Sunday, June 29, 2008

I now know the meaning of true pain...

It's been a busy week in the cycling world for me, and for that I'm happy.

I picked up a new saddle to replace the old piece of junk I had been using. So now I'm resting my ass on a Selle Italia....something or another. It's comfy, that's all I know, and it doesn't make my dumper hurt. That's very excellent.

In the riding department, I've been out 4 days this week, and for some bizarre reason, I never just do an easy or moderate ride and toss in a hard spot. I've been doing hard, suprathreshhold rides almost every day. My average power is jumping up now as well; I guess I was just being lazy early in the season. Today, though, taught me what it means to bonk and what pain really is.

I'll start off by saying that it's been deceptively warm and humid here the past couple of days. Mid 80s and humidity makes things feel more like mid 90s. And the sun...let me tell you about the new arm warmers I have. Nope, I didn't buy them, I happened to have them burned onto me by the sun. And I have glove tan along with it...

I digress.

I've included the training track from my Edge 305 (yellow line is grade, green is elevation profile). Today I decided I should ride the middle third of the metric century I have planned for September. I even asked about it at the LBS yesterday. When he commented that the terrain really is no joke, I told him it "shouldn't be any issue." I've now learned to fear when a LBS guy chuckles at your comment about "easy."

First off, it was bloody hot out there. And if you look at that elevation profile, there's a climb (it would be about 18 miles into the metric) almost right out of the gate of about 2 miles at 10% grade. That's mean. It's also an oil and gravel road, which is even meaner. So after suffering through that without a really good warmup, I hit a couple more climbs, extended of course, at around 7%. Not terrible, but taxing on the legs, especially when it's so damn hot and even the Elete drops in my water aren't helping. Oh yes, I did feel a little crampy in the legs for the first part, but it subsided when I came off the first large hill.

The second climb was nothing to write home about; about 2 miles with an average grade around 8.5%. Like I said, a nice grind, but nothing too terrible.

Coming off the second climb throws you down by the lake at about 44 MPH. Talk about a beautiful view, the view is just stunning. Canandaigua Lake has some great lookout points around it and I was enjoying the scenery, riding down a nice flat road right next to the lake. Some of the houses are just amazing down there, and I even passed a catered chicken barbecue party. I tell ya...

Unfortunately the fun had to end. I sort of didn't believe what the LBS guy told me about the grade of the climb out, and when I rounded a corner and saw this behemoth, I had to reassess my sanity. Max grade of about 24%, running average of about 17% over just a hair under a mile. About 3/4 of the way up my quads cramped up terribly and I had to stop and stretch them out, but my god what a climb.

Funny though...
The people out there are so incredibly nice. About half way up, someone was driving up behind me and there was a woman leaning out the window and clapping, yelling "Only a little more, keep it up!" And as I came around a steep hairpin I popped out of the saddle and almost ran into a group of 2 guys and 2 women, all dressed in polos, khakis and sundresses. Here I am, swearing to myself, jersey completely open and flapping in the breeze, literally pouring sweat, snot and drool off myself, and they all stopped, clapped and yelled encouragement. "Keep it up! One more steep part until the top! You can make it!" It's nice to hear that kind of encouragement from people you don't know and who will likely never see you again. What a change from the rednecks around here who yell "nice shorts, faggot" out the window of their gas sucking Ford F350. To be fair, I've only had 2 of those experiences in the 3 years I've been here, so I take it with a grain of salt and a "Il pozzo vaffunculo!" Sometimes I think I'm trying to learn Italian just to insult people with it. But hey, it works.

As I said, I blew up about 3/4 of the way to the top. Holy gods, now I know what it's like to crack on a climb. There's NOTHING left. Whether it's from cramping or just true bonking, it SUCKS.

So, that is the torture that is Bopple Hill. I'll go back, and sometime, I'll conquer it.

