Training Plans on Strava

Some of you may be interested to know that Strava added some training plan functionality at the start of the year for premium subscribers in partnership with Carmichael Training Systems. I wound up trying it out when they launched and I just finished my program over the weekend. Although I did it as an experiment, it turned out pretty nicely and I’m going to be using the feature again soon.

PR attempt amongst the Sunday riders and drivers #SF #cycling #scenefromthebike

A photo posted by El Tejano (@eltejano) on

I have some books already and a bunch of articles saved on training but I kept blowing off making a schedule or plan. I was periodically doing intervals on Wednesdays, but I wasn’t consistent about it. So when Strava announced their program I was intrigued.

So how does it work? You basically select a program you’re interested in and in an area you want to improve. For me it was the 15 Minute Climb. I wanted to improve my Hawk Hill times. And yes, although I can already do Hawk Hill in under 15 minutes, you’re supposed to pick the plan that’s within your already established range. For example, since my HH times are about 12 minutes, it’s better for me to pick the 15 minute climb plan, rather than the 10 minute plan.

So how did the plan work? Basically for four weeks I would get an email in the afternoons telling me what workout I should do the next day. It would read – “hey, tomorrow don’t ride- it’s a rest day” or “ride for 1 hour at EM pace” or “tomorrow do 1 hour 30mins total – OverUnder Intervals”. And there would be links for the definitions of the terms used eg EM Pace (endurance miles) or OU intervals. And yes, the intervals were very defined (3 sets of 10 mins of OU intervals at 4U1O).

Here’s an example email screenshot (click to embiggen)

example training plan email
example training plan email

Most of the program was varying forms of intervals, which I hate. It’s because I’m not used to “training”- I’d rather just ride and have fun. But the problem is that I want to do more group rides than the SFCC Coffee Ride I sometimes tag along with.

So in the end it worked out for me. Mostly it all worked because of the daily email reminder. That would prompt me to make sure I had a workout created and saved on my Garmin and ready to go for the morning’s ride. Then I knew what I was supposed to do.

The emails would also force me to think about where I’d be riding the next day. I couldn’t be vague about it like I normally am. I wasn’t thinking, oh I could ride around Lake Merced and back and do Twin Peaks if the email said “only do 1 hour of easy riding”. Or what was harder was thinking about where to do 6 minute climbing repeats if most of the hills on my way to work are 4 minute hills.

Overall I think it helped me and I did hit a PR on Hawk Hill when I rode it on Sunday (under less than perfect conditions- ie after the wine and empanada fest the night before). Am I super-fast and super-fit? No. Am I better than I was before? Yes, a little bit.

Good morning from Land's End #SF #scenefromthebike #cycling

A photo posted by El Tejano (@eltejano) on

What did I do incorrectly? Or what should I do better next time?

1. I didn’t really record a “before” ride on Strava (like the CTS Field Test). I tried, but the Garmin didn’t record the data for some reason- one of the few times it’s failed me.

2. I skipped or moved around a workout at least twice. They were the “EM rides” I think- I liked to do those on the weekend and my social life was interfering with the training. (I’m not complaining about that).

3. Although I like to ride when I can, I felt that if I worked out on the way home from work one day (at night) then my morning workouts felt harder, or I’d be more tired. I’d like to try to stay consistent about times.

4. My heart rate strap died during week 1. I wanted to know if I was really pushing myself with HR data vs “perceived effort” and wasn’t able to do so. I have a new replacement so the next go I’ll be able to use this data more. (this could be my #1 thing to change for next time).

Training plan info is here:

You Should Think About Backing “Academy” on Kickstarter

I know it may come as a surprise for some of you that I’m pimping a friend’s restaurant Kickstarter especially after the Donut Folly incident but here I am.

My buddy, Chef Nick, (formerly of Florio Bar and Cafe on Fillmore) is opening a new spot soon on Sutter at Fillmore. It will be called Academy and he and his team hope to be open in March- which isn’t a long way away.

Nick has a Kickstarter running HERE to get some final funding for the restaurant. You should do your do diligence and think about backing him soon if you live in SF. He even has a backer pledge for two frosty beverages and a pizza once a month for life. (read the fine print, but it’s there on the right side).

Again, yes, I understand if you’ve been burned by Kickstarters in the past, but think about backing Nick.

I hope to see you at Academy once it’s open.

*not sure if it’s formerly yet, I’d better not say… I’ll come back and edit the post after I talk to Nick.

