Categories
Daily Ride

Home building in 2020

For a couple of months now Kate and I have been planning on building a house. We started off thinking we would design something from scratch with the assistance of a builder. This process has created some frustrating moments mainly because neither of us are builders, or designers. It turns out that there are a lot of considerations when building a home.

Recently we went back to the drawing board and by drawing board I mean we started looking at house plans. This has been really helpful in identifying what we like and don’t like. From that we have settled on a ski chalet type design with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full unfinished basement, and an attached garage.

The next step we are taking is educating ourselves about home building. We ordered a number of books to read and have started watching various Youtube videos. One series of videos that I have found especially helpful is the Spec House series from Essential Craftsman.

Scott Wadsworth is the Essential Craftsman and is a builder/jack of many trades in Oregon, USA. In the Spec House series they have put together a lot of material about building a home that they plan on selling, hence a speculative house. It isn’t until the 27th video that they start talking about plans.

In that video they work with a draftsman to help them refine their initial design. Scott mentions how you can work with any draftsman as the principles are universal. That got me thinking that we should reach out to a number of drafting/designers to find one that we like best. So I have been reaching out to a number of them.

My attitude on building a home has shifted to how I work with designers on a website. I don’t have to work with a web designer who is physically close to me. In fact I haven’t met a designer in person in over 2 years. I think the reason this took so long to dawn on us is that we are novices when it comes to construction.

However we are not novices when it comes to project management. Kate especially, she used to run the ERP system for an aerospace manufacturer. What is also helping is that we are learning more about the various roles involved:

  • Designer/Drafting
  • Structural Engineer
  • Surveyor
  • Excavator
  • Builder
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Drywaller
  • Stucco-er
  • Painter
  • Finishing Carpenter

Some roles can be played by the same person/contractor, but all are required to get the final product we want. First things first is we need to get a plan finalized then we start filling in the other positions. Learning the vocabulary and processes will also be important when building begins. While we aren’t looking to micro manage things we are going to keep things moving forward.

Categories
Daily Ride

4×6 Intervals : 98/100

Today was back on the bike with 4 sets of 6 minute intervals. During the intervals the goal is to have my heart rate in the Zone 4: SubThreshold range. This zone is 94% to 99% of Lactic Threshold Heart Rate. So you are pushing hard but not all out, that is for Zone 5.

Before getting into the intervals it is important to have a good warm up. This helps ensure a good effort and reduces the chances of injury. For my warm up I prefer to ride on the highway and I can stay smooth and consistent. I try to finish my warm up back at home so I can do the intervals on my trails.

As I wrote before being able to ride my workouts on my trails is like a dream. First of all I am riding on single track which is one of my most favorite things. Second it is a closed trail so I don’t have to worry about anyone else being on the trail, well except for my wife. Third I am at home so if I need to take a restroom break or something I can. Finally when I am done riding I am already at home and can quickly start cleaning up and getting ready for work.

Last time I did intervals on my trails I was coming up a bit short of the 6 minutes. So today I added the Kiss of Cactus and Drop Trow to my Fenceline loop and created a 1 mile loop. This takes me about 5 min 30 seconds to complete at a Zone 4 pace which is close enough to 6 minutes.

After an interval I recover for 3 minutes at Zone 1. I just drop into a low gear and pedal softly around the trails until it is time to go again. After I finished the intervals I had some time to cool down so I rode up the highway for a bit.

For my 1 hour 15 minute ride I covered 14 miles and 827 feet of climbing. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. Doesn’t get much better than that. After the ride I did 4 sets of 5 burpee reps for my part in the August burpee challenge. Those are still really hard.

Categories
Daily Ride Off the Bike

Second Nature : 97/100

For the last few weeks I have been gaining more interest in gardening. We planted 2 apple trees, then got a rose bush and a stargazer lillie. So far all of them are still alive. We also have some bushes that we planted last year that I have helped back to life with watering, mulch, and some fertilizer.

I have picked up some tips online and a lot of information from the gardeners at the local nurseries. My desire to learn more about gardening lead me to 2 books by Michael Pollan: Botany of Desire and Second Nature. BoD is a fun book about 4 plants and how people have cultivated them and how they have cultivated us. SN is still a Pollan book with lofty ideas, but there is a lot of practical advice as well.

Lately I have been listening to SN while I have been watering and weeding the land. The chapter on Weeds was particularly interesting and insightful.

There are 2 opposing schools of though when it comes to Weeds in a garden: 1) Kill em all with chemicals, and 2) Let nature be. Personally I have always disliked the idea that we need to spray toxic chemicals in order to have a nice yard or garden. On the other hand there are Weeds that can invade and take over a garden if not kept in check.

