Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spin to Win - 60Ks of suffering

I am really living up to the name The Lazy Randonneur. I was supposed to test my new dynohub & lights last night, but I got sidetracked by 6 beers and some loud music. I was still trying to be good by leaving the party in full swing and getting to bed by 00:30. When I woke up at 8am I was hungover and it was -2 deg C outside. I came up with all sorts of reasons why I shouldn't get out for a ride - I won't bore you with them. Since I had a friend coming to visit for the weekend at 3pm and I managed to procrastinate long enough I decided screw it I am going back to bed. So I did.

When I got up again I did the smartest possible thing I had two cups of strong tea. Caffeine is such a great drug. Jeff called to say he would be late and that he needed to do an hour run when he got here. Hmmm...it was 10 Deg C out now and I had an extra 2hrs till he would arrive. Time to ride my bent.

I am trying to migrate to a carfree lifestyle. I don't intend to buy another vehicle when my pickup gives up the ghost. So I felt a bit guilty putting my Volae in the truck and driving to the edge of town. I am weak, but the idea of stop and go traffic for the majority of my 50K ride was downright depressing. My Volae is a great long distance machine, but it sucks in town when I have to stop all the time - my DF bikes are much better suited to such missions.

Upfront I want to admit I am a bad man. I saw a DF rider just leaving the parking lot when pulled in. My first thought was "I better hurry up and get on the road so I can pass him" He got a 10min lead and I never did see him again..=-(

I was wearing tights, LS jersey and vest in the truck. It was so warm at the start I peeled the tights off and ditched the vest. Luckily I wore some bike shorts underneath. Pedaling out of the parking lot in only shorts and a jersey made me very very happy!

The first section of Hwy 8 heading towards Bragg creek is protected and I was cruising at 30kph comfortably thinking I'd have a sweet average speed for the ride. Yeah this was supposed to be a casual early season warm up ride, but I have a need for speed.

My hopes for a fast time were crushed when I got onto the main straight portion of Hwy 8 and rode right into a nasty headwind. Note in the pic above the snow [it got cold!] and the safety triangle flying away even though my bike is stationary. I was hard pressed to hit 20kph on the flats and 24kph downhill - yikes! I also got very cold from the wind and the snow on both sides of the road. It was kind of like biking in the froozen goods section at the grocery store. I stopped to put on my tights, gloves and Patagonia Houdini shell. This shell is uber light/compact and uber expensive, but well worth it in my opinion for cyclists. Off again I was toasty warm and hit the 20K mark of the ride marked by a left turn onto Hwy 7 towards Bragg Creek. The wind was now from the side and I was looking forward to a nice easy spin the last 10kms that run slightly uphill to the turnaround point at a gas station.

Alas it wasn't to be. To my horror I saw a DF rider in my mirror about 500ms back and closing. I did what any sensible recreational cyclist on a easy early season warm up ride would do - I hit it and started a 10km uphill time trial with a side wind. At 25kph he would close on me, at 27.5kph I was holding my ground and at 30kph I was opening the gap. The problem was 25kph was hard work, 27.5kph was painful and 30kph was a full on suffer fest. I did my best. He would gain a bit so I would pull myself forward out of the seat and crank it up to 30kph for as long as I could and then eventually find myself at 25kph and the horror would start all over again. The only thing that saved me was I know this route well and I know exactly how long I had to ride. The last 1.5kms were a blur. I kept slowing down and having to accelerate back up to 30kph hurt, but there was no way I was getting passed so close to "home". I hadn't had a sip to drink since the TT started and I was feeling yucky, but I was so close. I hit the gas station at last with a 200m gap left - sweet. I know I know quite sad.....lol.

In the pic above I am looking a bit grim after my ordeal. I drank a whole bottle of sports drink and ate a Cliffbar. My plan was now to ride back gently with a nice tailwind. The plan lasted 60 seconds untill I saw 5 DF riders pull out of the coffee shop up the road. They were skinny and on nice road bikes so of course I gave chase. In my haste to catch up I blew through a stop sign right in front of a RCMP cruiser. I gave the officer a shrug and point at the paceline down the road. He didn't come after me so I assume he understood the gravity of the situation.

