Archive for July, 2008

Metcalf Mauler Times

July 29, 2008 8:28 pm

Ann decided to just run today so we went for a 5 mile run this morning.  I still wanted to do the Metcalf Mauler so I drove up to the trail head in Morgan Hill to bike up from there.  I left early enough to make a climb up Metcalf before riding to the ride start.  I have been trying to get my time down since I was able to often get under 14 minutes last year.  Two weeks ago we set a new best time on the tandem.  Today I made the climb in 14:10, my best time so far this year.  I am getting close to breaking 14 minutes again.  My weight is up 5 lbs from last year at this same time so that accounts for some difference.

Using my current weight of 141, the distance of 1.75 miles and climb of 1,000 feet, I can calculate the power output for today’s climb as follows:

Power required to overcome gravitational resistance: 257 watts.
Power required to overcome rolling resistance: 12 watts.
Power required to overcome aerodynamic resistance: 6 watts.
Total power required: 275 watts.

So what happens if I drop my weight to 136, keep the other parameters set except the time.  What time would result in the same 275 watts?  If I use a time of 13:45, I get the same results.  So you might think the extra 5 lbs cost me 25 seconds.  That is not entirely true because the lighter you are, the less your muscles develop while you climb, but we can still see that there is a significant effect.

I do the Metcalf climb about every other week and usually measure my time.  This table shows several times over the past couple of years.  I think my best time is 13:19, April last year.

Metcalf Climb

Distance: 1.75 miles, Climb: 910 feet, Avg Grade: 10%
Max HR
Avg HR

Hill Repeats up Thomas Grade

7:42 am

Ann and I rode 48 miles on the tandem but I wanted to get in a bit more climbing.  She had a short meeting in Morgan Hill so drove up with her and got in 30 minutes of hills repeats up Thomas Grade.  Thomas Grade is one mile with about a 400 feet climb.  I have found it to be ideal for doing hill repeats with an average grade of 8%.

I only had time for 2.5 climbs.  My times on the first two climbs were 6:25 and 6:36.  I checked my log from the last time when I did 3 repeats. This table shows how I did then compared with this time. I also show my max heart rate average heart rate for each lap.  Looking at how I did yesterday and how I did in early March, I can see I am climbing just as well now as then.

Hill Repeats up Thomas Grade

Max HR
Avg HR

Accelerated Training

July 28, 2008 10:05 pm

With July all but gone I am starting to feel unprepared for the big events coming up in the world of cycling.  Ann and I will do the 111 mile Ulcer Century on August 9th.  I am feeling rather comfortable that we will both be ready. But I am not so confident on my current condition for the Everst Challenge on September 20/21 and the Furnace Creek 508 two weeks later. I don’t know anyone who has sucessfully completed the Everest Challenge and the Furnace Creek 508 back to back like I hope to.  I guess it is something about turning 60 earlier this year that drives me to prove to myself I am not yet ready for the rocking chair.

I decided to go to my training log and create a training plan to make sure I am getting ready.  It helps me to compare where I am with where I was last year at the same time and how I am doing against my training program.  These charts show I am on track with total miles but am falling a bit short on climbing.  The one area I need to really focus on is getting my weight down and want to lose 5 lbs. in the next 5 weeks.  Click the charts to view enlarged.

I did get in a good ride on Saturday and did some hill repeats today up Thomas Grade,  It will be difficult getting in enough climbing due to travel schedules.  That means an accelerated training when I get the opportunity.  I feel the key is to make sure I am getting the right base level and then peak at the right time.  I followed that approach for the Devil Mountain Double last April and it paid off.

See here for all the charts on my training for the 508.

Truckin’ On a Tandem Up Metcalf

July 17, 2008 7:45 pm

We decided to do the Metcalf Mauler today from the trail head in Morgan Hill. That gives us about 10 miles of riding to the offical start of the ride in San Jose, and total ride of 46 miles. All the way up we had a stiff head wind but the temperature was pleasant.

Once the ride started we were now headed south on Santa Teresa. With the tail wind, we zipped by all the fast riders, who jumped on our wheel, as we took the speed up to 30 mph for the section to Bailey Ave. We all took Bailey over to Malech where we once again had the headwind. At Metcalf we turned right for the 1,000 feet climb.

