Thursday, June 17, 2010

Training - Sprints, I Think

Wednesday I spent the day cooped up in the house. The bike stayed in the car, the gear bag, everything. I felt tired and I needed a bit of recuperation. This meant eating a bit, drinking a lot, and doing stuff around the house.

One thing I did do was check the weather for the weekend. Hot, humid, and... no thundershowers forecast for Sunday.

So I registered for Harlem. It should be a relatively insane crit, but, if Somerville was any gauge, I should be okay. The straights aren't quite so long but the last time I did the race at Harlem I managed to surf the front of the field pretty well.

This time I hope to have visual evidence of it.

On the way to work I've noticed one of those radar trailers, one that broadcasts your speed. I think they're great for a number of reasons. First, people realize, "Oh, hey, I'm going 50 in a 35!" It's interesting to see the tailgaters and speeders suddenly back off or slow down.

And, for me, when I ride, those things are sprint magnets, encouraging me to go hammering past them, trying to get a high speed readout. In fact, on the first ride with SOC on his "radical fit adjustment", I saw one of those and couldn't resist slipping it up a few gears and sprinting past the trailer. A somewhat surprised SOC followed, probably not doing himself any favors on his first ride of a very different fitting bike.

At Stirling, NJ, at the Freedom Tour (a crit), many year ago, they had one of those set up. I sprinted at it on one of the first laps of the race, trying to get a nice, high speed. I got it (it was 39 or 41 mph); in fact, it was a couple mph higher than the final sprint. But in that sprint I was... nowhere. Exploded, blown, I dropped out of contention before the last turn.

But when a radar trailer sits next to the road, with a slight downgrade that ends just before it... well, I called the Missus and told her I wanted to do some sprints past that thing.

I got home, got my bike ready, in stripped form (no bottles, no bag, no lights, no nothing, and race wheels), and rolled off. Tires humming, legs feeling a bit swollen from rest, I felt like I'd have some legs.

The wind seemed to cooperate, at least until it reversed direction ferociously just before I passed the trailer from the other side.

In other words I'd be dealing with a massive headwind when I went by the trailer.

Slightly discouraged, hoping I was wrong, I rolled up the road a bit, turned around, and headed back. I sprinted at the trailer, slamming into that aerodynamic wall just way too soon. No chasing the pedals around, no shifting and discovering I already had the chain down to the 11, none of that. I sprinted, hit the proverbial wall, and went past the trailer.

As if to add insult to my sprint, the trailer remained blank, mute, unknowing. I must have resembled a scared deer, not a guy on a metal bike, so I didn't register at all.

(Later, at slower speeds, I registered, so maybe I was leaning too far forward or something. I dunno.)

Discouraged, I decided to go Sprint Hunting, where I troll up and down busy roads, looking for kind vehicles. The best are big, heavy things, slow accelerating, things like trucks and such.

I used to do with with relative success in the southwestern part of the state, especially on Summer Street in Stamford. But up here, with mainly cows and tobacco fields for company, I find it harder to find "customers".

One promising truck pulled up past me and promptly had to stop for a light. But, unfortunately for me, he turned off at the next driveway - delivering for Starbucks.

Hey, I said we were in cow country. It doesn't mean we're uncivilized.

(I have to admit that I've been in that Starbucks once, and I don't remember anything about it. I did use a Starbucks gift card a friend gave me for my birthday.)

Disappointed, I rode on, trolling 10/202 for potentials.

My legs felt sort of unhappy, maybe a bit tight, definitely lacking a bit of zip. I felt rough pedaling, less comfortable than normal; although I worked through it I never really got rid of that less-than-optimal feeling.

I startled myself when my attention wandered and I almost hit a small, deep pothole.

Finally, with legs getting weary and not getting any better, I headed back home.

I had to climb my Poggio, the last climb before the short drop to the base of our driveway. I rolled into it in the big ring, maybe a 17 in back, and started churning the pedals.

When a car drove by waaay to the right of the lane, I got out of the saddle to make myself wider. Cars suddenly passed me about 3-4 feet away, not a foot.

Problem was that I had to keep going out of the saddle. I started getting fatigued, but the lighter bike felt good, especially the lighter wheels. I love the way the wheels feel when I'm standing, wheels swooshing back and forth - it means speed to me, or at least "going hard".

I hammered my way all the way up to the stop sign.

A brief pause and then an effort to accelerate. The left into the descent. A hard switchback to the right. And a hard right into the very steep driveway. I had to pedal only one pedal stroke - I decided that one day I'll coast up it so fast I won't have to pedal at all.

I walked into the house, a bit disappointed in the ride. I didn't feel great when I started, and I didn't feel better as the ride went on. Mister SRM told the tale - my max sprint was that first one, 1474 watts, 36.5 mph, into that ferocious, morale-sapping headwind. I don't think I broke 1200 in any other effort.

I was still sweating ten minutes later - that meant I was at least somewhat hydrated. And although it wasn't a great ride per se, it wasn't a bad one.

Harlem, then. We'll see how it goes Sunday.

1 comment:

magboo said...

Man - still sounds like a good workout. Wish I could hit 1400 watts in the sprint! - Alex