Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Base Building for Cyclists

How many training books does a person need, especially if that person is old, fat, and has no intention of racing? Allow an old man his hobbies, goldarn it, I like to read training books. And surprisingly, I seem to learn something new, something I can use, from each one I read. "Base Building for Cyclists" (hereafter Base Building) was recommended to me by someone named jbithaca who commented on one of my blog posts. Jbithaca worried that I was doing too many rides that were too fast, so recommended this book to me as an antidote. At the time, I skimmed it and then set it aside to read later. In my last post, I reviewed a study comparing different training strategies, and in the course of writing that post, began to reconsider the intensity of some of my rides. This finally inspired me to go back and read this book. Based on that reading, I have some ideas for future blog posts that I expect will use this book as a reference, so thought it made sense to describe this book before doing so.

So what is this book? Like most training books, it is written for bicycle racers, the same audience for whom "The Cyclist's Training Bible" (hereafter The Bible) is written. In fact, Thomas Chapple, the author of Base Building, is an associate of Joe Friel, author of The Bible, and Joe wrote the Foreword to Base Building. Friel explains the relationship between these two books as follows: "I tried to explain [base training] in The Cyclist's Training Bible but somehow many cyclists failed to learn the lesson. In Base Building for Cyclists, Thomas Chapple devotes an entire book to the concept I tried to explain in one chapter." The assumption both of these books make is that the reader has already decided to devote a significant part of their life to winning a few bicycle races each year. The reader is assumed to have a life outside of bicycle racing, but in the context of these books, winning races is the goal. Thus, when judging training plans, the plan that better promotes a long and healthy life (for example) gets no credit for that1, its virtue relative to other plans is judged only by the number of bicycle races won. A second assumption is that there is a bicycle racing season corresponding to the calendar year; that the races one wishes to win occur roughly at the same time each year, so that there in an annual cycle of preparing for the annual bicycle races, racing, and then recovering until the next year.

What is base training? For a bicycle racer who uses periodized training, the training season is commonly divided into four major phases; Base, Build, Peak, and Transition. Base is the longest of the four, lasting 8 to 32 weeks, or even longer. What is periodized training? It is an annual training plan where there are qualitative changes in the kind of training done over the course of an annual racing season.What is the rationale for periodized training? As best I understand, it is two-fold. The first rationale is that one can reach peaks of fitness that cannot be sustained. The goal of a periodized training plan is to reach such a peak at the time of a race one would most like to win. After that race, fitness will inevitably fall and will need to be rebuilt first by resting and then by a new cycle of periodized training before the next important race. The second rationale is that fitness is not a single thing, but a collection of traits; endurance, strength, and speed, for example. Some of these take a long time to develop, some can be developed more quickly. In general, endurance takes a long time to develop and speed can be developed quickly. Thus, to reach a peak of capabiity ("form") at the time of a bicycle race, one first develops endurance, and then quickly, before endurance fades, develops speed. Base training has many goals, but perhaps its primary purpose is to build endurance. To put this into context, the Build phase then builds speed, the Peak phase restores energy while maintaining endurance and speed, and the Transition phase is the recovery period after the race. Having given this description, if one looks at actual training plans like those presented in Base Building, one notes that they are more of a continuum than separate blocks of training. If one looks at them carefully, however, one notes that this continuum does in fact build from endurance to speed.

What does this book add to The Bible? At first glance, very little. You can and will develop essentially similar Base phase training plans using either book. (The advantage of The Bible is that you can then use the same book to develop plans for the remainder of the season.) I argue, however, that this is a naive conclusion. The best piece of advice my father gave me when I left for college was to always read multiple books on a subject, not just the textbook assigned for the course. Even though these books cover the same material, each has its own way of explaining it, and what I failed to understand from one I might learn from another. Such is the case with The Bible and Base Building; they are both teaching the same thing, but if you read both, you will end up with a better understanding. Besides, there are a few bits of information in Base Building not in The Bible, not so critical to its main mission, but of particular interest to me.

I am not a racer, does Base Building have any practical value for me? It does. My whole reason for reviewing Base Building is because I plan to use it as a reference for future posts. A quick list of some of these topics:

  • Signs and symptoms of overtraining or improper training.
  • How to juggle rides of different intensities in a training schedule.
  • Fat burning vs carb burning during exercise.
  • Weight training exercises that benefits cycling.
  • Cycling skills that improve cycling efficiency.

