Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jekyll and Hyde Ride

With rainy weather once more on the way, I took the bike out for a ride up to Beal's Pt Thursday afternoon. I was tempted to do a club Hammer Ride, but was having some writer's block and needed to clear my head anyway, so headed out mid-afternoon with my new front wheel gracing the front of the bike, ready for a little test.

I was a bit sluggish, and hadn't eaten much before jumping in the shower, so resigned myself to taking it easy and just logging some miles. Nice plan, but not exactly how it worked out. I started out slow enough. Nice and restrained, but by the time I took the short hill down from Bannister Pk (this connecting trail closed for maintenance next week) and onto the connector trail to the ARPT I was feeling it.

 9% slope dropping down from Bannister Pk. Photo credit to Jeffrey Thorne

I held back a little on the stretch from Sunrise to Hazel, but got a friendly light at Hazel and started picking up the pace while skirting the parking lot at the Aquatic Center. I kept expecting to be weak, as I had not slept well the night before, but by the Blue Ravine tie-in I gave up on restraint and started hammering. It was too late to make a good average time, but it was just exhilarating flying through those turns and 20-30 ft hills.

It was here I first noticed that my new wheel wasn't vibrating side to side 2-3mm all the time like the stock wheel had always done. Going from 20 to 32 spokes really quieted the front end of the bike. The wheel only goes in one direction now - round and round. At some point on the ride home I realized that part of the reason I have been struggling to keep from rocking my hips is because the front wheel wandered enough that I needed that to maintain balance when in the aerobars.

I checked the lap time entering the bottom of the parking lot at Karen's and got 17.50. Not even close to a PB - as expected - but given the pace on the first 60% of the lap, it got me thinking. The ride across the Folsom St Bridge was pretty slow - mostly because the cross-wind was so strong I didn't want to risk getting blown into the railing. The ride down onto the bike trail via some very tight switchbacks was also pretty slow, so I decided to stop and fuel up and see if I could improve my time on the climb up to Beals Pt.

I stopped at the drinking fountain between the two bridges, and chewed through a Powerbar while talking to another rider also trying to get some miles in before the rain set in again. Pushing off I clipped in, and waited till I hit the bottom of the draw a couple of hundred yards later before hitting the Garmin's Lap button. 

The Garmin had 477 ft of climbing for the 3.44 mi stretch from there to Beals, which I did in 14:00 flat at an average speed of 14.7 mph. I tried to keep my HR right at LT - about 150BPM for me - and not exhaust myself on the bottom climb. I also made a point of sitting up erect, with hands on the blocks when climbing the steeper parts to open up my chest and breathe well. This and being well-fueled combined to make that nice little speed plateau at the very end of the trace where I refused to drop below 12.5 mph.

The last 15 seconds of the climb, cranking out ~ 575 watts

It was cold and exposed up at Beals, so after talking with a guy on a Cyclocross bike for a few minutes I headed back down with nothing but jersey and shorts, adding power where I could to keep warm. The surface is pretty broken up, but it had been freshly swept, so I was able to carry some pretty good speed for this time of year.

The headwinds along the lake, where the sheer cliffs funnel them into a torrent, were 15-25 as expected. I experimented a bit and found that my position in the drops was actually a bit more aero than in my aerobars, AND, it allowed me to breathe better. I used this long-neglected riding position a few more times on the way home, and found it really did shorten my recovery time after climbing hills. Unfortunately, even with the new, more compliant front wheel, my wrists were still sore when I got home, so will use sparingly.

My skin was cold to the touch when I got home, but I'd had sweat dripping off my helmet a good part of the way home, so know I was really cranking out the power. All in all I was surprised that my total time was only a minute off my PB time. Given the slow start and headwind, it was a very strong ride returning home.

 Trees in bloom everywhere here

1 comment:

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Those trees are so pretty! Spring is an amzing time of year!

Your rides are always strong. Need to practice getting in my aerobars more. Just another think to add to the list.