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The Value of the Experience

The less I get to ride, and the less frequently I get to enjoy my favorite trails, the more I value being able to come back to them over time and find that they've maintained their distinct personality.

A huge part of what I enjoy about mountain biking is challenging myself to do things I can't yet do. Sometimes that means chasing new PRs. And sometimes it means riding a move, or a trail, clean. And when you remove the challenge, you ruin that experience for everyone.

This makes me miss Chumash. I might need to negotiate a ride out there the next time my wife and I are in the neighborhood. But really, it makes me realize I need to seek out the serious tech closer to home, here in O.C.

Punching the Clock

Punching the Clock

Work has been going well, but been super-busy. I've been getting my workouts in, but nothing exciting. Steady progress. True "Punch the Clock" workouts: get in, do the work, get back to the rest of my life.

One of my goals for the last couple of weeks was to find three segments of my regular lunch loop to use as intervals. I've got those mapped out, and today's ride will establish some benchmarks I can improve on.

And I really like having my workouts in git. Unexpected benefit: it's super-easy to see when I last increased the load on a given exercise, or switched to a new one. That's valuable information to have at your fingertips.

Beach Day

Beach Day


Just Checking In

Just Checking In

I've mostly been keeping up the same workout routine, but I've shifted one of my gym sessions to Sunday afternoons, which lets me do some deadlifts and some kettlebell stuff. The downside is that I can't do any pull-ups. That doesn't seem to have stopped my pull-ups progressing (plenty of pull in deadlifts, after all), but I'll keep an eye on things. If I'm not stronger in 3 weeks, I'll adjust.

And I've started checking my workout routines into git. It'll be interesting to see what jumps out when I can diff workouts.

But it's also having a side-effect of highlighting exactly what I'm changing, and making me more consious of ensuring that each change indicates forward progress.

This week, I swapped pull-downs for pull-ups, increased the weight on goblet squats and cable chops, and removed flutter kicks from my routine.

I skipped the flutter kicks because I wasn't getting stronger, and didn't want to waste time on something that wasn't helping, and had a lot of overlap with the cable chops.

But Convict Conditioning says the next progression is hanging knee raises. I'll add those next week.

Self-Coaching: Take-Aways

Self-Coaching: Take-Aways

What went well?

I think I've finally mentally adapted to the lack of cycling time. My rides are punch-the-clock workouts, and I'm measuring progress by how I'm doing in the gym, where training time is less restrictive. (Doing okay at an Over the Hump race certainly helped with this.)

My workout routine is consistent, and workouts now include basics I used to neglect, like running, chin-ups/pull-ups, loaded carries, and stretching.

My lunchtime rides are far higher-quality than they were eight weeks ago. I'm riding my trail bike more than my road bike, and my regular loop includes plenty of fire-road-style dirt, which is a massive upgrade that I'm not sure would have happened without a conscious decision to seek out better routes.

I raced, and even performed reasonably well. That was not a simple thing to put together, and I don't think it would have happened without really focusing on concrete next steps.

What went badly?

My weight is the same as it was 8 weeks ago. I can see in the mirror that I'm adding muscle, and I'm noticeably stronger in the gym, so I'm not too upset. But still, I know that the single best thing I can do for my fitness is to get my body fat down around 12%.

Bringing lunch to work will require me to make changes to my weekly routine. I can't just "try to find something" on weekday mornings. I've got to shop ahead of time, and do the prep over the weekend.


One pattern that emerged is that if I'm not making progress toward a goal, I need to break it down into smaller pieces that I can execute.

What's not obvious about this is that a single, all-day, high-priority task might be one item on the to-do list. "Clean garage," for instance, might be one item if I plan to start after breakfast on Saturday morning and continue until it's completely done. On the other hand, if I know that I'm only going to have one-hour chunks of time to work on the garage, then I'm going to break down "Clean Garage" into 30- to 60-minute tasks.

Doing okay in the Over the Hump race quieted my worries that my on-bike training isn't enough. It gave me the confidence to just keep my focus on general strength and conditioning work, and on losing fat. If anything, I know I need to turn up the intensity in the gym, and if I'm going to tweak any part of my bike training, it should be to add short, sharp climbs. (30-60 seconds, as steep as I can find.)

And, honestly, I think the notion of having one or two achievable weekly goals works really well for me. So I'll keep doing that. But not with the intensity I have been, and not directed at fitness or cycling.

For the next couple of weeks, my mental energy needs to be focused on executing at work. So that's my self-coaching "goal" for the time being.

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