Why should we believe what Base Building says? That is a very good question, especially in the context of my recent posts which have been very critical of careful scientific comparisons of different kinds of training. There is no science in Base Building, no comparisons, experiments or clinical trials - or is there? There is no explicit science in Base Building, but I know that Joe Friel reads the scientific literature on training. I don't know if Thomas Chapple does, but even if he does not, he is part of the same community as Joe Friel, and the results of scientific research certainly infuse that community, and so books like Base Building represent, to some degree, a review of the scientific literature on training. In addition to that, Friel and Chapple speak from experience. Experience certainly does not replace scientific certainty, but scientific certainty is rare, and in its absence, experience allows us to move forward with our lives. Thus, I still wait scientific confirmation of much that I take away from Base Building, but will use what I learn from Base Building while I wait.

Why did jbithaca recommend Base Building to me? Only jbithaca knows, of course, but if I had to guess, it is because the single clearest message of this book is that it is a mistake to train too fast too early. It is pretty clear that jbithaca thought I was training too fast. Does Base Building support jbithaca's concern? It turns out that is not as simple a question as it might first appear, and as of the time of this writing, I have not yet formulated my opinion on the matter. I expect to be addressing this in future posts. Stay tuned.

1) I assume that Joe Friel, Thomas Chapple, and the serious bicycle racers who make up their readership all believe that bicycle racers are healthier than couch potatoes. Thus, everyone involved believes they are healthier as a result of their hobby. My point is that having adopted this hobby, they feel like the health issue is covered so that, when comparing training plans, enjoyment of the hobby, that is, winning bicycle races, is the thing. If my assumption is correct, I agree with them.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Polarized Training

Training programs tested in Stöggl and Sperlich: (A) high volume training (HVT), (B) threshold training (THR), (C) polarized training (POL), and (D) high intensity interval training (HIIT). LOW = low intensity workout; LT = medium-high intensity workout (near lactate threshold); FL = mixed intensity workout ("fartlek"); HIGH = high intensity workout; R = recovery day, no workout. The HVT, THR, and POL training blocks were repeated a total of three times. The HIIT training block was repeated twice, with one recovery week between the two blocks.

A few years ago, Joe Friel reviewed a scientific publication on his blog which purported to demonstrate the benefits of something called polarized training: "Polarized training has greater impact on key endurance variables than threshold, high intensity, or high volume training" by Thomas Stöggl and Billy Sperlich. (This publication is hereafter referred to as Stöggl and Sperlich). In today's post, I will review this publication, and in so doing, will attempt to avoid being the kind of "sadistic scientist who hurries to hunt down errors", but rather attempt to take a common sense approach to analyzing this study, to ascertain how much a reasonable person can take away from it about how best to train. Joe Friel thinks highly of this publication and I think highly of Joe Friel, and on that basis, I will make every effort to give this publication the benefit of the doubt.

Cognitive Bias

One of the most insidious sources of error in science is cognitive bias. Stephen J. Gould provides an excellent discussion of this trap in his book "The Mismeasure of Man" (which I highly recommend to scientists and non-scientists alike) but in short, as much as we scientists would like to pretend that we dispassionately consider each question with no preconception about what answer we get, very often, we have a preference for one answer over another. When that happens, it is well known that even when we are trying to be unbiased, we will be especially sensitive to any evidence that supports our preferred answer and relatively blind to evidence that contradicts it, and all of this is subconscious and thus very difficult to avoid. When I read the Joe Friel blog on this publication, I was frankly horrified; what it said about training went against everything I was doing. Thus, my preference is to find that the Stöggl and Sperlich publication is wrong. Consider this fair warning both to myself and my readers that this trap is set and waiting for me. I will proceed nonetheless, doing my best to give this publication fair consideration.

Science is hard. Exercise science is harder.

In my opinion, one of the most important sentences in Stöggl and Sperlich is the following:
"An experimental study is difficult to conduct in elite athletes because typically neither the athletes nor their coaches like to have the athletes’ training intensity, duration or frequency altered."
When considering the ideal experimental design we might like to have for a study such as this, fairness and common sense demand that we bear in mind the real world difficulties of carrying out such a study. Sometimes, we just have to be grateful for what we can get.

What Is Polarized Training?

At the most informal, intuitive level, there could be nothing simpler; polarized training means concentrating on very high intensity ("fast") and very low intensity ('slow") training, and avoiding everything in between. That said, turning this into a precise definition that can be used for hypothesis testing is not so easy. How fast is fast? How slow is slow? Is one to do no riding at speeds in between or just less than other training approaches? How much less?

