Feb 14, 2011

Weekend's adventures and more

I’ve come to realize that after spending hours on the bike on the weekends, all I need is food, sleep and some more food. Writing blogs on those days is just not something my mind can work itself up to doing, so outside a very exceptional circumstance, I’m just going to write that practice off for the time being – no pun intended – and make an effort to write more during the week. That however, leaves me with a very busy Monday and a lot of things to discuss. So let’s begin.

Roasters and BoFax Saturday

I had a very ambitious plan for Saturday – ride out to Pt. Reyes with the Roasters, go back with them to Fairfax and hopefully meet up with Mission Cycling for another loop of something hilly. Well, as we all know, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” The first problem was keeping up with the Roasters. As you may have gathered form last week’s account (or happen to know from your own experience), they tend to be a speedy bunch. I tried to be smarter this time around, but the results were only somewhat improved.

Staying near the front at the beginning of every climb definitely helped as I stayed with the group on Camino Alto (the pace on which was way higher than last week and resulted in a new Strava PR), White’s Hill (which this week was a bit mellower) and almost on the Nicasio Ridge climb. I got dropped literally feet from the crest of that climb, but in addition to that, I also kind of blew up, which made it impossible to give it a hard push and latch on to the tail end of that group even though for a few minutes they were in my sights. “It’s okay,” I though to myself, “next time.” (The next time probably won’t come for quite a few weeks, as starting next weekend, I’m going to be racing a few weeks in a row. Maybe all the racing will get me better prepared to keep up with the Roasters. Hmm, shouldn’t that work the other way around?) Now it was time for some threshold intervals - that was my back-up plan in case I got dropped.

So I settled in around 300 watts and proceeded to make my way to Pt. Reyes. Right after passing Nicasio, I was caught by two riders, who, if I may say so myself, spent an insane amount of time riding my wheel without doing any work. This got me kind of angry, so I dropped them on the little hill coming out of Nicasio, but then I settled down and they caught on. This time, promptly pulling through and doing their load of work. The three of us continued to rotate to Pt. Reyes at a rather brisk pace. It was a good interval workout for me – take a hard pull, actively rest, rinse, repeat.

At Pt. Reyes, I ran into Alex, Ken and Mark just as they were about to pull off and continue with their ride – perfect timing, as I wasn’t planning on spending any time at Pt. Reyes beyond what it would take for a bio break. Their plan was to head down the coast and go up BoFax, Seven Sisters and then back down to sea level. I knew this would put me a bit short of my 100 mile total, but the climbing involved would more than make up for it in terms of effort.

The roll down the coast was relatively uneventful, other than the part where we came upon two guys trying to remount a tubeless tire with a tube inside after a flat. They asked for beefier tire levers. Turned out, they just needed a skilled pair of hands. After watching them screw around with the tire and Ken or Mark’s levers for a minute or two, I just took the wheel and wrestled the tire onto the rim with my hands. I have this rolling technique that I find works very well, where you roll the tire with the palms of your hands over the rim as opposed to trying to pull it up over the rim. I think you need some kind of Olympic grip strength for the latter one. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy to get it on, but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary – that’s how all race tires go on.

The last time I did BoFax, which is a 4.2 mile Cat. 2 climb, it took me just over 28 minutes (my best being just under 26, but that was during a race on fresh legs), with a similar effort as Saturday prior to the start of the climb. So I figured it would take me about the same amount of time and I settled in around 290 watts, knowing I can easily hold that for 30 minutes or so. My Garmin told me that I averaged 289 up the climb and finished in 26:59, but Strava says that the climb took 27:17 and I was at 285. I suppose I probably just pushed the lap button a few seconds too late. But the most important thing was that I had a faster time than the last with my HR being 5bpm lower!

I gave a couple hard pushes up Seven Sisters, and then again up to GGB from Sausalito (thanks, Alex!), and then my legs were cooked. I was about 13 miles shy of 100 when I got home, but in no way did I not do enough that day.

Mission Sunday

I guess the gloomy morning skies scared a lot of Mission cyclists off, as when I got to Ritual, there was no one there and only one person showed up a few minutes before the 10 a.m. departure – Jeff. We rolled to the bridge where we picked up Doug and Youenn and proceeded to do an uneventful, easy Paradise Loop. However, three somewhat interesting (to me) things happened on the ride: First, I realized that AIDS LifeCycle thing was underway as Mike’s Bikes path was dangerously crowded, not to mention we had to wait for a swarm of passing cyclists at the only intersection on Paradise Loop. Second, I saw many people in new and old Mission Cycling kits, none of whom I have ever met in my entire life – I have near-photographic face-recognition memory.

Third, I met a rider whom I knew, but didn’t know he was also a Mission Cycling member. I met up with him and another rider I knew at the coffee shop in Tiburon. He was one of the first cyclists I met in San Francisco about a year ago. He was wearing a red Alberto’s kit – Alberto’s is a bike shop in Highland Park, a suburb of Chicago – so naturally I pulled up and struck a convo. Turned out he is the brother of one of the Alberto’s races with whom a friend of mine races on that team – a small cycling world.

Fi'zi:k comes through

Remember I wrote about breaking a saddle last week? Well, Fizik didn’t disappoint with their customer service, and today, my new saddle arrived. I was a bit concerned as I didn’t hear from them for a couple of days after making the claim, but then I was contacted and asked the same question as the time before, “what color would you like and where should we send it?” Because this was the same saddle, broken in exactly the same way, I’m figuring that that’s just a flaw in these Antares saddles. They fit great, weigh very little, are otherwise very stiff (in a good way), but then after some time and lots of miles, I guess they just give in. I’ll ride this one until it’s no longer fit to ride and if it happens to brake in exactly the same way, I might have to ask for something other than a replacement, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

There are a couple more things I’d like to talk about, but I’ll leave them for later in the week, as I’m beginning to approach 1300 words and if you’ve actually made it this far, I thank you for your patience and attentiveness. Later this week: my pre-race form and what my training blocks are doing for my fitness; and a more detailed review of Golden Cheetah, with instructions for quick starting your fitness monitoring with this amazing free software.

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