Haven't done a post for a long time, and maybe, just maybe, it's time to post some follow-ups. Just in case that anybody is reading this blog.
Well when do we start... the last post "about me" was that I joined the Army and was going to to the jump school. Turned out that just attending the jump school doesn't make you a proper paratrooper, not at all in my opinion. The ROC paratroopers has long lost it's capabilities as a fierce troops. Nowadays, only some of the few who are in the airborne assault squadron (temp. trans) or have been through the scout/sniper trainings still live up to the spirits of spec warriors. The rest of us were just a bunch of dumb-ass low-life camouflage-wearing posers who's done five times of static line from the side hatch of a C-130. Kind of knew this before I went in... but actually experiencing it all is still frustrating. It was a world where image out weighs the real stuff; and frankly, it's not like the image was that good either.
Starting last month (Aug. 17th), I was bound to be one of the ROC* troops for... exactly 11 months. And while in boot camp, I thought I'd join the paratroopers, just to get a taste of it. Otherwise, it could well be 11 months totally wasted. At least as a paratrooper, I'll get five free jumps, plus another month's training in the mountains.
During boot camp we practiced stupid stuff like bayonet fencing (?), marching, some simple PT (running & push-ups)... the lot. The coolest thing I remember was: during my 6-round, 175m shooting final exam, the handguard on my rifle (which didn't belong to and wasn't maintained by me, but rather belonged to some other company under the same regiment... this I had to clarify) went "bang" and just disintegrated! And afterwards I just collected the pieces, held them as if it was intact, and got off the rifle range. Squad leader was rather pleased by this kind of reaction.
Anyway... hope the days coming be all good.
* Republic of China. Weird, huh? Although technically, THAT is the official name of the governing regime in Taiwan; the "free China" that'd overthrown the Ching Dynasty, and fought the WWII; as opposed to the Communist China that is today.
Intervals: 1min x5, 1min rest inbetween. Origionally planed to do 8 or 10 reps as a set, but I forgot to use my favorite Sistux chamois cream and me crouch started to burn :(
No significant sensations in the legs. Just wanted to prevent any chance of abrasion so as not to interfere with the up-coming trainings.
2hr morning ride mid intensity-tempo (2 laps around national road race course), with several sub-maximum "long sprints" (seated, above pursuit efforts and held for a minute or slightly over). Also practiced starts (60~70% of my all-out kilo start).
Recon training. The Sunday TT course turned out to be pretty ideal: out and back, pretty much all flat route along a river enbankment, not much traffic; and I found a reasonable race pace (and gearing) on the way back... but interuped by a wrong turn.
The total racing distance is 26km and a bit. Hopefully no wind. Wanted to get inside 40 minutes... prabably acceptable on a road bike with doun-tube shifters? Although I'd be using borrowed 4-spoke carbon wheels and a "pseudo" TT position. But the sweat's gonna make the top bars slippery.
My saddle needs to get dialed-in before tomorrow, just a minor tweak (within 3mm). Probably recon training again?
Recon training again, but only did 1/3 of the race distance because I've bruised my forearms. Also found that the course is acutually a little bit of ascent going out... but pacing and gearing would be no problem. With (borrowed) racing wheels I think 27km should take me about 47 minutes. Anything under 45 would be quite satisfying.
The saddle is almost done. Only need to ride the rollers tomorrow to address my pedaling motion (still not silky-smooth to say the least). But discomforts in the hip joint is gone.
Gonna repack my front hub tonight!
Rode 30min on the rollers. Big bummer... had to pass the race tomorrow for some reason.
"Training" is coming to an end now... no more reason to keep riding before boot camp. Did a 1400m run today (6 minutes and a bit); I heard that the standards in the military is like you'll get a pretty good score for 3000 meters if you get under 13 minutes.
Running exposed numerous weak spots in my core muscle group.
So I started playing with my settings the other day, thinking about using my track bike to do some pedaling drills (speed, balance, TT position etc) on the rollers. And then after I loosened up the right extension I heard a "PONG", and this happened.
At first I thought the screw had been... eh, screwed. Turned out to be much worse. You'll see in the close-up picture the clamping mechanism of the brackets. The "lower" part (here the upper half since the bar assembly had been turned over) acted as the fastening device of both the arm pad and the extension.
During assembly, these two interfaces were fastened alternately, although not by intension but rather by the trial and error process of setting up the bars. Thus, after I loosened up the extension clamp, the alloy couldn't bear the huge tensile stress posed by the other clamp, and the thing just fucking gave.
Note that also, due to this "unique" design, you cannot really crank them both up (the bracket onto the base bar & the extension mount into the clamp) without torquing the screws to ridiculously high figures, for in essence, the two clamping mechanisms acted like two counter actions against each other; i.e.: when one of them is tightened up, it pulls the other loose. That's plainly stupid design flaw.
I could have also eased up on the screws, but since this was for track use, you don't want to take any chances. I have experienced my aerobars shifting in a kilo, just after sitting down in the back strait, floated the rest of the first lap, and started banging out of turn two in my second lap. I pulled up so hard I ended up being Floyd Landis. Not fun. No fucking fun when it's a kilo.
Now I wonder should this incidence be noted by the seller...
The bike that I used during the 2009 nationals, a second-hand Benotto. I suspect a "Modelo 2700".
It's not hard to qualify as a representative for Taichung city... but to get anywhere near the podium is another thing. I failed the Keirin qualifying round (3rd from last) and only did 1'16 something in the kilo. (PB for kilo is 1'15"021.) Winning time is like 1'03.
Those bars were not the same I used in last year's race by the way. But all else pretty much the same, save for those training wheels.
The cranks were Sugino... not sure of the model name, but they were of 110BCD and originally came with 3/32" 44T single speed chain ring. That one in the photo was an FSA road model (50T).
New setup for my aero bars. I used a similar stem (actually sharing one same part) and a MAVIC bull horn last year. But this setup allows me to go just a little bit lower, and the base bar also provides a wider clamping section.
Originally a mountain bike riser stem... two of the similar products merged into one, actually. These new "ahead" parts allow a few degrees more rotation downwards, getting lower and more towards the rear. Stiff as hell, this chunk of metal...
And as you can see the clip-on's are naturally set wide apart due to this special stem; so wide in fact, they're at the widest the base bar can take! The elbow pads were then set rather well but that was simply an accident.
Another view. As can be seen here my base bar was nearly touching the head tube. One trouble you'll encounter when you set up a mass start bike for time trial. In my opinion.
And last... my current road bike.
Since there won't be any racing in quite a while, I've chosen a steel frame and didn't bother with integrated shifters. :)
3rd day into the study. Yup, I'm back at it once again... but this time for different goals. Graduation from college has not been an option anymore (as I've failed completely), but after five years of hanging around, I'd be able to attend the exam for grade school using the equivalent education level acquired during this period.
But when? Two years after would be the most possible. That's including 14 months in the military, starting (hopefully) late this August or early September. In other words, the exam would take place in March-April 2012, about four to five months after I'd served my time.
Not too much time to get ready, but just about enough. Subjects: engineering math (calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability), mechanics(statics/dynamics), and mechanics of materials. (And maybe English.) Yup, this time I'm heading for the one direction that I should have headed five years ago: mechanical engineering!
Well it's a bit weird to say the least, but my family, esp. parents, still expect me to at least get a degree. Whether this would be of any help... I don't know. Because deep down I still want to be an athletic coach, or a masseur. And I'm pretty sure, a grade school degree in ME isn't going to be of too much help in that area. But there being nothing else to do, and since these subjects aren't as boring anyway, I'll just do it as a past time.
They say that only the experience of military service separates the men from the boys. I wonder, would I then be really able to decide things on my own, as a grown man?
All that effort to get in, only to get kicked out after... five years. But still in some way I am relieved. I never wanted to put my heart into the electrical engineering stuff antway... mechinaries, that was the real shit that got me interested.
Now the next step is of course military service. And after that, not clear yet. I might get back into study... I don't know. For now, I'd say I prefer the job as a masseur. We'll see. Five years is a real long period to be wasted, and, it had truely worn off any of my confidence in pursuing academic achievments.
I think getting back on my bike would help clear some thoughts?
Went to 清泉 (Ching-Chuan, clarity springs) in Hsinchu county. It was a route along the pretty valley of a creek. Went down to the river bed to fill my water supply and get natural cold water spa for FREE!
It's a pity I forgot to take a photo with my phone... but the camera sucks anyway.
Rode about 100 back home along with a guy of the Giant Asia Raing team. Moderate intensity. Real strong head wind... not fun. Even more "not fun", after getting home, I got the e-mail noting that I'd flunked out. No more school, at last?
1.5-HR morning ride, mid intensity, small (but a little bit steep) climb about 1k. This ain't gonna be a "training" log is it...
