50 miles were physically very unpleasant. I had to grin and bear it the best I could and I had to stop and just stand for 5 minutes at about mile 180, which helped. I felt like I wanted to throw up once I finished and it took about 90 minutes before I could eat. But after that, everything went back to normal.

At mile ~120, my rear tire flatted with two ~1/3mm diameter X 20mm long stainless steel wires embedded in the rear tire, just after I had missed a turn and ridden too far the wrong way. Once I got back on course, the good luck was the location—about 1/4 mile from my car (the route crosses back on itself). So I rode back to my car and swapped the rear wheel. Later, Stan’s No Tubes completely sealed the pinholes and I used this same wheel/tire for the next two double centuries as well. Stan’s NoTubes is great for such pinholes, and the tires can still take full pressure with no chance of blowing out the sealant (larger holes get you home with Stan’s, but tend to blow out the sealant sooner or later, re-flatting).

Kilojoules: 7697

Power and heart rate with elevation profile for Southern Inyo Double Century

Joshua Tree Double Century, March 7 2015

Due to a faultily memorized map lacking a “Y” turn (lacking in my mind), I took the wrong turn and did 12 extra miles and about 1400 vertical feet more than the standard course. So it was well beyond a double century.

There was no support within the park, so I rode unsupported for over 80 miles, which left me dehydrated and hot. Scarfing a liter of cold water upon reaching the interstate highway just out of the park, I partially revived, but It seemed to kill my performance for the rest of the day (120 miles or so to go after that!). Temperatures ranged from 39°F at the higher elevations at sunrise within the park to 90°F or so on the post-park outer areas. It’s never really possible to rehydrate properly while riding once too far gone, so this screwed the day. I was very, very glad to be done.

Still, I recovered faster from this one than the Southern Inyo (above). Just 48 hours later, I had a nice strong ride, albeit the muscles still need a full 4 days to be back at 90%, and probably 6 days to be truly back at 100%.

Course: About 68 miles is through Joshua Tree National Park, which are enjoyable miles with good pavement. The rest of the course ranges from boring to “the road never ends” slow climbs to some really unpleasant junk miles along the interstate highway, including dodging bits of tires, rocks, screws, bolts and having to wait ~5 minutes for a semi trailer truck with billowing brake smoke. By a miracle I did not flat on this section or this day.

Kilojoules: 7870

Power and heart rate with elevation profile for Joshua Tree Double Century

Solvang Spring Double Century, March 7 2015

Aside from a few badly timed stoplights, nothing untoward. No flats (first time in 3 efforts!), which was sheer luck since never in any event have I seen so many people with so many flat tires. The junk-miles portions of the course are littered with glass on some sections, with constant vigilance required. Dangerous drivers near Pismo Beach in heavy traffic cut me off three times; extreme caution is needed. I heard similar stories from other riders.

I was able to maintain good power the entire ride and even finish stronger than ever. I attribute this to a 245 calorie/hour intake of Hammer Nutrition HEED, Hammer Perpetuem solids, GU gels, and some junk candy (black licorice, two mini candy bars, 5 sticks of red vines, one small pack gummies). For me at least, gels and HEED just don’t do it fully (these are almost entirely maltodextrin); the liver should not remain idle; it has a job to do, so scarfing some sucrose and fructose at mile 80 on up at it keeps it active, converting about 60 calories/hour of those sugars into glucose—very significant in context of overall fueling intake of 245 calories/hour (which is about the limit of what the stomach can process during such an event, assuming good hydration).

This was a solo time trial (ZERO drafting though I sometimes “pull” others). Nearly all riders with faster times were pacelining (one fast group that went by had 7 or 8 riders, making it a hugely easier effort 80% of the time for all the riders). Thus their times are not comparable; a different event in the reality of actual performance (a great deal of resting/coasting!). And some riders consistently blow through stop signs and lights (*that* is outright cheating, and illegal too). I do not wish to “win” by someone else’s wind-blocking exertions, and certainly not by cheating. In a RACE, yes I *will* draft (within my racing category), since that is part of the race strategy and cannot be set aside in a race.

Solvang Spring Double 2015 results. Total clock time for me includes some bad luck with stop lights and stop signs (traffic), and some route verification.

Kilojoules: 7517

Power and heart rate with elevation profile for Solvang Spring Double Century

The High Quality Camera for Cycling

See The Camera for Cycling over on my photography site.

