Archive for August, 2007

Alpine Loop Double Back

August 15, 2007 7:39 pm

This morning Ann and I went for a 4 mile run. That was as far as she wanted to go and I didn’t want to run further either since I was going to go climb some hills today. After returning home and getting ready to ride I headed up Provo Canyon, then left up to Sundance. Instead of stopping there, as Ann and I did last week, I continued up the Alpine Loop road to the summit, then down American Fork Canyon, past the ranger station for Timpanogos Cave.

Normally to do this loop one goes all the way to American Fork then back on mostly flat roads, but as I said I wanted to climb some hills so I decided to double back and climb up American Fork canyon, then decend back down to Provo Canyon. That way I was able to get in 6,000 feet of climbing and close to 60 miles.

On the way back up American Fork a young guy on a tri bike came by me so I jumped on his wheel, then passed him. I had been taking it rather easy when he passed me so it was easy to pass him. He stayed with me for awhile and asked if I was from Boulder. I realized I had on the jersey I had bought at the Sea Otter Classic that was Boulder Triathlon Coaching. He wanted to know what triathlons I was racing in. I said I mostly did cycling and running. After a while he said he couldn’t keep up the pace and told me to go ahead.

As you can see from the following heart rate graph, I wasn’t really pushing things much today. I rarely went into the Red Zone, as I did for most of the Ulcer Century on the tandem. My average heart rate for the entire ride was only 131 with a maximum of only 157. Some days you just need to keep it easier and this was one of those days. Click the graph to enlarge.

Alpine Loop Double Back HR Graph

Analysis of Bike Events This Year

August 12, 2007 5:59 pm

I spent some time looking over the data for my bike events so far this year and updating my website at This table shows the major events so far this year with the most recent at the top. The interesting aspect is that the event yesterday was done with the highest average heart rate. That might be because it had the least amount of climbing or maybe it was because it was on a tandem. Another possibility is that it was the least amount of miles so I could push myself more. In any event it was by far the fastest.

Click to enlarge the tables and graphs.
Bike Events in 2007

The heart rate curve from yesterday’s Ulcer Century shows I was in the “red” zone most of the ride resulting in an average heart rate of 155. I had my Polar heart rate monitor setup with a maximum heart rate of 182 and the red zone defined as above 85% of that value or 154. Maybe I should change the settings for the red zone to a higher value.

Ulcer Century HR Graph

Compare this with the same type of curve for the Death Ride where my average HR was 142. My heart rate went high during the cimbs, but then declined significantly during the decents.

Death Ride Heart Rate Curve

There is one more event that I could use for comparision and that is the Tour de Cure. The first 72 miles I rode by myself and the next 36 miles with Ann. That gives me some data of how we would do on single bikes. The first 72 miles did have some climbing, however. Here are how the two segments look.

Splits for the Tour de Cure Century

What is real interesting is that Lap 1, where I rode by myself for 72 miles was at an average speed of 21.8, a bit faster than the Ucler Century with a bit more climbing (1,400 feet in 72 miles vs. the same amount in 109 miles). For that portion my average heart rate was 152, close to what I averaged on the Ulcer ride. The part I rode with Ann averaged 14.9 mph, still a good speed. I recorded in my blog entry at the time that she rode faster on the part she rode solo at something like 16 mph. In any event if you average these two speeds, you get between 18.3 and 18.9 mph. So we clearly rode collectively on the tandem (20.8 mph) faster than we could average on single bikes.

This analysis results in the following conclusions:

1. The tandem allows you to ride faster that the average speed of the two riders, at least on flats. It really does allow Ann and I to ride together and ride close to the speed I would ride on a single bike with the same effort on my part.

2. A heart rate of 155 is below my lactate threshold and that I can indeed hold that heart rate for many hours.

3. I might be best suited to climbing where I can climb at a good rate without pushing my heart rate through the roof. But I already knew that.

If You’ve Got the Guts

August 11, 2007 1:39 pm

I was not quite sure what to call this blog entry about our 111 mile tandem ride for the Utah Lake Ulcer Century. I thought about calling it “Our Fourth Tandem Ride “since we have only had 3 practice rides before doing this long event. I could have called it “Utah Heat” because it did get quite hot, well into the 90’s. I then thought about calling it the “First Tandem to Finish”, since I think we were the first tandem to finish the long course. At least I am making that claim. I finally decided to call it “If You’ve Got the Guts” since that is what the event used as their slogan. I guess I can use that slogan because, according to my cyclometer, we finished the 109 miles in a total time of 6 hours with moving time of 5 hours 47 minutes and an average moving speed of 20.8 mph. My GPS showed very similar numbers.

Ulcer Century

This was to be Ann’s first attempt at a full century ride so I wanted to make sure she didn’t push too hard at the beginning. I put my second heart rate monitor on her handlebars so she could see my heart rate at any time and then she wore her Polar heart rate monitor on her wrist. I asked her to keep her heart rate well below mine through the ride. I think at times she let it go up higher because we were sure moving fast.

This event has excellent support and a lot of features that I have not seen before in a Century ride. One such feature was allowing teams to compete in essentially a team time trail. My younger brother, Mike, was on such a team so I caught this picture before his team started out at 7:10 am.

Mike at start of Ulcer Century

For the rest of us that were not competing on a team, we started to line up for the 7:30 am mass start. Ann held the tandem while I grabbed this shot. You can see there is a very large field, around 2,000 riders all together.

Ann at start of Ulcer Century

I was a bit nervous because we only bought the tandem 8 days ago and I had not yet ridden it in a group type ride, let alone a big field like this one. I put the tandem off to the side and up near the front of the field so I would not need to go around a lot of the slow riders who should start at the back but don’t.

Right at 7:30 am we were off and we quickly got into a rhythm and soon were passing one rider after another. The first several miles were through some city streets so it was hard to get the speed up as fast as I wanted. The tandem does take wider turns. We soon came by the first rest stop and decided to blow by it. Then the second rest stop we blew by, and the third. We kept passing riders who would jump onto the train. I think we may have had over 50 riders drafting behind us at some point. I found it easier to to pull because the few times I tried to draft I found it hard to control the speed with Ann and I both pedaling.

I saw a set of railroad tracks ahead and slowed down as Ann gave the signal to those behind of the tracks ahead. We had glided over other tracks earlier in the day but these were real nasty and we had a big bump. I was glad we had 700x28c tires on the tandem and that I had fully inflated them last night. I looked to the side of the road now and saw a slew of bikes all pulled over to fix flats, pinch flats I am sure.

It was a lot of fun pulling and soon we had another large group drafting behind us. With a tail wind we cranked the speed up to the 27-33 mph range and soon were passing a lot of riders, including some of the teams that had started early. I was real surprised to pass the team my brother was on. Maybe his team jumped on the back of the train. I slipped the camera in my rear pocket so Ann could take it out and snap some pictures while riding.

Paceline behind us on Utah Ulcer

Franz on Front of Tandem

I suppose it was the excitement of pulling such a big train that caused me to allow my heart rate to go up to above 170 at times. I started to slow a bit and then we hit some rollers. Some of those behind went ahead and others stayed in our slip stream.

We were thinking about stopping at the next rest stop but we finally decided to ride all the way to the lunch stop at mile 67. They had a great lunch spread out for the riders. You could make your own Subway type sandwiches with ham and turkey and all the fixings. Plus they had the typical food you find at other events. We sat in the shade to get some rest.

Ann at lunch stop

I needed to get some recovery because I had not been drinking enough for those 67 miles. I found it hard to reach down and get the water bottle on the tandem. I felt like I needed both hands on the bars to keep it stable and hence put off drinking too much.

After a relatively short lunch we jumped back on the tandem and off again. The rest and hydration really helped. I was having both Ann and myself take Endurolyte tablets which are an electrolyte replacement. That helped because the temperature was quite hot (my cyclometer was reading 109, but it was in direct sun).

I knew I could not go again without drinking enough so we found it worked best if Ann passed me a water bottle while riding. I had installed 3 water bottle cages on the rear of the tandem and that is where most of the water was anyway. The water and Gatorade was great because at the lunch stop they had ice chests so you could feel you water bottle with ice. That was very much appreciated as the temperature continued to rise.

I knew we could not ride the rest of the course without making another stop so we stopped about half way between the lunch stop and the end and sat for awhile and again drank a lot of liquid. Then it was off again because I did not want us to start to cramp. I decided to take the pace down a bit and keep my heart rate more in the 150-160 range for the last 20 miles. Ann did start to get one cramp but I had her keep pedaling with no force while I was keeping us moving and she worked it out.

We finished the 111 miles just after 1:30 pm. This graph shows our speed and my heart rate.

