Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Racing - July 19, 2011 @TuesdayTheRent

Warm, sunny, and I'd ridden poorly at Naugatuck, so poorly that the Missus thought it nigh time for me to train. Last year I entered the season in much better shape, 15 pounds lighter than I am now, with no sick time really affecting my training. This year I was heavier by a bunch, got sick in my SoCal training camp, and started the year not finishing the P123 races at Bethel.

In contrast, last year I could contest the 3-4 race, then do the P123 race and feel totally at ease. Once the season got truly rolling, I just raced based on my early season form, my light weight, my good base miles. I tried to race twice a week, do at least one group ride (and usually two), and essentially raced my way through the season.

This year I tried to do the same thing. Problem was that I was getting shelled in the races, so my 60 to 90 minute "hard days" were turning into 15 minute workouts. Add the extra weight, the lack of any real goals, and you get a racer that's doing two 15 minute races a week, maybe an hour ride here or there, and...

A whole lotta DNFs.

With that in mind, and with the extremely abbreviated Naugatuck race (I did 12 miles), I did about 90 minutes on the trainer on Monday. I went downstairs to fix the front derailleur cable but got distracted by the idea of riding my bike, so I rode it.

Tuesday I felt a bit better. Legs felt pleasantly fatigued, the heat seemed okay. We had our typical "end of day rush" to get home, the Missus packed what she could, I did the rest, and we set off for the Rent.

I started warming up and noticed ShovelHd, a fellow BikeForums person and all-round good guy, warming up. He was putting in some efforts, looking pretty strong.

I kept rolling in the big ring, unable to spin much, trying to get into race mode.

Although the temperature felt okay, my nose protested the rising pollen levels. I kept sniffling, kept blowing, and suddenly I realized that it wasn't pollen, it was blood.

Arg. I have this weak blood vessel in my nose. It must be genetic because all my brothers get nosebleeds too, ever since we were kids. It seems like a bit of blood builds up, lets go, and it's done. I kept rolling around, waiting for the little bit of blood to drain, waiting for the sensation of paint drying inside my nostrils. It finally happened but not before I managed to cover my hands with blood.

Luckily I was warming up with my long gloves in my pocket, so I put them on to make things look a little better. I casually mentioned to the Missus that I had a bloody nose, she noted the dried blood, and although concerned, she understood that it was done.

I started off okay, rolling in the group. I wanted to fight for position, wanted to sit near the front - I wanted to feel like a bike racer again.

I didn't have to fight though. Aidan, one of the strong guys, decided to toughen up the race from the start. He hit the front at the start and dragged the field, kicking and screaming, around for four laps. He drifted back to about where I was as a California racer, the Simple Green guy, did his few lap pull. Aidan decided he'd rested enough, and did it again.

I had the weirdest sensation of having to reach for the pedals. I was in a world of hurt, above my threshold, just sitting on wheels. I actually had to move forward to reduce the saddle-pedal height. Weird since I haven't changed my saddle position.

I made a mental note to lower my saddle a fraction. This hip rocking thing wouldn't do. Something must have tightened up, my glutes or back or hamstring, something, to make me feel like this. I kept plodding along, trying to figure out if I'd somehow changed my pedal stroke.

I hadn't.

And my legs worsened.

End of race.

My legs went south on me as the stronger guys kept up the pace. I can handle a little bit of hot pace, but to do it consistently, to force me to average more than about 250 watts continuously, well, that kills me.

Ironically a guy behind me thought I was blocking. He protested vigorously about the blocking as he passed me, then exploded and came off the back.


It's not blocking when I block myself right off the back.


The whole drop thing was weird though because I didn't think I should have come off. My SRM crank batteries are basically dead so I didn't have power readings, but I could see my heart rate was only about 163 bpm, really low for exploding. Just last year I was looking at 168 bpm averages in hard races, with 172 bpm last lap bursts. Granted, at 172 bpm I couldn't sprint, but 163 bpm, that's reasonable. It's lower than when Cliff started the leadout in the 2010 Francis J Clarke race, higher than I'd want to be if I had to sprint.

It's definitely not "dropping" range though, and here I was, coming off the back of the group. I tried to roll around a bit - the group seemed to ease right after I got dropped - but blew up after half a lap. I couldn't even catch the guy that complained about the blocking, even though he wasn't going particularly hard.

Blocking. I had to grin inside.

I rolled a bit, slowly, my heart rate dropping pretty low.

I decided to do a short sprint (solo), and try to do one on the next lap too.

I skipped my target lap because I figured I might interfere with the race, so my heart rate was a bit lower than I wanted when I decided to roll, about 125 or so bpm. By the time I got going it was probably 140-odd bpm.

I did a decent jump, terrible sprint, and crossed the line pretty fast. After coasting into the second stretch, I started rolling. My heart rate seemed to stay at about 158, which is about my heart rate when I jumped in that 2010 Francis J Clarke race.

I wasn't feeling quite as good as I did on that day at Bethel so I waited a bit, did a late jump, managed to hold some kind of sprint to the line, and sat down.

Cooked. Totally cooked.

No power. No speed. No nothing. I'm worse than I was on any given week in 2010, worse probably than a given week in 2009.

Luckily I have no races until towards the end of August. I decided that I'd treat the next five or six weeks like a January. Get some miles in, enough so that I don't feel raw after doing an hour on the bike (?!), and try and feel like a bike racer again.

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