50 Minus One

12.17.2014 | 3:23 pm

You know what happens if you start a blog in your late thirties and then keep on blogging for a decade?

You wind up being a guy in his late forties, still blogging. Specifically, tomorrow, on December 18 (my youngest son’s nineteenth birthday), I will be exactly 48.5.

I’ll certainly still be blogging when this blog turns ten, and I’ll probably still be blogging when I turn fifty, a year later.

All of these facts, combined with a new year coming up, have made me consider the likelihood that at some point in what I assume is the near future, I am going to have the distinct pleasure of blogging about my descent into decrepitude. 

But not yet. Not this year.

The 2015 Plan

I don’t want to be slower in 2015 than I was in 2014. I want to be faster. In fact, I’d like to be a lot faster. Specifically, I’d like to pare  twenty minutes from the 8:18 I got in the Leadville Trail 100 in 2011. I’d like to get a Leadville 100 finish time that starts with a 7.

And being fast this summer means heading into the basement this Winter.

Here’s what my basement used to look like: 

IMG 0811

Basically, old, mismatched, unused furniture and a lot of dust. And a thing the cat lurks on.

So The Hammer and I did some cleaning up:

IMG 0814

And we did some moving around, repurposed a Mac Mini we weren’t using, and we bought the cheapest decent-size flat screen TV we could find, and we went all-in with Wahoo Fitness gear, connected up to our Specialized Shivs:

IMG 0822

First of all, we got a couple of Wahoo Kickrs: bluetooth-controlled trainers, which means your iPhone or computer can control how much resistance you’re pedaling against, and read how fast you’re going. 

IMG 0844

And very sophisticated equipment to lift the front end of our bikes a little bit: 

IMG 0944

We also got Wahoo Tickrs (Wahoo’s bluetooth HRM) and RPM (Wahoo’s bluetooth cadence sensor). 

And finally, we got wireless headphones to watch Netflix with while we train.

IMG 0840

But all of that (extremely awesome) gear is secondary. The thing that’s bringing all this together is that we’ve subscribed to TrainerRoad.

We’ve looked into it, we’ve been trying it, and The Hammer and I are sold on it. [Full Disclosure: TrainerRoad is providing us complimentary subscriptions and equipment]

Using it, we expect that this winter and spring, instead of turning into big puddles of goo, we’re going to get into the best and fastest shape of our lives.

How it Works

You sign up with TrainerRoad and choose a training plan that works with what you want to achieve. That plan has workouts all chosen for you. Like right now, The Hammer and I are on the “Sweet Spot Base 1 – Mid Volume” plan: 

Screen Shot 2014 12 17 at 1 45 06 PM

Then, you load the workout for the day—onto your iPhone or onto your computer— and you start.

And instead of you just pedaling at what you hope is the right effort for what you hope is the right amount of time, TrainerRoad talks to the Kickr and makes it go to the right resistance, and giving you instructions on what you’re doing right now, how fast you should be pedaling, and what’s coming next.

With the plans and workouts all in place, all that’s left for you to do is put in the work.

It’s incredibly easy. Well, the workouts themselves aren’t necessarily easy, but knowing what you need to do to get better is. And that’s pretty awesome.

So this is what TrainerRoad looks like on the TV loaded on the MacMini while we play Netflx (Dan Ackroyd in Grosse Point Blank, in case you were wondering): 

IMG 0942

Or, if you load TrainerRoad on your iPhone instead, it looks like this:

Tr iosscreenshot

And here’s The Hammer in action:

IMG 0952

Trust me: she’s having fun.

Grand Scheme

The Hammer and I have been using TrainerRoad for about a month now, and we love it. With a huge number of workouts on a well-designed plan, we’re not getting bored. 

And TrainerRoad also has workouts synchronized with the Sufferfest videos, which means you can load a video, turn on TrainerRoad, and just concentrate on surviving, instead of trying to decide whether you need to shift up two gears or three to truly be at your limit. The Hammer and I haven’t tried this yet.

