Saturday, August 16, 2008

Training - Quarry Road Loop at Night v2.0

So today I checked the weather when I got home from work.

Okay, first I had dinner with the missus. She took the time to make a really nice, full course meal. So, after we had this really nice dinner (faux BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, and a great potato salad, along with about 20 ounces of cool, refreshing water), I checked the weather.

This is what I saw on the computer:

Note the "isolated t-storms", 30% chance of rain, 72 degrees.

In this day of virtual weather checking I rarely look outside to see what it's actually like. But this pessimistic forecast didn't jibe with the experience I had walking from the car to the apartment about an hour before. So I trotted down the stairs, looked outside, and then bounded back up the stairs.

Grabbed camera. Took picture of screen. A "screen shot" if you will, and I took that picture above.

Then I went back downstairs, stuck my head out the door, and took this shot:

Looking sort of east. Note the sun is shining on the trees.

I wasn't sure if this illustrated the weather accurately so I turned about 90 degrees and took this shot:

90 degrees to the west. Note I'm sort of looking into the sun.

Isn't that much better than the virtual forecast?

I decided that shorts and a jersey would be enough, and that I wouldn't have to bring my phone in a zip lock bag.

Earlier today it was dark grey, rained a bit, and did what it's been doing for the past few weeks - grumble, rain, spit, flash, and generally act really grumpy, with some surprisingly nice interludes here and there.

I'd transferred all the lights to the Giant but I ended up doing my favorite "taking it easy" loop, the Quarry Road loop. Because I'm really impressed with the ice-cold blue of LED lights, I took off the cyclometer and stuck my 2xAA LED headlight on. My light tally went to four sets with the LED headlight, the NiteRider headlight, the Down Low Glow blue tubes, and the Vistalite tail light. I expected to be in the dark at the end of the ride so the more lights the better.

In contrast to my generally disastrous ride the other night, I took some time to set up the bike properly. First off my seat height was more appropriate for the 175 mm cranks. Second I put more than 105/110 psi in the tires - I bumped them up to 115/120psi. Third I adjusted the mysteriously loose headset. And finally I remounted the two big batteries so they wouldn't sway into my legs when I rode.

Properly adjusted and dressed, I left for my ride, giving the missus a good luck kiss (for me or for her, I'm not sure, but I tend to think it's for me).

I rolled out and immediately had to pee. Luckily Simsbury is part of the Farmington Valley Greenway thing, and one of the things it has are portapotties (!). I turned off the main road, rolled down this bumpy dirt driveway thing, and surprised a family walking along the paved trail. The portapotty seemed practically new - it smelled like spearmint and the plastic inside was pristine. I used the standing part of it (probably the first time it was used) and left, pressure relieved.

My little delay made me reset my "for reference sake" time and I rolled on to the start of my loop.

I won't bore you with too many details but I had to stop at a lot of lights that normally treat me nicely, but in exchange I got to do my two right turns at full speed.

The long 175 mm cranks allowed me to sustain much harder efforts over the little rises but without a power meter I have no point of reference. I never really blew, I rolled over the more difficult bits in a 53x21, and I came up to the apartment expecting to see a 51 minute time. I checked my watch.

52 minutes.

Okay, I admit it. I was expecting a sub-50 minute time. And to be 2 minutes slower, that was a bit disappointing.

I sat up, soft pedaled a bit, and tried to think of where I went 2+ minutes slower than I thought I was going. Without a cyclometer or heart rate monitor it was sort of a moot point, but there were a lot of mitigating factors. I ate a huge meal right before I got on the bike, I hadn't ridden for the last two days, I was on box section 32 spoke wheels, steel bead tires, yada yada yada.

Whatever. I shouldn't be going too fast.

I decided to do a half loop instead of a second full loop. I started twinging right away and thanked my guardian angel for letting me remember to lower the saddle a bit (else I'd probably have cramped for real). I did my "big gear, drop my heel" cramp prevention pedaling technique, something the 175 cranks help pull off, the longer lever slowing my cadence down a good 10-20 revs per minute.

This meant some steady work on the false flats, focusing on not cramping. It had gotten quite dark too - sunset was one minute after I started the second loop, i.e. 7:49 PM - so I had to start wiggling my bike and do other inefficient things to attract more attention so as not to worry the missus with near miss stories.

All this mental focus took me away from the "half a loop" thought process so before I realized it I was out at the far end of full loop.


At least I wasn't cramping.

The traffic lights got me on this loop too, and there were no kind trucks or big vehicles to pull me along. I approached the apartment and checked my watch.

49 minutes.

I checked it again, swerving around as I tried to light my watch up with my way too bright NiteRider.

49 minutes.


Okay. I should make a note of this. Don't ride for two days. Stuff yourself right before the ride, drinking so much water you almost slosh. Pee at the start of the ride, preferably in a portapotty. Use a 26+ pound bike with non-aero wheels, steel bead tires, and two full bottles that you never touch.

And use 175 cranks.

Is that the secret?

I'm going to do some experimenting.

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