Thursday, February 28, 2013

And I tackle the training schedule

Time to STP: 134 Days

As you know, I have been training actively for about two months at this point, but I have finally started falling on the basic training schedule guidelines put out by the Cascade Bike Club. 

Because I have gone so long without seriously riding, and because I am nervous about hitting up STP without dying in the process, I basically put all my free time into riding whenever and wherever I can.  This starts with moving up my alarm clock in the morning to 4:59 (I contend that there is something psychologically different about waking up at that hour versus at 5:02) so when I have my kids (I am a part time dad and have them for a week at a time), I can get up and ride while they are sleeping and be home before they wake to shower and have my first cup of coffee.  I also have stopped driving to my girlfriend's house (or anywhere else that I can help it) and instead ride there in the evening when I don't have my kids.  It gives me about 6.5 miles if I go there as directly (and safely) as I can, and more if I want to work in another mile or two during the day.

As a result of this, I think I am getting into a better habit of general training for interval purposes and I have recently decided I would try and really concentrate on my cadence as well.  The bike computer I bought is finally set properly, so I can more closely monitor how fast I am going.  My goal is to maintain around a 14mph average wherever I go with the idea that I can complete each leg of STP in about 6 hours or so (my 30 mile ride day last Sunday took me just over 2 hours, so I am optimistic).

I have also discovered increasing problems trying to find ways to stay local and meet my mileage goals.  While I intend on starting to bike to and from work towards the end of March (around 16 miles round trip), the big weekend rides are going to be difficult to do with the limited resources that  I have available to me (I do have the entire Internet, true, but sites like do not have a lot of resources for the Vancouver area).  So, in an effort to get in my mileage requirements and learn more about the nuances (and rules) of group riding, I plan on doing a Metric Century in April and then a full century ride in June.  STP is just over four months away and I want to be as prepared as I possibly can.

I have also, just in terms of suggestions, have found that Ride Oregon is a remarkably useful website for a variety of reasons and have started frequenting it more and more as I learn more and prep up more. 

As I prep up my menu for next week, I will post a few more recipes, as well.  My morning breakfast standard, instant oatmeal, has been modified for the last couple of weeks.  I have continued with the low sugar oatmeal, but now make it with organic soy milk.  It is quite tasty, fills you up and provides you with a wide variety of nutrients.  For those of you that want a nice and healthy snack during the day, I recommend picking up some dried soy beans or some edamame (which you can find in the frozen food isle).  It really takes the edge off hunger and gives you a healthy dose of protein for the day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A new bike computer: A review

With my morning rides while the kids are sleeping, I have rapidly determined that what I need is not only a way to tell time, but also a way to see if I am getting the mileage that I am shooting for in a limited window of time in the mornings.  I had spoken with a friend who rode STP a few years back and she suggested I guy something like what you see pictured to the side here.

I headed to REI on Saturday with the kids and decided to pick this one up.  At $20 it seemed like a great deal and was going to do everything that I needed to do.  I have previously owned a bike computer, but sadly it was of the "Hot Wheels" variety and was evidently so popular, I can't even find a photo of it on a image search.  However, after I opened the box to the Sigma BC 5.12, I saw that the mechanics were basically the same.  It came with two rubber bands for strapping the computer itself onto the handlebar (or you could switch out the screws to mount it to the stem, which I did) and another for mounting the wired sensor on the inside of your fork.  A magnet is attached to your spoke with a silvered sleeve to hold it into place as it helps monitor your speed/mileage.  This process was done in fairly short order with only a tiny screwdriver being used to change the mounting orientation for the computer itself.

The computer comes installed with a single button battery that is easily changed out, should the need arise, and the real beauty of this computer-and what attracted me to it other than price, was the single button on the face of the computer.  No up or down or menu keys.  You can easily press this with your gloves on while riding to find out any of the information you need from your ride while you are in it.  It locks into place with a simple twist on the mount.and the large numbers are easily readable.

Now, for someone that does not set up these things regularly, I must say it was beyond frustrating setting this thing up.  There is a single slightly recessed button on the back that you use for setting the clock/wheel size/auto scan function (a feature that will cycle through all of your available data while on the road-speed, trip distance, total distance and time).  Anyone that has set up a clock on any piece of electronics in the last five years should have no problem accomplishing this function and if you do have issues, there is a very large instruction manual that comes with step by step instructions in various languages on how to accomplish this.  The real problem comes when you are trying to set your wheel size.