1.5-HR very low intensity, hill climb afterwards (Chung-Tai Rd)
1.5 hr morning ride (two laps tempo around last year's National Road Race course)
morning ride 30min+ @ near LT heart rate (can't say for sure really, 'cause originally I wanted to do a 20-min LT test, but my HRM wasn't functioning properly in the first 5 or 10 minutes)
"Criterium" mode around a small park near my home :)
3hr morning ride, mid-high to high intensity (3 laps around national RR route)
2hr morning ride, low to mid intensity, with occasional sprints. Neck and torso a bit fatigued to do decent training, but legs are good.
LT testing in the morning, failed (pushed the chrono button instead of "training time", so no data was recorded... damn)
Heart rate down to around 70~85 after dinner (and a 30-min nap in the afternoon)
rained all day... used roller to do some easy training, target zone 100~140 (zone 3?): training time 1hr06'26, Tin 55'48, avg 136, max 147. Not bad for some first-attempt HR control?
My right heel seems to drop down a bit. Might be time to check the toe-in setup for my cleat.
Roller in the morning. Warm up about 15 minutes, and then work at training zone 170~180bpm... ended up average 176, max 185. Total training time: 16'59.
There's a club race coming 8th August; a 27km time trial. I think I'll need to be able to sustain above 170 for 40 minutes in order to get a good race simulation. The national RR course would serve as quite a good option for aerobic interval training: 7 minutes of hill climb per lap.
And finally, I was able to ride no-hands on the rollers! :D
(evening) 1.5 hours after dinner, roller 35 minutes easy. Tried hands off, swinging around and other balancing drills. My quads are loosened up, but glutes still a bit tight.
It's strange since I have not felt the fatigue in the quads for some time. And it happened this morning, while I was pedaling larger gear in the drops. You'd expect one to use more his glutes and hamstrings in this position, don't you?
The weather forecast says it still rains tomorrow.
PB for a 2km hill climb: 6'21 (elevation 117m, avg. gradient 5~6%)
Previous record was like 7'25 or something set about a week ago, but not exactly under TT condition, just setting a time standard. Originally I just wanted to get inside seven minutes before boot camp (6'30 might be superb).... so to get a 6'21 was outstanding.
Recovery ride 2Hr in the morning, roller easy 1Hr in the evening.
Way down this road, in a gym far away A young man was once heard to say "I've repped high and I've repped low, No matter what I do, my legs won't grow"
He tried leg extensions, leg curls, and leg presses too Trying to cheat, these sissy workouts he'd do.
From the corner of the gym where the BIG men train, Through a cloud of chalk and the midst of pain Where the big iron rides high and threatens lives, Where the noise is made with big forty-fives,
A deep voice bellowed as he wrapped his knees, A very big man with legs like trees. Laughing as he snatched another plate from the stack Chalking his hands and monstrous back, said, "Boy, stop lying and don't say you've forgotten, The trouble with you is you ain't been SQUATTIN'."
— DALE CLARK, 1983
Yesterday I went help a friend do his strength workout.
Not that gym workouts are of that much importance to a climber type of roadie... but since his goal is to be a professional cyclist, and since he is at this present moment without a contract (and thus, not in the "racing season"), it might not be so bad to use some weights.
It was the first time I went to this training site. For my likings, it isn't what I'd call a perfect training facility. It's a gym alright, but the focuses were on machines, which wasn't abound and covering all aspects either. But the main drawback was the lack of a squat rack, and the free bar to practice dead lifts and cleans with.
Never mind, the Smith in the corner will do. That friend of mine used to went to a coach for training advices. But from what I've heard, the menu he gave were pretty like that of a body builder (rather than an athlete); the training philosophy was quite weird (he stressed on achieving target numbers, not loading and building the correct muscle groups); and most of all, the lack of emphasis of maintaining the right form. He even instructed the wrong form with which to do squats.
Now with the Smith machine, my gym class teacher used to tell me to stand with my feet way forward, leaning backwards into the bars, and squat down. Which was exactly how the coach told my friend to do. Which also I believe was totally wrong.
(Tina maybe you can get your brother to correct me on this! :D )
Our goals, (as in mine, and that of the aforementioned coach), were quite similar: to develop my friend's glute muscles. As a skinny climber, he lacks the ability to utilize his glutes in a low and aerodynamic position, or jump for a quick acceleration. (I'm not sure if he told the coach he wanted to strengthen this area or the coach asked him to do so. Since we've went on rides together before, I have told him about this problem. Alround performance-wise this guy would almost beat me in every aspect, but when it come down to a sprint, nine out of ten times he'd had to eat my dust.)
