Saturday, August 31, 2013

Training - MeTC 2A

After a day off I found the time to get out and do another ride. This time I went for the 2A Out N Back loop. My legs felt totally fine after my ride on Thursday, but since it'd been almost a week since I'd ridden before that I wasn't sure if I'd be okay or not after shocking the system with a long ride.

Therefore the 2A loop made sense. I could go out for an hour, turn around, and try to make it back in just a bit less time. I virtually always ride with a bit in reserve, "just in case", so I'd have gas in the tank coming back.

With that in mind I set out on the very straightforward route - head out, take a right, turn around when I feel like it, take a left, get back to the Outpost. Like before I had my flapping vest on for visibility, my blinky flashing away, and this time I had a package of Pop Tarts in my pocket.

I headed out with little information on 2A. From the last time I rode here I vaguely remembered an endless series of rolling hills, a rough shoulder, and not much else.

Apparently I remembered correctly. The road did have a shoulder, although sometimes it narrowed down to a few inches, the shoulder was rough, and there was an endless series of slight uphills and downhills.

And not much else.

I tried to roll along on the drops, the FSA Energy handlebars that I found almost replicated my crit-bend bar drops position. Unfortunately there's a weird angle on the drops and it put a bit more pressure on a particular part of my hand, more so than usual. This resulted in my hands going numb, sort of unusual for me.

The 42 cm bars also felt really wide, like I was riding a motorcycle. I mean, okay, I knew they felt wide, but with a whole lot of nothing around me I could focus a bit more on me and my bike. I'd consider riding along Route 2A to be even more empty than riding the trainer - at least on the trainer I'd have a video or DVD playing and maybe some music. On 2A it was just me, the trees, and the rough shoulder.

At any rate during my bar meditation I decided that I'd want a 40 cm version of whatever FSA bar I decided to get, preferably the FSA Compact or the FSA Wing bar. The latter is the same as the Compact but with a flattened "aero" top of the bar - I really like that flat platform, more so than any aero benefit that might come from having said platform.

The Compacts have less drop but the shape of the drops agree with my hands more. The lessor drop affected my back though - shortly after installing the FSA Energy handlebars I noticed that my back was a bit better. I could bend over a bit easier, I could pick up Junior without wincing (most of the time anyway), and on the bike I felt more comfortable on the drops.

I thought of my ideal solution - a long, low stem, like a 65 degree (-25 degree) 14 cm stem, with 40 cm wide FSA Compact bars, or the FSA Wing bars that I had on before.

All this thinking didn't help my hands on this desolate stretch of 2A so I just plodded along, trying to spin either a 53x19, using the 53x21 for brief periods, or shifting into the 39 if I had to stay in the 21 for any length of time. With a max cog of 23T even the 53x21 made the chain complain, and the 53x23 made the chain sound like it would grind itself to death.

I guess the short 39 cm chainstays do have a drawback.

I pulled out my phone to check the time. In my haste in packing I grabbed the (white) power cord for the MacBook. I mentally checked off "SRM download cable" because that's white also. The problem was that I never grabbed the SRM download cable. The SRM I have is limited to about 7 hours of data.  I hadn't reset it in a bit and the first ride up here had virtually filled the memory.

Given the choice between totally losing all the accumulated SRM data and risking using just the phone/Strava, I went with using the phone/Strava. This meant no SRM computer on the bike, i.e. no time of day, no miles, no cadence, no HR, no points of reference.

Therefore I pulled out my phone to check the time.

"Whatever you do don't drop the phone," I thought to myself.

The phone went flying.

It hit the road and skittered around.

Stopping, I of course looked around to see if anyone noticed. Nope, no cars. No trucks. No deer. No moose. No squirrels. No hawks. No crickets. No snakes. No turtles.

No nothing.

I picked up the phone. It looked fine.

And I had 15 more minutes before I'd hit the hour mark. I told the Missus I'd do a 2 to 2 1/2 hour ride, and since I felt reasonably well I decided to go the 15 more minutes before I turned around, an hour out, to make it a 2 hour ride round trip.

I got pretty far in a few minutes, started feeling better and better, and decided to stretch it out to 2 1/2 hours. That meant riding another half hour (after the phone drop) before turning around, making it 1:15 out and presumably another 1:15 back. I told myself I'd turn around at the top of the next little rise. Each time I got to the top of "the next little rise" it kept going. I felt like I was chasing leprechauns at the end of a rainbow.

