Archive for September, 2007

Furnance Creek 508 Team Website

September 29, 2007 10:47 am

I have updated our team website with links for use during the Furnace Creek 508 race. These links include both those provided by the 508 organizers as well as our team’s own website, blog and photos. Just go to

I have tested sending both blog updates and photos from my iPhone to the team blog and the team photo website. Since the race is in rather remote areas, I am not sure how often we can send in updates, but we will do what we can.

I completed a model to predict our times to finish each stage. It will probably need so tweaking, but the current thought can be viewed at:  I think we can finish in under 36 hours, maybe under 35 if things go well. The course record for the 50+, two men division, is Team Yak, 2004: 30:43.  We may not set any age group records but will will have a lot of fun trying!

Two New Websites and Blogs

September 27, 2007 5:07 pm

I wanted to setup a blog for posting during our Furnace Creek 508 adventure. I had been thinking of getting a new URL so it would usable for the whole team and not use this blog. I was able to snatch the url so I registered that and setup an Ultra Distance Cycling website and an associated blog. I then setup a subdomain for our 508 team and setup a special website there, plus blog. Yea, I know it is confusing with probably too many websites and blogs.  Hopefully this table will explain it all.

Personal and Family Blogs and Websites Franz Blog for endurance sports Franz and Ann Blog for sports and other interests Website that covers all three sports and triathlons for entire family
Other Blogs and Websites Ultra Distance Cycling Website Ultra Distance Cycling Blog
Praire Dog FC 508 Furnance Creek 508 Team Website
Praire Dog FC 508/blog Furnance Creek 508 Team Blog


Rain and Cold so No Regrets

September 22, 2007 12:44 am

I was feeling disappointed that I had not raced the Everest Challenge this weekend, as I had planned and trained for. I started to think that maybe I could have just toughed out the rain and cold and still be okay. It might have been these thoughts that got me to do a local ride today even though there was forecast for rain.

I left the home at 6 am while it was still dark, and drove over to Aptos to Margie’s birthday ride. This ride was to be a 100m mile route with about 10,000 feet of climbing. We rode from there to Scott’s Valley where picked up more riders, eventually having a group of 15 riders all together. It had rained during the night so the roads were wet, but it was not raining so I felt fine with the 54 degree temperature.

Our first climb was over Bean Creek, then we headed up to Mt. Charlie. Some of us hammered up the hill as the rain started to come down. Because I was climbing I was still plenty warm enough. At the top we had to wait for others and I started to cool off rapidly. The rain was coming down harder now and the temperature had dropped to the high 40’s.

Collectively the group decided to cut the ride short and we headed back down Mt. Charlie. Going down that hill is no fun when dry, let alone wet, so it took me awhile to descend. I was cooling off further all the way down and was glad to reach the bottom where I could start to pedal. I was totally soaked by that time.

I can deal with wet and I can deal with cold, I just can’t deal with both at the same time.

During the decent I realized how miserable I would have been if I had tried to do the Everest Challenge being wet and with temperatures even cooler than what I was experiencing. I no longer had any regrets about bailing out of that race.

Maybe next year.

Everest Bypass

September 21, 2007 12:16 pm

I was looking foward with great expectation to do the Everest Challenge. This was the year of climbing a lot, hill repeasts, interval training and just putting in a lot of miles on the bike. I felt ready to do the ride and get a good time. But the weather has not cooperated. I had held out hope that maybe the forecast would change so I waited until this morning to make a final decision. When I got up it still showed a 60% chance of rain and cooler temperatures. This webcam shot of Tioga Pass says it all and that is not even as high as we would be climbing (click photo to enlarge).

Tioga Pass Webcam on 9-21-07

I already expected very cold temperatures near the summit, but when you mix that with rain, it is not only misserable but more dangerous than I want to take on, especially considering I still have the Furnace Creek 508 in two weeks. And that ride is a much bigger investment, both in terms of money and time as well as others depending on me.

It is not all lost however. The initial reason why I decided to do the Everest Challenge was to kind of force me to ramp up the training and not wait too long to get in shape for the 508. That was all accomplished.

We all started out a couple months ago with Joe, Gary and myself doing a lot of training together. We all rode the Death Ride together. Gary and I were going to do the Everest Challenge together and Joe and Gary were to be a two man team for the 508. So between the three of us, that meant two doing the Everest Challenge and three doing the 508. Gary was injured and pulled out of the Everest Challenge, but still had hopes of doing the 508. But that is not going to happen now, so amongst the three of us, all that is left is my doing the 508. Oh well, there is always another year.

