Saturday, January 30, 2010

California - Double Peak Park, San Marcos

Today we rode out to and up Double Peak Park in San Marcos. It's a tough little climb, just a matter of grinding things out. I imagine that a fit rider would attack it ferociously but today I was the nail, not the hammer.

It doesn't help that you start off with a good 20 minutes of steady climbing before the steep park road. I hate these steady efforts, preferring either the on-off efforts of switchbacks and rolling hills, or the intense, "fall over if you don't keep pedaling" efforts on the steeper climbs. The more steady climb preceding the park felt really difficult mentally, even though I tried doing some surges on my own.

It didn't help that my heartrate once again refused to move much over 145 bpm. I'd be struggling moderately hard, riding along at my 20 min max of 260 watts or so, and my heart rate would simply not move from the 145-148 range.

Once we turned off the main road and approached the park road climb, I felt a bit better. More tired, yes, more fatigued, yes, but more motivated too. This was definitely a "pedal or fall over" kind of climb.

My training ride partner rode away from me, circling at a slightly more level area, before riding away a second time. I figured that this steep climb would force my heart rate out of the basement, but when I checked, it hadn't budged.

I did a moderately hard effort, holding 300+ watts, and watched as my heart rate creeped up to about 153 bpm. I felt a bit of triumph, like maybe I'd just broken the elastic restraining my heart. I eased.

It promptly dropped into the mid 140s.

I kept going, giving up on the whole "work harder" thing. With this weight loss I've noticed that although I may not climb fast, I don't find myself weaving drunkenly up climbs either. For example, yesterday's Palomar attempt was a pretty smoothly ridden effort, pretty much no weaving (except to get out of the way of a motorcyclist practicing cornering), no desperate "just keep the pedals moving" efforts. Just straightforward pedaling.

Likewise, although I wouldn't consider climbing up the Double Peak Park road the most enjoyable thing out there, the views are amazing, the climb is very doable, and I could see it being a nice part of a training ride for a fresher, more rested me. Maybe later this trip I'll return with a bit more in my legs, and see what it's like "under pressure".

You know, pretend I'm Lemond and this is the last climb of the 89 Worlds. Hammer up the thing.

The top, with truly an amazing view.

You can see clear out to Palm Springs from the top (well, the mountains around Palm Springs). The ocean, Camp Pendleton, and various other towns seem so close they're almost not worth mentioning. And this is in very hazy conditions. It's that high up.

We descended down away from the park. It's always a bit of a let down, the quick descents off of long, arduous climbs. Palomar, for me, took 2 hours to climb, 30 minutes to descend. 30 minute climbs typically take just over 5 minutes to descend.

I did notice that I can't descend like I did before. I now lack 25 to 30 pounds of mass, and that's pretty significant when trying to blast down the side of a big hill. Even properly tucked I couldn't bridge the gap to my training partner. This definitely gave me a pause because I've always relied on my descending "ability" to make up for lost ground. Without the ability to go downhill faster than anyone else, I really have to be able to climb well.


At least I felt better in my normal "hang over the bars" aero tuck. I did a couple tucks no problem, but the longer bike made me feel a little less secure in the half second it takes to swap hand positions down to the drops. Other than that transition thing though the bike felt really stable. Sweet.

We rolled back, taking advantage of California's bike lanes, talking while riding side by side. I turned around at some point and almost fell off my bike. Two guys were riding behind us, chatting away too. We all kept riding like we were a four man group.

My training partner asked if I would be working on my jump while I was out here, and I replied to the affirmative. In fact, I'd been thinking of asking if everyone wanted to go to a race the next weekend, but if my heart rate doesn't go over 150, I'd get dropped pretty quickly. I lamented this fatigue business out loud, but I realized that I need to actually go and do some efforts before I discount the idea of racing.

As we approached the last "usable" rise before the house, he asked again if I wanted to do a big ring effort. Or, as he put it, "Last chance for the big ring." We approached a 300 meter, steady, maybe 4 or 5% grade, preceded by an equal length, equal steepness descent - a perfect leadout to a nice uphill sprint.

Unfortunately the light at the bottom turned red just as we got there, so we had to ease. We almost came to a stop before it turned green. Then, when the light released us, the moment, the cadence, everything prompted me to do a jump, forget about the heart rate and this and that and whatever else.