Finally, when I got to a bit of pavement with grass growing through the pavement, I decided that this bit of lawn would mark my turn around.

I started heading back. My legs felt pretty good - I guess it takes an hour+ of riding for them to feel good after a day off.

I saw a car poking its head out of the woods. Weird, in such a desolate place, and it wasn't there a short time ago. Two characters, straight out of a movie, sat in the car. Young guys with big, bushy, fake looking beards, aviator sunglasses, they looked like two guys straight out of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" clip.

Not sure what these guys were doing.

I waved a greeting as I rode by. I don't know if they nodded or what. I didn't hear the car move, and when I glanced back a hundred meters later I could still see the car sitting by the side of the road.


I rolled pretty hard, pushing a bit up the short climbs, trying to maintain decent speed on the short declines (not really downhills except one).

I turned left onto Kingman Road, aka 170, the one constant between the two rides I'd done so far. I have a hard time reading his section of road, only about 7 miles long but undulating and never allowing me to hold a consistent effort.

I thought of the domestiques on ProTour teams that have to pull for a hundred km at a time, tempo tempo, to keep breaks in check during a Grand Tour. The leaders recon the final climbs; I wondered if the domestiques reconned the first 100-150 km of each stage, especially the transition stages.

I wondered how they'd approach Kingman Road, this deceivingly tough (to me) road, no good rhythm, no steady grades, just this choppy up and down and fast and slow thing. If this road ever appeared in a race it'd offer one heck of a challenge to the racers.

I decided that a power meter would be a good thing here, letting me know if I was pushing a bit hard on the rises and slacking too much on the slight downhills. Without either I didn't know how hard to push, only that I could actually ride today instead of crawling like I did two days ago. I decided that the "Chris Froome Looking At Stems" thing (hilarious, btw), a reference to the fact that he seems to ride based on his powermeter, isn't necessarily all bad.

I passed a sign that makes the Missus and I giggle whenever we see it. Kingman is not a huge town. In fact it doesn't have a police department, and the firehouse is so small I thought it was someone's freestanding garage.

Therefore when we saw a sign for the Kingman Elementary School pointing to the left, and a very small building directly across from the sign, we couldn't help but do a double take.

Elementary school sign.
See the brown building with the green roof to the left?

The "school" (between the yellow thing and the truck).

The "school" couldn't have measured more than about 8' wide and maybe 12' long. Obviously it's a fancy shed with windows and such but since we couldn't see any driveway, any playground, anything else that looked like a school, we would point at "the school" and giggle.

I was riding okay through here and looked back and forth just one more time, to see if I could figure out where the school sat.

No luck.

(Ends up that the school is down a road that's 50 yards past the sign, and it's a proper school, brick building, playground, all that stuff. No fence though, not like in Connecticut.)

I did the last little rise in Kingman before a quick drop to a bridge. Then the final grind up a hill to the driveway. I had to drop it into the 39x23 even with "decent" legs.

I got home in 2:20 so about 10 minutes short of my "long estimate". This time I wasn't totally shot, and in fact my legs felt pretty good just a few hours later. 

Other than my thoughts about my bars and the idea of using a powermeter on weirdly undulating roads I really hadn't thought of much.

Well the Beastie Boy extras.

The School In A Shed.

Yeah, well, it's quiet up here.


Ognjen said...

Have you tried rotating the bars further forward to get the drops a bit flatter?

Aki said...

Before I wrapped the bars I rode the bars on the trainer. I was really experimenting with the bar position, to the point where I used short pieces of electrical tape and moved the levers (and cable housing) around.

I don't like rotating the bars too far forward/down a la Sean Yates because it affects the hood/bar transition (if I move the levers up appropriately), the hoods levelness (if I don't), and the drops position didn't improve.

If anything I want to rotate the bars up a bit more. I feel like I want to reach through the drop part of the bars about 2 cm.

I grasp more of the vertical part of the drops, not the horizontal. On my crit bend bars, and even on the Compacts, I cut the last couple inches of the bar off because I can't use it. I can't reach the levers so I don't want to use the drops towards the tip of the bars.

On the Energy bars I installed the bars thinking I was going to take them right off so I didn't cut them beforehand (so I could sell them or whatever). To my surprise I liked them. Now I'll need to cut the bars and since the tape isn't easy to redo I'll "cut the bars out from under the tape".

For an illustration of where I hold the drops see this post.