I have another great local ride I will do tomorrow, 100 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing.  Not quite the challenge of the Everest Challenge, but the training I need for the FC 508.

Snow No Go

September 19, 2007 8:18 pm

The weather forecast for Saturday is looking bad in the Bishop CA area, where the Everest Challenge will be held. It shows temperatures in the low 60’s and a 60% chance of rain. Since the bike race climbs to over 10,000 feet, that would mean SNOW. With the Furnace Creek 508 coming up, I can’t afford to get injured by trying to bike in the snow, even if I was willing to try. So it looks like the Everest Challenge may be a no go. I went ahead and canceled the hotel reservation now. If the forecast changes back to good weather, then we may make a last minute decision to still do the event if we can get a room. Kind of a bummer.

Last Hard Training for EC

September 17, 2007 8:28 pm

Today was my last hard day of training for the Everest Challenge coming up this weekend. Part of the ride include some interval work on the bike, hard for 7 minutes and easy for 3 minutes.

When I do intervals training for a marathon I used fixed distance (such as mile repeats) but this is not as useful for a bicycle because the grade and the wind have a big bearing on the effort. It is easier to just use the lap feature on my Polar heart rate monitor. Each 7 minutes hard equates to about 2 miles and is a similar lap time running mile repeats.

This curve shows my heart rate for each of the four repeats. I was able to only briefly get into the “red zone” for the first interval but primarily did the intervals in the anaerobic zone. It is normal with intervals to not be able to push your heart rate as high on subsequent intervals and that is what happened. (click graph to enlarge)

Interval Training on Bicycle

My average/maximum heart rate for the four intervals was 159/167; 157/162; 156/163, 154/161. I found it hard to take my heart rate up for this type of interval training compared with climbing a steep hill. I guess my “climbing legs” can push my heart harder. I never was a good time trialist.

This is clear when I look at yesterday’s graph climbing Mt. Hamilton. For over 18 miles I was able to get to an average heart rate of 158, about the same as the average for the four 7 minute intervals today. Of course having David H. push the pace so hard helped. (click graph to enlarge)

Mt. Hamilton Climb Heart Rate Curve

I have changed my method of calculating my heart rate zones so some of my prior entries were based on a different approach using the default setting in my Polar Heart Rate software. I have now defined the zones based on the reserve between resting heart (45) rate and maximum heart rate (180) using these four zones:

Max or Red Line (red color) – 90% to 100% or 168 to 180 bpm
Anaerobic (yellow color) – 80% to 90% or 154 to 168 bpm
Aerobic (green color) – 70% to 80% or 140 to 154 bpm
Recovery (blue color) – less than 70% or below 140 bpm

I may fine tune these zones going forward.

Climbed Nearly a Hundred Miles

September 16, 2007 10:52 pm

Last week I had a good amount of climbing getting ready for the Everest Challenge this coming Saturday/Sunday. This brought my total climbing on my bicycle to 513,000 feet so far this year, which is nearly 100 miles vertically. Here is a chart that shows how I did compared with last year. The flat portion in the spring was due to training for the Boston Marathon. (click chart to enlarge)

Feet Climbing

Because I had signed up to do a two man team for the Furnace Creek 508 this year in October, I had thought about waiting until next year to do the Everest Challenge, but with all the climbing I have been doing, I decided this was the best shot I would have. By the end of this month I will reach the 100 mile mark.

No Water, Fast Time

6:28 pm

Today was a club ride that included a climb up Mt. Hamilton. We started at 8:08 am from the school on Kirk.

Start of ride

Shortly myself, David H and Joe F were out in the front. David was particularly pushing the pace hard, so hard at the beginning I almost dropped off. But I thought I was training for the Everest Challenge and needed to hang on. We were moving so quickly up the hill I realized this might be a good chance to set a new PR going up Mt. Hamilton.

I looked over at David’s bike and noticed he was climbing in the Big Chainring!! I suppose I could make it up Mt. Hamilton in the Big Chainring but certainly not at this pace. After awhile Joe dropped off the back (later he told me had had skipped breakfast)! I kept with David for several miles and and as we were nearing the top of the lower Mt. Hamilton climb I did drop back for awhile. I kept pushing myself and eventually I caught back up (probably David slowed down to let me catch up). David was still in his big chainring. I guess he wanted to finsih the entire climb that way.

I went to get a drink and guess what, I had fogotten to put my water bottles on the bike. Fortunately it was cool, in the 60’s. I figured I could make it to the summit without any water. My old PR was 1 hour 40 minutes from the school. As we got within 5 miles from the top my quick calculations showed I could easily do better. The final time was 1 :34:09 from the school. From the base of the Mt. Hamilton road we did it in 1:28:54. I had finally made the climb under one and a half hours. It was kind of the perfect storm, cool weather, less weight due to no filled water bottles, and David pushing the pace so hard. You can see from the chart below my average heart rate during the climb was 158, peaking at 166. We averaged 12.4 mph.

