40 Year Old Knees

It’s two days before the Waves to Wine 2010. I’m a little worried because even though I’ve got 2400 miles under my belt this year and I’m in good cycling shape, my knees have been bothering me the last several weeks.
Oddly enough it srarted on a flatish ride from Walnut Creek to Sunol and back which is the traditional warm up ride for Monterey. I started to feel some pain in my right knee, just a little twinge at first, but by the end of the ride, it felt like someone was trying to drive a spike through my knee on each pedal stroke. Not very pleasant.
Walnut Creek/Sunol was a 50 miler. So how the knee going to hold out on the 120 miles from Pacifica to Monterey? Not too bad in fact. Not sure why, but I didn’t really have any problems. It’s strange because the next day on a 17 mile recovery ride around Carmel and Pebble Beach, it was back. Not good, but at least I had gotten through Monterey without any trouble.
So when I was on the bike, it was excruciating. I found myself doing all the pedalling with my left leg. This helped, but it’s not exactly efficient. Off the bike, there was no pain at all. I iced it some, but it really didn’t seem to do much.
Last weekend, the club did a 20 mile climb up Mines Road in Livermore. I was totally fine going up, but coming back down fighting a fierce headwind blowing up the valley, the pain was back. Again, not good.
I got myself a neoprene and did a little 8 mile test ride around Berkeley yesterday. It seemed to be fine, but it’s impossible to tell on such as short ride. The brace is a really nuissance though and I’d much prefer not to have to use it, of course.
The first day of the Waves to Wine is pretty challenging. Not only is it 100 miles, but there’s fairly severe climbing, most notably up to the Muir Beach overlook. This is get out of the saddle and grind up the mountain stuff and it’s going to be a real test for the knee. For most of the ride, I plan on sitting at the back of pacelines, doing a pull if here and there, but mostly letting others doing the bulk of the work. But you can’t do this on climbs.
On the positive side, if I’m not feeling up to the whole 100 miles, there are several places where I can choose to bail and take a shortcut. I hope not to have to resort to that, but I will if necessary.

Attack of the Power Goos

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Gus and Gels that athletes use to have been around for almost a decade now, but I have mostly been spared them because, well, there’s no reason for me to have used them. They are consumed by athletes looking for quick energy when the are competing or training. But since I’ve started cycling in earnest this year, goos and gels have been an increasing part of my training nutrition diet. I almost always bring one with me on a ride and when I do a supported ride, like Waves to Wine or any of the Century rides, they are usually available at the rest stops. Since they are easy and quick to consume and provide a well needed energy boost, goos are very welcome.
However not all goos are created equal. They come in a rainbow of “flavors” and brands. For me, there’s little difference between the brands. At their core, they are all a same—a viscous jelly-like substance similar in texture (and often taste) to tree sap. I tend to stay away from any of the fruit flavors which taste like Elmer’s glue and stick to the chocolate, mocha, espresso spectrum, which are far more palatable.
On the first day of the Waves to Wine ride, I made a huge mistake and, at the last rest stop, ate several goos with a fistful of pretzels. Big mistake. The combination of the viscous goo and the flour from the pretzels creates a mortar like substance that could have been used to build the pyramids. It sat like a brick in my stomach for the last 15 miles of the ride. It was terribly uncomfortable. On the plus side, I probably won’t have to shit for a week.
Here are some sample goo varieties:

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Spin Baby Spin

These days, I don’t just ride outside, I joined the gym downstairs and have been taking spin classes for about a month.
The Spin trainer Rachel (who also owns the gym), is incredibly hard core. She’s in great shape (so much so that’s it no big deal for her to teach the spin class and then turn around immediately and teach the core class. She’s done Ironmans and ultra-marathons. Basically she’s nuts, but in a good way. Don’t beleive me? Check out her bio.
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Rachel also runs a serious state of the art fitness program for cyclists. It helps that there are so many Schwab employees who are into cycling and training for various rides. In class, we ride CycleOps Pro 300PT bikes. I know that doesn’t mean much, but just know that they are top of the line. The basic difference between these bikes and other spin bikes is that they tell you what your output is in watts so you can tune your training not to your heartbeat which is variable but to wattage which is testable. Each class is geared to your personal threshold. There’s a chart on the wall where you can find your 100% threshold and then see what output you should be at during various parts of the class.

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