And what did I learn today?
- I can stay out of the saddle for a long time without skyrocketing the heart rate too much.
- It's nearly impossible to grind out a 20% grade in the saddle.
- 4 bottles of fluid was not nearly enough for a ride in this heat.
- 3 energy gels was not nearly enough either

On the way home I stopped and bought a ham and swiss on whole wheat from Tim Horton's. That was perhaps the most satisfying sandwich I've ever eaten.

Oh, and I offered to help some woman on a Specialized change a tube. Although she declined, my kharma has been improved.

Totals for the day:
23.02 miles
1:42 total time
13.5 MPH average speed (good considering the climbs)
42.9 MPH max speed (new personal record)
164 BPM average HR
2096 feet of climbing
155.7 Watts of average power (I think this is pretty good considering the bonk and the slow few miles after it occurred)
367.4 Watts max power
2 bottles of Accelerade consumed
2 bottles of Elete water consumed
3 Gu packets consumed
1 Power Bar Nut Naturals consumed
1 Pair of sunburn arm warmers acquired (damnit!)

It's been a good day.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The end of another week...

With little to show for it in the riding department.

Long days at work and rain make for no-bike days, at least for me. I'll seriously have to work on that since I've got a 6 hour mountain bike race in August and a 6,000+ climbing metric century in the beginning of September. Sadly, there's something that's really not pleasing me with my riding lately, and that's my power plot. I should be well into the 190s by this point in the season. Peak power is ok, since I'm not a beast sprinter, but I'd really like to have more than 2.5 W/Kg on tap at this point in the season.

I guess I just need to do more interval work...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh what a week(end)

Ahh, so the grip of the Summer Heat Wench has put a stranglehold on riding in the northeast for a few days.

A group trail ride last saturday in the 95 degree heat ended up with a near case of heat illness and a miserable ride. 6.5 miles, all of it absolute suffering.

Sunday night the heat broke, post thunder shower, and we headed out for an 18 mile road spin to reclaim the legs I lost on Saturday. It was really a great feeling, riding on wet roads, up wet switchbacks, with tire spray to cool you off. I could really get used to that.

So, nothing happens until last night. I planned for a longer more mellow ride, but since I got a late start, I ran a 10.5 mile loop that I'll use again in about a month to see where my progress is. 17.8 miles per hour average speed was my reward for keeping the legs on boil the whole way (except for the idiot woman who ALMOST hit me, causing me to come to a dead stop) and a lack of any kind of stiffness or fatigue is my reward today.

This weekend looks like it's going to be nice, so maybe I'll put the climbing legs to the test and see how much pain I can really take. 25 miles (give or take) and around 3,000 vertical feet. Should be fun.

Monday, June 2, 2008

A long weekend

50 miles over and done with. It was excellent to say the least. 3 hours and 21 minutes to finish the 50 mile route with 3072 vertical feet of climbing. I took off on an early break as soon as we hit the hills to wake up the legs and see how I was feeling. I put in about 3 minutes on the group, but they hauled me back in in short order (since I had no interest in staying away, it really wasn't that big of a challenge for them.) When we hit the big hills (about 1800 feet in 3.5 miles, averaging about 8-10% over the distance with some 12-13% spikes) I decided to go and see what I could do. I put 4 minutes into the group and dropped the stragglers from the fast group on the way up. The catch occurred on the way down, and we rode most of the rest of the way as a group. I went again 2.5 miles from the end on the 6% average hills back to the finish and stayed away. I put in about 3 minutes on the group by the end.

It was a good hard challenge and it felt really good to complete it. My descending is getting better, and I just love to climb. I love the pain and suffering of it. I must be sick.

We also went for an 11 mile 1000 vertical foot mountain bike ride over the weekend. My god, after not really riding a lot of mountain bikes the past couple months, it's amazing how much stronger I feel on the mountain bike after spending 2 months hammering out climbs and sprints.

Maybe this means there's a mountain bike race in the cards in two weeks? Hmm....