Monday, March 29, 2010

Super-Surge Breakdown

Went riding on furlough Friday with a few friends, and generally this was an easy, conversational pace. There were 3 exceptions. First, I looked down at my Garmin and it was reading 129 BPS just past Sunrise, so when we hit the first decent hill a mile later I remembered to execute my new strategy, stand and hammer it. My legs felt pretty strong in recovery, so I kept pushing, and except for Fred, opened up a pretty good gap until I stopped to regroup at Hazel.

Should have eaten here while stopping for water. It bit me on the top of Beals

The ride from Hazel to the Rainbow Bridge in Folsom was pretty tame, although I did open up a 3 minute gap on everybody, which I used to swallow some Gatorade and rest a bit before I waved the group past, clipped in, and hit the Lap button on the Garmin. (the trace is of the section from there to the entrance to Beal's Pt)

It took me a quarter of a mile to catch Fred, who had opened up a pretty good gap while I was getting going again. I passed him with only a minute's hesitation and put the hammer down. The next half mile averaged 5.7% grade, and was done in 167 seconds, for an average speed of 10.8 mph. My power calculator says that takes 335 watts of power, for ~ 3 minutes. This gives me my first 3 min point on my power-duration curve.

Looking at the full climb, it averages a bit less than 2.5% grade for almost exactly 14 minutes, which gives me a good 15 minute estimate at 285 watts. In fact, I checked this climb against my PB ride a couple of weeks ago, and there's only 10 seconds difference between them - about 225 ft. I went a bit harder on the bottom section here, expecting to get a challenge from Fred, but felt I faded on the top section for lack of ride fuel.

 Fred, breathing down my neck climbing Beals

At an rate, Fred was < 10 yards behind me at the top. Losing 35 lbs has definitely helped his climbing! I also think staying in the aerobars the last 200 yards was a mistake that deprived me of oxygen, as a more erect position opens up the diaphragm. I averaged 146 BPM Friday, and 148 on my PB run, which is right at my LT (148-152), exactly where you want to hold the throttle for optimal climbing. Very happy about that. (would love some standard deviation stats on Garmin Training Center though)
Sharel's a good, strong rider, and I never get tired of seeing that smile!

Coming home we picked up a pretty good headwind, later reported as 5-10 mph, but on several sections between Sunrise and WBP (racetrack alley for me - as all of my readers have probably figured out by now) the bike trail is very exposed to wind, both off the river and a large, flat meadow. My legs were getting tired here, so I let a bike almost identical to mine go by before I decided to pick up my pace a little and see how he responded. Basically, not at all, so I slowly closed in on him.

 Note my lower body position here, riding in aerobars. I'm downright popular when the wind picks up!

Riding with aerobars, his frame was clean, as he was wearing a CamelBak and had no waterbottles, or seat bag. Advantage him. As we were negotiating traffic another rider passed, well, EVERYBODY, and I wrote him off, never expecting to see him again. Once past the traffic the guy I'd been chasing started to visibly tire. I drafted him loosely, but he still continued to look over his shoulder frequently, and within a minute or two he pulled out to the left and I asked him if he wanted me to pull.

With earbuds in he couldn't hear me, but shouted "Take it. It's all yours". I had been loafing enough I had some gas in the tank again, and the legs had some good snap in them, so I went ahead decisively, caught a glimpse of my speed-O going through a sweeping turn, decided he probably wasn't going to be able to hang on to me, so I poured on the power and dropped him, keeping my head down as much as I could to shed the suddenly brutal headwind.

When racing in heavy winds, they are by far your most effective weapon in dropping a stronger rider. Ideally you want your opponent to be fatigued, at least momentarily, right as you turn into the wind and break away. Once that gap opens up he has to try to bridge up into brutal winds all by himself. Lance Armstrong's beautiful tactical move in stage #3 last year set him up for the entire rest of the race. I still think he and Hincapie were working together on that one. Very cool! (Big George and Lance are old friends from waaaaay back)

Approaching a broad, sweeping left over a nice kicker of a hill, I saw the flier I'd written off as gone a few miles before. At about 6'2" and with flaming red hair, riding an orange and gray Cervelo, he was hard to miss. I again remembered to stand and hammer the top 200 ft and then get into a nice tight ball over the aerobars rolling down the backside, relaxing as best I could, opening up my diaphragm, and calculating nice, fast, clean lines through a series of S-turns.

I was on his wheel by the time we got through the 4th or 5th turn, and he seemed spent from the effort (no aerobars), so when we encountered traffic I made up my mind to blow by them all and see what happened - returning the favor as it were! /=) He let me take the lead, but stayed on my wheel, happy to have what draft he got off me tucked down tight onto my aerobars. We rode the last couple of miles this way and at some point picked up a trailer.

Just as we started up the approach to the arched WBP bridge she thanked us for the pull, but then seriously pissed me off by going around us both, or at least, that was her intention. I got trapped behind them for a few seconds, and then hit the GAS. Wow, the legs were really there. The 3+% grade softens a bit to 2+% at the apex of the bridge, but I was doing 22 mph going over the apex! Wow, after 41 miles and 2,800 ft, that was FUN! (don't double-suck wheel for miles and then repay your help by humiliating them. Not cool at all) That little sprint required about 550 watts for 40 seconds.

I pulled the plug 500 yards later to wait up for my friends, and watched all the people I passed file past, judging the time gap. I have to say, those last 2 miles were pretty impressive. The guy in the Cervelo must have really collapsed, because he came over first, but almost a minute later. The guy in the other Roubaix was about 3 minutes or more behind, and was down to ~ 15mph when he came by.

Time for good-byes. Robb was pretty wrecked, but the only way to get toughened in is to ride hard.

I said my thank yous and good-byes, and headed home. I had to spin up onto Boyer - no heroic stomping and hammering today, but my speed on the flat part of California coming home was still over 20, so the legs really hung in there.

A note on that. I was having terrible pain in my calf up until my PB run to Beals 2 weeks ago. I have been working to reshape my torn calf muscle as part of the rehab, and it has been working. I am now able to hold my right knee tight to the bar on downhills, and generally, keep it over my foot throughout the full circle of pedaling motion.

I'm not sure which is chicken and which is egg, but that allows me to keep my right foot up and rested, instead of extended (sometimes on the wrong side going through turns) with my weight on my right foot. Whichever case it is, I can now hold either knee to the bar, pedal efficiently, coast efficiently, and NOT have calf pain. I was at the point of despair with my calf, but now think this rehab may actually turn out to be substantially to my benefit.

I was very tired both Sat and Sun in spite of an average speed a full 1 mph lower than my PB time. (on a shorter, 33 mile course) This in spite of hammering and then waiting for my friends on 4 occasions. Whatever it was, I was really fatigued. I find this frustrating, as I can't seem to get past this issue. I may try attacking it with back to back rides and see if I can toughen in to it. Longer rides might also help. It was a really beautiful day in any case, and it was so nice doing a long-ish ride with friends.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

30-30 on a Tuesday

 Lake Natomas

Almost on a whim I decided to join a half-dozen friends for a ride last night. The starting point for the ride was 10 miles down the bike trail, so was able to ride from my front door - my favorite kind of ride. I got started late, so just rode towards them, and we met up about 2/3rds of the way there. It was a slow, after-work ride, and I needed some exercise and a break from a software project I've been working on.

Fred, or Phred as we call him, was our leader, but was bringing up the rear so we were chatting when he had a mechanical. He's a good mechanic, and a really good ride leader, especially on his famous mtb rides, so I was amazed that the problem turned out to be him shifting into a 'silly gear'. Big chainring in back and front. He told me later he got a killer deal on some DuraAce chain, but it was shorter than normal. Since he 'knew' he'd never pull a bone-head cross-chain move, he jumped at the deal. We had a good laugh about that, and now I have something good to razz him about for the next year or two! Heh, heh /=)

Shortly after that I spotted what later turned out to be a 'Super Dad' with a tandem attachment for his toddler daughter AND behind that, a trailer for an infant. I was reminded of the Mad Max movie and the very long 'road trains' they allow in Australia. Very cool, but it was a little hard to pass, so traffic got a little jammed up on a very busy night.