Shazam Failed Me But All Was Not Lost

I was in my kitchen when Citibank’s new ad came on for their double cash campaign. I could have sworn that the audio in the ad was from a Big Audio Dynamite song but Shazam wouldn’t find the tune. But I was able to find the song on one of those ad campaign production details blogs.  It’s not BAD, it’s RAC

Anyhoo- here’s the ad. The song is below that- it’s Let Go from RAC

And the song-

Gift Ideas for Bikers

Now’s the time of year when people start asking me for recommendations for gifts for their loved ones who bike. I usually say the same thing every year- depending on budget get them one of these: 1. a tune-up from their favorite mechanic at the local bike shop 2. better lights 3. socks

But since I’ll be asked, I thought I’d write a list and post it on the K-blog so I can just reference it as needed and have some links for the lazy.

1. A full-service tuneup from your local bike shop. (Bicycle Heaven in SA | American Cyclery in SF)

2. socks (defeet)

3. Better lights: DiNotte Lighting – Just a note on lights: I personally try to avoid odd battery sizes- like coin batteries. Get rechargeable lights- or get lights that use AAs or AAAs that you can recharge on your own. Triple-check to make sure you’re not buying a cute light with a crappy battery size.

4. ANYTHING from Swrve. Swrve kicks ass. They make great clothing. Just double-check your sizing. Especially if you’re a big-boy like me. Everything I have from them is great – weather resistant pants, some shorts, some knickers, a hat, jeans..
actually, I sold the jeans- I lost weight and needed to downsize.

5. Cool Frame stickers from VeloInk 


6. Gobha reversible merino weatherproof hats  – yeah, that sounds like a weird rec, but they’re awesome hats.

7. Bro, get some embro from Mad Alchemy – okay this may be more for the sport rider as a general, hey I’m riding to get groceries, but Mad Alchemy makes great (and BPA free) products

8. Speaking of creams and embro – Doc’s All-Natural Chamois Cream (with tea tree oil) is a cool gift (cool AND soothing, get it?)


9. Get some replacement lenses for her or his favorite old frames. If you know what frames your loved one has, you can get replacement lenses or updates from places like Walleva or Revant (even on eBay). It’s a good way to make a favorite old pair of glasses new again.

10. Put together a spare kit (should be $15-30 depending on how you do it)

  • get a small school supplies bag from a place like Daiso, they’re like a buck
  • get a spare tire for your friend’s bike ($7), put it in the bag along with some
  • 2 slim tire levers ($5 for the kind I like) and a small patch kit ($3)
  • and if there’s room, maybe a slim multi tool $10 if you want to splurge
    this will fit in your jersey pocket

Here’s what mine looks like:

sparekit2 sparekit1

11. A winter collar from Rapha  – yeah, I know, you could just use a nice bandana, but these are neat

12. Another nice DIY thing would be to give a bike cleaning kit that you put together (~$50 or less)

  • all you need is a $4 2 gallon bucket from home depot (the SMALL paint buckets w/ a handle)
  • some empty spray bottles from the dollar story or container store
  • a bottle of simple green to dilute into one of the spray bottles ($10 for a gallon)
  • some good degreaser (to put into the other spray bottle) ($10)
  • a good chain brush like this one (don’t bother with those chain cleaning kits) ($12)
  • some cheap sponges ($3) from home depot – look in the car wash section
  • 2 bottle brushes ($3) – but make sure the brushes aren’t too stiff, or metal
  • some shop rags ($5 for a big bag)
  • and a bottle of Boeshield lube $10
  • some stickers— for the bucket

13. And perhaps a jersey or a semi-casual riding shirt from Road Holland?


Anyway, I hope that helps give you some ideas.

Smith Optics Pivlocks Have Strong Lenses

crushed-smithsA few months ago I was riding home and had my still-new Pivlock glasses on my helmet as it was past sundown. Long story short, but they fell off and the car next to me ran them over.

I picked up the pieces and took them home hoping I’d be able to salvage some of the parts since I still had two other sets of lenses for them.Long story short, no, I can’t salvage them.

But I was looking at the lenses today and thought it was remarkable that they never shattered- no pieces came off.  Sure, they’re scratched and banged up, and basically folded over- but no pieces came off.

I never really paid attention to the safety aspect of the lens ratings before, but I guess they do matter. I’m glad someone else was paying attention.

Also- if any of you have a set of Pivlocks (not the v90s, the older set) and need/want a case and two replacement lenses, let me know before I throw them up on eBay.