So I jumped.

I jumped pretty hard, in too big of a gear actually, and shifted twice, the second time accidentally shifting an extra gear. I managed to get up to about 30 mph, hit 1450 watts, and held well over 900 watts for almost 20 seconds. Without a goal (a finish line or marker or something) I just kind of petered out and sat down.

The Tsunami, I'm pleased to report, felt totally planted, responded to every input on the pedals, and sprang away like a scalded... um, scratch that, like a startled cat. It had this feeling of immense stability between the cranks and the rear wheel, like nothing I could do would upset its composure. It felt like the bottom bracket was lower, like it was pulling the rear wheel down into the road, so there'd be no slippage.

Whatever it was, it felt really good. As I eased I started thinking about this potential race next weekend.

Hm hm hm.

Interestingly enough my heart rate, although it spiked a bit, never went over 150 bpm. And although I claim to have "petered out", I was soft pedaling a big gear up the rest of the rise, and had to consciously ease so as not to be a real jerk. My legs seem to be working reasonably well, even with just under 10 hours of riding in the last two days.

So maybe this heart rate thing wasn't a bad thing. I mean, yeah, my heart rate seems to be somewhat inflexible right now. Regardless though, I did the biggest jump wattage-wise I've done in a year. I did it at the end of a 90 minute ride. And although I wasn't feeling particularly fresh, I could dig deep enough to do a good sprint.

And I have another week of riding ahead of me!

Maybe, after this weekend, I'll go out and do a bunch of intervals. Or some other scientific kind of training.


Who am I kidding?

Now to chill, eat, hydrate, and contemplate things.

Like the 900 boxes (!!) of Girl Scout cookies shortly arriving at this location (apparently I'm staying at the local Girl Scout cookie distribution center).

Lead me not to temptation.


Anonymous said...

"I now lack 25 to 30 pounds of mass, and that's pretty significant when trying to blast down the side of a big hill."

I would assume you are just starting to train outside, for the season Aki. I would think your low heart rate is just your system shock, at the beginning of your base. If you have knocked off the 25-30 lbs., then you are burning through the fat reserve, and will soon be into the burning of muscle, depending on what/how much you are eating. As the saying goes, never leave the table full, but hungry. You get used to it; when to stop eating for the day, how much, what? Like a little game for your head.

As you stated before, you are now comfortable riding in the tuck - kinda of the old new body shape. Awesome, and the pic shows it. Keep it up

That climb is beautiful, the riding and the clearing of your head - well worth the trip.

If you want something sweet, drink a diet coke/pepsi during your bonk, tricks your body every time into thinking it is eating a snickers bar...this has always worked during my long rides and when i need a sugar binge.

Sorry to obsess about the weight, but when you are cutting into muscle instead of fat you will feel it. Enjoy it. What you gain, will outweigh what you lose. good luck.

post some mileage will ya !


yaniel said...

as a pretty big newbie here the heart rate thing is confusing to me. if you're tired/fatigued wouldn't the heart rate jump up quickly? when i'm not feeling too well and go for a ride i find that my heart rate climbs to ridiculous levels at even the slightest effort. on days i'm not up to par, even a short sprint will put my heart rate well past my max.

or is it that your body just doesnt want to put out the effort needed to get the heart pumping harder in the first place?

Aki said...

K - I think my HR funk was due to fatigue, the shock in weather, weight loss, etc etc.

Y - the HR thing has to do with fatigue. If I'm really fatigued, my HR refuses to go up. No matter what happens, before my HR goes up my lactic acid builds up and then boom, I'm done. So my HR doesn't go up but my perceived effort is high.

When I'm not fit, my HR soars with every effort. That would be the other problem. I can't use that excuse right now.

Anonymous said...

You're looking lean and mean aki!

Yaniel said...

funny enough, i now know what you meant by fatigue not letting your heart rate climb. on sunday my body was so beat from the rides during the previous week that no matter what i would do, my heart rate wouldnt get within 30 bpm of max.

Aki said...

Heh welcome to the club. Now just recover for a couple/few days, easy efforts, spinning on the bike, and you'll be good to go.