Further complicating the issue are the different ways that intensity of effort ("fast" or "slow") are measured. Obviously, speed in miles per hour is not a useful measure of intensity; 25 miles per hour is an impossible speed for me but easy for a professional bicycle racer. Thus, other, more biological measures are used, such as heart rate, breathing volume, and the amount of lactic acid in the blood. Even for these, there can be person to person variability so that measurement is often expressed as the percentage of the highest value that person can achieve for that variable. Perhaps the most common way of measuring exercise intensity is heart rate. Heart rate intensity zones (typically, Zone 1 through Zone 5) are determined as a percentage of the maximum heart rate one can reach, or alternatively, of the heart rate at lactate threshold. Stöggl and Sperlich, on the other hand, use either the percentage of the maximum breathing volume (%VO2peak) or levels of blood lactate to define exercise intensity. This creates two problems for me. First, I lack the resources to measure my %VO2peak or my blood lactate. Second, there is not a direct correspondence between %VO2peak, blood lactate, and heart rate, nor is it clear which of the three is the better measure of effort. The thing I found most disturbing about Joe Friel's column is the assertion that LOW intensity rides should be ridden in Zone 1 rather than Zone 2. However, it is not at all clear to me when I read Stöggl and Sperlich that their LOW intensity exercise  corresponds to Zone 1 as Joe Friel says, or if it could correspond to Zone 2.

Overall Study Design

The participants were members of the Austrian national cross country ski, triathlon, running, or cycling teams. Training consisted of either running, cycling, or roller skiing. In the six months before the study, all participants had been engaged in an exercise program similar to HVT, consisting mostly of LOW (slow) workouts. However, their training also included up to two days of LT (medium fast) workouts a week, making it also similar to the THR training plan. The normal schedule for these participants was 5 days of training per week and they had been training for 8 to 20 years. In reviewing this study, the cautionary note that Joe Friel struck was that the relevance of this study to you depends very much on how similar you are to these participants. If, for example, you are a beginning athlete, you might do better using a different training plan than what scored best in this study.

The study started out with 48 participants, 12 assigned to each of the four training plans. Due to dropouts, the study finished (and reports the results from) 11 participants in the HVT plan, 8 participants in the THR plan, 12 participants in the POL plan, and 10 participants in the HIIT plan. The picture at the top of the post diagrams the four training programs compared in this study.

According to Stöggl and Sperlich, "Five key variables have been used as a benchmark to compare athletic performance in and between endurance athletes: (i) VO2peak (ii) velocity/power output at the lactate threshold (V/PLT) (iii) work economy (iv) peak running velocity or power output (V/Ppeak); and (v) time to exhaustion (TTE)." In some of my previous posts, I have discussed the problems that can occur if what you measure is not exactly the same as what you really want to know. These problems most definitely apply here, and I will discuss them in a general way at the end of this post, but for now, let's accept these measurements and see where that leads us.

What is the point?

The conclusion of Stöggl and Sperlich is that Polarized Training is better than High Volume Training, Lactate Threshold Training, or High Intensity Interval Training. Note that this is a much broader claim than the narrow conclusion that one of the specific training plans tested in this study is better than the other three. Rather, it says that when comparing any two training protocols, all things being equal, the polarized protocol will most likely be better. Does this study support that conclusion? I think not. I think this is a well designed and executed study, and that it convincingly supports the narrow conclusion but not the broad one. The protocol they designate at POL is almost certainly the best of the four tested, but it is not at all clear that it is best because it is polarized or that it is best for some other reason. Thus, it is not clear to me that polarized training is better in general.

What are other explanations for the results of Stöggl and Sperlich? The first two possibilities that jump to mind are:
  1. Training can be too hard, too easy, or just right. Unsurprisingly, the best results are obtained when training is just right. How hard a training protocol is, is determined by both the volume of riding (how many hours) and the intensity of riding (how fast.) Both the volume and the intensity of the four training programs differ one from another. It could be that the POL training program was "just right" whereas the others were "too hard" or "too easy."
  2. It is generally believed that there is value in varying one's training from time to time, that if one rides the same rides over and over, after a while, one will derive little benefit. The riders in this study had spent the previous six months doing some mix of the HVT and THR protocols. One or both of these protocols could have been "more of the same", and the benefit of the POL protocol may have been that it was something different. 

What's not the point?