But you know what I really want to try with TrainerRoad? There’s a  workout where you can simulate what it’s like to make an attempt on the Hour Record. You know, the one all the cool kids have been trying lately.

I want to know what that’s like. Maybe I’ll even live stream it (because just imagine how much fun it would be to watch me ride my bike in place for an hour). More on this soon.

The Hammer and I have had really good results by just riding our bikes a lot. I think it’s going to be interesting to see if we can break through to a different level by actually adding some structure to our training.

And I’m kind of stoked to have a Leadville hoodie with a 7:55 time on it.


  1. Comment by wharton_crew | 12.17.2014 | 3:50 pm

    I’d like to say that sounds fun, but, well it _is_ indoors, so I’ll just say “cool setup”. :-)

    By the way, it strikes me that you and the Hammer have the Shiv equivalent of the Taj Mahal going on (there was supposed to be a black and a white one facing each other). But the white Taj was for the girl. Maybe yin/yang would be a better analogy for the shiv’s.

    Either way, I’m rooting for you to go sub-8 at Leadville. Allez.

  2. Comment by MtlDan | 12.17.2014 | 4:06 pm

    Great set up. In my experience some indoor winter training makes a big difference come springtime. Also in my (painful) experience there are three things to be careful about: 1. rear triangle frame stress, 2. mental burn out from the lack of an off season, and 3. hitting your head on the low basement ceiling if you do any standing sprints.

  3. Comment by ScottR | 12.17.2014 | 4:14 pm

    Fantastic looking setup.

    I also want to seriously try to become faster next year – and should receive my first Powertap wheel (my dream clyde race wheel, as a matter of fact) via FedEx tomorrow.

    I’ve heard good things about trainerroad – while maybe not as sweet a setup as yours, it seems like the PT + TR is worth checking out.

  4. Comment by MattC | 12.17.2014 | 4:24 pm

    TRAINING?? Did you say TRAINING?? ACK!! Shield my eyes! As a self-professed mediocre recreational rider, I must now turn away from you and read about something where pie is involved!

    And Egg Nogg.

  5. Comment by Jeff Bike | 12.17.2014 | 4:35 pm

    OH MY! Fatty is getting all serious on us and so early this year. If he rides all these base (Basement) miles in the off season then we wont get to hear how fat he has gotten over the winter and how hard it is for him to get into shape. He will ride past everyone (except Jens) with that little smirk on his face that we all know means he is thinking rule #5 has been accomplished.

  6. Comment by Gretchen | 12.17.2014 | 5:08 pm

    As someone who has spent a lot of time on a trainer while also being a cheapass, might I recommend a different book for your front tires? The glossy paperbacks are quite slick and make for a few dicey moments if you start knocking your handlebars around. I’ve always found a cloth hardback to be a better option, traction-wise. Also if you need to stack a couple up for “climbing,” they won’t slip against each other and slide off.

  7. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 12.17.2014 | 5:24 pm

    Very nice! I’ve been banished to the cold garage. One bent frame Schwinn stationary trainer, two Concept 2 indoor rowers, a TV/DVD player, and no heat. I have to invoke rule #5 just to get myself out there!

  8. Comment by Mike Kennedy | 12.17.2014 | 5:35 pm

    I am so glad that I had those 9 awesome tasting cookies today at the Christmas get together on top of only doing a handful of cross races and virtually no other riding or exercising the past 7 weeks! Frog Hollow may not be as much fun as last year.
    Actually, I am so sad!

  9. Comment by Helicomatic | 12.17.2014 | 5:59 pm

    I find it much cheaper to just stick an ice pick in my ear as soon as the weather turns bad. It results in about the same amount of entertainment as training indoors, and makes less noise. A T1 Torx driver will work in a pinch.

