Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Training - Misty Ride

You ever have one of those days where it seems that you're missing one thing from everything you start? It seemed like I was having one of them for the first half of the day. I managed to rearrange a few things but other than standard chores (dishes, laundry, brush the cats... the last one not a chore but something to distract me from them), I had to postpone doing a bunch of things I'd planned on doing.

This left me stranded in the middle of the afternoon. A dreary day, grey, cloudy, I figured it'd rain. But it never did, the roads looked dry, and I decided that, hey, I'll go for a ride.

One of the things I managed to get done was putting together my final set of swords (i.e. wheels). I'll have to post on that but suffice it to say that I won't be buying wheels anytime soon. I thought today would be a great day to test out the latest and last (for a while) set of swords.

Training swords, if you must know.

I got my bike ready to roll - it weighed a lot, even without two full bottles. How much? I don't know - the battery in my scale died - but I'm guessing it's north of 20 pounds. Good for training, not good for climbing.

I thought I'd be gone by the time the Missus got home, but she pulled up as I rolled down the driveway. We said hi, bye, and I rode off.

On the hill leaving the complex, my "feeling out" test on every ride I do from home, I knew I was in trouble. I scampered up that thing every time year, especially with the race wheels on. This time I got halfway up before I sagged down to the saddle. I struggled to turn the pedals over to the top.

I sighed at the top of the hill. It was going to be a long ride.

I did a short loop before heading over to the shop for the group ride. I dropped by the store to say hi - none of them had seen me on a bike (in bike clothes). They had just closed so I talked to or waved to everyone.

My legs felt pretty bad the whole time, and my stomach was cramping a bit. I don't know if maybe I ate something not-so-good (a distinct possibility since I ate food that I'd cooked last week). Those kind of "on the edge" meals tend to manifest themselves in me in the form of serious stomach cramps. The fact that I had stomach cramps for the next few hours kind of argues for that theory.

I felt that I'd be more of a "sitting in" rider this week, not an instigator. Cramps, flat legs, and a heavy bike. Not a good combo.

The other thing is that the forecast - 10% chance of precip - seemed to be almost as lucky as the lottery. I felt a gust of mist on the way to the shop, and threatening clouds started gathering to the north.

Of course we were riding north.

Sure enough, shortly after we started, we rode into a "mist storm". No real rain, no drops, but condensation everywhere. If this was a 10% chance of precip, I'd much rather have the 30% chance where it's actually sunny.

We got buzzed by a van - he swerved into the shoulder, laying on the horn the whole time. I was sitting third wheel - he probably cut in about 15-20 feet in front of the lead rider. We happened to be single file, but we'd just gapped the other five riders, so I can't speak for them.

Whatever, this distracted me a bit - I rode to the gas station where the van pulled in and helmet cammed his plate. The driver actually walked out and asked if I was getting his plate.

"You getting the plate number?"
"Good. It'll help."

Or something to that effect.

I don't think he knew he was on camera. Ends up that one of the riders has two brothers who are law enforcement officers in the area. I'll have to forward that info to him.

That rider actually followed me to the gas station, I think to make sure nothing happened. He also didn't realize I had a helmet cam on, but when I told him I did, and that the van driver was on it, he laughed out loud.

"He just confirmed it. That's kind of funny."

We chased down the group (they were dwaddling, but we spent a couple minutes riding through some grass to get to the gas station and back). We chatted a bit (we weren't chasing that hard) and he asked me about the Bethel jersey I had on. The yellow one, if you must know - I figured it'd be one of the last days this summer I'll be able to wear it, since it was in the mid 50s. And it's brighter than the black/grey/orange of the standard team kit. I said I earned it, without really expanding beyond that, other than confirming that it was the Bethel Series in Connecticut.

So he says that he raced there in the fall a long time ago. Won his race actually, a beginner one.

I thought for a moment. It had to be the race sponsored by the previous owners of Bethel Cycle. The promoters called it the Industrial Strength Crit (because it was in an industrial park, a novelty at the time).

"The Industrial Strength Crit?" I asked.
"Yeah, I think that's what it was."

Ends up he's also raced at the Rent, Plainville, and a couple other places. But he stopped a while back, although he admitted that he's thinking of getting back into it.

Anyway, by the time we talked about all that stuff we caught the group, and things went back to normal. You know, mist, stomach cramps, legs not responding, and a heavy bike.

I think we all had a collective day off - our pace seemed pretty low, and we were all kind of struggling. The ride leader made a good call and decided that we wouldn't go up the long climb. This would cut things short a bit.

I have to admit that I didn't mind the mist. The roads were wet, yes, but the brakes worked fine, we didn't have any slippery spots, and I didn't get soaked. So if I have to ride in rain, I'd ride in a misty one.

On the way back we got into a decent rotation, encouraged by that initial rider that followed me to the gas station (Gas Station Chaperone, or GSC). I realized that the swords on the bike really wanted to go - they felt optimal for these kinds of fast, steady conditions - but I didn't want to break up the rhythm.

Instead, I let myself get gapped in the last couple miles, then rode on my own, bridging back up. I focused on being low, aero, efficient - an upcoming race demands that, and in general I need to work on my form. Then I'd do it again - drop back, ride forward. Rinse, repeat. We finished up the ride - it'd been over 2 hours since I'd left the house.

GSC, myself, and a couple others headed south together, and it ended up GSC and myself after the other two split off. At the point where I turn off the main route, GSC asked if I lived in the complex right there.


"Oh," he said. "I helped build that place. I was a foreman, did a lot of the framing there."

We stopped, chatted a bit. Ends up he worked for the folks that made the whole development. A nice company, treated their employees well, but went belly up.

The mosquitoes started biting and we had to cut our talk short. But when I finally rolled into the house it was nigh near 9 o'clock.

And I felt like I'd just gotten on the bike.

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