Not only do the number of button presses seem arbitrary and not intuitive on any level, but how big your wheels are supposed to be and how you measure this is shown in two cryptic photos that show two different methods for determining the size with conversions for going from inches to mm's, I think.  This is the single most frustrating aspect of setting up this computer as the need to have this measurement precise is integral to getting good data from your cycling computer (and in my case, knowing that I have the right amount of mileage before I head back home).  For statistic fanatics, the wrong number in the wrong place means your data is all off.  The directions for this process are printed so small (7 point font, probably smaller) that I had to have my son read it to me, and even then-they were not particularly clear.  I even pulled out my copy of Zinn and the art of Road Bike Maintenance for some guidance, which helped, but when I had the required data, the reference chart on the instruction sheet was less than helpful in every way. 

The first day I took this computer out for a stroll my mileage was off by 4 miles at the end of the ride (4 more miles tracked than ridden) and this morning, it was off by .6 under what was actually ridden.  I will endeavor to tweak this again tonight, but the prospects of getting meaningful data from this unit seem slim.  Sigma does have installation instruction videos that are helpful, but nothing to help set the computer up with these measurements.  In short, if you can't figure this out exactly, you end up with a $20 dollar digital clock with no back light.

A final complaint is that this also has no real off function to conserve battery life.  Although the LCD display is not back lit, and probably will not suck much from the battery, the only offering that this unit offers is a standby mode after 15 minutes (a fact I had to find out on the FAQ of Sigma's website).  Be prepared, this thing is always on.

Because I am stubborn, I will not be taking this back as I can't imagine how I can be beat so easily by this little device, but I don't know that I would recommend this unit to anyone but someone who has spent years working with them.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saddles do matter, recipes and a new milestone

Time to STP: 138 Days

As stated in a previous post, I decided to buy a new saddle that was ideally going to be a little bit more comfy on the longer rides, as I progressed.  Throughout the week I have been riding on my Oval Concepts saddle and have been quite surprised.  I can't say that there are a ton of real discernible differences between my old Specialized saddle and this one at first.  The back end is a little more narrow and there aren't any gripping features on it.  But as I rode this week, things just felt largely more in tune with the way I ride.

if my own experience wasn't proof enough, my youngest son, daughter and I went on a ride Monday to enjoy an usually warm(ish) PNW day sans rain down a trail we had ridden much when we lived closer to it, but had not in some time.  My son on a Haro BMX style bike and my daughter on a Magna mountain bike that she got for her birthday last year.  The ride was not much, about 12 miles, but more than either of them had done in a very long time.  And although my son was fortunate enough to have a gear ratio on his Haro that lent itself to multi-purpose riding, my 8 year old daughter had to figure out how to use her six speeds to go up and down the hills along the Burnt Bridge Creek trail.  This in itself created some issues, but as we were returning, my poor daughter's bum started to hurt more and more.  Point of fact, this bike was probably not built for total comfort and she was feeling it.  I would be inclined to buy her a saddle that would fit her better, but as I have figured out-it is a crapshoot when you are trying to find a perfect saddle and likely she was going to grow out of it in the next several months.  It is funny, because it never occurred to me that something as basic as a saddle could make such a difference in riding.  As a kid, I used to ride for hours and hours and I don't remember thinking that my butt hurt afterwards.  Maybe it is the haze of reflection from 25 years past.

The honey/chocolate syrup has been marvelous for my post ride recovery and as I have been trying to get more familiar with the healthier options of taking care of my body for riding, I have also been stumbling upon more recipes just to make things more interesting.  Friday night was a Thai Green Curry (recipe follows).  Be careful on how much green curry you use, though, as it will really spice things up.  And don't be disparaged if it doesn't look like the curries that you get at your local Thai place, chances are, they are using a LOT of coconut milk to create that saucy look that you get at the restaurant.  Saturday night was baked salmon fillets and mashed cauliflower.  I know a lot of people that were/are doing Atkins do this as a replacement to mashed potatoes, but let me say-mashed potatoes this is not, so don't treat it that way, I think.  I mashed a signed cauliflower head and added 1/2 a cup of Greek yogurt with some sea salt and black pepper and some dried onion flakes.  It was quite good and I really recommend it.