When the opp to pass presented itself I was a split second too slow and ended up having to defer to a guy on a Cervelo P2 TT bike, on his way to a new, free, standing Tuesday night TT being put on by the new Folsom Bike Shop located at the intersection of Folsom Crossing Rd (everybody calls it the Johnny Cash Bridge except the pompous city fathers, so I guess this should be called Johnny Cash Rd) and Auburn-Folsom Rd. (not a lot of head scratching went into that name either)

They also have a little coffee shop there, and that will be a GOD-SENT for me when coming back from Rescue, and training rides in the Eldorado Hills, as there is no water for another couple of miles and that drinking fountain has very warm water no matter how long you run it by mid-summer. It is a real find, and might be a sponsor for one of the mtb clubs I belong to. Before the bridge was finished I, like most riders, returned through Rodeo Pk in Folsom where there are big bathrooms you can take your bike into, and two drinking fountains for water. That hydration stop was sorely missed in spite of the bridge route by-passing all of the traffic and stops in Folsom. Somebody did their marketing research well!

So the Cervelo squirts out ahead of me and I have to bridge up to him about 150 yards, which I take as a challenge, alternately grinning and grimacing. I am drafting him pretty loosely, 8-12 ft back and off to one side or the other to watch for traffic ahead, and he can easily see my shadow, so he tries to drop me. We ended up doing 30mph on a nice flat section before he pulled the plug on dropping me. After a mile or so I'm at Sunrise, the turn-around point for our group. He invited me to join him on the TT. I took a polite rain-check, as I had work waiting at home and couldn't afford to return blotto, but it was very nice to get some respect, and an invite. Maybe next week.

Sharel wanted to extend her ride, as she had joined us 5 miles into our ride, so I joined her, and we took off for the Aquatic Center where CSUS and many other local organizations anchor their rowing teams. We have ridden together many times, but our rides have grown so large that conversations are difficult, so it was great to have a nice long conversation about bike fit, saddles, riding technique and mutual friends. If you've been reading my comments you know, I have changed my approach to riding to do more of these small, near rides in favor of driving somewhere and joining a horde of 50 riders.

I left Sharel at WBP Park and headed for home, picking up the pace as the sun had almost set. I felt really strong, and hammered pretty hard, cranking out 750 watts up onto Boyer and then pushing hard coming home on California - despite the very rough surface. I was more tired than expected, but was still able to get some work done before hitting the hay. A perfect ride, punctuated by some racing and great conversation. Thirty miles with a top speed of 30 mph. My kind of ride!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fun in the Sun

 Foresthill Divide mtb ride on Saturday

Making the most of daylight savings time, I got in ~ 100 miles last week. First, the PB ride to Beal's Pt up at Folsom Lake, and what turned out to be ~ 38 miles (forgot to turn my Garmin on after a break, so estimating) on Tuesday with a couple of friends from HWs, and then another 28 on Friday with friends. I'm tempted to try Mt Hamilton next weekend, but not really in shape for that kind of effort yet.

I was hoping to ride to Rescue today, after taking a rest day yesterday, but I am stranded on planet Zyrtek. Not only am I still loopy 18 hrs later, but sleepy all day and it lowered my pulse rate down to 52 BPM. It didn't spike my BP, but looking at the other side-effects, I'll be sticking to Claritin from now on.

On the way home on Friday evening, after two rides where my calf was behaving, I stood and stomped the short, steep hill up onto Boyer Ave, and cranked out between 1,056 and 1,152 watts - for about 12-15 seconds. I wouldn't bet anyone's life on that data, but I use it as a way to estimate leg strength, so was quite pleased my calf withstood the strain. I immediately coughed up a lung and had to dig deep to keep pushing forward. Recovery time was decent though - about 60 seconds.

 20min and 1hr Durations

I have added some interesting power-duration curves so you can estimate your power at different intervals. I suspect my power-duration curve is a bit flatter than average, but time will tell. The benchmark power-duration curve for training purposes is 1hr/40km. As an example, a 20min time trial pace will typically be done at about 105% of 1hr/40km.

You can get the gist pretty quickly looking at this curve. Recent rides uploaded to the website have me averaging ~ 250 watts on 2 hr rides like Beal's Pt, so this is very close to my actual power-duration curve. This is almost exactly the power I put out on 1hr rides, so I think taking a 15-20 min rest turns Beal's into 2 one hour rides. As you can see, taking lots of breaks on club rides ruins them for distance/endurance training.

