I knew I hadn't been training but this was pretty bad. The Missus even said that I should train a bit more. She knows me well enough that although I don't berate myself too much when I get shelled I still feel disappointed that I wasn't in the mix. For me racing is about being in the mix, whether it means helping a teammate or going for a place myself.
Since that last race I trained a bit more. I took the approach that this was the beginning of my season. I have no base so I figured I should work on that - when I start cramping 20 miles into a ride I know that I'm lacking something serious.
I also had some mechanical issues that I never fixed. In the past, through 2011, I worked on my bikes a lot while I was in SoCal at my annual 2004-2011 training camps. Although the long days wiped me out the short days gave me a lot of time to fiddle with the bike - spend an hour or two on the bike and I'm left with 5 or 6 hours before the host family returns home.
This year not only did I not go to SoCal. I didn't train that much. I didn't work on my bike. I had this weird problem where my bike would shift out of the big ring spontaneously - I discovered my big ring had a bunch of bent teeth, teeth that would try to dump the chain into the small ring on every pedal stroke.
With that fixed, the brakes tightened up a bit, and some other miscellaneous maintenance stuff done, my bike felt a lot better.
I also trained a bit more. Instead of riding once a week I could ride twice, even three times a week. I managed to do two races at the Nutmeg State Games, going on the attack in the M45s and hanging tough in the Cat 3s.
I've also gotten a bit better with my schedule at home with Junior. I can get more things done, I'm better at focusing at a task, and a lot of stuff comes to be automatically that didn't before. Amazing how a little tyke can do all that to an adult.
All this meant that Tuesday June 19th would be better. Before we left for the race I had the bike packed, my number pinned, and even an entry form filled printed and filled out. Ironic on the last bit - I had a bunch of forms left from the 2012 Bethel Spring Series but gave them away because "I didn't need them anymore". Now I have to print them to get more.
At any rate after the Missus got home we packed up Junior and headed out. We practically flew along until we got to the entrance to I291, when traffic ground to a standstill. Apparently an accident closed the left lane of I291, backing up traffic for miles.
Instead of arriving with 45 minutes in hand we got there with just a few laps left in the B race. All my prep came in handy as all I had to do was present my release, pay, slip on the jersey (and helmet and gloves and Sportsiiiis and start Strava), pee (in the portapottie) and line up.
With this type of warm up my SOP in Bethel I figured it would be okay. The race went fine for about 30 minutes, although I was hurting the whole time. About halfway in the field splintered chasing a prime.
I was already dangling dangerously near the back of the reasonably sized field (30 or 35 racers I think). I saw friend Laura S struggling, trying to close a gap that really someone else should have closed. I gave her a good push to get her to the next wheel, but then that guy left a gap. She went around again and I knew that that was the move that would blow her up.
I couldn't even stay on her wheel so that was that for me. The last few guys rolled around me and then I was clear to sit up completely.
My heartrate, every time I had looked down, read 158 or 159. I know that I can hold the mid 160s when I'm working really hard, so not breaking 160 seemed a bit low. I figured I was having an off day, where I couldn't rev the engine very hard.
After downloading the SRM I learned that I was looking down when my heartrate dropped a bit (which makes sense). I didn't see the 160-164 stuff, but I was there. So it wasn't as off an off day as I thought, and that's actually worse. It means I can't go much faster than what we did there.
Curiously enough, at the end of my lap off the back, my heartrate had dropped to about 130. I recovered quickly, it seemed.
I don't look too cooked, do I?
Photo by David Wells
I know that at my best I'd make huge efforts, really suffer for a bit, recover, then go again. I was never good at long continuous efforts, like climbing rock steady for 5 minutes. I did better when I had to surge a couple times to stay on wheels then sprinted over the top of said climb.
My heartrate curve seems to show that my recovery is starting to come around. I need this to happen since I use big efforts sporadically and rely on some off periods to try and recover quickly. The choppier the pace the more I can recover.
Tuesday, though, the pace felt relentless. I never had more than a few seconds of soft pedaling per lap and that wasn't enough to allow me to recover. After running an aerobic deficit for most of the race I finally popped.
For now I'll be working on just getting on the bike. Pedaling certainly beats not pedaling, that's for sure. I'll also try and get some exercise in while in the house looking after Junior, stuff I can do without getting on the bike.
Sunday is the Keith Berger Crit. I'll see what happens there.