Monday, February 08, 2010

California - Flight Home

Today I go back home. This is a good time to sleep, think about what I got done while I was out west, and, at some level, what I could have gotten done.

The biggest accomplishment was the successful break-in of the Tsunami frame. Nothing like assembling a bike, riding it twice on the trainer, and then flying it out to do the toughest set of test rides possible. Two six-ish hour rides with 30 minute switchback-filled descents, 2 hour climbs, and lots of bumpy, sandy, and rocky roads between. A few shots up a steep climb requiring grinding out the bottom gear. A four hour day filled with all sorts of jumps and other efforts. And finally, the coup d'etat, an actual crit. Not just any crit, a new one, against totally unknown racers, in a totally unknown environment.

Through it all I ran into a few teething pains, mainly ones I attribute to the nut holding the seat down (i.e. me). But in general the frame turned out fantastic. The cumulative fatigue worked against me in the crit, but I think that once I recover from the hard week and change of training, I'll be good again.

Another huge test involved the team kit. I could wear the shorts fine for those six-ish hour rides (which means the shorts were good on all the shorter rides too). The jerseys worked fine. The vest, a bit baggy perhaps, but I ordered a size large, not a medium. Overall the kit worked well, fit well, and nothing blew apart spontaneously.

Finally, I got to do two helmet cam recordings. I have yet to edit them into anything presentable, but I got the recording routine down pretty well. I can think of one or two more improvements, but things went much smoother than before. I got the whole cam procedure down to a few minutes, with a pretty predictable and checkable way of getting the cam to turn on and off.

I suppose the ultimate upgrade will be to get a VHoldr, but that's not in the budget just yet. Two VHoldrs would be better, one each for helmet and bike, or even three, helmet + forward bike + rear bike. But that's all fantasy for now.

Unfortunately I couldn't test some new stuff because I haven't gotten them yet. I'm getting a new helmet to replace the one that saved my noggin in August, and I have yet to receive it. I'm also doing some major overhauling of the tires and wheels I use, and that, too, has yet to happen.

Of course there's the training. I found it difficult to work really hard on the hard days, even with good recovery time. I attribute part of it to lack of a replenishing diet (I was focused initially on calories) and part of it to inadequate amounts of said recovery time.

In the past I'd push through some insane fatigue, get sick, and lose lots of training days. This year I came with a plan. This included super-warm wool socks (knit lovingly by the missus) for walking around in the house; two hoodies for wearing while I sleep, with the hoodies up; and sleeping dressed as warm as possible. I suppose it helped that no one was sick here to begin with, but I managed to go the whole week without having to spend any time in bed.

I did miss a few things.

First, as I just mentioned, I never really pushed myself in training. In the past I wouldn't have had a way to express this, but with the powermeter I do. Specifically I lacked one minute efforts. I worked consciously on my jump every now and then, and I did a bunch of longer intervals. I joke my Palomars are 1x2s, i.e. one effort of two hours, not one of two seconds, and each Palomar requires 2x20 to get there and back.

Conspicuous in their absence? The sharp 1-3 minute efforts. I never worked on them because I was either going easy or going steady for a while. So I missed those efforts, efforts I made when I was less "careful" about my training, when I'd just go and try and beat checkpoint times (like 1.5 hours out to a certain intersection).

I also missed feeling like I was on fire. I never had a "good" day, where my legs felt awesome. I figure a big part of this is inadequate diet, as mentioned before, because of my initial focus on calories. Sometimes you gotta eat what you gotta eat.

But the other reason is that I didn't have to go as hard to go fast. I took huge chunks of time off my Palomar trip, and I wasn't necessarily going hard. The lighter weight allowed me to work at a lower rate on climbs yet still climb faster. I got lazy and let my effort level drop since my speed increased regardless. I'll need to do more mindless rides next time around.

Finally, if I race again while I'm out here, I'll warm up a lot more. My legs barely got moving in the race. My average wattage was only 187 watts, and it barely broke 250 in normalized power. I hit higher average wattages on my long rides, and during a few of those rides I held a much higher normalized power. I admit that I regularly hit 900-1100 watts during the race, but never felt like I was really drilling it. I would have raced better had I done a ride, say, at the beginning of the day, before I left for the race.

But overall I consider the trip a big success. No sickness for one. Decent riding amount, although nothing like the 3-5 hours a day I envisioned. And a successful adaptation to the new bike.

I got to work on other things too, and hopefully I see some return on efforts there.

This morning I was still zipping up bags when the shuttle came, but I managed to get out of the house okay. I don't think I forgot anything, but each year I think that, and each year I get a little care package from California proving that I was wrong. I hope that this year I managed to get things together a bit better.

Now to wait for the plane, and hope that my transfer, in Baltimore, isn't delayed by snow or lost baggage. One long flight back, one short one, a short drive, and then I'll be...


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