Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Riding Naked

On Monday, the 13th, I was finally recovered from my illness and decided to go for a flat ride down to Discovery Park. It's an out & back of 35mi and pretty flat and straight, except for a dozen or so moguls and a few, mostly broad turns. It's the perfect recovery ride when testing sore legs because you can go slow and spin if the legs are tired and sore, or hammer if they are feeling strong. If you over-do it early you can spin home on cadence and minimize the torque.

It was pretty windy, about 12-20 mph, but the bike trail is somewhat protected from the wind, so while there was a noticeable headwind going down, it was nice to have it at my back coming home. Btw, in case you're wondering, wind never helps you on an O&B, because you are heading into the wind where it is hurting you much longer than you are getting a helping tailwind after turning around. This is a basic question on the Private Pilot's exam. If you take off from an airport, have an airspeed of 100mph, and have a 50 mph headwind, your groundspeed is 50mph. If your destination is 500 miles into the wind it will take you 10 hours to get there, (you'll run out of fuel, crash, and embarrass the FAA) so even if Scotty beams you back instantaneously, it will still take as long to get there as traveling both directions with no wind.

I thought of this as I was riding "naked" without a cyclocomputer, as I had returned my VDO and was still waiting for the Garmin Edge 305 to arrive. With no computer to keep my head "in the cockpit" I spent more time looking around, enjoying the scenery. As I passed a gap in a solid wall of tree stand up on the levee, I heard the low moan and muted whisper of a C-130 in Coast Guard colors banking hard entering the pattern at McClellan. The wind was trying to blow him past his downwind entry point, and as he steepened the bank those whopping big 20ft, 4-bladed props bit hard and the turbines started to growl. The bright red and orange coloring on the silver Herc were a perfect juxtaposition to the lush green trees, cotton ball white clouds in bright blue skies, and the dark blue water of the American River. It was Sacramento in a nutshell. It was a moment I might have missed if I'd been watching my cyclocomputer.

The last time I'd seen a Herc that close up was Fleet Week in SF when the Blue Angles support Herc pulled vertically over the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge and climbed vertical, belly side towards us, 500 feet from our perch overlooking the bridge. The Herc is obsolete now as a tactical transport, due almost entirely to the relentless weight creep of the armored vehicles it is tasked with carrying. The USMC is trying to address this issue with the ITV, and has been since DOT declared their Willys Jeeps unsafe on domestic highways 30 years ago.

As a "restraint" mechanism I took my camera along and left my tires somewhat deflated from sitting for 8 days. No temptation to race with that much of a handicap. :D Discovery Park was so green it practically vibrated. The river was covered in 3-4" chop from the wind, but the docked boats made for a wonderful scenic view. I crossed over the bridge towards old-town Sacramento and found a whole new segment of trail. It was late enough I needed to save that for another day, but nice to explore the Discovery Park area finally.

After eating a Powerbar and drinking the top off my 2nd waterbottle I started home at a nice leisurely pace. With a nice tailwind pushing my along though, it wasn't long before I was cranking out some pretty good speed. As I warmed up and I got my legs under me I found myself hammering. I know my gearing pretty well, so I'd guess I did the last 8-10 miles at around 22-25mph. The tailwind definately made the speed easier.

The few miles from William B Pond home are pretty hilly, and there is one steep climb which I attacked. It flew by. I smiled and shook my head. This hill had been such a challenge last year at this time. Now it was a quick gear shift and a quick hammer. As usual, once home I found my face, helmet and jersey salt-caked, so just jumped in the shower and cleaned up. I had lost a pound of water, but no biggie. Not the usual 5-8 lbs like on long rides. (this loss is steadily decreasing as my hydration improves) Dehydration can be a big source of performance loss on long rides as it reduces blood volume just when the blood is tasked with carrying enzymes, glucose, oxygen, triglycerides, fatty acids and heat. It puts a lot of extra strain on the heart, risks heat stroke, and needlessly so.

I swallowed a couple of Advil for slightly sore quads and hamstrings, ate a huge portion of Garlic Fiesta Chicken, and slept soundly. A happy ending - finally - to the Party Pardee recovery.

No comments: