Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Training - Cape Cod, The Long Ride

We'd talked about doing a long ride today, but I never thought we'd actually go through with it, not to the extend that we did. I tend to suffer from heavy legs when thinking about an early start to a long ride. But with SOC's impetus, my normal "ride lethargy" seemed to dissipate just a bit. After a 5:30 wake up call (my cell phone beeping), we set off on a planned 80 or so mile ride.

Since SOC does the navigating - the iPhone defaults him to "navigator" - I really had no idea where we'd be going. Okay, fine, we'd be heading compass east then north, up the forearm of the Cape, but other than that... I had no idea what would happen. We wanted to take the Rail Trail since the regular roads have virtually no shoulder. The Cape is like kind of like Europe (except the Cape developed without any thought for bikes) - pressed for space, with short sight lines, and extremely narrow roads.

Based on the dimensions of our local 1600 car per day road (based on a CT DOT report on traffic in my home town done earlier this year), I figure that most roads around here are 20-22 feet wide. It's more normal to have 28 foot roads, or something like that. Anyway, with shoulder only a few inches wide, we tried to stay on the Rail Trail network.

(In comparison the 14,000 car per day road near our house has shoulders that measure three to four feet in width, and it's similar to Route 6 out here in the Cape.)

The ride out was fast and uneventful. With a pretty good tailwind, a shaded Rail Trail (from the low sun), and virtually no traffic, we made good time for the first 30 or so miles. SOC did most of the pacing, holding a much more even pace than I ever would. I usually blow myself up going over hills, struggle to recover, and repeat ad nauseum. SOC never went too hard on the hills but he'd maintain his relentless metronomic pace on the flats.

Before I realized it, we'd gotten out to a lighthouse that he's blogged about, our (his) planned ultimate turn around point.

I think we'd covered about 40 miles, so this meant we'd be looking at an 80 mile ride. After a pause to take in the views (and rest the legs), we pow-wowed a bit. Both of us felt pretty good, our legs felt fine, so we decided to strike out towards Provincetown. It'd add at least 12 miles overall, bringing us precariously close to the century mark.

Now that we were out of the shaded Rail Trail, we started draining our bottles quickly. I thought of the older version of Pro Cycling Manager game where the riders have a blue bar that, to me, represents their hydration level. You recharge it by drinking a bottle.

Our blue bars were down to the bottom, and in Pro Cycling Manager, if you neglect the rider too long, he starts blinking in a desperate attempt to grab your attention.

I felt like I was getting to that point.

(On a side note, I realized that unless I was on vacation, I simply did not have time to play the game, so my 2007 season in that game froze in the early part of the season, shortly after I wrote the post on the game - I haven't played it since shortly after my post on the game.)

Anyway, with my rider icon screaming for help, we stopped at a small convenience store to replenish our stock of water and electrolytes. I skipped food because I had started the ride with two Balance bars and two Powerbars ("Energy"), and I figured those would get me through the ride.

I had to apologize to the girl manning the counter for my soggy money, but apparently it didn't phase her. I used the front steps to fill my bottles, and when I went back inside to get rid of the empties, noticed the sign "Do not sit on steps".


The folks inside were all friendly though, so I figured they were letting me slide for now. Properly restocked, we set off towards P-Town.

With the sun up high, unshaded roads, and the temperatures rising rapidly, I struggled to maintain pace. Most of the time we'd average around 19-20 mph on the flats, but now it seemed to take a bunch of effort.

P-Town was not super busy - it was still pretty early in the morning for a vacation town (I could tell because delivery trucks still rolled down the one way drag). We checked out some sights (a Lamborghini was my favorite), called the girls at home, and got on our way back pretty quickly. We'd used up a lot of time heading out here and wanted to make it back at some reasonable time in the afternoon.

Lamborghini, passing us outside of P-Town. We first saw it in town.

Although I'd taken a few pulls on the way up, after leading the way out of P-Town my legs basically turned off. I had to rely on SOC to pull us most of the way back home, battling a strong, consistent headwind out on the roads.

Our 12 mile jaunt to and from P-Town used up everything we'd bought at that convenience store, so we dropped by there again, I'm sure to the amusement of the folks working there. This time I made sure I didn't sit on the front steps, I knew where to get rid of the empties, and we left with smiles and farewells.

Okay, no farewells, just smiles.

My legs started really faltering, and SOC had to ask to make sure the pace agreed with what reserves I had left. We set out on Route 6, a big road with a big shoulder. Next to the Rail Trail this was the best road we rode on, simply because we had space between us and the cars.

I even managed a pull or two, but I'd gotten to that delicate balancing point where I had to replenish myself frequently or face the dreaded bonk. I started feeling weak and knew I was on the edge - so when I spotted a Mobil station, my morale rose. Mobil stations, with a little store area, meant cold Gatorade, and I signaled to turn in. We staggered into the tiny station and got blasted by not one but two air conditioners.