There are markings at the start of the climb and at the top where we often keep track of our time to see how well we do. Today we set a new personal tandem record, making the climb in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. That is faster than many of the riders in today’s group. I guess we just were inspired by all the watching of the Tour de France and wanted to go out and climb some hills. Both of us took our heart rate up in the high 160’s for part of the climb. Ann’s heart rate when into the high 160’s at one point. Here is the data from Franz’ heart rate monitor. You can see he averaged 168 bpm with a maximum of 172. Also note the split time was 17:30. That measured section has an average grade of 10% so it is rather steep.

Franz was clearing in the “red zone” for most of the climb (the portion between the split No. 1 and No. 2) on this graph.

Here are the same charts from two weeks earlier when Franz did the same climb on his single bike. Then he did the climb in 14:31 and had a slightly higher average heart rate of 175, maximum of 177.

Using our combined weight, the weight of our tandem, and our time, we can calculate our combined power input:

Power required to overcome gravitational resistance: 390 watts.
Power required to overcome rolling resistance: 18 watts.
Power required to overcome aerodynamic resistance: 4 watts.
Total power required: 412 watts (about 3.5 watts per kg).

From the July 1st cimb on a single bike, we can calculate for Franz that he puts out 266 watts on that climb (4.2 watts per kg). Accounting for the difference in heart rate between July 1st and July 15th, we can estimate he was putting out 250 watts on July 15th tandem climb. Therefore Ann was averaging 160 watts (3 watts per kg). Very impressive! On her single bike she would be able to do the climb in about 20 minutes with that power input. Of course we come back to reality when we watch the Tour de France where they have some of the professional cyclists wired and you can see how many watts they are putting out on their climbs. In any case, we claim the age group record for climbing Metcalf on a Tandem.

While descending on the backside our chain came off the crank so we had to stop and get it back on. We were able to catch some of the riders before the next regroup. Then it was for a fast descent down San Felipe.

After the ride we had a nice ride back to the car along the bike trail, aided with a nice tailwind. It was a very fun ride.

Taste of the Death Ride

July 1, 2008 9:26 pm

I didn’t try to get into the Death Ride this year but was planning to do the Climb to Kaiser. With the high fuel costs and other things I lost interest in doing CTK and decided to try to do something equivalent with a club ride. There was a long distance training ride posted for Saturday, June 28th, led by Dave Zajac, that looked just right. ACTC is special amongst bike clubs because of the weekly rides that are often over 100 miles with a lot of climbing.

The group met at the Park N Ride in Los Gatos for a 7:30 start. Brian C. grabbed a quick picture before we departed.


I moved out to the front for the gradual ascent along highway 9 from the parking lot. Suddenly David H. went whizzing by. So fast so soon? I pushed on and was able to catch him as the road leveled off and where his pace also leveled off. But that was enough to leave the rest of the riders behind so the two of us rode together until Russ S. met up with us on Foothill. The three of us climbed Page Mill for our first climb of the day. After reaching the top of Page Mill, David went his own way so Russ and I rode together for the rest of the ride.

When our family lived in Japan we noticed that they never sold things like tableware in groups of four but always in groups of five. We later learned why. In Japan the numbers 4 and 9 are considered unlucky. The number four is pronounced “Shi“. The word for death in Japanese is “Shin“, which sounds similar. So the thought came to me if I wanted something like the Death Ride we needed to do four of something and what better thing to do than climb four billy goats that had a rating of “6”, the most difficult rating. Page Mill is only rated a “5” so that would not count towards this goal.

Our first two rating “6” climbs were on the route, Jamison Creek followed by Alba. Jamison Creek was no problem but when we hit Alba that was a different story. I had brought my bike with a double crank and the climb up Alba with a 39/27 was killing me (appropriate for our taste of death ride). After descending back down Jamison Creek, we did the climb up China Grade. That gave us three “6’s”. At the beginning of the ride I had thought about doing Bolhman at the end to get the climbing on the ride that would be similar to doing the Death Ride. But the climb up Alba gave me second thoughts. I have climbed Bolhman before with my double but that was when I was a bit more fresh. Russ and I discussed it and each was hoping the other would bring some reason into the decision. So we took the easy way out (if there is such a thing on such a ride) and climbed Sanborn for our fourth “6” rated billy goat. I think that is the first time for me to do four “6’s” on one ride. I am sure others in the club may have done even more.

I ended up with 113 miles and 12,500 feet of climbing. The Death Ride is about 12 miles longer and another 2,000 feet of climbing so I would call this a taste of death ride. No drive to Markleville was needed and no entry fee required. Where else, other than ACTC, can you do such a club ride?

This shows the profile for the ride and the 6 billy goats we did. Click to enlarge.