Ulcer Century HR Graph

Tandem Trois or S-Climb Deux

August 7, 2007 2:33 pm

Today was our third long ride on the tandem. This time involved more climbing, at altitude up in Utah. We went up the Provo Canyon River Trai, then headed up South Fork. I had brought the camera along so I slipped it in my back pocket so Ann could take it out when she wanted to take these pictures while we were riding.

View from the bike up South Fork

After decending we climbed our second “S” hill up to Sundance where we enjoyed one of their expensive and so so sandwiches from the deli.

Eating a sandwich at Sundance

Franz and Ann at Sundance

Ann felt like it was an easier climb on the tandem than the last time when she went on her single bike. I also enjoyed it because I could go as fast as my legs and balance could handle. We ended up with 36 miles and 2,500 feet of climbing. I will do the very fast paced Utah Velo club ride this evening and then both Ann and I take tomorrow off to rest up for the Ulcer Century ride on Saturday.


Full size of photos

Bike Storage

August 6, 2007 9:08 am

The problem with getting a new tandem is that I had no place to put it. I already had 3 road bikes and two mountain bikes stuck in the garage. But being an engineer, I was sure I could figure out a way to store all this stuff in our small garage. I started yesterday and put in far more hours than I expected it would take.  By 10 pm last night and I was still not done so I got up early this morning to finish the job. Here is how it looks.

Bike Storage

I even added a shelf above the bikes to put things like helmets and shoes. One mountain bike is stored on hooks behnd the tandem. I installed a hoist system for the tandem so it is easy to lift up. The other 4 bikes are mounted into fork mounts. So you see I can make it all fit in only a small corner of the garage, and still have room for my repair stand and pumps.

To Run or to Bike?

August 5, 2007 4:05 pm

ulcer_logo.gif OR halfmarathonsmall.jpg ?

August 11th must be a popular date in Utah because two events we want to do up there occur on the same day. First is the Provo River Half Marathon that I ran last year and Ann has been training to run with me this year. Then there is the ULCER bike century of 111 miles, which I have not done before but would like to. Ann and I now both registered for both events and are leaning toward doing the bike event on our new tandem. The only issue is that I have been getting Ann ready to run the half marathon and not quite as focused on biking, but I feel she can do either one. I have not trained to run the half marathon at any fast speed because I have been more focused on biking and figure I was going to just run at Ann’s pace which I can do without as much speed workouts as I did last year.

We might just wait to see what the weather is and how we feel. If it is going to rain that day I would vote to switch to the half marathon. I would rather run in the rain for 2 hours than bike in the rain for over 6 hours.

New Tandem

August 2, 2007 6:45 pm

Because we were headed up to San Jose for other reasons we decided to leave early and visit the Bicycle Outfitters to see if they had the same tandems for sale. Previously we did a test ride on a Trek 2000 and a Comotion. The Comotion had a longer top tube and seemed harder for me to control and also it was double the price of the Trek. The Trek model was still there and they were getting in their shipment of new models in a couple weeks so they gave me a good deal.

We first tested to see if we could fit the Trek Tandem in our Odyssey mini-van. It fit just right. Oh, what the heck I thought and we went ahead and bought it.  Some people probably think I only buy Trek bikes but that is not entirely true.  Yes my last two road bikes are Trek models, which I do like, but I also bought a Giant Mountain Bike and an Giant road bike for Ann.

Trek 2000 Tandem Large View

It is not what you would call a real high end tandem, but it is also not low end. Most of the components are the Ultregra class, 9 speed. It has a carbon fork and some nice aero wheels. Some people may not want this tandem because it might not have the beafy wheels they need or the steel frame, but Ann and I together don’t weigh that much so I felt it would meet our needs just fine. While the Comotion came with couplers so you can take it apart for travel, we decided if we go to Europe we would rather take single bikes anyway and for the price difference we could buy one Commotion single bike with couplers.

Here are the features:

ZR 9000 Alloy
Bontrager Satellite Plus Carbon Tandem
Bontrager Race Lite Tandem
Ultegra 52/39/30
Rear Derailleur
Shimano Deore XT

I had them change the stem to a 70 mm one since the top tube was a bit long for me. I also bought a drag brake but it was not in stock so it is on order. The drag brake allows you to add drag going down a long hill to save breaking so much.

I worked on it during the evening getting it ready so we can try it tommorow.