Pesticide and Herbicide usage is going up worldwide. In the meantime we are just starting to fully understand how terrible these chemicals are for the land, water, and people. Homeowners use these chemicals just to show they are better than their neighbors. I definitely don’t want to be a part of that.

On the other end is the thought that weeds are good and part of nature. Except that when we go into nature we don’t see weeds. Weeds are found in one place: where humans have altered the landscape. From gardens to roads to parking lots weeds will be found. To say that weeds are part of nature is disingenuous and naive.

Weeds thrive in part because they have adapted to the clean environment that we create. While the plants we want to grow are selected for their looks and taste, weeds have self selected by growing quickly and tenaciously. Weeds exist in part because of us. So it is our duty to manage them.

The rest of the book has been great and I am looking forward to listening to more of it tomorrow; when I am weeding.

Workout detail

Did 3 sets of 10 burpess after some easy yoga this morning. My elbow is feeling better but I want to take it easy and let everything heal up. I went for a super easy 30 minute ride around the land after work. That was very nice.

Categories
Daily Ride

Riding around home : 96/100

This is the second week of my cycling training program. I burnt myself out a little with Sunday’s ride and used yesterday as a rest/recovery day. I was feeling pretty back to 100% for this mornings workout ride. Today was a force reps structured workout. Basically I get my 25 minute warmup in and then I do 10 sets where I get into a really big gear, slow down, and then explode with 10 pedal strokes. Between each set I recover for 3 minutes.

There are only 2 force reps workouts in this 12 week base training program. Its a funky workout that is close to being a sprint but you start slow. That low end torque is what you want to have when navigating tricky singletrack.

Today was pretty cool cause I was able to do all of the force reps on my trails for the first time. The last time I did these we were in southern Arizona waiting to get up to Colorado. Now we are here and I have the trails finished and ready for riding on. Not only am I at home getting the workout done but I am riding on singletrack. This means I am getting to work on my technical riding skills while getting my workout done.

Burpee Challenge

I did 2 sets of 10 burpees for today’s challenge. My left elbow is still feeling sore so I am taking it easy for now. I think I will stick with 20 to 30 a day for the rest of this week and see how things feel on Sunday.

Categories
Daily Ride

Back to Chicken Creek : 94/100

Today’s ride was solo into the San Juan National Forest. Kate wanted to go for a run so I got the chance to haul butt into the mountains. The last time I rode into the forest was over 2 months ago. Since then we have had a lot of rain and the mountains are really green.

I stuck to the forest roads today. With all of the recent rain the roads had a number of large puddles. That means the trails were in even worse condition and the worst thing you can do is ride a bike on a wet trail. The tires sink into the mud. Then when the trail drys out your tire ruts are permanent structures ruining everyone’s day.

The weather was perfect and I had a great ride. Too good. I was supposed to ride for 2 hours and 15 minutes, but ended up out for 2 hours and 50 minutes. I got home, showered, and took a nap. It was a good day.

Burpee Challenge

I was pretty wiped out after the ride. As a show of commitment to the challenge I did 1 honorary burpee before bed. Tomorrow I will get back on track.

Categories
Daily Ride Off the Bike

Bikes and Burpees : 93/100

Kate and I went on a nice 2 hour ride this morning. The weather was perfect for a ride and we did the G to J loop. The G and J are the names of roads south of Mancos that go through some of the farms in the area. Its a low traffic route with some great views.

We stopped by the local coffee shop and had some iced coffee before climbing back to the land. When we got back I still had some time to complete for the training session. I rode 2 laps and finished the workout as prescribed.

August Burpee Challenge

My company has been encouraging anyone who wants to organize group activities to do so. So far we have had the 100 days of blogging challenge, a daily step challenge, and now we have started a daily burpee challenge.

The gist of it is that each day of August I will try to do as many burpees as I can. We will keep track of our progress and then see how many we all did as a group at the end of the month.

Personally I don’t usually do burpees. Today I took it easy and did three 1 minute sets with a minute rest between each set. I managed to do 13, 12, and 11 for a total of 36. I felt pretty good about my effort even though my form felt horrible. The good news is that I have 30 more days to perfect my form.

Categories
Daily Ride

White Cows and Walnut Stain : 91/100

I am having a few days of vacation this weekend and figured the best way to start things off would be to spend the day doing manual labor. We are getting the trim finished on our cabin and have hired a friend who is a carpenter to handle things. I have worked with Doug on a number of construction projects and had helped him trim place.

One thing I wanted with the trim was a nice natural wood look. Doug’s suggestion is that in the dry conditions of Colorado you are fine with just oiling indoor wood. I like the idea cause oil is usually easier than varnish.

