Monday, April 26, 2010

Training - Las Vegas - Red Rock Canyon

So, post-tax season, as we have for many years, the missus and I traveled to Las Vegas. Her boss flies out the whole office for some well deserved R&R, with spouses welcome. Naturally I do my duty and tag along. Normally we hit a show, go shopping, have a few meals with colleagues/friends, and sight see a bit.

This year, at the missus's prompting, I brought along the bike.

We stay in the Downtown area, the "old" Las Vegas, not the Strip, but the hotels are still semi-modern. Not a Palazzo by any means, but they at least use key cards.

Ours says, "Insert. Be delighted."

Insert. Be delighted. In dim light that's all I see.

Details, as they say, count.

In between some events - to Death Valley, courtesy Pink Jeep Tours, and some "food" outings - I managed to ride out to Red Rock Canyon a couple times.

Initially I did a long recon ride (link skips Las Vegas Blvd but I just rode up the Strip), just a ride up Charleston Blvd to 159, the road that loops up to and back from Red Rock, onto 160, the road back to Vegas, and then roll down Las Vegas Blvd back to home base.

On that first ride I donned my Leader's Kit for the first time on a ride, the first time since I pulled it on for the podium shots a week ago. The bright yellow (long sleeve) jersey and matching booties looked frighteningly bright, even in the dim casino lights, but once on the road their color came in handy.

See, I learned quickly that the wide bike lanes I'd scouted out last fall didn't exist on Charleston, at least not until the very western end. I had to aggressively claim a lane after a rear view mirror missed me by maybe a foot. It wasn't hard to claim the lane, because it was all slight uphill, with a ferocious headwind. I'd stand, rock the bike, do a bit of the Abdu wiggle, and suddenly cars weren't coming near me.

I have to give the Leader's Kit partial credit - there's no way anyone could miss me on that road.

Thankfully the actual Red Rock loop has a nice wide shoulder. I struggled mightily on some of the rises, rolling an over-large gear. I reveled in the feeling though, finally able to really bury myself in effort without worrying about counterattacks, breakaways, or an upcoming sprint. I've mentioned before the feeling of being able to call on my legs over and over and over again.

On that loop I did just that.

Over and over I dug deep, asked my legs to turn over just another time. I asked them not to cramp, not to fail, to keep me going just another few hundred yards.

The road finally leveled and then started to make a long, lazy descent. I hunkered down in the drops, stretching out a bit, filling the Tsunami frame perfectly. The wind turned friendly, the road dropped gradually but steadily, and I realized I was going pretty fast.

I love being on the drops, stretched out a touch, a position I've never had before the Tsunami. I revel in that position now, enjoying what I missed for 20-odd years of riding, racing.

I crested a short rise, flying along, and heard a car approach slowly from behind. Slowly approaching cars usually end up being friendly, but sometimes they're not. I steeled myself for some unknown thing.

The car pulled up besides me, a silver four door car. I could see the front wheel spinning out of the corner of my eye.

I turned and looked.

Two faces, partially obscured by cameras, the full grins plain to see, greeted me. Others, sitting on the far side of the car, were watching, grinning. The girl in the front seat finished with the picture and waved a quick hi, a bright grin accompanying the friendly gesture. The driver, a guy, grinned and waved. The couple in the back also waved.


Morale fully topped off, I continued on. The tailwind really picked up for a bit, and I found myself cruising at a good 30-34 mph, in the 53x12.

I started wishing I had an 11T.

I also started thinking about what it would be like to be chasing for the Expo Boys, paying back all their efforts at Bethel. I decided that if I had to do such chasing in these fast conditions, I'd have not just an 11T but the 55T sitting in the basement closet.

Imagine, a 55x11? Flying along? What a blast!

The wind eased; I could hear wind once again buffeting my ears. The road leveled off, and I saw a sign in the distance.

I felt good. It was warm, almost hot, maybe 85 degrees. I was two hours into my ride.

And I wanted to bury myself in an all out sprint. That sign could only be one thing right now: a sprint sign.

I waited for a few cars to go by, not wanting to sprint on their bumper. Once they were out of reach I launched.



Go again.


Um... no gears left. So I sprint even faster, trying to kick the pedals over the top even quicker.

I saw 42.7 mph, but when I got back to the hotel room, Mister SRM told me 43.1.


I eased a bit, recovered, but quickly caught my breath. I got back into the drops, started going again. And time trialed my way back to the Strip. Then, with my legs screaming from the incessant work I'd forced them to do, I rolled onto Las Vegas Blvd.

And started 40-odd minutes of stoplight intervals. Into a roaring headwind. Uphill.

I know, I sound like your Grandpa, except it wasn't snowing. Believe you me, it was hard.

I just about collapsed a few times, but I couldn't, not wearing the bright kit, not in front of spectators.

Then, a saving grace.

The Missus, walking along the sidewalk, along with two of her friends/colleagues. They'd just gotten off the bus I was trying to catch, and stood there waiting to get into the pawn shop on TV. I stopped, turned around, and rolled back to them.

I chatted with them, caught my breath. And when the traffic cleared again, I set off for the final mile back to the hotel.

I got off the bike, my skin hot from the bright sun. I could taste the salt on my lips, feel my shorts on my thighs, salty against my skin. Three hours on the bike, three hours pedaling around Vegas.

What a spectacular day.

When I got to the room, I inserted the key card.

I was already delighted.


Anonymous said...

Aki where are the final results for Bethel ?

Aki said...

Ooops, sorry, didn't post it. Will do so in the next day or so.