I felt tempted to hang out in there like SOC, but I knew that the longer I stayed there the worse it'd feel when we got going. Again I had to apologize for the soggy money, but the girl behind the counter cheerfully admitted that she'd seen much worse, from the fishermen. Their money wasn't just soggy, it was soggy with ocean water.

I went outside to down the Gatorade I'd bought (I still had water). Apparently we must have made an impression on the clerk there because she came out to watch us get back on our bikes and wish us a good ride. Either that or someone outside needed her help. But whatever, her grin and little wave was a nice send off for the final part of our trip.

Ironically her last words for us were, "Watch out for those crazy drivers!" I guess it isn't just us.

We got back on the Rail Trail, but the cool shade I'd been looking forward to had been replaced with blazing hot sun. The sun left the wrong side of the trail in shade so we had to ride much of the way in the brilliant sunshine. Great if it's winter. Not so great if it's hot, humid, and you're trying to get home.

I really deferred to SOC here, with all my systems starting to go into emergency reserve mode. I'd find my attention wandering so much that I'd end up 10 meters off of his wheel. I'd have to catch up (or he'd notice and sit up), and a few minutes later the same thing would happen.

Our final stop came at a little store (it took me about 5 seconds to comprehend that SOC was asking if I wanted to stop for a bit), where I downed my last bottle of cold Gatorade. The cold drinks felt really good on this very hot day. I seem to relearn this on each of my long, hot rides, and I tried to make a mental note that on hot days I should drink cold drinks.

Makes sense, right?

I found some time to do a Pro Fit on an future racer too. His dad asked if we had wrenches - he wanted to raise his son's seat. I raised it "an inch" (it was more like two), and then asked if his son was around. He trotted off into the store, and I saw him returning with a pretty tall kid.

"He's gonna need his seat higher than this," I mumbled to SOC, and I quickly raised the seat a bit.

See, kids tend to agree that whatever seat height you set is "good", and they'll decline to have it adjusted more. I'd underestimated the height by about half an inch, maybe an inch, but he looked fine with the height. The kid also looked really hot and tired so I didn't want to push it - his dad probably didn't help when he uttered the words "Baby steps - one step at a time". But I felt I'd done my civic duty and we packed up and went on our way.

The rest of the ride went by pretty quickly. We stayed on the Rail Trail, and even our "easy" pace was quick relative to the other users. We took it easy, waiting behind families and such, but nonetheless we kept busy passing others.

I thought of ourselves as the "Naughty Cars" in Cars (as my sister-in-law called Wingo, Boost, DJ, and Snot Rod) as we rolled down the path (warning - the Pixar site talks to you). We were constantly passing other riders, returning to the right side of the path, then passing another group of riders.

I thought about one of the last last Rents I did, when some of the guys came out from the local shop. The owner hadn't seen a race, and he was astounded by the speed of the A race.

I have to admit that I was too, kind of, since I came off the back.

But that day he realized that although I have some speed when I ride with the group from the shop, in the world of racing I'm, as they say, "not all that".

Likewise, on the Rail Trail, although we were rolling by the others while sometimes literally coasting, we weren't all that.

"We're like really big fish in a goldfish bowl", I told SOC, after one of our numerous passes.

We finally made it back home, about 95 miles under our tires, where our respective Missuses (sp?) had prepared a great lunch. SOC and I ate our fill and sat down to relax "a bit" before our second ride.

Although we'd planned on doing a ride with all four of us together right after our long ride, the girls decided (correctly) that we'd be a bit tired. I would have argued the point at first, but when the Missus shook me awake a few hours later (I fell asleep on a couch), I realized that I really needed that break.

We kitted back up, prepped the bikes, and set off for a nice closer ride. The heat had dissipated, with a sprinkle of raindrops cooling us off at the start. We set off for a short out and back ride, the four of us in a little TTT. Unfortunately the traffic increased proportionately to the drop in temperature, so we spent the whole ride getting passed by cars.

Luckily it all worked out. Towards the end I suddenly hit the wall, bonking, so weak I could barely hold 100 watts. The Missus had just scampered off, the spirit of the moment grabbing her. SOC looked at me and, in his Phil voice, asked, "Well, are you coming or not, and the answer is..."

I didn't move.


I think SOC realized that I was deep in the hurt bucket when I didn't even turn my head.

Mrs SOC made a counter move, SOC went with her, and after they bridged, I saw the Missus drift back. She had a big grin on her face - she'd not only made the ride but she had the energy to let the spirit of the attack take her. She'd sat up when SOC told her that I was hurting.

She and I rolled back home, distanced by Team SOC.

I staggered into the house and started eating. I had a piece of peach pie. And another piece. And a hamburger. And a hotdog. A quart of Powerade. Chicken. Veggies.

A glass of wine.

And a small bowl of ice cream, plunked down in front of me by SOC.

We watched the Tour.

And things were good.

1 comment:

OK said...

Great post. This is why we do it.