Friday, February 04, 2011

California - Day 11 - Training, Finally

Another day on the trip, another day waking up clearing my throat and coughing up some gross stuff. I promised myself to eat and hydrate, and I had, but in the morning I didn't notice much of a change. I went downstairs and joined everyone for some breakfast, then, after the house cleared out, ate again.

And again.

Salt, meat, carbs. I felt an urge to eat, a deep rooted need really, and so I ate.

I also did some laundry, tried to clear out a sink (it's one of those things I do compulsively), and checked over my bike. I had to tighten the front derailleur mounting bolt, that was the main thing, and double checked some other stuff.

I also played around a bit with the CamelBak. I figured that I should ride with it today, skipping carrying bottles, letting my bike get back down closer to the 19 pound weight rather than the 24 pound full load out mass.

Skipping one bottle the day prior seemed to make a difference, and I used the CamelBak jersey. Today I'd use the standard small CamelBak, the rig I bought to carry my original and bulky helmet cam set up. I decided that I'd use the jersey for races and "important rides"; the backpack thing I'd use for training.

Since this would be a training ride, I opted for the backpack thing.

The backpack doesn't have as refined a feed tube rig, so it took a bit more time to set things up, and I found it harder to take a sip from the tube. It's all relative - the jersey version let you bite the valve and you'd have a mouthful of water. The backpack version you had to encourage the water along.

Nonetheless I felt confident enough to set off with no bottles in my cages. I did bring my standard saddlebag, short a tube from yesterday's flat. But with two 80 mm valve tubes (one in the bag, one in my pocket), I felt prepared.

I grabbed some food too, on top of everything I ate, and set out. I figured I'd head down the PCH again, see if my legs felt any better, and turn around when it seemed appropriate. I hoped for some good legs.

Heading out wasn't bad. I had dressed with just enough clothes for the temperature. If it got colder I'd be in trouble, but for now, in the early afternoon, I would be fine. I felt okay overall, not great, my legs a bit twingy but not dying like they'd be after a Palomar attack. Still, though, I didn't make any big efforts, just warmed up some.

Then, it happened. I crested one of the numerous hills between home base and the ocean. I turned right, started rolling, and then...

I felt it in my left ear first, a weird pressure sensation.

Popping sound.

Suddenly I could hear.

My sinus cleared up!

The right side followed quickly, making my world stereo and clear. I didn't realize until that moment that everything had been muted for the last, oh, week or so.

(I haven't been YELLING have I? If I have, I apologize.)

This kind of changed things. If I was getting better, I could ride harder. I should be able to race. I should be able to train more. I made a few efforts, let my legs carry me up by the airport.

Things worked.

I turned onto the PCH and headed south towards Encinitas. Although I didn't give into temptation and sprint up the hill to the sign, I did make some steady efforts on many of the flat sections leading up to that point.

Of course there were sections where I didn't feel very spunky. One of of them, only a mile or so away from the "town" part of Encinitas, while I was trying to watch the surfers (or were they really tall birds?), two women passed me.

Two women coasting by me.
I ended up following them for a few miles. Hopefully I didn't creep them out.

The climb before the one up Torrey Pines the two women went right. Since the roads are kind of quiet and less busy, I figured it'd be better if I didn't turn right as well (seemed too stalker-like). Therefore I went straight up the kind of gritty climb on the PCH.

Just before Torrey Pines, Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara passed, me, at least their body doubles did.

I swear that if you squint a bit they resemble Schleck and Cancellara.

I rolled behind them (they were disguised as UC San Diego riders) for a bit until they turned right for the steeper climb up to the golf course.

Once again I went straight, opting for the smoother, longer grade. And avoiding following two riders onto a quieter, less traveled road. I wouldn't creep them out but they'd probably feel like, hey, there's this guy following us, let's destroy him.

Then I'd have to either go slow or go fast and I didn't feel like making that decision. I just wanted to go my speed. I worked pretty hard up the hill, never faltering, never getting that "holding my breath" feeling. When I asked my legs to go, they went.

The bike danced beneath me, rid of a few pounds of weight. I felt good, finally, like I could ride a bike again.

At the top I turned around at the first light, and, just as I started heading down the hill, I saw the two UC San Diego riders roll up to the top. I always wondered which route was faster. I guess the steady one is faster since they started about 50 meters in front of me.

I headed back down.

Back in town I took a call from the Missus, then, rolling out again, basically joined a guy riding by at that moment. He had a bag, loose tights, jacket, and some other stuff on, probably doing his commute.