Well that was then, and the thing was based on observations only. (Actually the first person to have pointed that one out wasn't me, but rather a dude called Nate Busch, who was a former pro that rode for Trek VW.) But since I began to take on the job as my friend's personal masseur, I was able to verify that with my own hands. Here I can proudly declare, of all those men's buts (!) that I've touched, this fella is definitely on the lean side. But to know the problem was one thing, trying to fix it was quite another.
As to the so-called "squat" positions suggested by the coach. Yes, a man with strong glutes would easily pump up the bars with that sort of form without a hint of a doubt. But for someone lacking the glutes, or one who doesn't know how to activate his glutes, lifting weights using this position could still be achieved by contraction of the quads. Actually, using this method wasn't going to get any benefits of squats at all. You might as well go on a leg-press machine (which, the gym didn't have, oddly enough) if you only want to do this sort of training. I told my friend to use a wide stance, feet pointing slightly outwards, and sitting backwards while squatting down. Maintaining a rigid back, stomach engaged, knees kept vertically behind the toes... basically what Mr. Mark Rippetoe promotes in his book Starting Strength.
After this change, the 10RM weight of my friend immediately dropped from more than 40kg to 20 (my "warmup" loading). In fact, that's when ironically the benefits of the Smith kicks in. With my friend barely lifting those 20kg, lacking the support would have get him literally tipped over if we're not careful. (I think next time I'd have him start from 15 or even 10 maybe.)
While I'm no professional trainer by any means, I can see where the problems might be. The rider in this case didn't have the strength in his glutes to support a "sitting back towards the rear" position. The reason I can make this assumption, is while this guy's hip joints have reasonably good range of motion (I also helped him with passive stretching and stuff after a massage session), he could barely maintain an "air squat" position or do a starting pose of a dead lift, with a tendency of tipping over. (Watching him doing all those panicky stuff was actually quite funny.) AND if I force him to do so, his back tends to hunch up. All traces suggesting his glute muscles couldn't sustain much load in a stretched-out manner. Let alone to contract and putting the power down.
The advice I'd gave him? Do squats. And do the CORRECT squats. With someone watching and constantly helping him to note maintaining the correct form, knees held back etc., he'd be able to really focus on where he lacks. In training, I believe, form comes before performance.
On a final note, next time I'd try to get a box or something to put under his bottom, so as to prevent him from going too deep. This guy really doesn't have much stuff to pump that thing up from an over-extended position.
Last Friday I took a late night walk in a park near where we live back home, trying to clear some thoughts in my mind and have a think about what I'd do in the future. Ended up not thinking about those stuff at all. Instead, my attentions turned to the way I walked.
Yup, you have to pay attention to the movements when you walk.
Back when I first started cycling, I didn't pay much attention to my pedaling style. In fact, even long after acquiring a pair of Shimano shoes and PD1056 pedals, I still wasn't fully utilizing the powerful system to it's full benefit. Now I know how to really pedal in circles. But back then, every stroke was forwards and downwards. Stomping as they call it.
Soon enough I started to develop regular cramping in my calf and thighs, particularly quads. Also, from those repeatedly sustained injuries, my calf muscles and Achilles tendons became tight, restricting the range of motions in my heels.
Walking bare-footed on hard grounds gives you a chance to get a good extension/stretch in the calf muscles. As shown below, in the typical designs of modern athletic shoes, the front of the sole has an slight arc. This design promotes quick forward shifting of one's body mass, and also helps the weight transition in running. But in daily exercises, especially in walking, this feature kind of lower the extent of your calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) being stretched.
As noted in the above picture, walking in the common athletic shoes would probably result in your ankle look a bit like this. (The original drawing however has nothing to do with this topic. These are just convenient images found by Google... I've linked them back to the source pages and hopefully they won't sue me for the usage.)
On the contrary, walking bare-footed would get your hind-foot develop an heel angle like the above Egyptian.
So then after walking for like half an hour, I felt a bit more range in my ankles' movement. Now that's a good sign.
And surprisingly, in the massage afterwards, I found... this.
It was the first time in a long period that I was able to get my calf muscles totally relaxed and softened up. That was probably due to my walking bare-footed, which effectively acted like a series of PNF stretching (with the eccentric contraction of the calf muscles in the hind leg every time when you've stepped out your front foot). Doing massage only wouldn't be of this much use.
And another isteresting fact is, with the complete relaxation of the calf muscles, I was able to locate an old wound caused by cramping. Apart from the different touch, you can even visually point out the whereabouts (as shown in the above enhanced photo) of the problematic tissue. A place with particullarly tought miscles and had cramped in neumerous occations in the past two or three years.