Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bread & Butter Beal's - Tasted Like Caviar

The forecast was hardly credible. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and in the mid-70s, so not very likely to end in the high 50's a few hours later. I guess I'm rusty, as I would normally have taken at least my vest with me, but I didn't even think about it until taking a breather up at Beal's Pt - quickly chilling as black storm clouds blew in at 15-20mph.

I went out the door with a half-dose of Sudafed, betting my sinuses would react to the winds, and maybe my lungs, and taking a little insurance against my throat closing up. A good decision, as I was coughing pretty hard at the drinking fountain at Negro Bar.

I'd pushed hard the first 8 miles, until falling victim to some very confusing signage about which route to take  through the Hazel Ave Bridge construction, but picked up the pace again after, attacking the shallow false-flat going upstream. The wind was at my back on that leg, at least for the most part, with 1ft waves at the back of Lake Natomas. The rowing teams were having a miserable time trying to keep from getting swamped in their crewing sculls. They were all gone upon my return, as the wind kept building.

I had a nice chat with a guy and his pre-school son while catching my breath at Negro Bar. HR was 158, but declining, so while I hydrated and ate a little Powerbar I fished an empty bottle out of the trash so the son could catch some tadpoles. They were from San Diego, up for a wedding, and just out exploring. I could have given the son a pound of gold and he wouldn't have been any happier. I guess we built a memory.

The great thing about the Negro Bar watering hole is you have just enough time to get into your rhythm before you hit the bottom of the climb to Beal's Pt. I could feel the Sudafed pushing me on the base leg of the climb, and knew I should back it off a bit, but it felt really good to be cranking that hard. Really good!

I paid for that the last 500 yards, red-lining at 163 BPM, and still 2 mph below my usual speed. My time was 1:45 off my PB, but I was happy my legs would go that hard, so all good.

I rolled down into the parking lot to the concessions area, gasping for breath, smiling. Bending over the drinking fountain, trying to keep the wind from blowing the stream away, I knew I was in for a tough ride home, so I hydrated well, moved to get out of the wind, and watched the sky grow darker and darker as the chill really started to bite. I was getting cold, so decided to shove off a little earlier than planned, kicking myself for forgetting the vest.

The wind didn't disappoint on the way home, starting with  an unusually slow descent back to Folsom with the wind full in my face, and still building. My shoulder was pretty sore up at Beal's, and I knew I'd need to be as aero as possible going home, so was hoping for the best. The longer I stayed in the arm pads, the better it started to feel. I noticed small changes, like turning my hand so the palm was turned down flat, instead of on edge, made a big difference..

The ride home was pretty uneventful, except for a lot of gear grinding trying to shed the wind and maintain a decent cadence. Again, I had trouble getting the chain to shift cleanly on the cassette and cursed the derailleur. Somewhere between there and home it hit me that it wasn't the derailleur, it was the shifter that was the problem.

I bought my '06 Roubaix at a deep discount with 9-speed gearing, deciding to wear the gearing out, and then replace it with 10-speed gearing. That day has arrived, so I will be out buying an Ultegra 6703 shifter set, cassette, and chain tomorrow, taking advantage of some incredible deals at the grand opening of a new Performance Bike shop in Roseville.

Returning home I was very tired, but also smiling that my first time back to Beal's had gone well. Once inside I realized how cold I was - chilled to the bone. It took a hot shower and a hot soak to finally warm up, and I was pretty stiff and sore yesterday morning, but was happy my cardio hung in there well enough for me to hammer my legs that hard on only the 3rd ride back.

Uploading the Garmin data reported my average power at 258 watts for the 33 miles. Better than expected, and a very good result. Average ride HR was 142, and 148 on the climb, so about 270 watts on the climb vs 300+, but I'll take it!

In short, my bread and butter ride might as well have been caviar. Completing the ride was pure joy, a real confidence builder too.

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