  10. Comment by Welnic | 12.17.2014 | 6:11 pm

    That’s the first picture I’ve seen of the Hammer with a forced smile.

  11. Comment by Brian in VA | 12.17.2014 | 8:29 pm

    I must be sick. I’m looking at your set up, Fatty, and thinking, “Wow! How cool is that?” My wife would think I’m crazy because I actually look forward to riding my trainer when the weather stinks.

    Since we’ve become empty nesters, we just turned a room upstairs into our gym. Got some free weights and my bike on a trainer with a decent flat screen and we’re good to go.

    I’m not trying to get faster, mind you, just trying to keep my health which is why I ride. Keeps me from having to take a bunch of prescriptions. Oh, and keeps my sanity.

    Train on!

  12. Comment by rb | 12.17.2014 | 9:39 pm

    Hoodies at Leadville? That would be cool. Maybe cooler than the hood-less jackets. Really hope they’re black. Maybe grey. Even blue. Red is right out

  13. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 12.17.2014 | 10:00 pm

    Mucked around the hill in the rain today. 1900ft, 15 miles, 2 hours. Not bad till the ‘chain suck’ dumped me over mid creek crossing. (Note: Carbon wants to float…downstream) Maybe this indoor stuff ain’t so bad…..who am I kidding.

  14. Comment by aussie kev | 12.18.2014 | 2:14 am

    And i remember when i used to follow a fun “Cycling” website !!!! – can we expect a name change to “FatTriathlete.com” !!!!

    having said that the weather i just rode in i wouldn’t mind kicking back in an air-conditioned basement !!!!


    Aussie Kev

  15. Comment by Noel | 12.18.2014 | 5:41 am

    I’ve been a TrainerRoad user since the beta days and I’m a firm believer in trainers in general and TrainerRoad in particular (though I’m now on the Zwift.com beta as well and…wow!). I know lots of folks love to hate trainers but I’ve been using one a lot since the first season I started riding. I even use TrainerRoad during the warm months because it’s easier, and safer, to do some workouts indoors.

    I’ll be looking forward to seeing what kind of difference it makes for you two!

  16. Comment by Tom in Albany | 12.18.2014 | 6:02 am

    Nice job, Fatty and The Hammer! Good luck on achieving your goals!

  17. Comment by Tom in Albany | 12.18.2014 | 7:03 am

    OH, and 10 days ago I hit 49-1/2 years old. I’m still thinking about how I can get faster too! Does shimano make a time machine? I need to start training smarter about 25 years ago!

  18. Comment by Shawn | 12.18.2014 | 7:15 am

    Awesome setup. You’re going to love Sufferfest videos using TrainerRoad. I also started using TrainerRoad about a month ago, albeit with my normal trainer and using TrainerRoad’s virtual power option (I have a BlueSC & BlueHR). The videos are sometimes a second or so out of sync with the power profile, but not so bad it takes away from the workout. I’m hoping to get enough of a bonus this winter to add a Kickr to my setup soon though. I’ve got a goal of doing my first ever road race at the end of April 2015, and I’m hoping TrainerRoad will help get me there.

  19. Comment by Ian | 12.18.2014 | 8:16 am

    Awesome stuff! I’m also on TrainerRoad. Are you going to use their specific Leadville training plan?

  20. Comment by BostonCarlos (formerly NYC) | 12.18.2014 | 9:10 am

    if you don’t mind my asking… how much did the whole wahoo setup end up setting you back?

    Kickrs cost around $1K ea. – FC

  21. Comment by Tom | 12.18.2014 | 10:19 am

    Based on the elaborate trainer setup, is it safe to assume you’ve avoided (are avoiding?) putting on your winter insulation?

    That’s a separate (but related) problem. I’ve still gained weight, though I’m retaining fitness. I need to get my winter diet under control, because I’m still putting on winter weight. – FC

  22. Comment by Dave T | 12.18.2014 | 10:22 am

    Seeing how we may end up with a real winter here in California this year I have been looking into getting a trainer, this setup looks pretty fantastic. Where is the picture of you wearing the French maid’s hat while cleaning?

