Friday, February 20, 2009

Training - New Kit Ride

So two days ago, among other happenings, I got a package in the mail, courtesy JJ, one of my teammates. He sent me my team kit order for this year. Since I had already ridden that day I couldn't don the kit, but I decided that I'd probably use it the next day.

Unusually, I placed a conservative kit order. I suppose it has to do with my severe downturn in paygrade, as well as the fact that I have about 10 or 12 outfits from my previous (self-sponsored) team. That doesn't count all my other team kits and miscellaneous generic gear. Although much of that stuff has been relegated to mainly trainer use, I couldn't justify getting a lot of new kit stuff.

I did get a pair of shorts and a jersey (some new sponsors apparently), so now I'll have three of each. Since I already had knickers and a long sleeve jersey, I skipped those. To fill some of the "I don't have them" holes, I ordered a winter jacket, a wind vest, short finger gloves, and shoe covers. I've never had team gloves or shoe covers so that was cool.

Yesterday I dressed up for what ended up being a recovery ride. I wore all new clothes except my socks and shoes. New shorts, new jersey, new gloves, and new vest. The latter I stuffed in my pocket for the inevitable chill that permeates the SoCal late afternoons.

(I decided wearing the shoe covers would be over the top - I'd have to feel great to wear them, and I don't, so I didn't.)

I started off with some company (Julie, taking a short break from work). First order of business on the ride? Fix two flats that our bike suffered while sitting in the garage overnight. My rear tire was flat, ditto hers. I found a nice cut in her tube (and adjusted the rear rim strip to cover a suspected eyelet edge), and a thorn in my tire. I simply installed a new Michelin Krylion, my favorite training tire. I swapped my front tire too, because I wanted to put the Michelins on my wheels.

So three tire changes later we got going.

On one of the first rises, a 300 or 400 meter hill, she set such a ferocious pace that I capped the hill trailing her by 10 meters. When I finally caught my breath, I asked her if she remembered asking me if I was "being kind" when I rode with her last year (or maybe it was the year before). At that time we'd ridden a few times and I climbed side by side with her, but on a later ride I took off for some reason. That's when she asked that question.

She looked at me and nodded.

"Well, I wasn't being kind back there."

She laughed.

Shortly afterwards a truck slowly passed us, going maybe 35 or 40 mph. I looked at it longingly. Then another truck drove by. I couldn't resist. I looked at Julie and told her that I really needed to go after this truck. She smiled in understanding.

I jumped hard, shifted, jumped again, and started pedaling a bit too fast for my comfort. The truck signaled right so I zigged left and tried to catch the second truck, but he was too far away. Ends up I did a much bigger jump than yesterday (150w higher). I guess fresh legs count for something.

I sprinted vainly for a while but decided that going too far out would be not nice to Julie. I coasted and slowed, and lo and behold, she came flying past me - she must have been doing a similar effort. I sprinted to catch up to her.

She turned around just before I got to the coast, and I did the same route I've been doing recently. Relatively flat, wide shoulders, beaches and surf on one side, snow capped mountains way off on the other side.

I rolled onto the PCH, noticing a rider about 100 meters behind me as I did so. He quickly caught up to me, helped by the fact that I was doing a trackstand at a red light. I heard him say something to me as he pulled up.

"Well, I think I'm going to stop because you're stopped."

I looked and smiled. Then I almost fell over.

We started riding, Steve and I, and chatting. He was going pretty hard (at least for me he was) and we both were extremely conscious of not blocking traffic, not riding too close to pedestrians, etc. I felt very relaxed riding with him because, if anything, he rode more "by the book" than I did.

Okay, except for stop signs. But he'd wait for me after he coasted through a couple (and I tried to do a complete stop).

After the standard questions you ask when you start riding with a stranger ("Where are you going? How far up? Did you just get on the bike today or have you been riding for a while?") he looked at me and asked if I rode track.

Well now. He must have noticed my crit-bend bars. Or my extremely powerful looking quads (ha!). Julie politely mentioned the trackstand may have been a tip off. Or...

"Well, I asked because, you know, you look like you, well, like you're carrying a bit of weight for climbing."

Then he realized how that sounded and started backpedaling.

"I mean I'm not calling you fat, you're just, well, built like a, um, track racer."

I decided not to tell him that "I'm dense", like I tell the nurse at my doctor's office.

I laughed it off. Ends up his son is a Cat 1 in Colorado (and a former teammate of one Tom Peterson), so I look like a Cat 5 to him. Or a track racer, if you want to be polite about it. Whatever. He pretty much cooked my legs just cruising along, occasionally reminding me that, "Whenever you want to take off just go."

Remember in California that if you pass someone, you have to really pass them. The roads around here go on forever. You've got to maintain that higher pace for 10-15-20 minutes minumum, and it's really sort of embarrassing to get caught 30 or 40 minutes after you passed someone and they fly by you like you're standing still.

So I declined each of his invitations. Because I wouldn't be able to maintain a faster pace for more than, oh, about a minute.

I realized I had to turn around to make it home before it got really cold, so bade my latest training companion farewell.

Then I hit that stupid wind.

Why don't I ever head north when I start? Then I could ride back with the wind. Or I could head inland, where the wind isn't so ferocious.

But Bethel is windy. So wind is good. I stopped, put on my brand new wind vest, and got going, in the drops, time trialing.

In my 39x15.

After a while, like 3 minutes later, I blew up. It would be a long drag home. I tried to remember what it was like when I rode in Belgium, when I drilled it every time we hit some wind just because I could. I tried to stay on top of the pedals, tried to apply power through the full pedal stroke consistently.

Then my calves would start twinging, my hamstrings, even my back. And I'd ease up again.

I fought this way for the next 45 minutes or so, trying to convince my body it's fun to go hard in wind. And just when I was about to sit up for real, I saw three riders in the distance. Since I hadn't seen them before, this meant I was catching them. And since I had been going the same pace (200-240 watts) for the last 20 or 30 minutes, I knew I could maintain it until I turned inland. So I dug and kept going.

Ends up the three riders happened to be passing one another, but I didn't realize that until I'd passed the first one and then the second one. The third rider looked pretty powerful, but he sat up once he'd gapped the second rider. Although my legs weren't happy about it, I pulled up even with him.

I realized I was half wheeling him so I eased, and we settled into a "talking is a bit difficult" pace, side by side. He looked like a stocky kind of guy, like me, but more fit. We commiserated about the wind but otherwise didn't talk too much. I mentally sighed a breath of relief when my turn off came, and started up the "exit ramp" turn off. Incredibly I upped my pace - climbing feels much better with the longer cranks, and although I felt tapped riding along just a moment before, suddenly I found some energy from somewhere. I actually accelerated.

Then I turned onto the road that'd bring me back home. And mentally, physically, I sat up. I went easy all the way back home.

I'm finally starting to feel a little more human on the bike but my legs are loading up right away. The missus and I talked a bit tonight, a nice chat, and I realized as I was talking to her that I haven't been eating as much as I do at home. Now maybe that's good for weight control, but it's not good for fueling up for intense rides. I decided I'd try and eat a little more.

Oh, and not stay up until 2 AM like yesterday.

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