Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Solo Blast

I missed a couple of great rides on Saturday. I couldn't have ridden both, and choosing between them was really hard. The shorter one was with my favorite bunch of riders, and the longer, steeper one I could ride to from my front door. As it was a 2 day road trip to Barstow and back left me feeling under the weather. Thought it was the flu, and was sneezing, but suspect now it was just bad road food making big D raise its ugly head.

Yesterday my gut finally felt better, and the sun was actually shining through an almost clear sky. We get days on end this time of year in the San Joaquin valley where there are ugly steel-gray skies,  rain threatening all day, lots of fog, and only an hour or two of sun at best. If you've ever lived in Chicago you know what I'm talking about. Yesterday was a fabulous exception and it did wonders for my mood.

I headed out the door suited up in tights, balaclava, knee socks and space blanket shoe covers deciding to do the same route as last time - Bannister Pk to Sunrise to the fish hatchery, back to Sunrise, down to WB Pond Pk, and home to Carmichael Pk. It's almost exactly 20 miles with ~ 1,400ft of rollers in the 8-9% grade range. (was really surprised when I checked my Garmin they were that steep) There's also one short hill of 15% grade I use to test leg strength and cardio recovery as it is short enough to stand and hammer in tall gears. When in peak form I can make about 900 watts for that hundred yards or so.

Speaking of the Garmin, there is one trick I really like to make use of. If you have a short hill like that you can get a much better trace if you remember to hit the lap button just before and after it. This brings up another good use for that technique though.

If you roll into an area and end up milling around a bit, like when searching for a bathroom or water, just hit the lap button before and after it because when you get home the Garmin Training Center software allows you to delete these little garbage laps so you get a good time. You can then upload the edited trace to GarminConnect and get a good comparison. Obviously this can be abused, but there would be little point in having a training tool only to cheat it, so not all that tempting.

I didn't start really strong, like last time, but know my rides tend to average themselves out, so just let the ride come to me. The sunshine really helped. I was grinning most of the way, and even though the temps were in the high 40s, it seemed a lot warmer. The 3-4 mile stretch from Sunrise to the salmon fish hatchery is an O&B, which normally I find boring, but this stretch has some nice hills and I actually enjoyed seeing the same people going in both directions. The difference being I was down in the aerobars and hammering by the return leg.

The section of the ARPT from Sunrise to William B Pond is pretty fast. It has some tight turns, even a hairpin turn, and a couple of short grades to climb, but I find I can really hammer this stretch of trail, and did just that. I was looking for a challenge as I blew by one rider after another, but no one did. With the wind just slightly, I was able to hang between 19 and 23 mph, centered on 21 or so. I have started to notice that my wind is better when I slow my cadence, so I have been riding with a bit slower cadence of late. I am going to have to work on speeding that back up, but right now I am liking the ground speed.

Careful to hydrate on downhills, I got to WBP in pretty good shape and was able to keep my speed up transitioning back onto surface streets. It's easy to coast a bit there, which I am becoming more aware of, and trying to avoid. Back through the "rat's maze", up that little 15% grade and then onto a 2 mi stretch of California, past the old Govoner's Mansion, and home. That stretch is so rough it's almost unridable, and a real challenge to keep the speed up on. The traffic wasn't too heavy yet so I was able to ride in the left wheel rut some of the time, and that helped. The softer ride of the new rear wheel is a really big help here.

When I got home I uploaded the Garmin to my computer and was disappointed that I had such a strong ride and yet finished in almost exactly the same time as last time. I was looking at the comparison trace and noticed one section that was a lot faster last time - and then remembered I had drafted with a couple of strong riders last time and really scorched a 5 mile section between Sunrise and WBP. As I studied the comparison trace further I started grinning from ear to ear. The speed difference was only 0.1 mph.

Almost the entire ride was faster this time, and even riding solo, I came close to my drafted time. Part of this is due to moving my seat forward so I am in a better time-trial position (still not far enough and I need to remember to move it forward more), and part of it is just better cardio. I will say I was getting worried about my right calf. It still hurts and threatens to cramp because I can push so hard in this thick winter air.

When I get time I'll post the comparison trace, but suffice it to say I had a great ride. I spent 10 more minutes in Zone 5 this time, 24 vs 14, but it was exhilarating!

I've been itching to ride to Rescue, so when the weather clears up again I'll bring my camera and share those vistas of the snow-capped Sierras.


Anonymous said...

I would have gone "solo", too. But just because I'm such a loner. When running alone I pay more attention to what I'm doing and how! But true, it's good to mix in some workouts with strong/er people as well.

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Unlike you and Stephanie I do not ride solo. Call me a chicken but I just do not find it safe....plus I promised my hubby I wouldn't :)

Love the way you can capture all of the ride detail. The Garmin is on my wish list for Christmas this year already. You can never start to early. lol.