Saturday, January 31, 2009

Perfect Bookends

Well I bookended January perfectly with another ride up Mt. Hamilton from my side again today (that would be from about the 45 mile mark on the below profile, to the summit and then back). Unlike January 1st, I did the ride from my front door and that added 5 miles of dirt road to the epic-ness of it all. Rock and roll!

Anyway. I can now enjoy a nice endorphin enhanced evening AND check off my metric-century goal. That seems a silly goal now that I'm in full-blown, racer mode but there simply aren't that many opportunities these days to knock out a ride that long. It will be easier in the Summer but being a family-man will still be the biggest challenge.

And that's okay with me!

January was a pretty good month full of base miles and a race. I haven't tallied up the time/miles yet but the real result is in my legs and my weight and both are about where they should be right now.

It really struck me today what a valuable asset maturity and wisdom are. Despite always being a good listener and learner, I am SO much more capable of soaking up wisdom now. For example: I might possibly be handling my bike on the road better now than I did when I was racing my ass off in my 20's simply because I took it for granted and could never seem to stop training my physical racing side and fix my mental racing side. Example 2: When I was young, I was the bonk-master. Any ride over three hours and -poof- where'd Roy go? DUH!!! I NEVER ate anything on the bike when I trained. For races I would eat and stay nourished but I had some sort of crazy idea that eating when training would negate the calorie burning. NEVER MIND THAT I WAS ALREADY deat-camp skinny. Nowadays, I make sure to bring at least 100 to 200 calories per hour on a ride when I'm going to go over two hours. And -SURPRISE!- I'm less hungry after the ride, have better endurance, and -maybe most important- I don't come back from a ride so damn hungry that I gorge on whatever I can find.

Now if I could only have my body back from 15 years ago...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Early Bird Road Race in Patterson

I'm feeling very good this afternoon in that post-race haze of sore legs and endorphin calmness.

After a week of self doubt, doubt about the weather, and general doubt about my sanity, I got up at 5AM this morning, made coffee and oatmeal, got my cycling kit together and then headed down to Patterson for the early bird road race.

I was super nervous as I got there and paid registration. "Bike racers are much skinnier than I remember" I thought to myself as I tried to push the self doubt deeper and remind myself how many hundreds of races I have under my belt and that this is early season and I am good enough and people like me.

Anyway. I hate to admit it but I pinned my number to my jersey with slightly shaking hands and then slowly got my bike and myself put together with about 20 minutes to kill. I did the usual parking lot laps until I heard "Master's 35+ 4's and 5's to the line!" This was followed by the usual warnings etc. For some strange reason, nerves immediately turned into standing there looking around at myself about to start another bike race ten years after the last race (those cyclocross races last month don't count!) and I just sort of found it humorous. From that point on I was fine.

The race itself was okay. I was surprised how high my heart rate monitor was going despite not necessarily feeling like I was working THAT hard. But when the crucial two mile climb at 7% grade came, my heart rate maxed out and I soon found myself sliding off the back of the remainder of the pack (down to maybe 20 to 25 riders at this point). I was fine with that and just crushed the gears and kept a couple of guys in my sights.

At the turnaround I was slightly blurry eyed and had that over-taxed fuzzy brain thing going but that cleared up pretty quickly. I was VERY surprised to find that I pretty easily caught a couple of guys on the descent. I have always been a pretty timid bike-handler and I've actually been working quite abit on it lately and it's paying off! Anyway. We weren't working all that well together. Two of us were pretty savvy on pacelining but our companion didn't have a clue and was messing up our rhythm pretty badly. But we were moving along nicely and keeping the following riders and races off our backs with no problem.

Then I got a flat ten miles from the finish and my day of hoping for a placing not too far back from the middle of the field went out the window.

But that's racing. I, of course, didn't have anything with me and I ended up standing on the side of the road for 15 or 20 minutes before a guy stopped and gave me a tube and pump. We finished the race together and had a nice chat. Thanks Renzo! Much appreciated!