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
ZIPP 404 tubular rear wheel with DuraAce cassette and mounted new tire

FOR SALE: ZIPP 404 tubular rear wheel

Cleaning out the garage, and I ride my Lightweight wheels these days.

Low miles. A steal at $450 with new tire and DuraAce cassette.

Contact me to inquire.

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
ZIPP 404 tubular rear wheel with DuraAce cassette and mounted new tire

FOR SALE: LOOK 595 Ultra frameset

The LOOK 595 Ultra is a fantastic bike— see my review of the LOOK 595 Ultra including build details and image gallery.

This is the 'Ultra' which is more stiff than the regular version, but actually a more comfortable ride due to the carbon used for the frame—highly recommended versus monocoque “dead wood” carbon frames.

The 595 Ultra was a spare bike, and I find that I just always ride my Moots Vamoots RSL. In fact this bike is all but brand-new. It has a minor scratch on the frame (as it did when I bought). Of course, never crashed or abused in any way.

The bike has about 1500 miles on it. Seriously— I keep detailed records for every ride and that’s what it adds up to.

  • Size large (see chart below).
  • Includes ZIPP 404 rear tubular wheel with DuraAce cassette (no front wheel).
  • Includes DuraAce brakes front and rear.
  • Includes brand-new Shimano DuraAce 53 X 39 crank (10 speed).
  • Wired for 10-speed DuraAce Di2 electronic shifting (external). This can be stripped if you wish to run mechanical, but you'd need mechanical shifters.
  • Includes Shimano Vibe Pro handlebar and with nice fresh double bar wrap installed with stem as shown).
  • Serious local buyers welcome to come see the bike.

As described above: $1200 (bargain price considering all the extra on it).
Frame only: $900
With front and rear Di2 derailleurs, battery and charger: $1700

See the build notes for build details, though it now has the Shimano Vibe Pro handlebar on it.

This is a superb ride in superb condition. Low mileage (lightly used spare bike), never crashed, never abused.

Contact me to inquire. Asking $3300.

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size chart
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size chart

As I had built it below(NOT for sale this way).

FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large, size charge
FOR SALE: Look 595 Ultra size large

Fresh Food is Best: Additives to Keep Food Fresh May Disrupt the Gut Biome

Science new reports in Additives that keep foods fresh may sour in the gut; These compounds can disrupt intestinal bacteria, cause inflammation, mouse study suggests:

Food additives may keep snacks fresh and tasty looking, but they can wreak havoc on the gut. These additives disrupt the intestine’s protection from bacteria and boost inflammation in mice, scientists report online February 25 in Nature.

The new research “underscores the fact that a lot of things we eat … may not be as safe as we think they are,” says Eugene Chang, a gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago.

Additives called emulsifiers help many foods, including ice cream, salad dressing, pasta sauce, bread and cookies, stay fresh on supermarket shelves. To see whether the additives play a role in inflammatory conditions, researchers fed emulsifiers to mice for 12 weeks.

The mice put on weight and made proteins that signal inflammation. More inflammation-causing microbes also showed up in the bacterial communities in the mice’s guts.

...

The jury is out on this one. But why eat processed food with preservatives when so many fresh foods are available?

Details in Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome.

... in mice, relatively low concentrations of two commonly used emulsifiers, namely carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80, induced low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome in wild-type hosts and promoted robust colitis in mice predisposed to this disorder.

Emulsifier-induced metabolic syndrome was associated with microbiota encroachment, altered species composition and increased pro-inflammatory potential. These results suggest that the broad use of emulsifying agents might be contributing to an increased societal incidence of obesity/metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases

Anti-Oxidants Might be Counterproductive for Athletes

Science new reports in For athletes, antioxidant pills may not help performance; Some supplements can blunt the positive effects of exercise training:

...the American College of Sports Medicine estimates that around half of elite athletes take vitamins in hopes of keeping their bodies fit and boosting endurance.

... It’s that American mentality,” says Jay Williams, a professor in the department of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “If some is good, more is better.”