Finally, I hit my first mental milestone in training today.  Just over 30 miles in the saddle at 2 hours and 15 minutes, which I was pretty happy about.  Fortunately, the weather has been pretty forgiving for Winter (about 40 degrees and dry).  A nice combination of hills and flat made the ride quite nice and although I should not be wearing headphones while riding, I was listening to the last several episodes of Radiolab the entire time which makes the ride feel a bit less long, like I have someone chatting with me the whole time (like most of NPR's programming, I highly recommend this show).  I really feel like I am making progress towards STP now.  I think it is because 30 miles is the most I have ever ridden uninterrupted and feel that if I am in the end of February and can do this, that the 138 days I have left are really going to be enough.  I feel fabulous and can't wait for my next ride.

And, although I didn't post the photos for the fork modifications for the Bridgestone, that went smoothly.  A $6 metal file purchased at Home Depot and about 5 minutes of time opened up the dropouts on the fork enough to drop in the 700mm front wheel into the fork.  It is sitting on the bike at present and waiting to be ridden.

Many thanks to for these recipes
Spicy Thai Curry
16 oz. cubed chicken breast, tofu, or shrimp
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
3 Tbsp soy or tamari sauce
2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 scallions, chopped
16 oz. fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup low-fat coconut milk
4 tsp green curry paste (or to taste)
4 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/3 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, chopped 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 lime, quartered

Cook the chicken in a tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat until done. Remove from pan. Add remaining oil and saute garlic and ginger on medium heat. When the oil is absorbed, add soy sauce, then add the peppers. Cook for two minutes, then add the scallions and spinach. Cook for two more minutes. Add the coconut milk and green curry paste and stir until well combined. Serve over rice and season with fresh basil, chopped peanuts, crushed red pepper, and a squeeze of lime. Makes four servings.

For my part, I instead used extra firm tofu and squeezed as much fluid out as I could by sandwiching it between two cutting boards and placing a cast iron skillet on top of it for about 10 minutes.  I then cut them into 1"X1/2" bits and seared those in a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil.  The tofu really ends up absorbing the flavors of the curry etc... and tastes great.  Also, brown rice is something of a pain if you are used to cooking white rice.  I recommend checking here to cook brown rice good every time.  Seriously, brown rice just provides a bit more substance and fills you up a bit quicker.

Oven-Roasted Salmon
1 5-oz. fillet of salmon (or other fish) 
1 Tbsp butter 
Salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place fish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with butter and seasonings. Bake for 15 minutes, or until desired doneness. Makes one serving.

I nixed the butter entirely and used olive oil instead.  Then I just tossed on some herbs de provence  which is my sort of catch all herb blend.  You could do anything you want with this, truly.  Along with the mashed cauliflower, too, I took a few slices of sourdough bread, brushed them with olive oil and dusted them with garlic salt.  Put this under the broiler until they brown and you have some fabulous garlic bread to go with your meal.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A short shopping list

Time to STP: 141 Days

As alluded to in my previous post, I have been reading "The Cyclist's Food Guide" and in the first few pages of this guide, there is a great shopping list of things that you should just generally have in your cupboard to healthy eating.  One thing that I have really discovered as of late is that a lot of foods that you eat when you are working to train for anything (in this case, a tour) are really protein heavy. But at the same time, you want to make sure that you are not overly depleting your glycogen stores daily (see previous post for chocolate milk recipe that is quite useful in getting some of this back to your body after a run/ride).  Really, keeping your body fueled before and after a long workout really quite important.

Although you may be trying to trim up, I have found, you can't rely entirely on your typical caloric intake for the day to fuel your body.  On a typical 1 hour ride, I burn around 660 calories.  For someone in my age bracket, just to maintain, I should be eating around 2400 calories a day. If you want to lose weight, then the recommendation is cutting your caloric intake by around 500.  So, even if I am trying to trim up a bit, I still need to consume around 2500 calories per day just to keep things working.  It has been a terrifically interesting trying to learn these things as I am trying to not only shed a few pounds from when my daughter was born, but also feel more energized on a ride.

As an aside, I saw something at New Seasons the other day and wondered if I could replicate it.  This is really a meal unto itself depending on your proportions, and will last for days.

Quinoa Salad
2 Cups Quinoa (cooked)
1 Cup dried cranberries
1 bunch of spinach (chopped) or 1 cup of baby spinach
1 can chick peas
2 tbs pine nuts (optional)
2 tbs olive oil
Herbs to taste
Mix together and chill.
Serving size  is what you like of it, but I found around a cup works good and puts you at around 300 calories, give or take.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where I figure out that saddles matter and that you should eat food.

Time to STP: 143 days
What a massively productive week! Per Runkeeper, I ended up logging 114.6 miles in the saddle last week.  That is me riding every day except last Wednesday which I used as a recovery day.  I ended up getting up earlier every day and starting to try a recovery regimen.  Basically, this week was just about upping the mileage and trying to not kill myself doing it.
My girlfriend, an active runner, has become something of an information resource for me.  She has been exercising consistently for a few years now and as a result is in the best shape of her life and shedded an astonishing amount of weight.  I figured if anyone knew anything about how to really properly take care of yourself after a ride.  She had mentioned that what I really needed was something to help rebuild the muscles after a ride and that something would typically be proteins.  So, for the first couple post ride days this week I tried boiling a few eggs and scarfing those down with my coffee.  A little sea salt and a little cracked pepper and I was good to go.  I happen to love eggs and this wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but these things wen straight to my stomach and sat there in a way that I would necessarily describe as "pleasant".  It didn't give me that full feeling that I was hoping for, but I figured if it was helping my legs do it all over again the next day then it was no big deal.  However, she then suggested that there was a theory that chocolate milk could be a good recovery drink as well.  Evidently there are a number of fats and proteins in chocolate milk that are good for recovery as well as antioxidants (there is a great article here that discusses it).  As an added bonus, I also happened to have a carton of soy milk (hello protein) that I wasn't doing anything with and now, for the last several days, I have given the chocolate milk a good go.  I can say, that though I thought it would feel too thick or sweet after a ride, it has been quite refreshing, and although my legs are still tight during the day, I don't feel as drained as I did when I started training last month.
Really, what I have been doing for the last week is also trying to make myself aware of more of the nutritional requirements of what it is that I am trying to do.  I am trying to trim down, improve my cardiovascular and build up so I can take STP head on and not feel wiped Monday after I come back to work after training or after the big ride itself (yes, I am actually coming back to work after STP).  I know myself well enough to know, too, that if I skip too many days, that I will find it harder to get back on the training wagon.  So, as it sits right now, I train for six days a week.  However, I know I need to feed myself properly, so I have been finding some great recipes online, including-but not limited to- a homemade chocolate syrup that isn't infused with high fructose corn syrup (I am making this tonight).  I recently picked up "The Cyclists Food Guide" as well, and so far this is an interesting read with even a good list of the things that you should keep in your house to build up a good set of healthy meals. 
Saturday I decided to increase my days mileage some and ride the 20 mile loop that I had put together for the previous Sunday.  I woke up a little late and had a few cups of coffee and headed out.  The first bit of the ride was uneventful, but fun, but as I whipped back for my return trip I encountered a headwind.  From what I understand, most of STP operates with a headwind so this wasn't something I had planned for but it was good training.  What I was not prepared for is the wall (metaphorical) that I hit right around mile 13.  I sort of lost my pep.  I lost the energy I was enjoying for the first half of my ride.  As well, I started having some rather irritating saddle rubbing issues that I also hadn't expected.  Basically, this made the last 7 miles of my ride tiresome and irritating (physically speaking).  I do ride with bib shorts and I spoke with the manufacturer and they had said their material is not necessarily designed to have to use butt butter but that people did.  I was finding, though, that it wasn't the whole of my bum that was hurting, just a section on back end of the saddle itself.  After another 23 mile ride Sunday, I resolved to do some investigation into saddles.
While a buddy of mine rides a fi'zi:k and swears by it, I wasn't really prepared to spent upwards of 20 bucks on a saddle just yet (yes, the argument can be made that it is money well spent, but ever since I bought Betsy, I have done nothing but buy something every this normal?).   I ended up with a nice Oval Concepts saddle (can't seem to find the model number) that I picked up from the CCC.  I will give that one a go and see how it works out, but all indications seem to point to something that will be a fair bit more comfortable than what I have been riding up until this point.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crisis probably averted

Time to STP:  150 Days
So, it seems, there is a whole page on the STP website dedicated to midpoint lodging.

I think I am going to be staying at Centralia college.  The experience seems really cool, and this will be a real chance to meet some of my other riders after I get into town.  I have heard a real argument for riding down to Vader, as it is over halfway and if you have it in you, you can do that.  I haven't sent anything off yet, but I am going to think real hard about this today and tomorrow and decide what direction I want to go. 

It seems that the STP Facebook page has a ton of great information on there.  People discussing different options (and I have had several people suggest nutition ideas as well). 

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Time to STP: 154 Days

I knew that I was doing a 2 day ride, this was never a secret to me.  Something that I was trying to figure out.  But, I had been waiting to work out accommodations until I knew what the midpoint would be.  Well, after looking at the Facebook page and all the advice about getting a room soon, I decided to look into it this morning.  As of this writing, there was virtually nothing available.  A room at the Great Wolf Lodge (around 300 bucks a night) and a room at an America's Best for 434 bucks.  Yes.  A Travelodge analogue wants to charge $400 for one room.  Hello price gouging.

