More Flat Tires

Last July I tried to get in 1,000 miles on the bike in one month, and came up short because I got a couple of flat tires that cut a ride or two short and I missed my goal.  This year I decided to try to get in 1,000 miles in May (it’s National Bike Month so it made sense to do a lot of cycling).  Prior to May, I hadn’t had a single flat tire this year. 

I got a rear flat on a long ride toward the beginning of the month.  I couldn’t find what caused the flat but didn’t think much of it because you’re bound to get a flat from time to time when your ride a lot. No big deal.  But on my next ride (a tempo ride too, so it was a key ride) on those same wheels (training wheels) I got two flats and had to call Courtney for a ride.  Again, I never found the cause so I decided to spend some time inspecting my rims when I got home to see if the rim was causing the flats.  It was. 

On the opposite side of the valve stem, there was a small sharp piece of excess welding that was puncturing my tubes.  It must have been covered up by the rim tape, and I think the rim tape slid over a bit exposing it and that’s why I suddenly started getting flats.  So I filed it down and replaced the rim tape.  Fixed.

Then I got a flat on my race wheels.  This time it was the rim tape again.  It bunched up and exposed one of the spoke holes and that popped the tube.  So I replaced the rim tape on those wheels too.  Then on my next tempo ride, I caught a sharp rock and sliced my tire wide open.  I couldn’t repair it and had to call Courtney again for a ride.  This time I was 20 miles from home.

Later in the month, on a ride on my road bike (3rd set of wheels) I was coming off a gradual downhill so I was going pretty fast.  There was a cyclist up the road who was soft pedaling and moving very slowly.  He looked like he was waiting for someone.  He saw me coming and moved over to the middle of the road.  Weird, but I figured he was giving me the side of the road since that’s where I was riding as I was coming toward him.  Then at the last second he moves over right in front of me.  I got on the brakes hard to avoid him, we almost collided and I ended up flat spotting my rear tire.  The tires were pretty worn already, but now I had some threads showing.  I continued with my ride figuring it was only a matter of time before I got a flat. I got one two miles from home.  #6 for the month.

I do several key workouts throughout the year to make sure I’m on track with my goals.  Key workout #2 on the bike was the 28th.  It was a 4-hour tempo ride.  45 minutes in, I picked up a  staple and got a front flat.  #7 (the rest of the ride went really well).

The 29th was a day off, and I was at 850 miles for the month.  I could do 100 Monday (30th – Memorial Day) and 50 Tuesday after work and get my 1,000 for the month…


I could ride 150 miles Monday and also get in my longest ride ever. 

I chose to do 150 miles on Monday.  I left the house at 5:30 am and got a flat about 8 am.  It was a front flat, and I couldn’t find what caused it despite a good 10 minutes of inspecting the rim, tire and tube.  So I finally changed it and hoped for the best, but I was really paranoid the rest of the ride and kept checking my tires.  Luckily, I made it home without any more flats, and I got my 1,000 miles in for the month.  1,009 to be exact.  

Eight flat tires in one month.  I didn’t even get that many all of last year.

4 flats caused by rims/rim tape.

1 flat caused by a rock

1 flat caused by a staple

2 flats I couldn’t figure out (I never found what finally punctured my tube on the day I flat spotted my tire but I blame that one on the cyclist riding in the middle of the road)

1 flat on my road wheels

2 flats on my race wheels

5 flats on my training wheels

Although the tires on my training wheels don’t have a lot of miles, I’m throwing them out and getting some Continental Gatorskins.  They’re supposed to do a good job resisting flats, and although my current tires are also supposed to do a good job resisting flats they clearly aren’t getting the job done.  I already put new tires on my road bike and race wheels.  Hopefully June will be a better month.

I’m not attempting 1,000 miles in June so the 1,000 mile curse won’t apply. 

I think I might shoot for a swimming PR.  The most I’ve done to date in one month is 50,800 yards last July.  I also set a PR for the half ironman distance that month (32:30 at Door County).

