Friday, March 16, 2012

The last mile

You have about a mile left.
Your breath is beyond your control.
It feels like someone has plunged hot pokers into the center of your thighs, the burning pain erupting with every downstroke.
Your mind is screaming at you to quit, to embrace the instant relief of stopping.
But you keep pushing, searching for inspiration,
your Irish,
that annoying guy,
the racers you'll face,
the ego's bottomless vanity.
You file through the remaining trail:
push hard on the flats,
kill the hill,
and you're done.
You feel him gaining, hear a breath, a stick crunches, he's on your wheel.
Dare him to match you.
Push push push.
Last hill,
light bike light bike
sprint sprint sprint.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday's group ride: The Carnage

Jeff, Brian, Tim (fresh from Hawaii) Lucas and myself.
Park n Ride, Sagamore to Pinehills in Plymouth and back.
About 10 miles up road and dirt road to base of big climb.
Did said big climb.
Then curled around the tops of the hills on rooty, steep singletrack.
Went over the bars on a downhill - gravity always wins

We went across State road (3A) to the more technical stuff and then back and did a couple more big climbs.
On the last big climb, I was feeling good and keeping pace with Brian when all of a sudden Jeff passed me like I was standing still.
This was a sign of things to come.
We finished at Pinehills and hit the dirt Old Sandwich Road and I took the first pull.
Then Jeff took over and shot away like he was being chased by a swarm of angry hornets.
Brian held on and did some pulling of his own.  Me, Tim and Lucas fell off the back.
I chased back and closed the gap and sat in for a bit - but alas, the chase back killed me and I fell off for good, but kept pushing hard.
Off Old Sandwich Rd onto State Road and the 20MPH SW headwind hit and it was carnage

Crawled up the hills, pushed on the flats, but it was painful the whole way.
Brian somehow managed to hang on and finish with Jeff.
I came in about 5 minutes later I guess, and then Tim and then Lucas rolled in a bit later.
Talk about stringing out the field.

All told, a little over 35 miles in 4 hours.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pinehills lives up to its name

This week's group ride was a trip OTB (that's 'over the bridge' for you mainlanders) - well, barely OTB as met at the Sagamore Park and Ride.

Quick aside - Jeff had a "shit cyclists say" moment on Friday when I was down with the stomach flu. He said "bummer, but at least you're going to get a little leaner."  My response was "don't think I didn't already think about that!"  Pffft...cyclists (rolling eyes).  Well, thanks to those couple lbs lost on the "stomach flu diet" I'm now down to about 177lbs, which I probably haven't been for 15-20 years.  I don't have a goal for what I want to get to, but I'm pretty psyched to be under 180.  And that's about 17 lbs lost since Thanksgiving.

Onto the ride. The group was just Jeff, Dan, and myself this week.  Tim's in Hawaii and Brian thinks he is (went surfing).  Jeff and Dan are way stronger riders than me, so it was to be another humbling ride.

We rode the Road from ParknRide to Ellisville, then dirt road (Old Sandwich) to Pinehills. About 10 miles I'd guess before we got to the singletrack.

Caught the trails there and were soon at the base of the first climb. Holy crap does Pinehills have some climbs!  I swear we were in New Hampshire. WTH?

The climbs were all the same in that we'd start as a group, I'd have a little bobble or mispedal and they'd get a little gap, I'd think I was maintaining that gap and then come around a corner and they'd have teleported 50 meters further up the hill and driven a stake through my heart.

I used to think I was a pretty good climber until I started riding with these guys. I do have a pretty valid excuse, though - they're stronger than me.  Well, I guess that's more of an explanation than an excuse.

Anyway, after going up and down for a while, we then crossed 3A and got into some fun technical stuff.  Then we started wondering about time and daylight, and so we hit it hard back to the cars. Made it just in time as it was starting to get dark.

Overall, I was pretty humbled on the climbs, but felt strong otherwise. I had a little more gas at the end than I did last week, so that's a good sign for my fitness.

Pinehills is excellent for climbing training, and the technical stuff is great - lots of rocks, stunts, ladders.  It's not a big area, so it'd be hard to ride it for too long without repeating trails (thus our parking so far away so we could get steady pedaling in as well).  And it's within sniffing distance of a Fukushima-style nuclear reactor that is dangerously overcapacity with spent fuel rods - ya know, if that kind of thing bothers you.

My computer busted about 12 miles into the ride, so I don't have the details, but I'd guess we did about 32 miles of mixed terrain in about 3hours 30minutes.

I always like reflecting on my training after the group rides, and try to plan for adding in a workout during the week that will improve on a weakness. I'll try to add a climbing workout at some point this week - it's just hard to find a hill like one of the many in Pinehills.  I'll figure something out.  I'm also thinking of replacing pilates class with some cycling-specific resistance workouts. I'll probably use some pilates moves, but will concentrate on the cycling-specific ones only.