  23. Comment by Jenni | 12.18.2014 | 10:37 am

    This post has inspired me more than any of the weight loss ones. You’re so right…make a dedicated space, make it as comfortable as possible, and do the work. I’ve got my (far less fancy than yours) trainer gathering dust. I’m going to set it up and get started.

    TrainerRoad, if you feel like a good experiment, why not offer services to a complete non-racer/trainer and see how they progress following your plan? This would be the perfect group of people to experiment on!

    Please please please keep posting these kinds of updates, they are awesome to see.

    I’m going to be talking about this a lot. And you’ve come to the same conclusion I did. What I didn’t talk about in this post (but should have) is that this basement area was until recently where my office was. I relocated all my computer stuff to a different room to make space for this. Why? Because with the way things used to be, I had to get out / set up the trainer each time we wanted to use them — and it was too easy to just bail on that. Now we have a dedicated area for this, along with a plan. We’re following it and we’re enjoying it. – FC

  24. Comment by Lauri | 12.18.2014 | 11:06 am

    How do you train with no fans?? Seriously – overheating is the bane of my indoor winter training.

    The Hammer and I each have a large fan pointing directly at us with this setup. They’re just out of the photo frame. We also open the windows. – FC

  25. Comment by Gumby | 12.18.2014 | 12:58 pm

    Hmm, your vaccuum works even when it appears to be unplugged??

    Ha! It does look that way, doesn’t it? But that unplugged cable is actually to the tall skinny fan. If you look reaaaaaallly closely you can see it’s a different color of cable. – FC

  26. Comment by bikemike | 12.18.2014 | 1:21 pm

    Seeing people with trainers makes me glad i live in south Florida…most of the time.

  27. Comment by David | 12.18.2014 | 2:01 pm

    It’s great that you are doing this in the winter to help you for next summer’s races. I hope you don’t get burned out. Have you thought about changing to different activities during the winter months to work your muscles a little differently and avoiding getting stale? I would love it if at some point you would report back the advantages/disadvantages of training by feel vs. training with all this technical feedback.

    I’ll be detailing my experience, good and bad, with this setup. – FC

  28. Comment by TK | 12.18.2014 | 2:04 pm

    I used Trainerroad a couple years ago during the winter and enjoyed my roller sessions so much more than normal. They still weren’t fun, but they didn’t suck as bad because my mind could focus on the data readings instead of getting instantly bored. I also rode faster than I ever had once I went back outside in the spring. The subscription fee at the time ($10/month) was a killer value too. I should probably put down the holiday treats and sign back up.

  29. Comment by PNP | 12.18.2014 | 3:39 pm

    Ditto what David said. I’ve been considering getting a Kickr trainer, and I’d be interested to know how you like yours.

    Oh, I LOVE the Kickr so far. It has a few quirks (the Kickr Clench most notable among them), but mostly it is making my trainer workouts much better. The TrainerRoad service integration makes it really incredible. – FC

  30. Comment by clydesteve | 12.18.2014 | 4:57 pm

    Happy 48.5th, Fatty.

  31. Comment by Bicycle Bill | 12.18.2014 | 6:15 pm

    You know what happens if you start reading some guy’s blog after a crash (and the resulting surgery) in your mid-fifties knocks you off your bike for a while, and then keep on reading it?

    You wind up being a guy in his sixties, still reading.  Specifically, on Thanksgiving Day 2014, I turned 60.0.  I’ll certainly still be reading when this blog turns ten, and I’ll probably still be reading when you turn fifty, a year later.

    As for having “the distinct pleasure of blogging about my descent into decrepitude”, let me tell you that I have already lived it.  It ain’t pretty, and it would make for poor copy besides.

    You and the Hammer stay active — but keep on writing.