I used these curves and the "Power from Speed" calculator linked top left above to argue that one of our 95lb club members wouldn't be able to meet her goal of going from 15mph to 18mph on club rides by getting more fit. Why? Because if you're only made of 95lbs of stuff you can't possibly make the 80% improvement in strength required to keep up with a 180-200lb rider on the flats.

Climbing hills is all about your power-to-weight ratio, but on the flats, weight is irrelevant to speed. Flat speed is just a function of power and aerodynamic drag. Pro riders who dope with EPO only get a 12-15% benefit, so talk of 80% improvement is absurd. There is one simple way for her to meet her goals, as the "Speed from Power" calculator clearly shows - use aerobars. See, everything IS connected! ;-)

I've been pleased with my progress on the flats, so looking forward now to doing some long rides again. I haven't found a riding partner for Rescue yet, but a couple of our club riders also like that ride, so likely I will have company soon. It's really gorgeous out there. Time to ride!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Syntace C3 Aerobars: 1 Yr After

It's been about a year since I got my aerobars, and they have turned out to be a god-sent for my sore wrists, wrist numbing, and getting me home when the local Delta Breeze (15-20mph) kicks up in the summer. This was the 3rd kind of aerobar I tried. I hated the other two so much I removed them. The last set were Profile Designs, the other brand I don't recall. It's the shape and mounting system I love about the Syntace C3s. Oh, and the bombproof quality.

The sales info on Syntace's English site is terrible, and their assembly instructions still worse, so I was not surprised when someone considering them wrote and asked me for an in-depth evaluation, and details of my computer mounting system.

There has been a debate raging in my club about the safety of aerobars, and I had been considering writing a follow-up piece anyway, so the request came at an opportune time. I wrote Syntace and offered to write their English site for them in return for products, but they refused. A pretty stupid move given how crap their docs are.

In this view you can see I have swapped brake  cables. This allows me to keep my left arm planted, and avoid the instability and weight shift attendant with moving your arms. Having 9-10 gears AND your front brake in your right hand is a huge help in general, and especially with aerobars.  I was also able to remove about 3" of brake cable, which gives the front brake lever a lot more feel, allows for a very supple modulation of the front brake, and tremendous power if you need it.
(The front brake had to be in the left hand when using downtube shifters, because the right hand is a LONG ways from the brake handle when shifting. This requirement vanished with the introduction of paddle shifters. Sheldon Brown was a fan of swapping, and the women's road racing champ in Beijing had hers swapped.)

This is your view of the world when riding in the aerobars. My Garmin's signal quality went from good to excellent with no metal to interfere with the GPS signals, and the wireless sensors' ANT+ signals never get lost now. I used more vinyl tubing over the zip ties this time to get more grip, as the tubing not only protects the surface, but is quite sticky when compressed like this. I'm not crazy about the red zip ties though. I might go back to black.

As you can see , this mount is extremely aerodynamic, having almost no frontal area at all. You can adjust the position of the Garmin to get rid of glare by just moving it around. The mount will pretty much stick where you place it. This mount also creates a clean airflow for the altitude sensor, which works off of barometric pressure.

At speed, having it mounted on the top of the stem will put it in a low-pressure zone created by the slope of the stem - throwing off the barometric altimeter. It's much easier to read being this far forward, and provides a stop for your arm when you bring it up onto the bar. You might also notice I have applied skate tape to the ends of the bars to keep my hands from slipping off the ends. Even when my gloves are 'greasy' from being soaked with sweat, this grip is bomb-proof. It's also very reflective as it turns out, which is a plus at night.

This is a pre skate-tape view of the cockpit. I have moved the mounts out as wide as these FSA K-Wing bars will allow, as I have a 47" chest and the shoulders to go with it. I'm considering moving them in a bit on the bar and pushing the pads out though to get a more comfortable position. Always another tweak in the endless cycle of body adapts to machine adapts to body.

A close-up of the zip tie mounting of the Garmin. The mount is a 30mm piece of steering tube sawed off a friend's carbon fork. Ultra light, very strong, and invisible to radio signals. Also note the detail of the C3's mounting on the main bar. The workmanship is just fantastic. Look at that gorgeous weld! You can make a little cleaner profile than I have here by pulling the zip-tie ends up so they're in front of the lower part of the Garmin's body.