These are points that Stöggl and Sperlich never claim to have demonstrated, but rather are the known and accepted limits of the study:
  1. This Study Does Not Apply to Everyone. We have already discussed that even if you believe this study is correct for its participants, it may not be correct for you. That said, besides being talented and experienced athletes, these athletes were at a particular point in their training cycle; they had just come off of 6 months of a program that was predominantly HVT but which also included some THR. Thus, I do not find it surprising that they got more fitness by switching from HVT rather than participating in more of the same. Similarly, even if we assume that POV is the best protocol at this point in their training cycle, would more POV be the best strategy after the 9 weeks of POV done in this study was completed, or would changing to something else be better?
  2. This Study Does Not Measure All Aspects of Fitness. Are all forms of fitness interchangeable? Alternatively, do the metrics used in this study cover all forms of fitness? I do not think the authors of this study would claim either of these statements to be true. Rather, they had to use some metric of fitness to compare their training protocols and selected a fairly broadly accepted and easy to measure set, hoping that they would be applicable to at least some sorts of real world fitness. Assume these metrics do a fairly good job of identifying a cyclist who will do well in a typical bicycle race. Does that mean that these same metrics would do as good a job identifying a sprinter, or a randonneur? I would not assume so.
  3. This Study Does Not Evaluate All Effort Levels. Context: There has been an early version of the polarized training idea kicking around the training community for some time in the form of the "Zone 3 Syndrome" (see for example this website.) The notion is that Heart Rate Zone 3 (halfway between easy and hard) is the "grey zone"; too fast to build endurance, too slow to build speed. As usual, the discussion is more complicated than that, but I think it gets the essence. When I read Joe Friel's post, my horror came from the notion that the "grey zone" had been expanded from "Zone 3" to "Zone 2 AND Zone 3 AND Zone 4"; only training in Zone 1 and Zone 5 is worth doing. I argued above that it is not clear that the LOW intensity training in Stöggl and Sperlich is Zone 1, but out of respect for Joe Friel, let's assume it is. Even if we make that assumption, I do not think Stöggl and Sperlich supports such an extreme conclusion. If we assume low intensity training corresponds to heart rate Zone 1, that THR training corresponds to the top of Zone 4, and HIGH training corresponds to Zone 5, then this study never looks at any training protocols that contained any significant effort in Zone 2, Zone 3, or in the bottom half of Zone 4, so cannot speak to the value of exercise at these levels.

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

I'm afraid that despite my best efforts, this post reads like the output of the sadistic scientist I was trying not to be. Can't I find something of value in this study? Yes I can. The "polarized" training program worked; it was not worthless or harmful. If you are a talented, fit cyclist who has been riding long, slow miles, a training protocol that replaces some of your long, slow rides with high intensity intervals will probably do you more good than continuing with just long, slow rides.

The second lesson I take away from this paper is probably not something the authors intended and is very specific to me; this paper has forced me to confront my cognitive bias and to reconsider the value of exercise in Zone 1 versus Zone 2. I had stuck in my head the notion that Zone 1 was just for warm up, cool down, and recovery rides. Looking back at my collection of training books, it is clear that Zone 1 (along with Zone 2) is also recommended for building endurance. Many of the comments I have received on this blog have been to the effect that I might be doing my endurance training at too high an intensity. In the past, I have resisted this suggestion, but this study has caused me to reconsider. I don't yet know what impact this will have on my training; stay tuned to find out.

Dream Study

I have spent a great deal of time thinking about how I would have done this study differently. In fact, I don't know if I could have made it much better. My objections to the study have much more to do with the difficulty of studying exercise than anything else. That said, let me toss out a few thoughts.

  1. I would have skipped the HIIT training plan, I think it is too extreme.
  2. I probably would have skipped the HVT training plan, not because I don't find it interesting, but rather that if I were limited to only four plans, HVT would not make the cut. Also, it is too similar to what the athletes were doing before the study, and thus may be doomed to fail.
  3. I would have modified the THR plan by replacing the two shorter LT rides with one HIGH ride and one long LOW ride. This would have made it into a more mixed plan, one that covered the range of exercise intensities and more directly challenged the theory of polarized training by asking if POL is better than THR because of the absence of Zones 2 through 4 from POL, or because of the absence of Zone 5 from THR.
  4. This leaves me with two more plans I can test. One of them would be just like the POL plan, but I would replace the two long LOW ride with rides in Zone 2 rather than in Zone 1. To make up for the extra load this would have put on the riders, I would reduce the length of the two shorter LOW rides. The purpose of this plan is to test the relative value of Zone 1 and Zone 2 rides.
  5. My fourth plan would be just like POL except that I would replace the two short LOW rides with R (recovery) days, days with no riding. This would reduce the load of this plan, a disadvantage, but I think that disadvantage would be justified to test whether short Zone 1 rides have very much value. I would want to ask this question because the medical community has suggested that, for the purposes of building health (rather than fitness), they do not.

