Sunday, November 08, 2009

Training - First Ride Outside At Home

I have to put a lot of qualifications on the title because I've been riding, even if it may not seem like it.

First off, I started riding just before Interbike 2009, getting in about an hour or so on the trainer. Mind you, I was in some decent amount of pain (injury pain, not "I'm not fit" pain). I could feel all sorts of knots and lumps and stuff inside my right hip that I've never felt before.

The pain from the broken bone actually helped me a bit, forcing me to tilt my pelvis forward a touch to unweight the fracture. This got me lower and longer on the bike, something I've been missing and, frankly, unwilling to figure out exactly what I need to do to get back to that form. It's the position I had in the early-mid 90s, when I was at my best, so it was a nice side-effect to the pain.

Then, technically, I rode outside at Interbike, going for an hour-plus cruise with Kevin. I didn't realize it then, and Kevin was too nice to say otherwise, but we were crawling. I figure we were going 14-15 mph when I was going "hard", and maybe 8-12 over some of of the bridge overpasses. I did get going on one tailwind, slight downhill section, but I probably hit 28 or so tops.

Kevin, in case you didn't realize, is incredibly patient. He made it seem like I was flying the whole time.

After Interbike my pelvis made progress in noticeable weekly leaps. I started doing some trainer rides, suffering from "I'm not fit". I struggled to maintain 120-140 watts for an hour, and my heartrate seemed to soar whenever I approached 200 watts.

I contemplated riding outside, but I knew that to get out of our little development, I had to do a steady 400-600 watts to get up this pain-in-the-butt hill. I realized that, under duress, I struggled to hit 300 watts on the trainer. If I couldn't comfortably maintain 400 watts up that hill, I'd fall over.

Therefore I stayed indoors.

A couple weeks ago I finally could sustain brief, minute or so efforts at 250-270 watts. Riding outside became more of a reality. But it was cold and my pelvis still protested whenever I weighted just my right leg.

Last week I finally felt up to doing a 20 minute test. I worked admirably hard (I thought so anyway) and did a nice effort of 243 watts.

This, incidentally, beat my first true, red-in-the-face, 20 minute max effort of 235-238 watts, one on a very hard ride with SOC, the other a 20 minute test I did a few days later.

Therefore, I can conclude at least one thing:

I'm getting better at taking 20 minute FTP tests.

Because, frankly, I'm not that strong. I can't jump around at 1000-1100 watts, and I can't even start to think about reaching for the elusive 1500 watt line.

So my 20 minute FTP test simply tells me I'm getting better at taking the test. It's like SATs - I didn't get smarter or anything when I practiced taking the test, I just got better at the testing itself.

Anyway, regardless of my FTP rant, today I finally ventured outside.

I have to explain that for all my flahute-talk, for all those hardcore "sideways rain in hurricane like winds" rides, I'm a wimpy rider at heart. I can do all those rides but I prefer to watch a DVD and sit on the trainer. It takes me about a minute to get ready from sedentary to "ready to ride", and another minute to reverse the process.

When I'm soaked to the bone, jacket, tights, booties, gloves, jersey, hat, all dripping wet, all verboten from our cream colored rug, it takes me a few uncomfortable minutes undressing in our unheated garage, then padding over to the shower as quickly as possible.

Today I wanted to get some more mulch for our yard. And when I started loading it in the van, I realized that I had to strip down to a t-shirt to feel reasonably comfortable.

And I was still pouring sweat.

It was freakin' warm outside.

I got home and mentioned to the missus that I wanted to ride. And, being the missus, she told me that she thought riding would be better than doing the mulch (it was already unloaded at the various "needs-mulch" places).

So I started looking for my gear. It took a while because I haven't packed these things, in detail, since mid August. I finally found my gear back, neatly tucked away in a closet in the basement. I loaded up like a soldier prepping for battle, donning my Connecticut Coast Cycle gear for probably the last time. I made sure I grabbed everything - bib knickers, short sleeve jersey, long sleeve jersey, wind vest, and, the coup d'etat, the bright blue shoe covers.

I should point out that for the first time since August 11, I managed to stand on my right leg, and just my right leg, without holding on to anything for support. Yay!

Anyway, appropriately outfitted, I rolled on outside.

Things seemed foreign. The brakes felt odd. The front end wiggly, with no wheel stand holding it steady. I did some mini slalom moves to get a feel for the front end, and realized the rear tire, slick from the trainer, was actually squeaking against the pavement.

By the time I climbed the pain-in-the-butt hill to get to the roads, the squeaking was gone, my heartrate was up around 158, and things were normal.

I did my standard Quarry Road loop, never really made any big efforts, rolled on one hill, did a little jump on another (road construction eliminated the shoulder so I just kept pace with the car in front of me).

Being on the road, without pain to distract me, let me think of a lot of things.

I remembered how to do a track stand, both standing and sitting. That was comforting.

I realized I miss diving into turns. I miss sitting on wheels.

Specifically, I miss jumping out from behind wheels.

I miss blasting down a descent (the Quarry loop has no real descents). I miss accelerating out of the saddle, in the drops, jumping up to cruising speed.

I miss a lot of things about racing, for sure. But training...

My back was a bit tight, even with my slightly different posture on the saddle. My neck felt fragile - when I did a little jump, I got that crick in the neck thing. I felt pretty weak, no real torque in my jump, no smashing the pedals.

But it felt good to be out there. I wasn't the only one - I must have ridden past 20 riders in an hour, most of them dressed lighter than me.

My legs never betrayed me, not a hint of cramp or a twinge of pain. My shoulder, too, felt okay, even when I had to sit up and struggle with my vest, or when I stuffed some gear in my jersey pockets.

It felt good to get out on the bike. Refreshing.



I'm looking forward to my two, hopefully three "training camps" this winter. And, of course, to the 2010 season.

Now I have to go. I have a lot of mulch calling my name.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nice work Aki! Keep it up!