I used a needle-nosed Vice-Grip to pull the zip ties tight. You will likely have to work to get the clear plastic tubing positioned correctly on the ties as you tighten them. To get the zip ties through the tubing, lay a book on it to flatten it into the same general flat shape of the zip ties. I tend to cut the tubing a little long, so had to cut 3-4 ties off with a set of wire dykes and try again. The zip ties I got from Kragen Auto Parts. Nothing special. Don't be surprised if you break a tie or two, but you will do better if you pull the ties a few inches away from the catch when pulling them tight.

This should give you some idea how much space is between the main bar and the Syntace bar. Once you get used to it, it makes a pretty good hold when reaching for water bottles or coasting. I have also learned to jam my hand under the ends of the aerobars while hanging onto the ends of the main bar when going over rough road with just one hand on the bar. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have your hand ripped off the bars with such a grip.

When climbing you can get a pretty standard bar-top close hold by placing your hands so the middle of your palm is bisected by the inside edge of the pad, and then wrapping your fingers around the front of the main bar. It feels a little flakey at first, but in time you'll come to trust it, and climbing efficiency will be as good as with flip-up pads.

A closeup of the width markings. Each end can be adjusted 50mm in or out.

A close-up of the zip ties showing how the Garmin mount is first tied to the carbon fiber tube, and then the tube is tied to the aerobar. Note the way the vinyl tubing is pinched between the tube and the bars. This is very important in keeping the mount stuck where you position it. I have never had it move, no matter how rough the road, and that was before adding the extra tubing across the outside and top of the aerobar.

Access to the width adjustment bolt is given by ripping the replaceable pads out of the Velcro-surfaced pad cradle and loosening the 5mm bolt. It never even thinks about moving. Rock solid, even over very rough road. In fact, for really rough road it is my favorite riding position as the Syntace bars have just a bit of give in them, and the pads absorb a lot of road chop.

FSA offers another mounting option for computers they call the Control Center. It clamps around the main bar right against the stem. I am going to use this to mount a MagicShine light below the bars, but for a computer you would position it above the bar. It's not as streamlined, as far forward, nor as sturdy, but it creates needed separation between the light and the aerobars. If you get one of these don't use the included bolts - use a zip tie. Stronger and doesn't rely on the strength of the plastic clamp material. The zip tie has it's own strength and is just squeezing the 'clamp' - which is then completely passive.

I don't have my bars mounted in a real aero way, as avoiding wrist pain was the primary motivation for getting them. They have exceeded my expectations in this area too. As for speed, they add about 1.5 to 2.5 mph at speeds from 19-25 mph.

When drafting, make it a loose 5-10 ft draft unless you know the locomotive pretty well, or he is obviously well versed in pacelines. You will find if you talk to someone you are drafting off of that you aren't sucking on them very much, even with a tight 2-3ft draft. You also aren't going to provide a great draft for someone sucking on your wheel.

In particular, your draft won't be very deep, so expect people to draft you closely in a stiff headwind. It's important to be very smooth and keep your eyes looking up the road in either case. I have never had a complaint about the shallow draft. Everyone is just very happy they don't have to buck those heavy winds alone. If you slow down enough, you can make a lot of friends! In my case, I rarely get to ride with others anymore as I am just blowing right by them. However, when I do get company it's from strong, competent riders and that makes for a lot of fun, high-speed riding. Here's my response to objections raised by my riding club.
The reason they don't allow aerobars in most pro races is because they have huge peletons to draft off of, they ride in close quarters all the time, and it would shorten the race so less event time to sell ads during. I don't use them in close quarters either, and when on club rides, usually only use them when out in front.

This brings up an important point though, just because you have them mounted doesn't mean you have to use them. Especially when drafting in them I am aware of how technical the course is and will come out of the bars when the course gets twisty, bumpy, steep or when approaching traffic.

I haven't noticed a core strength issue, but they do require a few weeks for your upper back and shoulders to get used to. On the other hand, the C3 Syntace bars have so little to do with other aerobars there are limits to making generalizations. If I'm careful to keep my knees to the bar I can crank out 5-600 watts in my aerobars without rocking the bike, but that much power does take some core.