One gripe about using oil on pine is that it makes the wood look yellow. To counter that issue we added some Walnut stain to the second application of linseed oil. The walnut stain was kept pretty light and gives the wood a sepia/antique look. It also brings out a lot of the character of the wood.

Most importantly Kate is happy with how it is coming out. We should have things wrapped up on Monday, I and my mid back hope. While staining wood is a bit more enjoyable than pulling weeds it is still pretty tedious work. Its gonna be really nice when we are done.

Workout Details

Today’s ride was a 3 sets of 6 minutes at Level 4 effort. Level 4 is a sprint but not an all our sprint which is Level 5. I did 20 minutes of warm up on the highway and then used my fenceline trail for the intervals. One lap around takes me a little over 5 minutes so I rounded the intervals down a bit. It was a great way to do intervals. The trail has enough challenging sections both physically and technically to keep you focused on not hitting the fence.

Categories
Daily Ride

Fitness Test Day : 89/100

Today was day 2 of my cycling training program. Yesterday was a strength day, and today is the fitness test. I wrote about the fitness test on May 16th on the 16th post of this blogging challenge. I know I had said I was only going to watch my time on workouts but I have added heart rate back. This is more helpful for telling me when to reduce my effort. It is amazing how often we are working way too hard in aerobic workouts. The purpose is to train your heart, and science has shown us that training from 85% to 94% of your lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) is where you make your heart stronger.

Determining LTHR is done by going as hard as possible for 20 minutes. You take your average heart rate during that effort and have an approximate of what your LTHR is. From there you use a guide or calculator to determine your training zones.

On today’s test my LTHR came out to be about 6bpm less than the last time I did the test. There is a possibility I could have pushed harder but I am tired tonight which I attribute to pushing pretty hard this morning. This isn’t exactly ideal but since I haven’t been doing aerobic training for over 2 months it should not be a surprise. I guess I know why I am doing the training now.

Overall it was a beautiful morning and a great ride.

Categories
Daily Ride

Bike Station : 87/100

There are a few items I should take on every bike ride. There is the helmet, gloves, and lights. The helmet is for physical and mental protection. There is a chance that my helmet could save my live or prevent serious injury. There is also the added comfort in wearing said helmet when a car zips past 12 inches away. The gloves are for comfort and nailing the 90’s look. The lights are to help drivers see us, and if we happen to ride at night they help us see the road.

As I have been building out the inside of my shed I wanted to have a bike station. This is where both of our helmets, gloves, and lights would be. Once I got the electrical wired I saw the potential for a powered bike station where the lights are being charged via USB. I had a light switch just inside the door already and the space was holding my gardening tools. There was a nice spot to add a piece of plywood and be able to add some hangers and clips. I grabbed a scrap peice of wood and made a shelf for the lights to sit on and charge.

Even a little extra space for the weed wacker’s charge station!

Someday I will insulate the wall and then make the whole thing plywood but for now this works well.

Workout detail

Kate and I rode to town for lunch but the cafe closed at noon. The coffee shop is closed on Sunday’s and we ended up going to the health food store for some snacks. We both wished we had just gone to the gas station and gotten proper snacks. The ride was very nice with no rain or wind. We got home and I started weeding some more. We got a good amount of rain recently and the ground was nice and soft for pulling weeds. I really dislike pulling weeds. I need to get better at doing it when they are really small and easy to pull.

Categories
Daily Ride

Back in the Groove : 86/100

The main thing I have learned about myself over the years is that I need to exercise regularly. If I don’t my body starts to ache and then I get fussy like a child. Its really embarrassing to be honest.

It starts in the middle of my back between the shoulder blades. That leads to my neck and shoulders. Then my lower back, hamstrings, and calves. It takes a week or two of not having regular exercise and this begins to set in. The reasons for my exercise routine breaking down are plentiful:

  • Injury
  • Broken equipment
  • Weather
  • Boredom

It is pretty ionic that a bike blog talks about being bored with biking, but it happens. I am still riding my bike but not regularly enough lately. The main reason for this is that I fell off of my training plan a couple of months ago. Between working on the trails and the cabin, my free time to ride 6 to 10 hours a week had disappeared. I was also pretty sore from the manual labor. Apparently my day job is not nearly as physical as construction work.

Then my bike frame cracked and I had to get it repaired. This process took some time and while the bike was un-ridable I moved further away from my training. I stopped doing my bodyweight exercises during this time. Once I had the bike back I was more interested in blazing a few fast laps around the land than going for a multi hour training ride.

