Saturday, May 12, 2007

Racing - Return of the Belly

So today was the regrouping day. Figure out where I stood fitness-wise, what I need to do.

To be totally honest, deep down inside I knew what I needed to do - ride more. But today was a wake up call.

We (yes, she got up too) were on our way just after 5 AM for the 6:40 AM start. A brief bit of traffic interrupted an otherwise fast and smooth commute. Literally. The blue car is so much faster, so much smoother. 1.5 times the mass. 3 times the horsepower. You do the math. And it even gets almost 30 mpg!

We got to Prospect Park a bit late. I gave my work cell to the Significant Other, kept my personal one on me, and told her I'd call her if I needed anything. I also kept my EKG (it's abnormal so I have to carry it around), some ID, and my racing license. Unfortunately I had no time so essentially rode to the bathrooms and rode to the line.

Zero warm-up.

It didn't help overhearing some of the P/1/2/3's (I registered for the 35+).

"Well, having done both the races, the 35's usually go faster on the first lap or two."

Not what I wanted to hear on a microscopic warmup.

My PowerTap was good, heart rate, cadence, and power all registering. Because of the prevalence of glass in the area, I decided to use the (clincher) PowerTap and a clincher front wheel. I wanted to emphasize max speed over climbing so chose my trusty Specialized TriSpoke for the front. With the extra weight, my bike was probably pushing 20 pounds, but I figured it'd be okay.

After the P/1/2/3's left, we went to the line. I was hoping to be up front so I could drift back on the climb. Since it's only a half mile or so from the start, that would be the extent of my warmup. I did manage to line up at the front, and with a 34 mile race ahead of us (and plenty of time to move up) no one called me any names or anything. So far so good.

When we got up that first hill, someone attacked. The two guys in front of me (and who were leading the field) upped the pace a bit to keep tabs on the guy. I happened to be slotted in third.

Immediately I was a bit over the edge, my heart rate at 166 but my lungs getting a bit raw and my legs a bit wobbly. The two guys each pulled off once but I couldn't pull through and in fact had to let a gap open near the top.

I realized afterwards that if everyone thought I was going that slow, they'd have come around me. I'll have to file that thought for next time.

The next time around, I felt a lot better - I figured my heart rate must be lower. I checked. 170.


I guess I was warmed up. But I did trade a lot of position to keep my effort lower. A couple more laps like that and I'd be at or off the back. So I moved up towards the front for the next lap.

I was towards the outside when someone decided to make a little move. It was so little I didn't realize it was a move and simply stayed on the wheel. And suddenly we were off the front. Another racer or two joined us and rotated. But each looked back and sat up.

I debated sitting up or going - I was alone at that point, everyone else having sat up. If I kept going, I'd be pushing my aerobic limits and setting myself up for a very, very hard time up the hill. But I could show off in front of the Significant Other.

So I hunkered down and started time trialing.




Oh no.

Not a flat. Not a broken spoke. Not a pebble stuck in the tire.

It was the Return Of The Belly.

I'd worked so hard in Florida and California to get rid of this thing. And now it was back, my thighs thumping it each time they reached the upper part of the pedal stroke.

Okay, okay, I'll 'fess up.

It never really went away but it did get smaller. Small enough that it stopped Thumping. So this was a morale-shattering revelation.

I seriously debated sitting up. But I'd used so much energy I figured showing off in front of the SO would be worth it.

Then some dude flew by me.

He really didn't. It was more that I was going slow and he went a normal 28 mph past me. I got on his wheel, going into the red to do so. And I knew I was in trouble. The show off for the SO would be my race. I prayed I'd get to the hill in reasonable shape and get over it with the group. Then I could grovel in pain for a mile or two and recover.

We flashed by the S/F area, the SO yelling out "Hang on to the wheel!" or something supportive like that. Not "Kill him on the hill." She's smarter than that.

He pulled off and we slowed to about 23 mph. He rode around me in disgust. I couldn't get on his wheel. I tried to keep going but I was totally blown.

The field picked me up at the bottom of the hill, my heart rate already at 170, my breathing ragged, and my legs fading fast. I steeled myself for an effort to turn my body inside out to stay with them on the hill. Some not so many seconds later my legs shut down and I heard swearing behind me as guys had to close the gap that opened suddenly in front of me.

So much for turning my body inside out.

I rode a bit till the 4's caught me, they dropped me on the hill, and then I decided to give the SO an out.

I whipped out the cell and called her.

The marshals watching me cruise by on the cell looked a little puzzled.

"I got dropped after that break"
"I saw you in the 4's"
"Yeah, well they just dropped me too"
"So... I figured it'd be more fun if we went home and rode the tandem than if I just rode around, getting caught and dropped by each group that passes me. Want to meet at the car?"

The 5's caught me at about the time I put the phone away so I let them stream past me and descended behind them. With about a half mile to go to the cars I decided to make one more effort. I rode around the field, slowly pulled past them, and slowly got myself a little gap. I was simply working as hard as I could to get to the parking lot. When I saw it I pulled over.

And heard some swearing as the field realized they were chasing a racer who wasn't part of their race. The different colored number and different number series should have given them a hint but I figure they'll be more attentive next time.

We met at the car, packed up, and left.

And although we never got on the tandem, we decided we'd do so tomorrow. And so I put a little grass seed down, watered the same, watered the plants in the house, hung out with the cats (well mainly with Tiger), and postponed my normal post-Prospect nap. We're going to a BBQ later so that'll be a nice, relaxing little shindig. And that'll be our day.

I decided I need to ride in the mornings. I should be able to get up with the SO, get on the bike to go outside, and do an hour to two hours each day. If I go outside it's much harder to climb off the bike and just watch the bike race DVD instead of riding the bike (on the trainer) and watching it. This may salvage some potential in the race rich May-June junction - and improve my morale as well.

That's my regrouping analysis.

Hopefully it also gets rid of the Belly.

We'll see.


Anonymous said...

You handled a crappy race with a high cool factor. And your finish beat mine today: I stupidly let a move get away, couldn't catch the three lead riders, then got taken out in a crash by a kid who tried to pass me -- just PAST the finish line. Took 5th in one of my "A" races -- the first one of '07 that I was determined to win.
I love your blog. Stumbled across it last night and now have it bookmarked.


Jim in Cleveland

Aki said...

thx for the nice feedback. And yes, I have to agree, finishing upright with all the stuff on the bike still working beats crashing. Enjoy the blog,

Anonymous said...

ROTFL!!! Funny post - and it sounds like your SO is super supportive. You have a great race/life balance - Belly or no Belly!