I was now on a slight downhill with a quartering tailwind. I spun my Volae up to 45kph and settled into my seat for the chase. They were 1km up the road cruising in a double paceline. I reeled them in nicely and rode past casually with a friendly wave. BTW - my Volae with the Terracycle over/under double idler is a stealth machine - no one heard me coming until I had to cross the rumble strip to pass. It turns out they were 5 girls wearing some sort of team uniform. I kinda hoped they would get their train rolling and come after me, but they didn't seem interested.

Just before the 40K point in the ride and right turn back onto Hwy 8 I got passed by a DF rider. I was rolling along at 40kph so he was doing at least 45kph. I tried to jump onto his tail and draft him, but at 45kph I started to get some cramps and realized I had to accept defeat gracefully. Back on Hwy 8 heading toward Calgary I got the full benefit of the tailwind and had a wonderful ride towards my truck.

I passed another DF rider on a downhill and thought I had it made in the shade when I saw a silhouette in my mirror - the girls were back and they were mad! I hit it as hard as I could, but I was back onto the protected section of the highway and had no tailwind now. What was worse there was a long climb just starting - my Achilles' heel or is that Achilles' hill?...=-) I put my all into the climb and managed a respectable pace, but the strongest girl passed me. I gave her a salute as she passed acknowledging the effort and noted she had a tri-bike - sort of the recumbents' uncomfortable cousin...lol...=-)

There was one more downhill and then the turn into the parking lot where the cars were waiting. Could I make up the ground I lost on the climb in the distance left??? Naturally I tried and spun my puny legs up to warp 9. It was a close one for sure, but I got 100ms on her by the time we hit the parking lot. I know I know sounds pathetic, but I'm not going to win the TdeF so I gotta take my victories when I can get them.

I had a blast mixing it up with roadies at managed a 29.2kph average for the 60K ride. If JS had a Ti Aero for sale in the parking lot I would have bought it right there. I did okay on a 35lb [incl gear and fenders] steel touring bike with 32mm city tires on it. But, the thought of a 23lb Ti bike with 23mm tires and lightweight wheels makes my head spin. I know I will succumb to the temptation at some point, but for now it all about my Volae.

I have been a bit concerned by my lack of riding and the fast approaching date of my first 200K brevet. However, I felt great today and this was the first ride I really felt one with my Volae. I knew just when to shift up or down and how to work the bike to get the performance I needed. It was an amazing feeling. I don't know if I feel so good because of my Baja cycle tour in Dec? I thought that the 2 month layoff since then would have erased any fitness I would have achieved. Perhaps my Lazy Rando Training Plan is actually super cunning and I am avoiding all those over training pitfalls? Who knows and frankly who cares? I feel good about my abilities on my bent and the 200K on 14 April isn't worrying me too much now. The best part is it is March so my average speed and climbing skills have no where to go but up - nice!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

you got beat by a girl ! just kidding ,, congrats on the ride and I hope your loving your bent

Vik said...

....true, but I did beat her to the parking lot, which felt allowed me to retain my honour...lol...=-)

Steeker said...

I like it when the 40/50+ ladies pass me and wave showing off thier steel thighs and calfs. makes me ride faster ;-)

Jim said...

Actually a VERY respectable average speed for that distance, especially with minimal chance to get your 'bent legs. Well done! Is the bike meeting your expectations??

Michael said...

My buddy John Climaldi and I were out riding our 'bents in an area popular with local roadies. We closed the gap on a beautiful young woman on a road bike. John put it best, "Dang! I want to catch her... but I don't want to pass her!"

Vik said...

Thanks Jim - yes the Expedition is doing exactly what I want which is to allow me to ride long distances at a decent pace and in total comfort.

Although the idea of a lightweight race bike is quite tempting when I really think about it the Expedition is ideal for my needs.

Michael - I asked myself the same question when I was about to pass the 5 female DF riders. They were cuties, but I figured drafting them while ogling may not be entirely appropriate behaviour...lol..=-)