I think I’m going to set a goal of 60,000 yards in June with one 20,000 yard week.  That will give me my most yards ever in one week and my most yards ever in one month.  That should give me something to focus on to help take my mind of this knee injury.


I stumbled upon a picture I took at my last time trial to illustrate how windy it was and I forgot to post it.
I hope no one was in there.


Race Report: Beloit Biathlon (Duathlon)

Saturday was the annual Beloit Biathlon (Duathlon).  This was my first multisport event in 2007 and I haven’t missed the race since.  It’s a short race (2 mile run, 11 mile bike, 2 mile run) and one of my favorites of the year. In my mind, it’s the beginning of the season. 

In 2009 it was my first (and only) overall multisport win.  Last year I was hoping to be a repeat winner, but I got outrun and finished second.  This year, the plan was to reclaim first place, but my torn tendon put a big wrinkle in my plans.  I had a few weeks of limited running followed by a few weeks of no running before getting the go-ahead from my doc to resume running about two weeks prior to this race.  I considered skipping the race, but I did a few runs in the weeks preceding the race and my knee held up pretty well so I decided to go ahead with the race and “test” out my leg.  My biggest problem was actually hip flexor pain, which my doctor has not done an adequate job diagnosing.  I’m not sure if it’s a strain, pull, tear or what it is.  I don’t even know if it’s a muscle or tendon issue, or if it caused my torn tendon in my knee or if it’s a result of the torn tendon. 

The night before the race wasn’t without drama.  I went over my bike to make sure all was good to go and discovered my crank bolt was broken and my crank arm was ready to fall off.  Unfortunately, I discovered this about 9:30 pm so I was up later than I wanted taking the crank off my road bike and putting that on my time trial bike.  But I got it all sorted out and had my bike ready to roll in time to get a decent amount of sleep.

It seems we always have wind to deal with at this race (with the bike being my strength and the course being pretty flat, I welcome the wind) but it hasn't rained since I started doing the event.  Most years have been really nice, just windy.  The sun was shining when I left the house and the forecast was for a chance of storms.  By the time I got registered and had my bike in transition, the skies were turning dark and it looked like we’d be racing in the rain.  A few minutes before I headed out for my warm up, the skies opened up and a steady rain fell.  I put on my rain coat and started my warm up routine.

Part of my routine is to practice a couple of transitions.  Mainly, I practice getting into and out of my shoes while on the bike to make sure I’m fast and comfortable doing that.  Today I was really struggling getting into my shoes while riding.  I had practiced a little the day before and was rock solid, and typically I’m quick and steady doing this so I was having a hard time figuring out why suddenly I could barely get my foot in my shoe.  I start with my left foot each time, and my right arm was shaky and it felt like I was losing my balance as I reached down to slip my foot in my shoe.  A few more tries and I figured out the problem.  My shoes and socks were wet, and as I reached down to put my left foot in my shoe, my right foot was sliding off my shoe, and thus off the bike making me off balance.  So I decided it wasn’t a good day to leave my shoes clipped into my pedals.  I would put them on in transition, but still planned on getting out of them early on the bike since I wasn’t struggling with that in the rain.

Other than that, my warm up was smooth.  I felt good on the bike – comfortable and my legs felt strong.  I did a short run warm up, not enough to really indicate how well I might run so I didn’t really know what to expect.

Run #1

My plan was to be a tad conservative, hoping I wouldn't have to push too hard to stay with the lead group.  I had no idea how my knee or hip would hold up and wasn’t confident in my fitness.  Unfortunately, there were some runners in the group, and overall the run was faster than it has been in previous years.  With the way my running had been going early in the year, I would have run between a 5:50 and 6:00 pace for this run.  But instead I opted for a 6:20 pace.  I’m not sure what pace the leaders ran, but I couldn’t even see them as I headed into transition, and I felt more mid-pack than I wanted.  I was hoping to be just behind the lead group, and then the plan was to hammer the bike and hopefully come off the bike with a big enough lead that no one would have enough time to run me down.  With the leaders out of sight, my work on the bike was going to be tough.