    Belated happy birthday, BB! And thanks for reading all these years. – FC

  32. Comment by Andy G | 12.18.2014 | 6:25 pm

    FC…..one of my friends and I are preparing for some endurance races next season and are doing the exact same thing. Wahoo Kickrs in the basement, using TrainerRoad. We’re in our first recovery week of the Mid Volume I base plan. It’s been great and we actually look forward to each session. I’m a big fan of Sufferfest videos also, and their TR integration is excellent.

    One of my favorite things about the Kickr is that I can put my mountain bike on there instead of using the road bike all the time. For me, that’s huge.

    As we get closer to spring and we move from base to build phases, I think we’re going to use their MTB specific plans. Have you looked at those? They look pretty nice.

    The only problem I have now is finding the time to play around in the Zwift beta and not mess up my TR recovery days :)

    I’m looking forward to reading about your progress since we’re basically in the same scenario.

  33. Comment by Liz M. | 12.18.2014 | 8:52 pm

    I’m exactly as far from 50 as you are, but on the other side. I have to say the descent into decrepitude is not bad at all. I’m still trying new things, but I don’t care how slow I ride or run.

    Hope you get that sub-8 finish! Good luck.

  34. Comment by BamaJim | 12.18.2014 | 9:32 pm

    Finished a trainer workout earlier and realized we have similar setups. Well, not the bike (mid 80’s road racer that is now the trainer queen), or the trainer (fan unit that is about the noise level of a shuttle launch). However, we have nearly identical front wheel supports, though I prefer the local yellow pages.

  35. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 12.18.2014 | 11:52 pm

    So excited to see you go for sub 8hr. If I do get a lottery slot for Leadville this year, all I’ll have to do is be ‘Half as good as Fatty’ and sub 12 is mine!

  36. Comment by Tommy 91 | 12.20.2014 | 4:02 pm

    This makes me want to get a trainer…..Wait, what am I saying? You will never catch me on a trainer. I prefer the I didn’t study for the exam method and cram in a insane amount of mileage at the last minute. Hopefully see you at Leadville. I will bring the beer and pie.

  37. Comment by GT | 12.20.2014 | 7:26 pm

    Also checkout ZWIFT.com I just received my beta invite and it looks to bring another fun dimension to the pain cave.

  38. Comment by Chris | 12.22.2014 | 2:20 pm

    Very cool. Slight shade of envy tinting the gee-whiz.

    Do they recommend using a TT rig? I’d be more inclined to get a cheap aluminum road frame and match the geometry to my road race machine.

    Seems like the TT rig would focus on different muscles, in different ways, than the road (or MTB) setup. I find the TT setup accents my lower back and glutes, and de-emphasizes abdominal strength and hamstrings.

    Motivated by your post but lacking the indoor equipment, I started my 2015 training program early – with intervals in 40F drizzle Saturday. I’d almost trade for a well-equipped pain cave.


  39. Comment by old guy who likes to ride | 12.22.2014 | 9:51 pm

    pretty darn awesome.
    starts with a 7 and are gears involved?

  40. Comment by TexasGal | 12.25.2014 | 12:47 pm

    Sufferfest videos are definitely a must for riding on the trainer. You should do the Tour of Sufferlandria this Jan. It is pure evil on the trainer

  41. Comment by Larry N | 01.2.2015 | 11:05 am

    After year-round, hard core training for marathons (running) well into my 40s, I resolved to enjoy cycling without racing. So bike touring is my joy-just exploring new territory, countries, people, cultures, and cuisines. Hope you hit your sub-8 goal. My winter training (yes-indoor, it’s Montana) is usually under an hour (keeps the butt from hurting in the Spring), watching old bike racing videos (too old to remember who actually won the stage), using a quiet mag trainer that costs around $100. 66-year old touring enthusiast. My view-you do not HAVE to suffer to healthy but you do if you want to be competitive.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.