Thursday, October 20, 2011

Training - A Trainer Ride

Tonight I climbed on the trainer, not knowing exactly how I'd be riding. To my surprise I've managed to get on the bike pretty consistently, doing 5 hours in four days, taking Wednesday day off (the Missus and I went out for dinner), then getting back on tonight for what I thought would be an hour ride.

I took the time to adjust the tension on the CycleOps - the trainer was clicking a lot, making a lot of noise, and I wasn't sure what was causing it. I suspected too high roller pressure. I unscrewed one turn, re-clamped it (it's one of those quick-release type tension adjuster - fold the knob in to lock), got on the bike and Hey! No more clicking!

I had a DVD of an old movie I wanted to watch, Wild Geese. It's a favorite movie of mine, at least back in the day. I wasn't sure what it'd be like now but I wanted to watch it. I added it to our Netflix queue and bumped it to the top.

But I couldn't put it in the DVD player - I still had the 5th DVD of the 2006 Tour in the DVD player.

Now, with all this doping and such, the 2006 Tour may seem a bit odd to be a favorite of mine, but it is. It's hard to forget that Landis had doped but I'm also in the mindset that he wasn't the only one. To me it seems semi-fair, at least at the top of the classification.

Although he seems pretty strong, he also has his weak points.

I also like studying race tapes, watching them over and over, finding little gems in the randomness of race coverage. For example, I found that Cadel Evans seemed to be the only one seeking shelter from the wind on some of the exposed climbs. Sastre rode in the wind, as did Kloden. Who knows how much energy they wasted doing that, energy they could have used later in the stage, later in the race.

I watch pack formation carefully, looking at wind cues like flags, banners, and dust/debris. I look and see who sought shelter, who rode in the wind. I figure the shelter seekers are racing smart and are possibly more clean than the ones in the wind (excepting the guys assigned to be in the wind).

Watching some of my much older race tapes, from the mid-90s, it's amazing how uncaring the dopers raced. They'd launch attacks whimsically, attacking at odd places where the others could respond. They rode in the wind. They rode at the front.

They rode like dopes.

But they could, because they had unimaginable power and endurance, because they were doped.

Anyway, watching these races can be educational as well as fun, so I watch them.

The 5th DVD has both parts of Landis - it has the end of Stage 16, when he totally crumbles, and most of Stage 17, when he made that improbable comeback.

Stage 16 is interesting to watch, even for a guy that really doesn't climb that well. What's most fascinating is the absolutely terrible cornering by Michael Rasmussen. I study him as an example of what not to do.

Unfortunately Levi is in the same boat. He, too, exhibits scared cornering, giving away a whole lot of time on a descent after working hard to get clear of the field.

I wonder if those guys work on their cornering at all, or if they're oblivious to the fact that they're giving away a lot of training, a lot of effort, a lot of themselves, when they corner poorly.

This Tour DVD prompted my prior post. Watching Levi work so hard to build a lead, then to throw it all away... all that training, all that recon work, all that climbing, all for nothing, just because he descended so poorly. It seems like such a waste.

What's also interesting (and I saw this tonight, not Wednesday night) is that the big field, in Stage 17, chasing Landis, splits in two on a series of switchbacks. It's a crazy descent with super tight switchbacks, maybe 7 or 8 in a row, very close together. You can see one rider in the center of the field, turning in way early, going slow, and riders behind crowding him in frustration.

It's the first time I noticed the split, after watching the DVD probably a dozen times over.

I'm sure it was Rasmussen - he was the worst cornerer of the bunch, and he was in the Polka Dot jersey (appears white on the TV). I didn't rewind and review, but watching the poor cornering was enough.

Levi, to his credit, hung out at the back, and yes, there were gaps in front of him.

I'm amazed that even in the field, with other guys in front of them, that these guys can't corner. Just follow the guy in front - they're not necessarily super great at cornering, but they're better than nothing.

Cornering works a bit like drafting too. Once you lose your "cornering guide", i.e. you let the gap open up, you lose that guiding thing. A poor cornering racer will end up on his own, woefully wobbling from one bend to another, just like a racer that is out of the draft will go slower on his own.


Anyway, with Stage 16 and 17 on the DVD already loaded in the player, I decided I'd watch the rest of the DVD before loading up Wild Geese.

What I didn't realize is that I'd just started the DVD; I had 90 minutes left on it. I rode and drank water and rode and drank water. The DVD kept going.

I took a break to go pee. When I walked out the trainer room (I keep the door closed so cats don't get in - whirling spokes and cats don't mix well), Bella ran over, her tail curled into a corkscrew (she does this when she's really happy), trembling with excitement. She followed me up to the bathroom, waited, then followed me back down. When she realized I was going back into the bike room she stopped, tail still curled, but pausing at the beginning of the short hallway to the bike room.

I closed the door behind me, got back on the bike, got rolling again, and thought about stuff. My pedal stroke. Powering through whatever I could of the circle.