Except when it might be worse. In a scientific reboot, many newer, more rigorous studies are contradicting decades of previous thinking, finding little support for — if not outright harm from — antioxidant supplements for athletes. Although antioxidants obtained from food appear to do a body good, the colossal doses in supplements may disrupt a cell’s built-in system for coping with oxidative stress. And it appears that muscles under exertion may need a certain level of oxidative beating to adapt and strengthen over time. If the recent research holds up, it means one of the very things athletes commonly do to help their bodies could not only waste money but may even undermine the benefit from those hours of dedication.

Be sure to read the entire article. At best, the research suggest little harm; at worst it suggests a substantial negative.

A healthy diet surely needs little supplementation. Special cases for special reasons always exist, but it makes little sense that carefully chosen foods are somehow inadequate, especially since the body is adaptable an frugal when necessary.

Aggressive Start to 2015: Two March Double Centuries Planned, Maybe 3

I’m planning an aggressive training year, because I wish to beat my best effort in the 2012 Everest Challenge. And because the peripheral neuropathy still comes and goes, and it has degraded my ability to work at the computer. So getting on the bike makes it go away within 45 minutes, and it stays better for some days. But the P.N. still has my toes weirded out and a little uncomfortable.

Lean and strong for peak condition means 9 months of training for EC. Body weight is trending to 174-175 pounds (lost ~5 pounds of fat in ~2 months), and aerobic condition is already at very high levels (see graph below).

A couple of double centuries should bump up condition to 2012 levels by April. Hopefully 2015 won’t deliver bad luck as did 2013 (surgery) and 2014 (gut problem all year).

So I’ve signed up for the Southern Inyo Double Century on March 7, followed by the Solvang Spring Double on March 22. Possibly if the timing works and the conditions are favorable, I’ll insert the Joshua Tree Double Century on March 14. Then in April there is the grueling Devil Mountain Double, followed by Alta Alpine 8-Pass Challenge in June.

Preparing For a Double Century (Dry Run / Pre-Test)

Extensive endurance workout at 70-75% of max heart rate (fully aerobic), recovery ride

Fitness Pre-test for a Double Century

I did this 6-hour ride in late February, having signed up for an early March double century with a similar amount of climbing, but twice the distance.

I also wanted a good “shock to the body” by doing this ride to force a bump up in fitness. The distance and power levels and feel of the legs post-ride suggest a likely 5-day recovery period which should result in a bump up in fitness. Past experience suggests that to get to the “next level” of fitness requires periodic shocks odf this kind. Double centuries are good for that, which is why I have two scheduled for March.

Preparing For a Double Century (Dry Run / Pre-Test)

Extensive endurance workout at 70-75% of max heart rate (fully aerobic), recovery ride

How to lose ~1 Pound of Body Fat in a Single Day

I discuss how a great deal of fat can be “burned” off in a single day.

Lose a Pound of Fat in ONE Day: Century Fat Burner

See also Fat Loss vs Weight Loss and Muscle Loss.

Extensive endurance workout at 70-75% of max heart rate (fully aerobic), recovery ride

Extensive Endurance Workouts: Three Examples

I discuss three endurance workouts that I performed within the past 5 days, showing how I train for the Everest Challenge and for double centuries and similar.

Extensive and Intensive Endurance Workouts, 3 Examples

Extensive endurance workout at 70-75% of max heart rate (fully aerobic), recovery ride

Custom Orthotic Foot bed for Cyclists at 3DBikeFit: Fixing the Power Transfer Kinetic Chain

For the first time in forever, my the big metatarsal (big toe joint) in my right foot now plants my foot firmly as it ought to be, just like the left foot.

This foot placement issue has dogged as long as I can remember (forever I think), but a custom orthotic by 3DBikeFit.com has finally made my right foot placement symmetric with my left, fixing the weakness in the kinetic chain.

Read more...

Kevin Bailey of 3DBikeFit.com making a custom orthotic (shaping phase)

Training and Fitness: Why and How to Track Morning Resting Heart Rate (MRHR)

I should have been tracking this at the start of training season, but hadn’t. So I’ve just started again. So far, there are only three data points shown below, the first being the day after two very hard training days (4 hour ride and 3 hour ride on two weekend days). So the 44 figure is on another moderate day (2 hours); the 42 bpm follows an easier day, and the 41 bpm figure follows a 1/2 of baseline workout (600 kilojoules).

It's only a few beats drop, but the resting heart rate can be seen to decline a bit over the course of the week as recovery progresses from the hard ride on 16 Feb, in spite of a 6 day rolling average workout energy of 1952 kilojoules per day (1866 kilocalories/day).

3248, 2296, 1391, 667, 2541, 1573 = 1952/1866 kilojoules/kilocalories / day
(first figure 6 days old, last figure newest)

The workouts following the hardest and longest 32348 kj workout (on a Saturday) were designed as disciplined extensive endurance workouts so as to stress only the aerobic system, not muscle strength. The strategy clearly was effective.

Fully rested (taking 2 days off), I expect something around 38 (to be confirmed, but I have observed figures as low as 32 in the past).

Morning resting heart rate (bpm), start of data gathering (5 days/mornings)

Tracking Morning Resting Heart Rate (MRHR)

Tracking MRHR gives clues as to recovery or illness and other factors:

  • MRHR will be relatively high the day after a hard workout (5 to 10 beats, depending on a variety of factors).
  • MRHR will be up by 5 to 25 beats in the case of illness. Skip training if illness seems apparent; it’s a red flag.
  • MRHR can do odd things if overtrained; any significant variation from typical is cause for some thought at least. Recording heart rate overnight against a “known well rested” baseline adds a lot more insight than just a morning check.
  • Hydration and stress and medications can affect MRHR.
  • MRHR drops steadily as fitness increases, thus it is an excellent long-term tracker of fitness gains (provided one allows for full recovery).
  • MRHR is generally lower with age, at least for fit people (maximum heart rate drops by about 1 beat per year, but minimum heart rate also declines a bit).
  • Heart rate is a personal measure; don’t bother comparing your own heart rate to someone else’s; there is no real “normal”, only a very wide range of physiological normals. Do not confuse statistics of populations with your own personal physiology. This is why tracking your own normal is important.

How I measure MRHR

  1. Before rising in the morning, strap on heart rate band*.
  2. Lie flat on back, relax completely, record a multi-minute interval at rest.

Any movement (even raising an arm) can push HR up a few beats, so be consistent in position and lie still. Take the *average* (mean) heart rate over the lowest 2-minute interval. If the device does not record, observe the heart rate on the device; use the consistently lowest reading (not necessarily the lowest number).

* Counting heart beats by sensing one’s own pulse introduces error by a few beats because some muscle activation is generally required to to do (at complete rest on one’s back, even a little muscle activation can introduce 10% error, e.g., 4 beats on top of 40). But as long as done consistently each day, this is fine for the purpose of trends (but the true MRHR may be a few beats lower).

Shown below is a 3+ minute recording at rest averaging 41 beats (bpm).

Morning resting heart rate (bpm) recorded for nearly 4 minutes

To Clot or Not to Clot: Aging Athletes and Blood Clot Prevention vs Injury/Crash

A fellow cyclist described to me a health episode involving a blood clot.

In a nutshell, he had gone for a ride and come home and then suffered through two days of intense pain in his chest/back area. Heading to urgent care when it became intense, it turned out to be a blood clot lodged in the lung, likely formed and then dislodged from a large vein in the lower body (perhaps hip area).

Clots that form in the lower body in veins travel upwards with the blood to be oxygenated and this is why they lodge in the lungs (barring a congenital heart defect). So there is little chance of such a type of clot reaching the brain; those types of strokes are caused by other factors. It is thought that small clots (1-2mm) in the lungs are fairly common, and that the body assimilates them.

Aspirin and clotting: dual edged-sword

Legal disclaimer: Since we are not doctors, never follow anything based on health-related or training topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional.

Being of similar age, the foregoing piqued my interest: as aging athletes, what might be the role of aspirin? Aspirin has anti-clotting properties, which is a dual-edged sword. Low-dose aspirin is used by many as a prophylactic.

Another speculative point is that highly trained aging athletes might be susceptible to blood clots while sleeping and similar because of a very low resting heart rate (venous “flushing”, my own made-up term to articulate the idea). I am researching this point.

When, how much and whether to take? (see updated notes that follow)

  • If aspirin is to be taken at all, it seems to make the most sense to take it after the effort, so as to have maximum anti-clotting effect were a clot imminent (from the effort), and yet the aspirin would have mostly dissipated prior to the next-day ride. How much to take?
  • Taking aspirin before or during a ride could be risky: if a crash were to result in a bleeding cut or laceration, aspirin could cause excessive and perhaps even dangerous bleeding.
  • If a crash results in no external bleeding but does result in impact, might immediately consuming aspirin be called for (how much?), so as to minimize the risk of a blood clot from the trauma? But this too could be risky, due to the risk of internal bleeding, say in a badly bruised area. The situation here is not at all clear-cut.