I am not a coach, so these might be terrible ideas that no experienced coach would ever suggest, and I would listen carefully to any coach who told me as much. In fact, I would most interested to hear a coach comment on the logic behind the details of the protocols selected by Stöggl and Sperlich. Of course, Joe Friel, an exceptionally experienced coach, did blog about this study, but he did not comment on the specifics of the exercise plans. In the absence of such objections, however, these are the plans I came up with to answer the questions I have. What do you think?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

New Things Under the Sun

Please excuse the poor quality photo. The white patch in the tire with the black dot on the middle is a cut in the tread, the white being the tire casing and the black dot, the inner tube peeking through. Obviously, this is not a stable situation.

As I have previously posted, I believe there is value in periodically revisiting equipment reviews; it is often how a piece of equipment performs over time that determines its value. I have done this in the past for tires and my Garmin Edge 500 cycle computer and decided to do it again.

Garmin Edge 500

I have posted on this product several times since I first purchased it at the end of 2012, most recently in this post. My two major complaints about this product are that it occasionally loses data from a ride and that the strap for the heart rate monitor stops working after a few months. The data loss problem persists, it has gotten no better and no worse and I am living with it. This amounts to losing one ride every few months when I am riding about 5 days a week. Since the Garmin Edge 500 is no longer sold (the current model is the 520, two models newer) I am not sure this is still relevant, though I would be curious if newer models still have this problem. As to the strap problem, I have tried a variety of solutions. About two years ago, I tried replacing the "premium" heart rate monitor with the much cheaper "classic" monitor. The classic monitor is an integrated unit with the strap, you cannot replace just the strap, you have to replace the whole thing. On the other hand, the classic monitor costs about $25, whereas just the replacement strap for the premium monitor costs $35. (The premium monitor plus strap costs $60.) Appearances and advertising notwithstanding, the classic strap is every bit as comfortable as the premium strap. But the most important difference is longevity. The premium strap fails after about three months. After two years of use, the classic strap is still working. The classic strap has been discontinued by Garmin and I don't know what I will do if the one I have fails. Given the sad state of obsolescence that characterizes my Garmin, this will be the last time I review it.


In the six years I have had my Surly Crosscheck, I have tried seven different sets of tires. (I have not worn them all out, see below.) The tires I have used are as follows:

Ritchey SpeedMax Comp32Original tires. Knobby. Not fun to ride.
Specialized Armadillo28"Fine"
Grand Bois Extra Léger32Wonderful feel. Fast? Prone to flats.
Schwalbe Marathon Plus28Clunky and squirrelly. Hard to mount. No Flats!
Clement Strada LGG28Felt fast. Insecure when wet. Wore out quickly.
Schwalbe Marathon Plus32Rides fine, mounts fine, feels secure. No Flats?

My wife and I purchased matching Surly Crosschecks at the beginning of 2010 and they came with the Ritchey tires. I replaced mine almost immediately because I did not like the way they looked or the way they rode. My wife, who purchased her bike at the same time, wore hers out and then started using mine, until she switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires to reduce the number of flats she was getting. I have no memory or record of what kind of tires the bike shop put on my bike except that they were skinnier than the Richies and had a slick (non-knobby) tread. They worked fine and I rode them for two years until they wore out. The shop then put on similar Specialized Armadillo tires, which again worked fine. For my second Brevet which I rode in May of 2013, I temporarily replaced the Specialized tires with the Grand Bois Extra Léger which randonneuring experts promised would be faster and more comfortable, especially in the somewhat fatter 32 mm width which I got. I have never been able to document that the Grand Bois ride faster than any other tire (and I have tested them fairly carefully under controlled conditions), but they sure feel better than anything else I have ever ridden. After the brevet, I put the Armadillos back on to "save" the Grand Bois for special occasions. When the Armadillos finally wore out, I replaced them with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires because I read somewhere they were "rugged", and worry free appealed to me. Because I wanted "skinny" tires, I bought them in the 28 mm width. They were very hard to mount and did not have a nice feel on the road; they felt both slow and insecure when cornering. Nonetheless, they virtually never got flats, so I learned to forgive their sins. I probably would still be riding these tires, but my wife got tired of getting flats, I wanted to try some different tires, so I put my old 28 mm Marathon Plus tires on her bike, and decided it was foolish to keep saving the Grand Bois tires, so put those on mine. My wife had come to love her 32 mm tires and was somewhat concerned about riding 28 mm tires so I promised her that if she liked them, I would get her new ones in a 32 mm width. Within the first month of having the Grand Bois tires on my bike, I got two flats. At the same time, Lovely Bicycle reviewed Clement Strada LGG tires which she promised had a nice ride and which were flat resistant, so I bought those to replace the flat-prone Grand Bois. At first, I liked these very much, but shortly after I put them on, was riding on wet roads and fell. For the next six months, I didn't fall again, but often felt like I was about to fall, a very unpleasant sensation. On the other hand, I did not get any flats. Then, almost miraculously, the Clements started feeling more secure, presumably because they had "worn in" a bit. However, at the same time, I started getting flats. Not all that many, maybe one every three months or so, but I did find it demoralizing. Soon, I noticed a cut in the back tire which rendered it unusable. So what to do? These tires had lasted about half as long as I was used to, and I didn't like either the crashes at the beginning of their life nor the flats at the end. On the other hand, they felt almost as nice to ride as the Grand Bois and at their worst, flatted less. Nonetheless, I decided that the morale benefits of no flats outweighed a nice ride (plus, I still have the Grand Bois any time I want to ride them) so went back to the tried and true Marathon Plus. I got this set in the 32 mm width with the idea that I might swap with my wife so she could have the wider tires she wanted, but for a variety of reasons put them on my bike first. They have only been on a few months, but I have the following preliminary observations: 1) No flats yet. 2) These mounted much easier than my first set. Is this luck of the draw, has Schwalbe improved their product, or does the width make a difference? I have no idea. 3) Visibly, their width is barely distinguishable from the 28 mm Marathon Plus's on my wife's bike. When she saw them, she lost all interest in swapping tires with me. 4) They seem to handle, well, "fine". Nothing special, but not bad. We'll see about the flats, stay tuned.

For reasons I am not at liberty to discuss, I don't know when (or even if) I will be able to ride another brevet. If I did, would I put the Grand Bois tires back on, or would I ride it with my Marathon Plus tires? I think I would go with Marathon Plus. Although I love the feel of the Grand Bois, I hate worrying about flats. Yes, yes, I have read all the articles saying that I should simply get fast at repairing flats, they are inevitable and no big deal. "You should be able to repair a flat in 10 minutes" say the experts. Well maybe. I have a great deal of experience repairing flats as it happens, and have no objection to doing so at home, but despite all that experience, I do not like doing it on the road. Part of the reason is that I believe it is important to do it right and find that hard to do sitting in the dirt by the side of the road without access to my bike stand. One common problem that occurs when fixing flats is that the object that caused the flat may remain in the tire, and no sooner does one hit the road than one has another flat - from the same object! To avoid that, I find I have to take my time inspecting the tire and to inspect it in very good light. So what does this old man fussiness cost me? Again, I have not been able to measure the speed improvement I get when riding Grand Bois tires compared to Marathon Plus, but based on my attempts to do so, I find it hard to believe that it amounts to more than 0.2 miles per hour. My last (and longest) brevet was 130 miles long. Over 130 miles, 0.2 miles per hour amounts to a 12 minute slower finish. If I have one flat, and if I managed to fix it in an unrealistic 10 minutes, then I have only saved 2 minutes on the ride. On the other hand, I would expect to average fewer than one flat per brevet, and there is the fun factor to consider, but still, all things considered, the Marathon Plus tires come out ahead for me.

Tour de Pink

Every year since 2011, my wife and I have ridden the Tour de Pink. It has become the centerpiece of our cycling life together. Thus, it was with great sadness that I read the email from the organizers saying that last year's 2015 Tour de Pink was the last there would ever be, there will never be another. It seems that the plethora of breast cancer charities had doomed this ride. I discovered this ride back before I retired, and every year since 2011 had tried to ride it with some of my old colleagues. For one reason or another, it never happened, and now it never will. In my old age, the list of things I will never do again is getting longer and longer. Add one more to that list.

The title of this post is a reference to the famous line from Ecclesiastes 1:9: "There is no new thing under the sun." It is just a different way to say "update", a word which I feel is both overused and off-putting.