I watched Landis pedal fast and slow, corner well, and make up a lot of time on the field. I have no problem with his cornering - in fact, I think it's a huge reason why he stayed away on that Stage 17. He could also load up on ice cold water all day, and when it's 104 deg F in the valleys, that's pretty significant.

My legs felt pretty good, tired but good. The fatigue felt vaguely comforting, like getting on the bike on the fifth day of my SoCal training camp, or on a Wednesday after racing Sunday, doing a group ride Monday, and racing Tuesday.

Not that I just did four hard rides in a row, but my legs felt only slightly recovered from my efforts Sunday through Wednesday.

When the DVD finally ended I loaded up Wild Geese. I forgot that this was a movie with a plot, so I suffered through about 30 minutes of plot stuff (okay, one grenade, a couple gun shots) before my tired cramping legs convinced me to climb off the bike.

I walked out the door, this time for the last time tonight, and Bella came running over, tail curled and trembling again.

I brought out the SRM PCV (cyclocomputer), to download data. I knew I had a few hours on there; it holds about 6. I checked it out. HR belt is starting to go, so HR is sporadic. My powermeter pick up is a bit damaged from shipping and such, so power and cadence don't show up.

I just have speed.

But if I can get power to work for a bit, I can map speed and power and HR and get an idea of what I did on the bike. With my tension adjustment, I need to remap the three so no extrapolated data tonight.

Just pedaling.

A little over two hours.

Bella stood next to me, back arched, tail curled, looking back over her shoulder. If a cat could flirt, she was flirting. If I didn't scritch her back quick enough she'd stand up on her hind legs, paw me gently on the leg (claws visible but not extended too much), and try and get me to scritch her.

When I do (and I do), she'd lower herself back to the floor, then try and stand up to meet my hand halfway, doing a kind of porpoise arc dive thing.

As soon as I stopped scritching she'd stand next to me, look over her shoulder, then stand up and paw at me. If she was pawing my knee she'd carefully retract her claws. My bike shorts? She's grab them with her claws, just a bit. She knows the difference between the two, and knows that clothing is okay, skin is not.

Since her claws felt a bit grabby on my knee, I picked her up, clipped her nails, and put her back down.

This dampened her enthusiasm for scritching so she retreated to her cat bed, conveniently located two feet from the chair where I type on the laptop.

I went back to Bike Forums, to moving files into WKO+ from the SRM software, to checking email. I thought about some of the conversations I had today, at the local shop, at work, with the Missus, on the phone.

I heard Bella sighing softly in her sleep. Or snoring, depending on the noise.

When I go upstairs Bella will follow. I'll take a quick shower, rinsing off the salt and sweat, warming up a bit with the hot water.

Bella will wait just outside the bathroom, trotting in when I grab the towel, knowing she'll snag a scritch or two before I leave.

We'll walk upstairs quietly, my feet dragging on the floor, feeling for furry tails and bodies, not wanting to inadvertently step on a cat. They trust us so much they don't get out of the way when we're going up or down the stairs, or walking down a dark-to-us hallway. I usually toe aside a few cats - Mike (body or tail), Lilly (body), Estelle (body), Hal (body).

Riley is the shy one, she'll dash off when I'm six feet away from her, unless she's tired and sitting on a high spot. Then she'll watch me with her sleepy eyes as I walk past her.

I choose to walk around the bed; climbing over the sleeping Missus wouldn't go over well. Bella takes the shortcut, trotting happily across the bed. I'll slowly sink into bed, the weight lifting from my back, from my shoulders.


When I get settled, Bella will paw gently at the top of the covers, waiting for me and/or the groggy Missus to pick up the comforter so Bella can peer under the edge. She'll carefully venture in, making sure there's no Tiger or Hal already under there, carefully step on my left thigh, step in the small area under my right knee, walk around in a circle, then put her paws over my left leg and lay across it, her chest on my leg.

She may suckle her cat bed under the blanket ("Mommy!" the Missus will say for her), a habit she started a while ago. I think we captured her a bit early and she bonded with the bed she slept on with her brother and sister. She has a very wide tongue so she makes a lot of smacking noise, but it's all good.

Each night I briefly worry what we'll do when she wears out the bed. She may want it in ten or fifteen years. Will the bed last that long?

Then I remember my own security blanket. When it finally disappeared, I was okay. Bella will miss her Mommy Cat Bed but she'll be okay.

Or, if she's not in the mood for Mommy Cat Bed, she'll just curl up between my knees, bumping up against my thighs and calves, under the comforter, and go to sleep, sighing and snoring occasionally as she does.

At some point in the night she'll suddenly dart off, so quickly that sometimes I'm not sure she left. I'll reach down and feel the warm spot where she'd been laying, but where she no longer lay.

I'll slowly straighten out my fatigued legs, letting the warmth soak into my hamstrings, feeling the pleasant soreness permeating my quads, my hamstrings, my legs. My back will relax, the relief spreading throughout my body.

I'll drift off, sometimes so quickly I don't remember, other times waiting for fatigue to overwhelm me.

You know, it's a hard life, but someone's got to live it.

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