30 January, 2010

The Hour of Power

It's going to be in the forties Saturday, so I'm going to head out for a group ride. If there's no group ride, I'll do my own thing but at the very least it's still riding. Called the local bike shops to see who was doing what during our frozen time of the year and I had to go with the closest one to me. Kenny was riding in Boulder but I can't justify the time and gas to go out there. The old South/West (Chatfield) group ride was about thirty minutes from me and another one-also equidistant-was in Golden (Twin Peaks?). What I like about the Chatfield ride is that it's an hour long (an hour of power, or an hour of ill) and they go like their hair's on fire. You could get dropped from the downhills if you lose contact with the group because they roll hard on the downs too. I pull out when the sprint's starting up a mile away and all the strong Freds start their giddy-up. I've seen the nastiest crashes when they touch wheels so I just sit in back of the choo-choo and watch the mayhem begin. If I'm feeling a bit randy though, I'll get to the front for a serious pull ('bout three nanoseconds) to add to the momentum of the charge of the two-wheeled brigade. This is Friday night.

Saturday. 10 a.m.
Chose the Chatfield ride and saw teammates from our elite masters team: Bill Herwig and Vic Williams. I swear, if you're late a minute to this group ride they're off and rolling and you're left marching the big gear to catch up. When a group of 40 or so riders start downhill, it's a daunting task starting late at this particular group ride; needless to say it wasn't me today...

It's pretty fast once we hit the slight uphill before the turn to Arrowhead golf course. A gentle little uphill but people like to hit it hard. Probably dropped about 10 or so. The real biscuit's the climb to Arrowhead golf course where the topography's like a canyon so it seems like there's always a side wind to keep you honest and to test your echeloning skills. We like to gutter people here in Colorado. I know better but for these early season rides you need to be up front but today I just like to chill in the back and motorpace. So when the riders in front of Alex (from Team Subaru, not my colleague) and me start to fade, we had to punch it around them which means getting a face full of head/side wind. It was like that to the top of the turnaround at Arrowhead-hopscotching to the next group until they popped too and we'd repeat our hopscotch routine. This was too much for me and I popped as well and I gimped it for the rest of the climb to the front group waiting at the top/turnaround. The riders that got popped on the climb to the top, stop and turn around to wait for us when we descend to catch back up (they don't finish the climb-slackers!). Alex came around me pretty quick the last 50 or so yards to the top.

Like I said, this group's fast. I was talking to a group of riders when I noticed a gap open up on the downhill. Nobody was going to chase and the gap was getting bigger so I dropped it in my twelve and craaaaanked as hard as I could and the rest of the lame-oes glued to my wheel and I bridged the gap for myself and them (nobody came around). It is a training ride so usually nobody tries to be a dick when we're acting like a collective. No more of this so I moved to the front where I had no fitness to be there in the first place. A small group ahead of the main pack was beginning to put some distance between us, so we five started to chase. I went in front and as I rode the right hand side of the road to break wind (I said break wind) for the last, leading guy, with my left hand pointing down around waist level I did the international sign of "the rotation's clockwise" and proceeded to "air" stir the "pot" clockwise with my index finger so's they can see (and hopefully understand) my visual. Clockwise it was, but us five were the only ones doing the rotating and remember this is my first, hard group ride of the year after I broke my ankle so I'm cooked-again! I raise my hand and begin to exit left and back from the pack. After the third choo-choo passed me, I got out of the saddle to get a head of steam and transitioned/glued myself onto the fourth choo-choo breathing like a steam engine. My heart came back down from my throat and I was in business again. We worked together and we eventually all assimilated into one rolling pack albeit a bit smaller due to attrition. I'm loving it at this point and this is why I race. When the green flag drops and everybody's in their handlebar drops trying to push their will against the group, we look around after the dust settles to we see who's around that made the cut. Today it was me and a fecal ingesting grin settles on my face. Thank goodness they were going slow today!

Inside Chatfield we're echeloning like crazy (and the back of the pack's all guttered) because what little sidewind there is today is amplified by the velocity of our peleton charging to our imaginary finish line in the reservoir. People are starting to peel off backwards and what's dangerous is that they're in the middle of the pack going backwards but thank goodness people's bike handling skills part the pack like the Red Sea to eject the racer whose spring lost all potenial energy and the kinetic's already gone. The sprint's in sight and I get to witness Vic Williams and Bill Herwig wind it up in the comfort of my motorpacing position. I could've read a newspaper I made such a great space for myself. I was in the twelve, hands oscillating between the drops and tops and for eeking out as much watts as possible that means I'm almost sitting on the horn of the saddle with my toes pointing straight down, doing an impression of a dynamo for the last three miles. I have a Selle San Marco saddle and the horn's pretty rounded and padded...

Ladies and gentlemen, this is known as the hour of power. It's only going to get faster so I need for my body to get used to the speeds and how to physiologically manipulate it as I enter the meat grinder we call racing/training. It's left me physiologically satisfied with a nice case of time-trial cough that persists the rest of the day.

Hello meat grinder, it's me Mike. Remember me? Ah likes you Mr. Meatgrinder...

I ride/cool down for hour two with Alex. Seems like there's a bunch of them on Team Subaru this season as compared to last year. Alex is going to be a beast in the crits. We chit-chat, gossip, talk mountain bike, and reveal our potential racing itinerary for this season. He's a good guy and I meet some of his Subaru homies. Nice guys and pretty fit for Feb. Two hours needs to increase to three pretty soon but it's a difficult task with a family of three kids (boo-hoo). I'm wearing my old Vitamin Cottage race kit that parallels Barney's (the singing dinosaur) color scheme.

I meet Melissa at her Mom's and I wash and change the oil (and oil filters) on both our cars (which I recycled at the auto parts store-12 quarts of oil!). I guess that's why I buy full synthetic so's I can change the oil at 7.5K miles. For din-din we eat a hearty dinner of Manicotti and Cesar Salad and I drink a couple of Cokes for my earlier efforts.

Hopefully I can get another ride in Sunday.

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