Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Training - Back to the Slog

Slog may be a strong word, but it feels that way. It feels like June, or July, or August, or... okay, not September. But you get the idea. I'm already feeling a bit hazy in the head, hot, tired, stuff starting to get dirty, gear bag a little unsettled, some fatigue settling in from regular life. My post frequency has dropped significantly, a good reflection on this entropy of the racing season.

When the season begins, all the gear is fresh. All the parts gleam. Then, as the weeks roll by, the tires start to wear, the chain gets that uncleanable grey stain, and little bits of wear and tear show up on everything.

I'm also losing some mass (not weight - it seems to be redistributing). The shorts that fit so well in the winter now seem a bit baggy on the legs. The jerseys are a joke, baggy now, too long. I ordered smaller kits but they won't be in for a bit.

The trip to Vegas also threw a bit of confusion into the whole bike thing. Now I have stuff scattered around (still), laundry, trainer room, etc.

And finally I'm revamping my weaponry (i.e. wheels) and I've discovered that I'm short a few cassettes. So that's a bit annoying too.

Tonight I went on the Granby Bikes ride. It's a good ride, maybe a bit light here and there, but there are some soul crushing portions out there.

Since I'm no climber, those bits truly crushed my soul.

I got my car's "holey" exhaust fixed (it burbles contentedly now), then hurried down to pick up some more swords for my bike (I'll be posting on them at some point in the future). Swords picked up, hurried back, and tried to figure out a good way to get the wheels, err swords, on the bike without getting eaten alive by mosquitos.

Note to self: Buy a mosquito magnet tomorrow.

I gave up, threw the wheels in the car, and headed to the shop. It's a shop after all, right?

Note to self: putting wheels in car carefully while trying not to get bitten by mosquitos doesn't mix.

Luckily I didn't end up with any holey wheels (skewers through carbon, that kind of thing). At the shop I realized I didn't have enough time so I just went as is, with yet a different set of swords on the bike.

I promise posts on the swords. Promise.

Along with the Down Low Glows, my saddle bag, two full bottles, I had a hefty bike. Full load out, or whatever that military term is for a "fully loaded" thing. I haven't weighed it but it had to be north of 20 pounds.

Suitably weighed down, we set off on the ride.

When we start out I try and follow wheels, else I go too hard. I glanced down at the SRM on the roll out - 300 watts.


I can do 300 watts for about 5 minutes, tops. If this was the roll out...

Never fear, Mighty Mouse is here. At the light a couple minutes into the ride, someone called out why we rolled out so hard. Back to a 200 watt roll out.

I got into a conversation with the guy that pulled that initial bit. Ends up he rides with my teammate on a Friday work ride.

(Friday company ride, and it's not a bike related company? How cool is that? In Connecticut, I should add.)

We talked a bit about racing and he asked about "how strong" some of the racers seemed.


I started explaining to him that "strength" and "racing ability" are two different things. I pointed out that in a sport like running, you just run. If you run a 6 minute mile, whoever can't run a 6 minute mile can't keep up.

In cycling, I love the guys that try and "run a 6 minute mile" at the front. Because while they're blowing away their reserves, I'm coasting at their "6 minute mile" pace. In other words, I'm drafting.

I gave him an idea of relative power outputs. I mentioned that the 300 watt roll out was well beyond my threshold. Hard efforts typically hit 600-800 watts. And my threshold is about 250w.

For the rest of the ride, he'd come up to me after particular efforts.

"So how was that one?"
"400 to 500 watts for a minute or so... I was trying to bluff the guys. Then 250 when I blew."
"Oh, okay."

(That bit was fun. Two guys suddenly jumped, I didn't know why, and then I saw the town line sign. I jumped, too late, but made a good try. When we passed the sign, I realized that I was "free", with just one guy for company. So I put my head down and went hard, really hard. I wanted to open a gap to the group, ease a bit, and latch on when they went by. Problem? No gap. So when I blew, the guys flew past me immediately. All I could say was, "You guys...." and grin.)

"What about that?"
"250 or so."
"Seemed harder."
"To me too."

(Water Street, a section of up and down, leg breaking, morale destroying rollers. I went early, again, trying to build a cushion. Instead I isolated myself from everyone but two riders, and when they got fed up with my pitiful pace, I was all alone.)

A little while later, he rolls up, a questioning glance.
"That was under 600 watts."

(A downhill then a big looking uphill. I just rolled a huge gear up the uphill.)

I tried to bridge to a little group, got within about 50 feet of them, but got no breaks from anything. No little downhills, no trucks passing me, no tailwind. Instead I got blasted by all the cars heading the other way, one after another. When there were no cars it was just a steady headwind. The little rollers killed my speed. I finally sat up, isolated again.

Unfortunately the mosquitos near the house had buddies out there everywhere so I couldn't socialize much when we stopped to regroup or when we stopped at the end of the ride. I tossed my bike in the car, jumped in, closed the door, rolled up the windows, and started up my contentedly burbling car.

Sticky with dried sweat, I had to rush in with whatever I could carry. I used about a 1/4 bottle of OFF to shield myself from the biting critters and ventured back out to get everything else out of the car.

Now for a shower, late dinner, and bed.


No comments: