Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Riding and Riding Hard - athletic post

This past weekend I was able to get out for some great rides. It's always tricky balancing family and fun. Although I am the first to tell patients and clients that taking time for themselves is important...ruining your family to get that time is not a good trade.

Andrea was able to get out Saturday for a nice 70 mile from our house to No Ho (Northampton Ma). It makes my heart swell with pride as I see her get stronger and enjoy herself more athletically. Of course she holds herself to a high standard and one she usually reaches. I hung with the kids and did errands through the AM and had Mrs Murphy's stop during our running around. (Damn best donut shop this side of the Mississippi!).

In the afternoon I was able to meet Andrea in No Ho, swap truck and kids for bike, and ride the 26 miles back to our house with our fried Jim Sullivan. Jim got a late start to this year of riding because work has been so crazy for him. Never to do things in half measure, Jim just beats himself until he either dies or gets back in shape. To date, he has always been able to pull it back. I rode Jim back hard from No Ho as he already had 70 miles in an I was fresh. He finished the day with 90+ miles and the last 25 miles were no joke. He loves that stuff! I needed to go hard to bring my legs back up to speed. I had not ridden since Tuesday and stale legs going into Sunday's up coming leg breaker would be bad.

Sunday brought a ride for both Andrea and I (very unusual as we have Alex who is 10 and Audrey who is 7) as the kids both ad things to do. Andrea rode with a friend and we opted to head into the Berkshire hills and climb. A good core group consisted of a 55+ year old who climbs and pulls like he is 21!! Bob Johnson (So if you are old and out of shape there is your reason it is no excuse to GET IT DONE) ;) Steve Lombardo - great rider and climber when riding consistently, Jim Sullivan from above , Joe Crooks, Joe Rodrigues and myself. I only wish I had the GPS scan of what we did. (can't justify the expense!! and THAT is unusual for me!)

We started up 112 into Worthington. At least 8 miles up but the grade isn't too bad until the final chopper to the rest point. From this climb I knew I was riding well. Jim says I haven't ever ridden this well, and I think he's right. Combination of better stress control, scientific training, and plenty of rest all have contributed I think. On the final chop people blew up and only Bob Johnson and I stood and jammed to the rest point. Good sign for things to come.

We proceeded to Rt 9 in Cummington via Ireland Street and by the Cummington Fair Grounds. Nothing too ridiculous but still consistently going up. These kind of hills just wear you out over time.

We came out onto Rt 9 and headed toward Goshen and back to the 'flat' sections of the ride and toward home. There is one final hill on Rt 9 before the 8 mile descent that has always been my nemesis. It's not too long but hard enough. It bakes you in the sun and you can see the other riders going away from you as the road goes up and around a corner. Writing of it makes my stomach turn. Trust me I have been up much harder hills but, until today (foreshadowing for those that don't know) I have never had a 'good' day on this hill. Being unlucky I had to take it into the hill, meaning I was first in line. I rode conservative and held a steady 10-12 MPH in my second easiest gear...

Never a wise move to go in hard, from the front. You never know if the person behind you is fresh and feeling fine. As the sun comes up tomorrow, if they are still fresh, they WILL make you hurt by coming around you hard while you are blowing up from your efforts. Make no mistake about it people. Competitive riding and racing on bikes is a strategic war played out on two wheels. To the victor goes the accolades and spoils...but only those that risk it all can win. Every ride that is meant to be tough, each one of us risks 'bonking' and running out of energy.

Back to the hill. I rode in front for the first third of the hill. I flicked my right elbow and moved slightly to the left. This is the signal for the rider just behind to take over the pacing of the group. No one came around. HMmmm. This is unusual AND irritating. Not that any of my compatriots did this to irritate on purpose but, damn, I was getting a little tired. OK, they want to play those games I'm going to really crank it. I used the irritation to let it out and kick that hill's ass! I stood up and clicked to a harder gear. I pulled away slowly. I clicked to an even harder gear and pulled away some more. I clicked to a still harder gear and went as long as I could. Here I am in my 39X 17, a gear I could normally NEVER ride on that hill, and standing away from the other climbers. What the?.... I felt the legs blowing so I sat back down and shifted back to my 39X21 gear in one swift click and put my head down and pedalled hard. Can you say ouch!? I did this for as long as I could. Up and down the gears as I stood and sat alternately. I knew they would come get me, but I was going to make them suffer for it.

I made the top with Bob Johnson and Joe Rod who clawed back up to me just before the top. Bob said he was working hard to get there. That he COULD kick my butt is not my worry. I'm not a climber per se. I can climb when the stars and gravity wells are properly aligned, but my strength is in my snap power and all around ability. I was having a good day and THAT hill no longer has power over me. Peace has been made!

Knowing the hills were behind us, I now made a commitment to ride the 'big ring' (front big chain ring in the front gears) the rest of the way. 30 miles left and not one not in the BR. Bob Johnson took us on a shortcut that was as he said, "relatively flat". Yeah, thanks Bob. We added 6+ miles of short steep climbing to our ride and I still managed in the heavier gears. Thanks all the cycling powers that be that it was 'my day'. I finished with a hearty 76 miles, tons of vertical feet and one heck of a workout.

Tuesday my legs were a bit log like from the Sunday ride but I held on tight and made it through. I have to remember to ride conservative some times to get those recovery miles in. Jim Sullivan rode Tuesday as did Bob J and Joe Rod. We all were a bit spent. Jim is making his characteristic climb into fitness as we speak. It is inspiring to see him bounce back. I can not say enough about what he has taught me about biking and the psychology. In another 2-3 weeks it will be a different Jim Sullivan on rides, ones who's wheel I will look for and thank for having.

An easy ride is on tap for tonight with a 3 mile run right after. Tri season is almost upon us and we need to pull it together. HMmmm, does that mean I have to add in swimming? ;)


Ronia said...

Interesting to know.

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