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.


Lourdes said...
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Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

You rpost ride recovery food is just as key as what you take in during your ride. During our training camp weekend our coach STRESSED the 15 minute rule. Get it in fast. I AM SURE YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS :))

staying in the aerobars would effect your oxygen without question. This is proven.

btw - I did have a mighty wing going on in my post-race photo with Kenny. My hair was all over the place. Too COLD to Did I mention that they keep their house at 59 degrees at night? I tought I woke up with frost bite on my toes :)))

Grey Beard said...

I have learned, when I ride to the start/finish, I have to take an extra PowerBar with me for recovery, because the 10-15 minutes for regroup, chat, and good-byes before riding home my body feels is the beginning of recovery time.

Thanks for passing on coach's tips too. Even stuff I know I sometimes forget, so always good to have quality reinforcement. That first 15 minutes is super-critical to prevent catabolic muscle destruction, and also, to start reloading glycogen in the muscles and liver. (for me, weirdly, muscles especially)

Still think it needs some vetting, but I have been reading more and more that the magic 1-hr window where the body soaks up all blood glucose for muscle and liver glycogen, and not fat, is actually 2-3 hours, and maybe even the same duration as the ride. It turned up in Friel's training bible, and now a few other places as well. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Look at all those nice pictures:-) Thanks for sharing. I'm glad your calf is ok now and you can fully indulge into the sport!