My advice to anyone getting aerobars is to ride alone for a few rides first and then be cautious for a month or so. The biggest adaptation is in where you look going through turns. You have to look further up the trail. In part this is due to the longer riding position inhibiting sharp turns, and in part it's because you're going faster.

As for crashes, I know riders who have ridden in them for years without any accidents. I've had mine for a year now and the only close calls I've had were times I wasn't in the aerobars, but in traffic on the hoods. I did run over a pointed rock on the way down from Monitor Pass and punctured my back tire at 55+mph in my aerobars and got stopped OK. Scary, and I'm sure there was some luck involved there, but having more weight on the front wheel likely helped me there.

One thing I have noticed is I can watch the road better than in the drops, where it's taxing to hold your head up all the time. This is especially helpful when on the bike trail going through turns with oncoming traffic. I can watch them the whole way through the turn.
You can mount parallel brake and shift levers on most aerobars if you like, but I chose not to. The time it takes to get to the brakes or shifters is less than from downtube shifters, and at least for me, less than from the drops.

You can always call out obstacles to anyone riding so close that you are covering the road ahead of them. A loud barking 'WHOOT' works very well. The last time I caught an orange plastic road post in the groin there were a half dozen riders riding without aerobars who said nothing. I bark 'GLASS' all the time from aerobars.
I disagree that they are unsafe in any way, and think they are an excellent idea, especially for thin, lightweight riders. Professional riders use them all the time in TTs, including team TTs, where they are riding with 5-6 riders drafting each other, and are not complaining about them being dangerous. They are also used almost exclusively by Tri Athletes, and again, no complaints about safety.
In summary, I see it as just another body position to be used appropriately. For long training rides, touring, double centuries or those with hand numbing problems, they are a god-sent.
Sizes: S(12.5-14"), M(14-15"), L(15"+)

For sizing, place arm on table, and measure from table top to top of fist. Using this measurement, find which size range it falls into. Mine is a medium.

UPDATE: 5/14/2011 
Minor editing, and I removed the caution about the mount failing if the zip-ties fall off. After 2+ yrs, and 3 crashes without issue, this mount is at least as tough as any other on planet Earth. I've even, on occasion, stuck my finger in the mounting tube when climbing and it hangs tough. At the end of the day, time is the best test of durability. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Robin's Ride

Filled with angst over Congress playing political football with continued unemployment insurance (still not as much money collected as my signing bonus and severance pay at my last job in corporate America) my friend Robin exhorted me to take my nose off the grindstone long enough to go for a sanity ride. Glad I did.

A close contender for the title of this post was "Super-Surge", as I had one of these rare quirks of human physiology yesterday while riding up to Beal's point to see how much water is in the lake, and take in a beautiful warm day on the first day of daylight savings time.

I have heard of professional athletes having super-surges. I know Eddy Merckx had a famous one in the TDF, as did Lance Armstrong. The last time I had one was almost exactly a year ago, and in the same general area. Last year's surge started at the base of the Folsom footbridge across the American River and lasted about 10-12 minutes up through the area where the Folsom Crossing Bridge is now.

Yesterday's surge didn't come slamming in as hard as last year's, but lasted all the way to the top of Beals. Yesterday I also had my Garmin with me, so I know it was quantifiable. What is a super-surge? It is a glorious surge of strength and stamina where you can put down 50-100% of normal power without any sensation of fatigue or clawing at the limits of VO2max. You are incredulous as you power up hills and past riders who are much stronger, and it seems so easy it's effortless. I just wish I knew what brought on, created, or caused these thrill rides so I could duplicate them on demand.

I have a beautiful Garmin trace of sprinting up the last 150 yards at the top of Beals at 14-12.5mph over 8.5 to 9.5% grade. That's right at 600 watts for about 4 minutes in the saddle! After a 15 minute break where I ate a Powerbar, and drank a bottle of water, I headed down for home. Expecting the ride would even itself out as it always does, I instead found I was hammering hills, flying on the flats, and recovering in 10-20% of the normal time after hammering those hills.

