Saturday, February 10, 2007

California - Day Four - Horner, Mapei

Today was a moderate day. 3.5 hours, averaging 131 bpm. That puts the overall day below an average one. There were a few things of note on today's ride.

The most significant was that we were passed by some anonymous rider and Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, one of the top US pros out there, and by my estimation, one of the top 200 pros in the world. We half heartedly tried to catch up but after a mile or two Horner and his ride companion eased on down the road. There were two things I noticed about Horner - first, he seems much smaller in person than in the pictures. Second, he is so low on the bike. The kicker is that he was jabbering away the whole time and made his speed look effortless.

The next thing is that I learned that I still can't climb. Shorter efforts are fine but the long ones, forget it. One semi-successful technique I (re)discovered is that I could alternate emphasizing two different types of pedaling "technique". One was pulling up while sitting further back on the saddle. This emphasized some hamstrings and other leg-lifting muscles. The other was pushing down while sitting more forward. This emphasized quads and glutes. To get the latter, I'd ride in the drops, like Ullrich in the 2002 Tour. Granted, he didn't win, but I could see the use in climbing in the drops. I used this alternating technique to reach the top of a couple climbs in contact with my friend.

I also learned that you don't pass people on flats or downhills. You stay a bit behind them and then, if they falter on the hills, then you pass. If you don't, and they pass you back on the hill, then you look like a dope with no respect. We lingered behind a few different riders. One we passed after he blew trying to keep away from us for 10 minutes or so. Another kept his distance on the hills and eventually, after about 10 minutes, we let him go as our legs were pretty fatigued. And a third I passed on a descent a couple minutes after we saw him. He promptly blew us away on the next climb. Felt like a dope, especially since I blew right after and struggled to the top of the hill.

The day was less chilly than previous days so it was the first day I was in shorts and a short sleeve jersey. So I finally got some sun and the resultant weird tan - from the middle of my upper arm down to my watch (on the left arm) and wrist (on the right arm). The full-back glove meant no sun on my hands.

My legs are getting a bit fatigued - it's most obvious about 5 to 7 minutes into a consistent effort (like a moderate climb) or about 20 seconds into a hard effort (sprint or very steep climb). Otherwise I feel okay turning over the pedals. I'll have to focus on some speedwork for a couple days to keep my legs from getting too slow.

Like yesterday, the good news is that I don't have any problems - saddle, knees, Achilles, etc. And like yesterday, I still had some stomach problems. It might have been explained by something - I've been eating these amino-acid bars I got from the local Performance Bicycle (formerly Supergo) and was munching on one when my friend asked what I was eating. I gave him a new bar to examine. He was reading the label and pointed out it contained Maltitol.

"What's that?"

Apparently it's an artificial sweetner. And a laxative.


After the ride we went to a few stores. I picked up a Mapei brochure on how to lay tile yourself, some decals for my bike (to commemorate this blog, if you must know), and passed on a Pinewood Derby car. I did see a Matchbox car display frame where you can display your unopened Matchbox (and Hot Wheels and similar) cars. I think it would work for my 20 or 30 cars I have so far.

In other news, my beloved Passat has been picked up by my finacee's best friend's husband (and he's my friend too, but the path is clearer when I describe it the long way). My fiancee, without my prompting or request, photographed and videotaped the historic event. Now I have a lot more room in both my driveway and my garage. Not only did he take the three sets of wheels, the various extra parts, and even the second set of springs for the Passat, he also picked up an engine hoist, engine stand, and a stand-alone parts cleaner.

I don't think my neighbors will know what to do with themselves.

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