The above is speculative thinking and not advice—check with your own doctor. Hard and fast answers might prove elusive, but it’s worth pondering.

UPDATE after talking to a heart surgeon

I spoke with a heart surgeon with 35 years experience (these guys have to know clotting). What follows is my rendition of what I learned.

Aspirin works by “poisoning” the clotting receptors on platelets (drugs such as coumadin work by blocking the chemical chain for clotting, very different and much more dangerous if bleeding starts). Aspirin is thus a permanent change to platelets, regardless of when taken. But toxic doses of aspirin would have to be consumed in order to inactivate all the platelets (think 'moles' in the chemistry sense).

New platelets are constantly being created by the body; this is why surgeons ask patients to be off aspirin for a 7-10 days prior to surgery—to let the body release new platelets not previously inactivated by aspirin. Finally, about 20% of the population is non-responsive to aspirin in its platelet clotting factor inactivation (but still respond to analgesic effects).

Bottom line: barring a medical issue (bleeding gastric ulcers, sickle cell, surgery, etc—see your doctor), aspirin taken daily may be helpful and is unlikely to be harmful. And it won’t matter when taken—once platelets are inactivated, they stay that way in terms of clotting ability.

Other notes:

  • Dehydration can be a factor in clotting; stay hydrated.
  • Fixed body positions, particularly those that stress the body can cause clots (e.g. those viciously small airline seats). Such as sitting on one’s folded leg, which appears to have been the precipitating cause of the clot in the fellow cyclist narrative that starts this post (clot was in femoral vain in knee area according to an ultrasound, sat on leg folded for several hours, thus crimping the femoral vein for a long period).

Science News: “Signs of sleep debt found in the blood”

Science News reports that Signs of sleep debt found in the blood (emphasis added):

A drop in certain fats and acids in the blood may reveal whether a person is critically sleep deprived, scientists report online February 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When people and rats skimp on slumber, two compounds involved in metabolism become depleted.

A reliable marker of sleep debt could be used to test whether pilots, truck drivers and other people who hold jobs with long hours are sufficiently well rested, says coauthor Amita Sehgal, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania.

WIND: the emphasis is on risky professions, but might this not be a wonderful tool for athletes in the emerging age of personalized digital medicine?

Recovering from Donating Blood? Mitigating, and perhaps a Really Bad Idea for Competing Athletes

Science News reports that Bouncing back from giving blood can take months (emphasis added):

People who donate blood can take months to recoup their stores of iron, a new study shows. But the process moves much faster if they take iron supplements afterward, scientists from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and elsewhere report in the Feb. 10 JAMA.

The findings help to explain why up to one-third of regular blood donors develop iron deficiency, which can cause fatigue, irritability and other symptoms.

In the United States, healthy people are permitted to donate blood every eight weeks. The Food and Drug Administration is weighing whether this interval should be longer, the researchers note.
...
IRON REBOUND Levels of the protein ferritin, which stores iron in cells, recover faster in blood donors taking daily iron pills afterward — regardless of whether they start with low or high iron levels in their blood.

WIND: Not spoken to in the above is the rapid degradation of red blood cells by athletes (physical degradation), which might entail similar risks of iron deficiency, an idea that rings a bell for me—speculating—sometimes my hematocrit has been low after some months of hard training, which always seemed odd to me. OTOH, I have always rapidly acclimatized to altitude. What does it mean? Higher hematocrit can be a huge advantage when racing, which is why I raise my hematocrit prior to the Everest Challenge the natural way: acclimatizing.

Legal disclaimer: Since we are not doctors, never follow anything based on health-related or training topics on this or related sites without first consulting with your doctor or other trusted health professional.

I’m not jumping to any conclusions, but the issue of adequate iron is one I’m pondering consciously now. Excessive iron supplementation can be dangerous to kidneys, but once or twice a week might be OK, and especially since those iron-rich dark leafy greens don’t make it onto my plate as often as I’d like (and bison ribeye steaks are a distant memory!).

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