In fact, this surge carried me all the way home. Even the hills between Bannister Pk and home got hammered. I was shaking my head as I stayed ahead of a couple of cars on Sutter coming back to California. Wow, what a ride!

I uploaded my Garmin and studied the trace. It verified my subjective impressions in spades. I crushed all of the hills, and shaved almost 2 min off my PB.

I didn't even have to yell "SIDE" OR "LEFT" as people saw me coming and fled. I had one scary moment with a small dog on a long leash. He took one look at me bearing down on him and ran into the bushes pulling his owner after him. I looked at the speed-O on the Garmin, smiled and shook my head. If I could make these things appear on demand I could quit my day job and become a pro racer. For all the crappy days where my body doesn't cooperate, this was a grand make-up gesture.

A local bike club has started doing free TTs on Tuesdays starting tomorrow. I hope one of these super-surges shows up then. I'd love to hammer a 20min TT on a super-surge.

Thanks Robin, and please feel free to live vicariously until you get your mo-jo back.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Tale of Two Rides

I headed out the door Sunday just before noon for Bella Bru. Being the last day of February I wanted to get some more miles in for the month. I had posted the ride with short notice, so wasn't too surprised no one showed up to ride, but I met a large group of riders who turned out to be part of the Sacramento Bike Hikers. They gave me a schedule, which I somehow managed to stuff in my jersey, and pushed off.

The ride was not slow, and maybe not even sluggish, but I just couldn't seem to get out of my own way. I got passed and decided to try to pace myself off the faster rider, who promptly tried to drop me. I stayed with him for ~ 5 minutes but just didn't have the top end I usually do.

My initial destination was Beal's Pt, but I decided to stop in Folsom, eat part of a Powerbar and get some water. The Gatorade I made up was from some old powder, and it was making me nauseated. I took 15 minutes and still didn't feel any better. Worse, my calf tear was really bothering me and I can't afford another tear, so I decided against climbing Beals, and headed home. It turned out to be about the same distance because of the detour down to Bella Bru and William Pond Pk, but a lot flatter.

When I got home, disgusted, I uploaded the Garmin 305's telemetry to my computer and it pretty much said the same thing. Of particular concern is my HR only got up to 165 when I was red-lining hanging onto the rabbit. I had plenty of time, was  well recovered, and my calf was screaming. I scratched my head and stewed. WTF? Another bad ride?

On Monday, with rain forecast for the day after, I was reluctant to ride, but wanted to get March off to a good start, so found some clean riding clothes and got dressed. Steering clear of the bad Gatorade I instead mixed some PowerBar Electrolyte powder in my waterbottle and grabbed 3 Powerbars - resigned to eating solid ride fuels.

Almost as a fluke I decided to take a mega B vitamin, a multi vitamin, 500mg of C, and 1,000mg of calcium, magnesium and zink. I washed that down with a little OJ and headed out the door with just a bit of nausea.

I decided to just cruise and rest the calf while logging some miles. I started out slow, but stood and hammered a bit climbing a short hill at about the 3mi mark. I noticed my calf was behaving, and my breathing was relaxed and easy. Hummm.

I stopped to talk to a local news crew that was setting up to shoot a story for TV a couple of miles later at Sunrise, and again was surprised at how smooth and strong I was shifting through the gears. Determined to take it easy, I loafed along at 17-21 for the next 4 miles until some doofus refused to ride single-file when facing on-coming traffic.

For all of the complaints I hear about motorists being asses on the road, fellow bicyclists who won't read or follow the rules just really get my goad - especially since the #1 cause of accidents on the bike trail is head-ons caused by exactly that. Stupidly, he started talking trash and I gave him a good bracing up. Riders like that give us all a bad name, and tarnish our reputation as responsible users of this awesome resource. Having said my piece, I took off pretty agitated.

Nice thing about riding is you have a ready outlet for such angst, so I took full advantage when two riders I had passed earlier caught up and passed me - riding much faster than earlier. We played cat and mouse until the bridge at WBP where I red-lined it and passed both of them decisively.

When I got home and looked at the Garmin trace I again saw proof of my subjective impression, that I was riding much stronger. My HR had maxed out at 171, a full 6bpm faster than the day before. The whole ride had just been much easier - in spite of hammering it hard on the lap from CSUS back to WBP. Yea B vitamins!!!