The Bike

I’ve come into second transition with the lead a few years in a row, and really wanted to keep that streak alive.  My confidence in my ability to win the whole thing was quickly fading, but I felt confident I could make up a lot of time on the bike.  I made up a few positions very early in the bike, and then focused on chasing down the leaders.  I kept my head down and out of the wind as much as possible, and dug deep to keep my watts as close to threshold as possible (I always end up a little short of threshold in multisport events).  Around the halfway point, I worked my way into second and could see the leader.  He still had a sizeable lead, but I could see that I was making up ground.  A little past the ¾ mark in the bike, I took over the lead and put my head down and tried to pull as big of a gap as possible.  The bike finished with a headwind which I figured worked to my advantage.  My legs were burning, but I ignored the pain.  I welcomed the pain.  It felt good, and it was my way of venting my frustrations with how my year has been turning out.  I told myself to keep my head down and out of the wind, and continue to pedal the bike in anger and frustration.  At one point I looked back and didn’t see anyone and thought that maybe I was actually going to pull a big enough gap to win this thing. 

If nothing else, my streak of leading the race into T2 was alive and well.  And I had set a new PR for this course breaking 25 minutes and averaging 25.5 mph.  That felt good.

Run #2

As I headed out of transition I heard someone tell me to “go…he’s coming into transition.”  Really?  I thought I had a bigger gap than that.  I ran hard, but was struggling.  I didn't feel comfortable, and quickly realized this was my first brick of the year.  I checked my watch and was running a 6:35 pace.  There was no way that would hold him off.  So I stepped up the effort and checked my pace about a quarter mile later – 6:35.  I kept pushing, but figured it was only a matter of time before he caught me, and I would end up in second for the second year in a row.  Disappointing, but second isn’t bad.  I managed to hold him off for about a mile, which I was happy with.  I still digging deep but couldn't get my pace under 6:35.  I felt comfortable enough to go faster, but my legs didn't have the strength.  Every time I asked for more, they couldn’t respond.  I figured I had second locked up, but opted to check my lead (expecting it to be pretty big since I passed this guy about the halfway point in the bike) and saw third place was closing quickly.  With ½ to ¾ of a mile to go I thought I might be able to dig deep enough to hold him off and salvage second place, but I couldn’t do it.  He closed the gap quickly, made the pass, and pulled away.  So I finished 3rd overall, first in my age group (the overall winner was in my age group but got pulled out since he got the overall win).

Yes, I’m disappointed in my results.  I won’t lie.  I didn’t go there to lose.  I really felt I could still win despite my lack of run fitness, and I thought winning would be good for my morale since this injury has me feeling down and out these days.    But even though I’m disappointed, I’m still proud of my performance and I had a lot of fun.  Over the years, I’ve gotten to know the race director a little (he had actually consulted me on a few potential course changes this year) and my parents volunteer at this event so it’s a fun day and it’s an event I really want to support year after year.  It’s one of those low-key, really fun spring races that I hope will stick around for many more years (this was the 22nd running of this race so it already has quite a history).  And it’s the beginning of my season so how can I not go?

Post race my knee and hip flexor stiffened up pretty bad and I found myself limping around.  They loosened up later in the day, and I don’t think I reinjured anything but I do believe I set my recovery back a few days.  Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest decision to do this race, but I feel like all I’ve done this year is sign up for races and not show up (with the exception of time trials).  So now I’m back to focusing on healing so I can get on with training for Kona.  I spent a lot of time this winter writing out my entire training plan, which I’m rewriting right now to account for missed training.  I’ll write an update on that in the next couple of days. 

Sorry for the lack of pics.  I took my camera but forgot to charge the battery.


5 Flats in 2 Weeks

This entire year is circling the drain.  I'm not sure what I did, but I've got some bad karma going on.  I need to figure this out and make things right with the gods so I can end my streak of bad luck.

