Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Romp, Saturday Clomp

 Lisa S - our ride leader for Friday night's romp

The weather broke and we had a great weekend for riding, so when Lisa, a new ride leader we wooed away from the Sacramento Area Bike Hikers posted a pre-night-ride ride, I jumped in. It was a small group that left Bella Bru and headed down Arden to William Pond park, where we picked up the bike trail. I had a nice conversation with Lisa and was impressed with the mileage she was wracking up.

We met up with a few more riders at WBP, and headed upstream for the fish hatchery. When they built the dam that created Lake Folsom, and the views at Beal's Point, they destroyed some of the premier salmon spawning shoals in all of the Pacific Ocean fisheries, so the fish hatchery was created to harvest and spawn the smelt in a controlled environment. 

It works, but there is growing concern now that the same species are always grown, and that might not be such a good bio-diversity move. There is a plan now for a massive fish ladder almost a mile long that was approved at the same time as the new Johnny Cash/Folsom Lake Crossing Bridge. Time will tell if the funds materialize or not, but I, for one, am hoping they do.

With 'red beard' Jeffery B in tow, Lisa set a good, fast pace and must have been working hard to push that handlebar bag through the slight headwind. By the time we hit Hagen Park I was warmed up and wanted to push the pace a little. I got my break when a fast rider passed as I was negotiating traffic. He got ahead of me a few hundred yards before I was able to jump on it and bridge up. We did a couple of fast miles before I stopped at Sunrise to regroup.

We met Carlos at the fish hatchery, where he apologized for running late and meeting us half-way through the ride. We each introduced ourselves as he is also a new HWs rider. As we headed out Carlos, perhaps still revved up from having to make up for lost time, wanted to hammer. Like me, he carries a little extra weight, but is a strong rider, so I let him go ahead and sized him up. 

After a couple of miles we got passed by a rider. I jumped on his wheel and chased him down. Carlos was right behind, and the three of us went down a shallow grade halfway back to Sunrise at 30mph. I didn't include the Garmin trace because it was downhill, but we were flying and having a blast. It's a wonderful thing to find a rider that is well matched with you that you can challenge in a fun way and know they can return the favor.

We waited up and regrouped at Sunrise and I let Lisa set the pace again. We talked for a few minutes until a group of 3-4 riders blew past us. Carlos and I spotted Jeffery's bright yellow leg bands, and instantly recognized that he had jumped on the back of  a peleton. Carlos and I we were gone after them like a shot. The two of us, working together, bridged up in 30-40 seconds. They responded by pushing the pace still higher.

As you can see from the graph, we went from 15mph to 25mph in a few hundred yards. Carlos was behind me trying to get a decent draft off me heading into the wind in my aerobars, hanging back 5-8 ft for safety. There are lots of little dips and hills with hairpin turns thrown in - all of which make for great breakaway opps.

The leader, a kite, dropped back after a pretty short pull, and I found myself behind a very tall rider (6'8" he told me later) who wasn't giving me any draft at all. The air he broke was all over my head, so I stayed down in the aerobars and focused on being liquid smooth for the 3-4 riders behind us. (we were picking up a lot of riders who would blow up in short order) With the flat-ish course, and cool air, it was a day for big, strong riders, and we didn't see the 'kite' again until going over the bridge at WBP.

I got my chance to lead just past Hagen Park, and decided to challenge this strong group. You can see the spike where we blew by a long line of casual riders where turns and trees don't allow much of a view up the trail. Best to make the most of your opportunities to pass.

Carlos had dropped back, and 'Mr Big' was hard on my heels wheels. I was having a blast, pushing hard into Zone 5, and loving the howl of the wind in my ears. There is one nice hill about 3-400 yards long, as you make a sweeping turn to the left, where I decisively dropped the pack. I tucked myself into a tight aero ball, focused on keeping my knees to the bar, slid forward on the seat, and pulled everything I could out of my quads and glutes. I was cranking out 5-600 watts and was really enjoying the speed, so I stayed on it going down the shallow backside, and peaked the graph.

We all had the same idea on the steep approach to the WBP bridge. THIS was the point to make a move and get the glory riding into WBP first. I dug hard, as my HR trace shows, and stayed ahead of the pack. That hurt, but I was having a ball.

Right at the apex our kite came from the back of the pack and passed me. A nice kite move, especially since by then 'Mr Big' and I had pulled the plug and were carrying on a broken conversation. I didn't resent that kite move one bit. 

I love it when riders take the time to learn their strengths, and how to use those to best effect. Kites go up hills like a kite in a strong wind, but they go into the wind poorly because they don't have the beef to make a lot of power. They do have great power-to-weight ratios though, so love the hill climbing. I'm a brick, so I go down hills like a rocket, and fly on the flats. Know your game and press your advantages!

We regrouped and debated whether to head back to Bella Bru or wait for the night riders to show up at WBP. I needed fuel, as the lone bottle of Gatorade I used for ride fuel was long gone. By the time I got back to BB and started wolfing down a couple of cookies I knew I had waited too long to effect a good recovery. It was an omen.

