21 March, 2010

Snow and Racing

Saturday we woke up to a beautiful scene surrounding our house. Scraped some more snow before the rising temps made it any heavier. Here are some shots...

Here's our driveway...

Sunday's race day. I met Kenny L. at his place in Westminster and we rolled 19 miles to the Niwot to race a crit. We're all sporting our new kits and we actually have 5 people flying the Natural Grocers colors for our event. The sponsors said it was okay to sit on the back-as long as you don't work with them-for a reconnoiter/warm-up for our event. As we were rolling at the back, I noticed that this group was going faster than our group two weeks ago. I was already warmed up from our 19 mile ride to the event and this effort was stressing my legs even though was I was motorpacing off them. Before I peeled off, two people crashed on the straightaway on my left. The guy who crashed had his head down pedaling furiously and ran his front tire into the guy's rear tire who was in front of him. He literally crashed himself out of the race. Oops.

When our event went off it was our goal to have one of us in a lead group and the rest to chase or block. Does it suffice to say I was fighting a head cold all this week (didn't think so)? The first go 'round was Kenny busting a move with another rider to establish a break/lead. He was ready to settle in but his break away companion sat up. While their lead was growing though our other teammate Rich soloed for a bridge while Joel, Rob, and I blocked. Blocking's a difficult job to accomplish if groups of riders surge on either side of the peloton regardless of the leading edge (us) kinda easing off the pace. Joel's a beast blocking when the pack surges and he kinda jams his way to the front, keeps the leaders in sight that waste calories chasing but he doesn't join in the chase. This kinda of eases the anxiety to chase from the the people behind him. When Rich finally caught Kenny for the purpose of making it a two-man Natural Grocer's time trial, the rest of the peloton caught them and it's back to one big group. When the peloton decided to chase Rich and Kenny (even with our attempts to block) it made for one of the fastest lap times for our race. Another group kinda surged and had a gap, this time Rich went and we settled mid to front pack again and nobody in that break wanted to work and we formed one big group again after we caught 'em. For team tactics, you never chase down a teammate that's why it's important to keep your eyes open to see who goes. When I say big group, I'm guessing there were 50 or so of us.
Before the 5 to go sign, there was a flurry of attacks off the front to keep people honest and as soon as we caught like the 3rd or 4th attempt, Kenny busts an inside move before a big right hand sweeper, leans the bike like a moto, and he's off! I see him go and I ride the gutter on the inside to get to the front to block and that effort's cooking my ass. Needless to say, we attempt the block but by this time the peloton's a freight train where passing is almost impossible. You get out in front and the wind'll cook you. Kenny stays off for maybe a third of a lap and the peloton catches him. He eases back and settles in midpack. When it's five to go we surge for three laps hard. On lap four the pace goes up another level; on lap five I'm digging in my 12 and forcing as many watts as possible from my already wasted legs. I mean I'm in my biggest gear, with people surrounding me and I'm working hard to stay in the draft. This last lap effort splinters the group into an hour glass and as we're hammering in the last straight away I see Kenny out of the saddle standing up, not pedaling and I knew he had the worst case scenario of a crit racer-cramping on both legs. I keep my position in the northern end of the hour glass and I see Joel three rows ahead of me, Rob one position ahead of me, and Rich doing an impression of Mario Cipollini advancing towards the finish line. This effort was so intense for my lack of intense legs my hip flexors were even starting to cramp. Ugh! Joel did this race on his 'cross bike even! Look out pack once he gets his road bike back. Pretty honest effort, seems like everybody is like Tantalus, where the grapevine (fitness) is just an arm's length away. Race number two? Done. It was fast and not so furious. In my cold stupor, somewhere in the middle of the race, I remember there was in hole in the space/time continuum and I swear I thought the whole pack was in slow motion. I remember, as my perception, looking around like I was sightseeing, at people's faces to see their physical exertion and scoping out their rides just out of curiosity. It was kinda surreal. It reminded me of a Terry Gilliam scene from Monty Python.

On the way to Kenny's joint, Kenny was gracious enough to wait for my bonked-self. Ouch and thanks I guess.

It's a good way to start the season though...

19 March, 2010

It's Snowing

My current residence belies the fact I have southern (equatorial) roots

Friday's the big snow day so far for March, so what better time than to go for a night ride Thursday before the trails get buried. That's what me and Kevin did. Met at the Alameda parking for Green Mountain by 6:30 and we rolled. The front was beginning to creep its way in and the wind was making the air super crispy. Our goal that evening was to go slow/mellow on the flats and downhill and to go like men possessed on the uphills. Uphill intervals. Yup. 'Twas my first time out for 2010 too on my mountain bike. She felt great although my legs weren't used to the higher rpm spinning on the granny. Our first interval was climbing up the fireroad. Felt like crap! The legs were so heavy and I just couldn't get synched with the cadence and my breathing. Almost felt like the bike was becoming a stranger. Finally near the top when I was really pushing it, I became synchronized once more. Kevin wasn't that far off, so when I got to the top, I busted a you-ee, came down and stood out of the saddle chilly-chill, to diffuse out my friend and enemy-hydrogen ions, following Kevin to the cut-off to one of favorite downhills. From there, there was a spur we took to take us back to the main trail to begin lap two. That singletrack portion had some short but steep climbs that put my pistons into lactate hell (yes I'm lactating). I need that though. I need to push my legs to discomfort by pushing it to and sustaining some lactic threshold training. The minute the trail would flatten out, I would come near to a halt then once anything resembling an anticline showed up I'd hit it like no other.
The second lap, the final climb, the winds were beginning to howl so it was good that this was our last lap. I kept it in the middle ring and even though I couldn't spin it in the cadence I wanted on some of the steep stuff, I would sit and power through until I could. The most memorable sight for me was when I was at the top catching my breath, another cyclist with the plush light set up (on bike and on helmet) started to descend and his forward facing halogens coupled with his flashing hot-dot off his seat rails/post made him look like low flying airplane. With the fog, it put the light sources inside an opaque halo and it made for some contrasty, illuminating, otherworldly scenery. Great night ride. My legs were spend and I felt satisfaction for my down time cycling Saturday due to the blizzard like conditions up here in the high country.

Friday's here and it's snowing like a banshee up at our place, I learn from Melissa when I'm at work. So as soon as my last class is finished I sign myself out and head home to beat the truckers up the canyon before the roads start freezing and they start jackknifing (like they always do in March). Sho' nuff, I didn't even make it two miles up the canyon before traffic completely stops. And, sho' nuff, it's a grip of semis chaining up on our tiny little canyon road snarling up traffic on a Friday afternoon. Once I roll past the bottleneck I'm jonesing for some good beer to enjoy, celebrating the end of the work week, celebrating the beginning of the weekend, celebrating my trade-off so's I can race, celebrating living the high-life, celebrating how hip my family is, celebrating the fact that our new race kits come that also celebrates Halloween...etc. so I pick up a 4-pack of a St.Bernardus sampler. When I'm home our driveway needs some scraping so I drink just a smidge of St. Bernardus Pater 6 before I fireup the ATV to tease my tastebuds of what's to come (don't drink and drive an ATV kids, but relax, even though I'm not a professional I play one on TV). The snow's not being so friendly...

07 March, 2010

Die Wochenende

Saturday morning was spent riding about 17 miles on the rollers, getting warmed up for the hour of power. At this point I need to pile up miles as I can get it. It was a great ride up until the point when a sheriff pulled out speeding pack over with his lights and sirens a'blazin'. Apparently we cyclists where scofflaws when it comes to being on the road. We stopped and listened to his lecture, said our, "Thank-you sir(s)" and off again we went. For the first couple'a miles we double filed it but once we got into the reservoir it went back to shit-on-your-neighbor mode. The climb to arrowhead golf course seemed fine. They were flying. I managed to keep contact with the main group before the last little crest then I popped. Made sure to be in the top dozen on the downhills so if there was going to be a significant split I'm going to be in that group. Yeah it was a good ride. People lost water bottles on the speed bump at the entrance to the park. Every now and again I guess they forget and they nail the speed hump at 32 mph and they have a yard sale right then and there. I remember the water bottle rolling around on the deck like a chicken with its head cut-off and said to myself, "That's a nice colored orangy solution inside that water bottle." It reminded me of the types of ice cream selections you get at the lunch line back in the day of those orange pushups. Remember them?
As we wound up the sprint I remember the dude next to me nailing these pretty good sized potholes. Holy mackeral I heard his wheels take the brunt of that and boy did it not sound mechanically forgiving. Reminded me of the physical characteristic of metal being brittle. Yikes.
After that, chatted with a dude named Tom flying the old school Vitamin Cottage colors on the way back to the cars. From there, chatted with another old acquaintance on the bike about his new ride and it's off we go to do some climbing up Highgrade road with some racers on the Acme team. On the way up to High Grade, rode with a staple of metro area cycling and historical badass, Dean Williams. Back in the day, he would pretty much top 10 any race in the metro area and the surrounding states that had altitude. He was a pretty fast dude, could TT and stage race as well. It was honor cycling next to him. Apparently the sponsor owns the trademark to Acme with Wile E. Coyote. After the big chicane at Highgrade I pulled a U-turn so's I can make it to my son's bud's party down the hill where I'm going to eat ice cream and pizza. Total it up at the truck: 54 miles in three hours. That's ite. There goes my girl-ish figure for March! As I was pedaling with a fast cadence my left hamstring cramped up. Not a good sign. Just shows my intensity's too much for my lack of fitness this time of the year. Speaking of which, I'm tentatively doing my first crit today. Nervous Nelly I am and I'll probably have multiple bowel movements before we stage to the line. That's good though, gastric emptying is good for racing...

On the way to Niwot the mercury kept falling and falling. It was 42° F in Conifer but when I arrived in Niwot it was 37°F! As long it wasn't raining that's cool, but it was durn chilly. Lined up for the first crit of the year next to Kenny and off we go! It was amazingly fast with a bit of the jitters as would be the first criterium of the year. Nobody went down and it was a blast. With 200 meters to go I didn't get around a whole lot of people because we were cooking but Kenny whipped out a nice sprint. Covered 25 miles in 45 minutes. That's an average of 33 mph. Not bad. Nobody wanted to work in the breakaways. The only time the pack would respond was when somebody would rocket off the front; otherwise if the breaks would've just noodled a bit quicker with no response from the pack, I bet one of 'em would stayed clear. It was odd diving in a corner, sometimes 4 deep, and there's somebody below you carving a turn and somebody on top of you doing the same thing. On one particular corner I felt a handlebar end slide off my hip but nobody went down. Every now and again people's pedals were scuffing the deck as they were pedaling through corners as was I (but my pedals didn't hit the deck). Now and again somebody's carve went wide on the turns but nothing you couldn't adjust in such a way that it didn't get too exaggerated. It was a great weekend of riding.

Hopefully I can do this again one week from today.