PR Up Mt. Hamilton Road

Joe reached the Lick Observatory just as David and I were headed on to go down the back side of Mt. Hamilton. David was kind of enough to let me use one of his water bottles, which I drank down at Isabel Creek and handed back to him since he was turning around at that point. I then biked another 13 miles, with climbing, to reach the junction. There I bought a Gatorade and put that in my water bottle cage.

MIssing Water Bottles!

I waited for awhile for Joe and thought maybe he had headed down Del Puerto Canyon while I was buying some liquid at the Junction cafe. I did not see him on the way down and only saw him on the way back up. I told him I would meet him at the junction where we were going to eat lunch. I measure the grade over the steepest section of Del Puerto Canyon and got 9.5% over 0.4 miles. It was a steeper climb that I remembered it to be. Maybe it was because I had pushed so hard earlier in the ride.

Junction Cafe

After lunch, Joe and I headed back towards the back side of Mt. Hamilton.

Does Anyone Know the Way to San Jose?

I felt pretty good making the climb. I took several splits and found the steepest was 9.5% over 0.5 miles. Just about the same as Del Puerto Canyon.

After taking on some more water at the top, we headed back down the front side of Mt. Hamilton, getting to the cars around 4 pm. This graph shows the overall day. You can see my heart rate was much higher while climbing the front side to set the new PR. I backed off conisderably after that. (click graph to enlarge)

Cheesburgers at the Junction and Del Puerto Canyon heart rate curve

Final stats were:

Miles: 92.7
Total Climb: 10,279 feet
Average Speed: 14 mph
Total Moving Time: 7:25
Average Heart Rate: 134

Welch Creek Delight

September 15, 2007 7:54 pm

In our bike club, ACTC, we have 99 different hills we climb that we call billygoats. One of those is Welch Creek, wich some club members think is the most difficult of the 99. On today’s ride I had a chance to do the climb for the first time on my new bike with only a double crankset.

I wanted to get some data on the climb because I am on a committee that is looking at how we rank the billygoats. Welch Creek is rated as a 6, the highest rating we give to a hill climb. This chart shows the profile of the altitude and my heart rate for the climb. I took a split at the official start of the billygoat (1), bottom of the real climb (2), at the bottom of the steepest section (3), at the top of the steepest section (4) and at the top of the climb (5). The splits can be seen on the distance axis. I think I picked the right spot for the steepest section after I look at the heart rate curve and see that is where I took my heart rate the highest during the climb. Click the graph to enlarge.

Welch Creek HR Curve

If I look at the splits in my Polar heart rate monitor software, I see the grade for the steepest section is 15.6% over a distance of about 0.35 miles.

Welch Creek Split Grade

Welch Creek Split Distance

I am not sure how accurate this measurement is but it is pretty good. The grade of 15.6 compares closely with the grade I measured in a similar manner on Armsby over 0.4 miles. They felt roughly the same, with Armsby being a bit more difficult.

So is Welch Creek the toughest climb? I would not say so. Since I have used the new bike with the double crankset, the hardest time I had making the climb was going up the On Orbit section on Bohlman I did on July 19th. Since that was awhile ago, my conditioning may be better or worse so it is hard to compare. I dug out the data for the climb. For the On Orbit section I get a grade of 15.9% over 0.3 miles. So for the tough climbs Armsby, Welch Creek and On Orbit are all about the same grade over about a third of a mile. Unless I had a better way of measuring the grade or power output, I will have to settle for with the fact that they are all tough climbs.

Final Coutdown

September 14, 2007 11:59 am

The weather is turning noticeably more like fall. Although the days are still warm, the mornings are a bit cooler. I am also closely approaching the major cycling events I have scheduled for the year and am in the final stages of training.

First up is the Everest Challenge. I leave for that in only a week from today. Then less than two weeks later I will be doing the Furnance Creek 508. I had previously read an interesting blog of someone who attempted to do both in the save season. He blew up on the 508. I hope that doesn’t happen to me.

I took it easy today, only ran 6 miles. I will then do some good cycling over the next 3 days, then go into a 3 day recovery period. I hope it all comes together. I have a better handle on training for a marathon where I have worked out more of a detailed training schedule. Both the Everest Challenge and FC 508 are new to me so I am just trying to adapt what I do for marathons to see if it works for ultra distance cycling events.