My year started great.  My training was going really well and I was looking forward to a great season of triathlon.  Then I got injured.  I tried to work through it for a while, but eventually realized it was serious and went to the doc.  It turns out it was a torn tendon (with two others that are damaged) so I can't run but the doc told me to bike all I want.  So that's what I've been doing.  Working on my bike fitness....or trying to.

Every key ride I do lately ends the same way....flat tire.  It started with 3 flats on my training wheels.  One during my long ride with a friend/GearGrinder teammate and two more during a long tempo ride (my key workouts for half ironmans - and I have one coming up in 4 weeks - is long tempo rides).  On one ride I was supposed to get in 2.5 hours of tempo, but had to call for a ride at the 2 hour mark because I was out of tubes.  I got in some hard work, but not what was planned.

It turns out there's a sharp spot of excess welding on the inside of the rim of my training wheels that's creating the flats.  My rim tape must have slid over a little and exposed it.  I was actually happy to find that.  Now I just need to file it and sand it and I'm back in business.  

Then I headed out last Thursday for the practice TTs and only made it a mile from home before getting a flat, this time on my race wheels.  I was crunched for time and didn't want to screw around with valve extenders so I called Courtney (again) to pick me up.  Then I grabbed my road bike and headed out for the TT.  I made it just in time.  They were about to line up as I pulled up.  This was my first time doing a time trial on a road bike, and it's no fun.  I prefer road bikes to time trial bikes, but not for time trialing.  I was uncomfortable and slow and didn't have much fun despite the weather being really nice.  But I did get in a good workout so I suppose it wasn't all bad.

It turns out it was a rim tape problem again. This time my rim tape was bunched up and it exposed one of the spoke holes and that's what popped my tube.  New rim tape installed and my wheels are good to go again.

Tonight I figured I'd make up for last week's tempo ride.  I haven't gotten my training wheels fixed yet so I decided to run my race wheels.  I had a 60 mile out and back ride planned.  A short warm up, then tempo the whole way.  It should be around 2.5 hours of tempo. I was feeling good and my power was really close to where I wanted it.  A couple of watts low, but not bad.  I had an hour to go, was pushing hard and my watts were building.  I had plenty of time to hit my goal watts, and was confident I would.  

Then I hit something sharp, a rock perhaps, and blew out my front tire.  This time I slashed the tire and couldn't repair it.  I had to call Courtney one more time for a ride.  This time I was at mile 40 of 60 so I was stranded 20 miles from home.  I only got in 90 minutes of tempo.  The temp was dropping, the sun was setting and I wasn't dressed very warm because it was supposed to be a hard ride.  I stood on the side of the road shivering for 30 minutes waiting for my ride. Not what I had planned.

The past few years my training has gone really well, so I'm extremely frustrated with how this year is going.  I've always had my set backs - bad workouts, aches and pains, etc.  Everyone does, but this year I feel like I can't catch a break.  It's really frustrating to have good workouts cut short.  I have an easier time dealing with workouts being cut short because I'm too tired and can't hold my watts.  

So this year isn't going well and I wish I could start all over.  My fitness is not where I want it to be and I have a half ironman in MN coming up in 4 weeks.  Right now, I'm not even positive I can do the race, but I'm hopeful.  

At the very least I should be able to swim/bike.  




The Race of Truth

The race of truth.  That's what they call the time trial.  There's no place to hide, no wheel to sit on. It's just you and the clock.  And the wind.

And this spring there has been plenty of wind.

Cherry Valley TT:

The Cherry Valley TT is a 30K time trial on an out and back route.  It's a fairly flat route with a few small rollers, and it runs north and south.  The winds that day were strong and out of the west.  This race was more of a mental struggle than a physical one.  The winds were brutal and wore you down.  And being a cross wind, you had to deal with them for the entire TT.  

