Monday, June 14, 2010

Training - June 14, 2010 - Weaknesses Percolating

Monday, after a couple days of racing, I rushed home from work to get my bike and gear for the Monday night group ride from Granby Bikes. Although a no-dropper kind of ride, it's evolved into a "go hard in sections, wait, repeat" kind of ride. This works for me because I can bury myself if I want, recover, and do it again.

Except for the most interesting descents (i.e. unknown and tipped to be fun by a ride leader) and when I want to string out the group for safety's sake, I tend to follow wheels. This means allowing gaps to open between different groups, and, when the moment feels right, bridging across from one group to another.

So, although I may make some really hard efforts, I try and do it while staying within the confines of the group.

With two races in the previous two days, I hoped to make some efforts on this ride, make it three good days in a row. Combined with a Rent race Tuesday, and maybe a Bethel on Wednesday, I could have my own five day, four crit mini stage race.

I got to the ride barely on time, and left behind stuff like the helmet cam (still wet inside from the wet Saturday Nutmeg State Games race), my mini-pump (forgot), saddle bag (ditto), every light I own (ditto), even fluids.

The latter I remedied by grabbing a bottled water from the cooler in the car (I haven't unpacked the car since Saturday, so it had all the stuff in it I brought to Nutmeg). It wasn't cold but it was water, and I stuck it in my jersey pocket. That, along with a bit of left over Powerade Zero in the single bottle on the bike and I'd be okay.

Incredibly I was out of team kits, at least the jerseys, so I wore the bright yellow Leader's Jersey (and shoe covers). Long sleeve, just as the sun started beating down, but I've been feeling a bit cold in general (lack of fuel?), and I knew it'd be cooler at the end of the ride.

We started at a reasonable pace on the Rails To Trails path so I used the opportunity to dump all the water into the one bottle. This left me with diluted Powerade Zero, which, I have to admit, tasted pretty bad.

I also had a Hammer gel around that time, not wanting to bonk (and me feeling cold meant my body was running out of fuel).

The route took us into Massachusetts, to Granville, and up a couple climbs. We'd roll back on fast, slightly descending roads. I hoped to use the bumpy terrain at the beginning to do a few bridge efforts, planned on going hard on the climbs, and then, to finish off the ride, do some speedwork on the way back.

I have to admit that although most of the riders don't race, they are pretty freakin' strong. So, yeah, for the first half of the ride, I got in a bridge effort or two. I also did some aero tuck experiments with the tall wheels (Jet 6 - 9) - they seem to descend at sub-sonic speeds okay (under 45 mph). I have a feeling that for really fast descents I'd want to use a non-aero front wheel.

When we hit a long-ish climb in MA, I found myself at the front, leading the core group of faster riders. I realized that my legs weren't all there, and as the climb continued, the riders, in ones and bunches, all rolled by me.

It wasn't like I was going that easy - I was turning over about 210 watts average. Okay, that's what pros do when they bonk, but for me, that's just below threshold. These other guys, these non-racers, they were simply going harder than that.

Harder than I could go.

I did try a Stephen Roche Bridge, when he bridged a solid minute gap in about 1k of a climb in the Tour, but my effort, with no Tour at stake, ended after 50 seconds of 340+ watt pedaling; I managed to catch just one rider.

With no one else in sight, I eased. The guy I passed, Mike, caught and passed me, and he kind of grinned.

"What was that all about?" he asked.
"I was trying to bridge."
"It's a long hill."
"Yeah, I know," I replied glumly.

Mike rode away from me, leaving me to plod along on my own.

I thought of the hints of thought I had about doing road races, of seeing how I stacked up on the hills. I realized that this is about as hard as I can go on this hill, today, in a semi-fatigued state.

It wasn't fast.

Entering a race with a hill in it would simply be an exercise in futility, unless I could do some work for the team before the hills started. I think I'd be more use in the feed zone, frankly.

I managed to drag myself to the top, at the last regroupment point, and found, to my dismay, that most of the group had made it there already.

Mentally I definitely scratched doing road races.

We started back to the shop, the slightly descending road fast and more to my liking. I hung back, getting a feel for the group's desire for speed. Although they were obviously better than me on the hills, I still had some speed left in my legs (helped by the by-far-the-tallest wheels on the ride).

I saw a gap open in front of me, grow, and suddenly it resembled a chasm.

I waited for a bit for the gap to shrink, but it kept opening. I had to bridge - simply "chasing" across wasn't going to be possible, not with my legs twanging, threatening to cramp. I committed and made yet another effort.

I bridged up, kinda sorta barely, and recovered while the riders up front took their turns pulling. On my pulls I pulled off pretty quickly, my legs twinging a bit.

Pacelines get interesting because they reveal each individual rider's strengths (or weaknesses). Some guys were pulling a bit fast; others a bit slow. Downhills were the trickiest - the lead rider has to pull pretty fast. If you hear coasting or braking, you're going too slow.

Towards the end of the route I let myself percolate to the front, and, on the last long stretch of road, I buried myself in a leadout type effort. I blew myself up, twinging pretty badly, everyone passing me on the short rise at the end of the straight, but it felt good to go fast, to put pressure on my legs.

Everyone chatted a bit at the end of the ride; I felt zonked though, and, a bit spaced out, left the lot before I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

Before I left, though, I asked if the guys would be coming out to the Rent next Tuesday. They replied in the affirmative so that ought to be fun.

Next up: race at the Rent, Day 4 of my mini stage race.


Anonymous said...

"Mentally I definitely scratched doing road races." -- I hope you reconsider. Your exploits on the road would be quite an entertaining blog post to read!

Aki said...

I think that crawling alone on a marshaled course wouldn't be very interesting. The "when will I get dropped" game only gets played once in a race :)

Maybe I'll do one. I dunno.

WPI Cycling said...

If you want to get it out of your system, Purgatory Road Race is this Saturday; late 1:30PM start not too far from you in CT: should be a great race, expecting ~350 riders. Looking at the course, you've got a long, shallow descent, a flat, and one (1) climb in the 10.15 mile circut. Info here:
[/shameless plug]

Aki said...

Usually I don't like posts that plug something, but if it's a bike race and you put "shameless plug" and all that... well, it's hard to resist :) Plus your team was at Bethel and seemed like a good group of people.

That said, I work Saturdays and used my one chit to go to Nutmeg. Your description seems a lot more appealing than some of the other road races though.