I rode home fully refuled and was amped about the ride starting ~ 12 hours later. The racing and poor recovery were about to bite me in the butt though.

  Doing a little racing with Jeffery B, Carlos, Mr Big, and a kite

I woke up at 6:30 the next morning, showered, dressed for a long day of riding, and headed out the door an hour later. My legs were like wood. Totally dead. I instantly knew why too. No time to replenish muscle glycogen. I met the pre-ride group at the Gold Country Plazza Starbucks. This group had grown from 3 to a dozen, so I had a half hour to get some coffee, eat a muffin, and chat with Sharel about her new road bike. I was hoping the coffee and sweets would put some snap in my legs.

Lourdes finally rounded up the 'cats' and led us out around 8:15. She always says leading rides is like herding cats. It certainly would be today. Lisa quickly took up the lead, I joined her, and we set the pace heading up Gold Country to the fish hatchery. (it parallels the bike trail, but is safer for large groups) We went over the Hazel Ave bridge, and down the corkscrew heading for Nimbus Dam - the dam that creates Lake Natoma. I tried to push myself climbing up the Hazel Ave bridge, but my legs were just dead.

Kevin had a flat right at the dam. We were at the back of the pack chatting, and he called out that he had no pump, so I turned around to help, hoping he knew how to get to the start of the ride, because I didn't know the connector road. I owed a lot of favors in the flat department after all the flats I had last summer, so was happy to have a chance to give some back.

We took care of the flat in 10 minutes or so, and I was racing to catch up to Kevin, who was off after the main group like a shot. They were only a half-mile ahead. It turned out another rider had a flat so the whole group had stopped. I was a bit relieved, and happy my good deed was repaid in Karmic dollars so quickly.

We got to Vic's Market, the starting point for the main ride, and the whole parking lot was full of cyclists. It was a zoo. It was also a lot of fun. There was a definite buzz, and Adrienne was getting a ton of B-Day greetings and wishes. We took off 45 minutes later in 3 groups, but not before all joining in and singing Happy Birthday. It was a really special moment.

We headed out of the parking lot in a long train of day-glo nylon and black Spandex, and cars just stopped dead in the street in both directions and let us cross the 5 lanes. With 45 riders it's more like a parade than a ride. It's so rare to feel in control as a cyclist. Having cars willing yield to the weight of 45 riders is a little thrilling.

Adrienne, the B-Day girl - in red with 45 cohorts

Most of the ride from that point on is a blur. I do remember trying to chase Fred up some long hill and just not having the legs for it. I checked my HR monitor and was in the middle of Zone 4. Lots of energy, lots of lungs, just no legs. I also started to notice why club rides can tire me out and frustrate me in rolling hills.

With too little shoulder to pass or ride doubled up, I have to ride my brakes down every hill, and then burn a lot of energy on the next uphill instead of carrying my speed down each hill and into the next. The shoulders are 6" at best, and one of our riders was run over in the same area 6 weeks ago. (he was largely unhurt, but his bike is toast - no thanks to an angry and malicious driver)

I didn't ride back to Vic's Market, but continued down Auburn/Folsom Rd, back to the bike trail and Starbucks. The original 3 groups had completely fallen apart due to mechanicals, so we ended up riding in small groups strung out all over the place.

The 'heavies'. Kevin, Fred and me. Lisa is looking over KAB's shoulder

I had asked Lourdes if I could borrow Joe Friel's book on the Paleo diet for athletes, so I waited for 30-40 minutes at Starbucks and then headed home. I had some nausea and my legs had been cramping since grinding up the Hazel Ave corkscrew. (30% + grade) My calf tear had been screaming for 3 hours, and I just wanted to be home where I could recovery properly. We'll do the book thing later.

I slept most of the rest of the day, and felt like I'd been hit by a bus the next 2 days. By Wed I felt better, but had a ton of chores to do so didn't make it out the door on time. Reviewing the rides on Garmin Training Center, it turned out to be 95 miles and 6,200 ft within 24 hours.

The B-Day ride alone was harder than my standard Rescue ride, which was a huge surprise. I really underestimated the ride. For the week I logged 137 miles and 9,100ft of climbing. I'm just not toughened up enough for that yet, and will not try two rides like that back to back. If  done 24 hours apart, in reverse order, I would have been fine, but as it was, it was not a fun day.

I bailed on a recovery ride the next day. Out of the question. Even with all my experience, I am still learning where my limits are. I enjoy the discovery process, even if it hurts sometimes, but intend to learn from mistakes too.


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Very nice recap of some awesome riding and what call racing. Got to love Sprint zones. Way to play it smart and rest!!! Good to know we are learning.
Enjoyed the pics!

Anonymous said...

I think 30 mph I have only been in a car so far! Looks like your leader did a great job making you give it all - meow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!