Then there was the weather. Southwest Colorado is a high desert climate. While it isn’t 100+ degrees it does hit the upper 90’s, and we are closer to the sun. When you add it up it becomes a very solid excuse for not riding your bike.

Finally I was getting a little bored with the routine. Intervals are fun when you first start doing them. As the weeks move on they become tedious and repetitive. I was also riding by myself most of the time.

One of the most enjoyable things about riding a bike is sharing the experience with someone else. Unlike running, you can rest and still keep riding the bike. When it is flat or downhill you can coast and maintain a conversation very easily. You can ride for a while and stop at a coffee shop and have a cherry tart. Then ride home. Its really great for distracting yourself from the exercise that is happening.

To that end I have taken actions to rectify this situation:

  • Started doing yoga, again
  • Restarting my training program on Monday
  • Doing more rides with Kate
  • Setting the Apple Watch to only display the time while exercising

Yoga is something I have done off and on for over 17 years. I knew I needed to exercise more but I have never been a gym person. There was a Yoga studio near my work and I stated going. I quickly found that I enjoyed it a lot and was also pretty good at it.

Yoga’s combination of balance, strength, and breath work creates an endless potential for progression. I have never been very limber but over the years I have progressed a lot. Unfortunately when I don’t practice regularly the progress regresses quickly. I have incorporated various yoga moves into my bodyweight warmup, but it’s still not the same as following a set of movements.

Over the years I have practiced yoga with a lot of teachers in a variety of styles. In 2009 I did a month long 200 hour teacher training course and learned that the Ashtanga Yoga practice is my favorite.

In Ashtanga Yoga the movements all have modifications. If you have trouble touching your toes with straight legs; you can bend them. This helps someone, with knee issues and tight hamstrings, avoid trying positions that could cause an injury.

The combination of the movements into the various series is challenging ,and by then end of it your body is wiped out. There are a lot of pushups. If you are interested in learning I recommend finding a yoga studio that practices Ashtanga/Mysore Yoga and/or get David Swenson’s book.

Yoga helps me change things up with the bodyweight routine. If I don’t feel like doing pull ups I will do yoga and vice versa. This will help me keep on track with the off bike exercising.

I am starting the cycling training program I did this spring again. This will provide a structure to plan my day around. If I write something down I am much more likely to do it. With the training program I am able to simply add it to the calendar in Training Peaks starting on Monday, and it fills in every workout by day for the next 13 weeks.

The goal this time with the training plan is less about performance, and more about having a routine that gets me exercising regularly. The goal to race in anything is on hold till the Pandemic is done. Not only are no races being held I really don’t need to get injured and go to the hospital right now. Also I am going to start riding with Kate more.

Whenever I ride my bike with Kate I have a great time. We spend time together and talk about our day. The only reason I wasn’t riding with her was because I was following the training program, which specifies the intensity of the ride. Based on the training program I needed to ride faster than Kate. This was dumb.

The reality is that I am 43 years old and so far out of being a competitive rider that serious training makes very little sense. Except of course to feed my ego. Silly boy. Going on a ride with Kate is still plenty of exercise and I am spending more time with the person I love the most in the world. Win๐Ÿ‘to๐Ÿ‘the๐Ÿ‘Win.

The technique to “riding with your wife successfully” I learned from Kate’s dad, Bill. He and his wife, Karen, were avid cyclists. He told me that once he learned to ride behind Karen then they would ride together the whole day.

It is an obvious thing to see, once you see it. The problem that I and many others have is that once on a bike we become competitive. It starts off subtly but ends in a full sprint to the next mail box. That is the ego literally driving your bike. Turning that off and riding second on purpose is antithetical to how I learned to ride a bike. I consciously wait for Kate to start and then fall in behind her. Turns out I am winning all the time now.

Finally I removed all the data from the Apple Watch Workout face except for the time. This will prevent me from focusing on anything other than the time I am on the bike, which is all I need to focus on. This will help me ride at Kate’s pace and also just let me ride my bike and enjoy the scenery. The physical benefits will come from that just fine.

The cool part is that all of the metrics are still being recorded and I will be able to geek out on them in Training Peaks. It is interesting to see how you are progressing even when just doing leisurely rides. There is also a potential for over training since I won’t be watching my heart rate on rides. The possibility is minimal but still something to be aware of.

Workout Detail

Kate and I rode into town. Had a coffee and blueberry-peach tart at the local coffee roaster. Then we rode home before the afternoon rain storm hit. It was overcast and the lighting was a little funky. So we rode with our headlights and taillights to help drivers see us. We should really ride with them all of the time. As a driver I know it helps me see and pay attention to cyclists.