And that was that. I was very happy to survive. I was pretty happy to hang in easily on the flats and easy climbs. I was quite happy to competently and confidently corner in a group and on a fast descent. I was a little surprised to find myself slightly squirrelly in a pack (but then 90% of the guys were this being a mixed race of beginners and January and everything). All in all I'm very happy I pushed the doubts aside and raced today.

When's the next one!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The dammit factor

I've gone from seeing great improvements and getting very motivated for cycling to not riding for a week and having depression creep in around the edges. Dammit.

Over Christmas week I was having all kinds of vision problems and headaches and then it cleared up. I had some really great rides and was feeling like I was on track. Then last Monday I started feeling crappy again and this has been a horrible week of blurred/missing vision, dizziness and crippling headaches. Dammit.

I went to the doctor and all he did was give me a referral to see a neurologist since he thinks these have been migraines and that I should have taken care of this sooner. Neurologist is totally backed up out to four weeks and I have to wait it out. Dammit.

The cruel beast of cycling as a competitive sport means you MUST MUST MUST put that thing between your legs and ride. Really you shouldn't be riding but training -to use better semantics- but sometimes just riding lets you keep up what you've worked so hard to build up. Greg Lemond said that a week off the bike was equivalent to three weeks of training lost. I've been unable to ride for a week now. Dammit.

Depression runs strong in people with sinus/allergy problems and I'm no exclusion to that correlation, unfortunately. And it's just a bitter addition to the already hard to maintain upbeatedness when something you love to do and, in a way, become dependent on, is taken away. All I want to do is swing my leg over a bike today and work out my frustration and pent up energy but here's this damn headache and slight dizziness again. DAMMIT.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mount Hamilton Vanquished!

New Year's day was absolutely gorgeous with almost severe clear sky and upper 50's weather so I made a rather snap decision to check off a ride to the top of Mount Hamilton.

The ride itself was pretty uneventful, though I really love riding up out of San Antonio valley since it is very very reminiscent of riding in Northern Arizona. The hardest part of the ride was staying on the road in the shadows on the descents where there was still a little ice to be found on the pavement. I flew off the road not once but TWICE! Good thing I'm so comfortable off road on my bike...

The entire ride is full of climbing but the last slog up from five miles out is the longest. I listened to my heart rate monitor yelling at me the entire way up but couldn't climb it easy. From the top I finally got a view toward San Jose only to find silicon valley completely fogged in. "Suckers!" I thought to myself. I could also see the road coming up from San Jose and many cyclists coming up from that direction. Again, I felt superior since riding up from my house from the East is MUCH more scenic and enjoyable. Less traffic too. And a longer ride.

I had just enough signal to call Kris for a quick "Hello from the top of Mount Hamilton!" Then I traded picture taking with a nice family (with an accent I couldn't place and not much English skills) and was off back home.

End mileage was something like 59.8 miles. I almost did a few circles in the road just to force it to a nice clean 60 miles. Oh well.

With proper care to eat on the way and not killing myself on the first half of the ride going too hard this was a pretty easy ride. I'll definitely be doing this as often as I can when time and weather permit. Back in the old days, a weekend wasn't complete without a 60+ mile ride but this is the first one I've done since I've been back on. I'm not sure why that is. I certainly have the stamina for a ride that long. And this was 60 miles with TONS of climbing so I'm feeling really good about my endurance base now.

Oh yeah. Now that I've finally gotten the proper fork/brake/stem combination worked out on my new SOMA smoothie frame I'm very happy with it. With the Ruffy Tuffy tires it's not exactly fast feeling on the pavement but it eats up the dirt road easily and they are actually very good tires on fast DRY descents. As I found on Mt. Diablo a couple of weeks ago, however, they aren't so hot on wet pavement. Anyway. It's nice to finally have a bike that does the dirt road, pavement and can double as a touring bike (and possible a cyclocross bike!) so capably.