Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time Flying - et al

Lots of things flying this week. Me, the time left to file, and refile, my taxes, time to preview the Amgen Tour of California, and time to install my new Shimano Ultegra 6703 drive-train. The latter looks pretty sweet, but as usual, I will be putting it under a microscope, and I think you'll be surprised by my conclusions.

As for me flying, I went riding with the Sacramento Bike Hikers (aka SBH) on Monday evening, staging out of Gold Country shopping center, for what for them was mostly a bike trail ride. I had about half as many miles getting to and from the start from my front door, and half the climbing, so quality 'animal miles' to and from made for 31 miles.

I paired up with a fellow brick, who, it turns out, I had ridden with before, and blogged about, though anonymously. Larry said he's been off the bike about 3 months too, with family matters taking up all of his time. He's riding a gorgeous blue Orbea, and is every bit the brick I am.

It didn't take long for me to end up in front, and Larry on my wheel. Given he doesn't have aerobars, and his long layoff, he did his fair share heading down to WBP into a 10-12mph wind. We set a good solid, 18.2mph average going down, but decided not to continue down to CSUS for the bonus 10 miles as we were both tired by the time we got to WBP.

I had been passed by a lot of the 7-8 woman group (Larry and I were the token males) because I didn't recognize them, but we managed to reel in all but 'Pam'. (can't remember her name now) She was all smiles while we shot the breeze at the drinking fountain, and waited for the rest of the group to show up. She'd gotten lucky and found a good draft to suck on, answering our question about how she managed to stay ahead of two good bricks.

Turning around for home, Pam took off like a shot, and I after her, while Larry had to close up a gap. With the wind at our backs we were really flying, 21-24mph right along. Pam pulled out and I took up the lead, getting down in the aerobars. I knew I was going too hard, but was LOVING the speed - peaking at 27mph. Huge smile, as I pushed the pace, my HR strap at home, I was enjoying my 'Off The Map' time. Larry stayed with me, but Pam disappeared. (phone call as it turned out)

When Larry took the lead I was struggling to hold his wheel, but after only a mile he was spent too, so we backed it down to 15-17 and waited for Pam to catch up. She never did, but it gave us some time to chat and work on a coordinated strategy for next time we ride together - something like push hard, but when the back guy comes up, ease into the power. The effect should be like intervals with short recovery periods.

My quick and dirty look at the early stages of the Amgen Tour is that stage #4, with the grueling Mt Hamilton climb from the NE side, may very well decide the race, and at least, the race until the queen stage in the San Gabriel Mountains. For those teams looking to base out of Sacramento, Iowa Hill out of Auburn is an excellent preparatory ride, as are hill repeats of Prospector's/Marshall Grade between hwy 49 and Georgetown. The latter can easily be made to take in Salmon Falls Rd, the heart of stage #2. Both are much safer practice areas.

Well, duty calls, so gotta go, but I'm excited to be riding again, and hope Larry and I get to do some more miles together. It would be so nice to have a well-matched riding partner.


Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

I have been using my hr strap about 80% of my training right now. Trying to learn what and where to be without it. If race day rolls around and I do nto have it for any reason I am hoping this plan be save me from stressing.

It is nice to be free from the gadgets every now and then.

Smiling reading your post. SO great to read about you riding again.

Grey Beard said...

It is very liberating to ride 'naked' from time to time, and just let your senses be your guide.

I like your strategy too. Anything you can do to eliminate race-day anxiety is a good thing in my book.

I'm really, REALLY wanting to do some long miles now. Getting that panic, like the season is getting away from me already.