Lesson for the future: Book well in advance.  Really well in advance.

Staples suck.

Well, at least I know my front tire is new.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Minor adjustments

Time to STP:  155 Days

I have registered for STP!  10:03 Tuesday morning I submitted my information. And as of this writing, the event is 80% sold out.  You can register here, if you want to join the fun.

After finally finishing the tweaks on Betsy this week, I was really looking forward to getting her out this week and feeling my handy work all come to fruition.  I have discovered a few things in the process.  First, that center pull cantilever breaks are kind of a pain to adjust in general, but when I put on the 105 break levers that I had laying around, it made things a little more difficult.  Center pulls are one of the better set ups for touring bikes (which Betsy is) because of their sheer stopping power.  However, the levers I installed are not designed to pull to the degree that center pull requires, so it requires some tweaking (after talking with the shop owner of Bad Monkey and to a friend of mine, they said that this is a problem a lot of people come to)..  I am thinking about replacing the actual center pull bracket today with something that will give me more mechanical advantage.  Truthfully, I should just replace the brake levers, but I don't want to effectively lose all the money I just invested in bar wrap.  Who knows, we will see where this goes in the near future..

I also discovered that I suck at adjusting the rear derailleur,  I haven't spent a ton of time dinking with derailleur's before, but I figured the process would be approximately the same as working with brakes (which, up until this point, I had been successful at).  I am going to have to take Betsy down to Bad Monkey today to get them to adjust it for me.  What has effectively happened is I have lost two entire gears on my main cog, which has made tackling the hill on Mill Plain even more problematic.  Since I plan on doing 20+ miles tomorrow, and I really don't want to have to worry about this anymore, the money will be well spent, but I need to spend some time seeing what they are doing.  I figure I am going to be putting the better part of 1K miles on my bike over the next six months and don't want to do that with 8 speeds only. 

Also, while working on my girlfriends bike last weekend, we discovered that a few things have changed in the last 30 years since her bike was manufactured.  Her bike, a cruiser, is heavy.  I mean, nigh on WalMart bike heavy, but there are several ways to reduce the weight and get better performance from it.  One of which, is switching out her steel rims to aluminum.  And since she rives a sedan, I figured she would also want quick release hubs so she could pack her bike in and out of her front seat.  I picked up a aluminum wheel from Bad Monkey last weekend to help this, but when trying to install it on the front, i realized quickly that the spacing was different (as in stock was 100mm while the new hub was spaced at 110mm).  Generally (since this is a steel fork) this would just require bending the fork out.  However, moving from a bolt through hub to a quick release also offered its own special set of issues.  Stock was something on the order of 5/16" while modern is around 7/16".  Whilst talking with the shop owner at Bad Monkey, I was trying to brainstorm ideas, and basically just trying to do what it was I was doing required a single tool: a file.  This is my weekend project (I will post photos).

Who would have known that I would be learning so much while training for this race about bikes?

Total miles for the week is just over 50, which I am happy about.  I have rode three mornings this week plus today.  I am getting there, slowly.  Incidentally, if you want to track my progress for STP or just use a great app, check out Runkeeper.  They just did a new update and are making improvements all the time. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Betsy Gets a Tuneup

Days to STP: 158
As I said in a previous post, I bought a new set of drop down handlebars for Betsy.  A nice set of bars that were actually meant for a Cyclocross.  They have great length and a bit of a shallower curve on the drop downs that I liked.  I realized quickly, though, that when I put these on, I was going to have to replace all of my brake and shift cables as well as their housings.

New bars mounted

Old bars, removed.