I started out well and was holding my goal power and feeling pretty good.  The winds were tough, but they didn't bother me until around the halfway point.  I had to lean my bike into the wind to hold a straight line, which was tough but not too bad.  The worst part was that the wind was catching the tail of my aero helmet and making the helmet sit crooked on my head, and gusts would occasionally catch and lift the tail pushing my head down.  It was never bad enough to be scary, but bad enough to be very annoying.  I had to be careful not to look down too often because that's when the wind was catching my helmet.

After the halfway point I began to fade and struggle.  My power dropped and the winds got to me mentally.  I was getting fatigued from fighting the bike and finding it harder and harder to dig deep.  But I kept pushing and finally got through it.  My power was lower than I wanted which was frustrating, but in the end my time was decent and good enough for second in my division and I think 14th overall.  

Bong 20K TT:

The Bong course (Bong Recreational Park) is one of my favorites.  It's a 20K loop and they hold quite a few TTs there every year.  The course is a rectangle, and exposed to the wind so if it's a windy day this course can be tough.  It's fairly flat with some rollers, but no big climbs.  A little hillier than the Cherry Valley course.

This TT went exactly as Cherry Valley.  The winds weren't as bad, and being a rectangle you started with a cross wind then a head wind then cross wind then finished with a tailwind.  Finishing with a tailwind sounds good, but that can be tough too.  I was going fast but I had such a good push that I was spinning out sometimes so my cadence was much higher than usual and my legs were burning.  Like Cherry Valley, my power faded around the halfway point and I finished with a lower average power than I should have.  Again, it was good enough for second in my division.  

I lost both races to the same person.  Cherry Valley by 14 seconds, Bong by 8 seconds.  I'm looking forward to racing against him again later this year to see if I can improve and move ahead of him.  

Cross Plains Practice TT:

Every Thursday there's a practice TT.  I try to go to a few of them each year, and this year I decided I want to make it to more of them because I've found them helpful.  Most of the courses take a little more than 20 minutes so I use these as my 2x20 workout.  I ride to the TT as my warm up, then do the TT, recover for 5 minutes, do a second TT on my own and then ride home.  It's a good workout.

Rain was threatening so there was a really small turnout - only 5 people including me.  Just as we were about to go, the skies cleared a little and the sun came out.  It turned out to be a great evening to TT.  

I started out with my power right where I wanted it and soon began to fade like I did in the races.  My legs felt good coming into this workout, and the winds weren't bad so I couldn't place the blame there.  Why was I fading so much this year? Unless I go out too hard, which I do sometimes, I typically hold my power pretty well.  And the power I was shooting for is a wattage I've already held on the trainer for a full hour so I should be able to hold it for 20 minutes.

At the turn around my power had dropped 10 watts, and then by accident I figured out the problem.  I had a bit of a tailwind right after turning around so with the push my cadence increased a bit over where I was and I noticed my power returned.  A slower cadence helps me run off the bike on long rides and it keeps my heart rate lower (about 10 beats many times).  So I've been trying to TT with a lower cadence.  My heart rate has been lower while TT'ing, but I've been fading.  I don't think the low cadence (78-81) works for me when pushing threshold.  So on the way back I tried to keep my cadence in the 85-90 range and my power came back and I brought back those 10 watts I lost and finished with an average power right where I started. 

So I finished the practice TT feeling pretty good.  I got some recovery and then headed back out hoping that wasn't a fluke and that cadence was causing my fading.  I kept my cadence in the 85-90 range and held the same power the whole time.  It was a good effort and a great workout, but best of all I learned more about time trialing and what works and doesn't work for me.  I'm looking forward to the next race.

The ride home was awesome and I really wish I'd had my camera with me.  The temp dropped and some rain had moved through the area, although I never got rained on.  So I rode home in the cool air on wet roads covered in a light fog.  It was great.  I really enjoyed the fog.  It wasn't bad enough to hurt visibility.  Just enough to make for nice scenery.  If I'd had my camera and knew how to take a decent picture I would have come home with some great shots.