He rolled behind me until we got to a split in the road. I had to go left and sprinted across the road through a gap in traffic, then neatly split the double dots down the middle.

About to split dots in a full sprint at 40-45 mph.
The road splits ahead.

Peeling off to the left I didn't see the commuter follow so I figured he went straight.

Lo and behold, a mile later he passed me, working pretty hard. I followed him, at a short distance, watching him ride. He stayed right, respectfully, in case I wanted to pass. I stayed right too because I wasn't in a passing mood.

Discretely following the commuter.
Cardiff by the Sea sign, again.

Eventually, though, I realized that I'd reached a state where I could roll some big gears. I had to go, to let my legs free. On the surfer parking bit I rode up next to the commuter, told him, "Nice rhythm", and started pushing hard, a 53x17 or so up the gradual climb. Then, as the grade eased, I thumbed the shifter and got into bigger and bigger gears.

This was more like it.

Well, most of more. I didn't feel quite like I have in the past; I felt weaker than not. I had to ease after a bit of effort, but I could recover quickly and get going again.

It felt good to work, and I worked.

Then, at some point, the sun setting, the air chilly, my legs just stopped.

I'd hit the wall.

Struggling, I had a hard time just turning over the pedals, and I started to worry about getting back before dark. The TsunamiTwo has about 3 cm of post showing; I could either wrap the lower seatbag strap around it or put on a tail light.

I'd opted for the seat bag.

Adrenaline always motivates, and when it's getting dark the adrenaline flows readily. I pushed here and there, trying to keep a reasonable speed, but my legs faltered badly.

Then, standing on a climb, admiring the 3T fork (yes I really was admiring my fork), I noticed the rim and tire beneath the fork looked wrong.

The tire looked too wide.

In fact if felt really squishy, almost like it was...


I actually swore out loud. I was running out of time, started getting really chilly, and now, this. I did roll up to a sunny area before I started changing the flat, cars zipping by me at a good clip.

After taking out the tube, checking it for holes, and then finding the matching spot in the tire, I found and dug out a tiny bit of glass. I pumped up the new tube (I carried two with an 80 mm valve, in case I had to use it on the rear wheel). As I pre-mounted it in the tire, the commuter rode by.

"You okay?"
"Yeah, I got it."

At least he asked.

He was probably thinking, "Dude, next time just chill. You won't hit some pothole and pinch flat your tire."

Note the very long valve on the front wheel.
Also note setting sun shining sideways on tire.

Great fork, huh?

Behind me, where I flatted. When the sun goes down it gets cold here.

I got my bike together after pumping up the tire and set off. Tire felt low but okay, so I decided to take it easy on the descents.

The rest of the ride felt anti-climactic. I rode slowly so that the chilly air felt less chilly. My bare arms didn't feel warm at all, and I thanked my perseverance in finding my shoe oversocks (knit shoe covers).

The hills on the way back let me warm up, but, wow, the downhills, I actually braked on them.


Can you believe that?

I crawled home, just crawled. I rolled into the garage, leaned my bike up against TsunamiOne, retrieved the blank SRM head, and trotted into the warm house. I felt miserable, cold, and hungry.

The wife was there. She smiled and plunked down a container of freshly popped popcorn.

"I was starting to wonder because it's getting dark."
"Yeah, I kind of bonked."
"You do Palomar?"

Shortly after the husband rolled in. He laughed when he saw me - I must have looked miserable, sitting there downing popcorn.

"You do Palomar?"

What's this with Palomar? I guess I must look like hell when I do Palomar.

"No, just Torrey Pines. But I bonked. And flatted."

Yes, I ate a lot tonight.

And no, I'm not doing Palomar tomorrow.

But Sunday, Red Trolley... it looks promising. I have to buy a few tubes (I want to use the Bastognes at Red Trolley and I have no short valve tubes), clean up my bike build mess, but, yeah, Red Trolley. I feel a lot better.


Tom said...

These are roads I ride on 4 times a week, so I'm really enjoying your blog. If you want a really great view, go up San Elijo Hill Road and near the top, go up to Double Peak park.

Aki said...

Tom - thanks for the tip. I got up there shortly after the park opened last year (?). In fact I even have a picture from there in this post.

I did notice that the Jelly Belly pictures appeared to have been shot on Double Peak. Now I know they were :)

But I tend to avoid change so I do the same routes. This year I haven't gone inland at all, very unusual for me. I may or may not go Monday, but that's the only day left for me.

I did ride in Camp Pendleton for the first time on this trip; other than a parallel road out to the PCH (came out just south of the Carlsbad power plant) that seems to be the only new roads I've been on this time.