What began as a nice way to add a bit of customization to my otherwise stock T700, became a minor tune up affair.  I also had a set of Shimano 105 brake levers laying around the garage that I wanted to replace the stock levers with, and I figured if I was replacing all the cabling anyway, I might as well switch these out.  Although I didn't take photos of the entire experience, there are a few things that I learned.
  • Don't skimp on tools.  Seriously, don't.  I bought this cable puller a year or so ago because it was a bit cheaper than the Park Tools equivalent.   Somehow, they ended up making this thing only suitable for lefties (at least that is how it handles for me) and trying to tension a cable and get a box wrench in to turn a nut is nightmarish.  When/If I ever break this thing, i am going to buy one with a lower overall profile and the ability to be used both right and left handed
    • As a sub of this, invest in some long handle hex wrenches.  I spent $15 on a hardened steel set of metric and US wrenches and the added leverage really helped when adjusting the tension on the brakes.
  • Measure twice, and then measure again, cut once.  I knew full well that I was moving from 39cm bars to 44cm and that the flare where my bar end shifters were would add some additional length.  However, when it came to running cables for my back brakes, I just seemed to have issues and had to go out and buy more cable housing just to stretch the additional 3"'s that I needed.
  • Make sure that your brake levers are placed where they will be comfortable.  I checked, double and triple checked to make sure they were where I naturally wanted them to be.  Doing this kind of thing is pointless unless you are comfortable at the end.
  • Create a clean and organized work place.  Just make sure you know where all your tools are.  I suddenly get why shops have that little bucket on the top of their racks.  Just make sure everything is where it needs to be so you aren't searching everywhere when you need to switch from a 9mm to a 10mm wrench in a hurry.
  • The ground is not a good place to store parts.  Yes, you may think you'll see it, but you won't.  Even if it is a back part on a white floor.
  • Before venturing back to the bike shop, make sure they are open.  The folks at Bad Monkey are awesome, but they do have to close on occasion.
I also discovered wrapping handlebars is not nearly as daunting as I would have suspected.  After I had run all the cables and adjusted the brakes (Betsy is currently running center pull cantilever brakes that really have to be tweaked in order to get good contact), my son and I decided to wrap the bars.  I wanted something that was going to last for a spell and the folks at Bad Monkey recommended the Lizard Skin tape.  It was a little on the pricey side, but I figured if I was only going to have to do this every so often, it wasn't as big of a deal.

While you can't see it very well, there is a thin strip of adhesive here.

After my son and I figured out how to get the adhesive off the back of one of the rolls of bar tape, it was a simple process of wrapping the bars and trying to be mindful of the shifters etc...

As I was doing it, as well, I knew that I was going to want to maintain some naked bar space for my lights and a bike computer later, so I tried to stop things at a point where I had some clearance.

And finally, after about 15 minutes, we were done.  I left myself enough room overall for things I would want on my bars.

I also took a few minutes at the end to adjust my rear derailleur which was not shifting quite the way I would have preferred.  This is done with a couple of screws on the back of the derailleur itself and after a little help from my son, it was done in short order.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Finding a route

Time to STP: 160 Days

As I am now into my second real week of training for STP (although, I am operating ahead of their proposed schedule), I have found it increasingly difficult to find routes around Vancouver to use for training. At least ones that logically lend themselves to riding a bike and not having to dodge cars or (by extension) suck exhaust.  As such, I just started taking the little information that I know about distances in the city and started looping them around, trying to find a place to meet my daily mileage requirements.  This, I have learned, is not the most efficient way of doing things.

What I have started to do now, is use Runkeeper's website to create routes, which allows me to track mileage along the way as I create it.  Also, I am able to modify it, even if I have it all mapped out, to include additional mileage.  With the added satellite view, it makes things a good deal easier.  I knew I was going to cycle both days last weekend (I have been using the stationary during the week up until this point) from two different start points and I knew the kind of mileage that I was hoping to achieve (as close as I could get to 15 miles each day).\

It is a wonder how your sense of perspective changes, truly.  A couple weeks ago, I was riding in 27 degree weather and when I went out Saturday and Sunday morning, I was astonished at the balmy 40 that it was (read: much sarcasm). While the training information I have found has really encouraged riding relatively flat rides with at least 1 hilly ride a weekend, I have found that I just like to mix it up for the sake of not being bored.  Saturday's ride as well as Sunday's were a nice combination of those things (with Sunday finding me tackling the dreaded Mill Plain hill again).  However, on both days, I ended up shorting myself some on mileage.  Saturday was around 12 and Sunday was around 13.  25 miles for the weekend isn't bad, but wasn't quite what I was hoping to accomplish. 

The two day training schedule from last year.  A good guide regardless.
The schedule also suggests just riding in the middle of week and the weekends.  I am hoping to mitigate some of the heavy weekday riding by doing several smaller rides during the week either before or after I go to work.  Does anyone have any experience prepping for a century that they might be able to suggest?  A friend of mine recommended beer and burgers as a good offset.  I don't disagree with that, but I also know (through some more reading) that I would benefit from increasing my veggie and fruit intake more.
Also, on a more personal note, I regressed on smoking this weekend, back on the wagon today.  I really need to just kick that demon to the curb.