Monday, October 4, 2010

Keeping the Hammer Down

After discovering a SBH climbing ride too late to ride it on Saturday, I decided to do Bread-N-Butter Beals going up on the west side and returning on the east, as I have found that more challenging and like the straight and fast early in the ride, and hilly and twisty late in the ride. I was also reluctant to strike out for Rescue alone after just retaping the bars. That could make for a long ride of misery if my thumb-web injury were re-aggravated.

In doing the TT last month I got a whole new awareness of how difficult it is to keep the hammer down relentlessly, without relief, for long periods of time. Since the TT grew out of a coach's challenge meant to separate racers from touring riders, it reinforced my informal observation that tenacity wins races, as I routinely catch and pass riders late in rides.

My goal was simple, and the same as my TT goal - max average HR for the duration of the ride. This not only means keeping the hammer down, but sprinting before known stops, like the stop light at the Hazel Ave Bridge, and since I didn't want to stop at the base of the Beal's climb, before stopping for a few minutes at Negro Bar Pk.

I found a new hold on the aeorbars, which cover the center part of the main bars, which allowed me to climb the top of Beal's upright, and I averaged ~ 12mph. Very happy with that. Might have been a PB. It really helped me breathe and made much better use of my glutes. I can feel that a bit today, but nice that the Syntace bars will support that position.

On the way home I had some great fun riding with a guy on a carbon black Specialized Tarmac. It had what has to be the loudest cassette ratchet on the planet on its aero Roval wheels. I banged on the button, and was waiting for the light to change in Old Folsom when he showed up to wait with me.

Sporting a LiveStrong bodysuit, we had a little conversation about Lance and Contador before heading down the ramp of the Rainbow Bridge onto the ARPT and piling on the power. We rode together all the way to the light at Hazel Ave before he peeled off, and I picked up the wheel of a 2-man team on TT bikes.

They were working together, and doing a decent job of it, so I hung back in their draft and gathered myself. Both were long and lanky, so after flying down the major hill on that stretch under full power, I went around them on the shallow climb out of the river bottom, and dropped them cleanly while averaging 22.50 mph. Pretty happy I still had that in me after 25 miles.

My only food on this ride was half a PowerBar and one bottle of Gatorade. I did bonk a bit the last few miles, but had no appetite even after the ride ended. I was cramping moderately, so I still need to work on timing the pre-ride meal, and its composition, when performing at these high levels, but that will come in time.

Excluding the 3 mile warm-up, my average HR was 143 BPM, which is right at my LT. I also averaged 255 watts for the entire ride, including the warm-up, and did the bulk of the ride between 265 and 280 watts. That's the 2nd highest output I've averaged in 3 years.

Amped on Claritin, I cranked out a 265 average in April, but this ride was all natural. (The first leg in April was done at 290 watts and 96% of max HR. Be careful with Claritin)

My power-duration curve continues to flatten, so I think the focus on keeping the hammer down is paying off!

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