19 March, 2011

Last Day of Winter!

Ah yeauh. Did the hour of power today. Absolutely stunning day as Old Man Winter's letting go of his grip on our colorful state. It was just above freezing at our place and by the time I arrived at the shit-on-your-neighbor-shindig (aka the HoP)-parking area it was well into the 40s. Unfortunately some $hit-heel shot out the car's, driver's side window that was parked in front of me. Wasn't even 15 minutes as I was going back and forth warming up before the HoP. Probably some GED'd, hillbilly loser whose exhaust system's blasting a hole in the ozone layer. What a crappy start. As I warmed up, the pistons felt heavy and was breathing a little on the loud side but nothing too worrisome as I was doing a systems check on a slightly used, battle scarred (all the appendages that stick out when hitting the deck road or crit racing), espresso fueled, 44 year-old piece of machinery, made in the Philippines. Getting the glow plugs warmed up, that's all. At crits I usually camp out for 45 mins on my rollers but I guess today's 15 minutes'll have to suffice.

Jeff Leischner, my teammate was there too. I hadn't seen him since we raced the mountain bike Spring series last year. Other than the pace picking up quicker than usual and the wind being as pesky as all hell, everything was going fine at race pace until the climb into the golf course. I got shelled so bad that by the time I made it to the turn around, the lead group darted off to the trip into Chatfield. No worries, I just inserted myself into the back of the last group of riders, put it into a slightly higher rpm, with my hands on the tops and belly breathed until I was breathing somewhat normally. Had to put the heart rate back down just in case there was going to be another protracted surge.

Unfortunately with a group this big and with the sidewinds being a mofo, people were taking a lot of yellow-line violations to stay in their drafts. There were a lot of surges and a lot braking, not your usual flow-style with experienced riders pedaling consistently. Last year there was always a sheriff or the county po-po to pull us over and lecture us accordingly because we were behaving like a bunch of novices. When somebody pops in the pack it seems like slow motion when the peloton goes around him so's he can be jettisoned from this pack akin to a swarm of bees.

Another $hit-heel motorist feigned like he was going to head-on collide with us as he made a sharp move into our peloton scrubbing the yellow line and correcting himself back into his lane. Amazingly ass-holish. This was in the park so unlike last week I was motoring and braking and accelerating with the main pack. As the imaginary finish line got closer people busted several yellow line violations to accelerate and advance their positions, which got us going too. Herd mentality when we see people jump. I too got out of the saddle to get it to ramming speed but intentionally sat down to drive more watts into the pedals. Jeff played it smart and pulled himself out of the pack so as not to get crashed out which is normally the case when wheels touch this early in the season. Three years ago I saw a guy crash, hit the deck hard shattering his helmet, and when he was done sliding, he started to convulse. Thankfully EMS is the sheeeyat around here. All this potential danger for the thrill of bike racing? What little mayhem I have seen (bikes and bodies, including myself) should make competitive cycling contraindicated for most but here we still are: pedaling, elbowing, holding our position in the draft, chicken winging (that it's your turn to take a pull you ehfing free loader), spitting, launching snot rockets, adjusting ourselves, peeling powerbars, pointing out road obstacles, gossiping, yelling at crappy bike handlers as well as "car up!" or "car back" with our hairs on fire heading towards a finish line (imaginary or real). Suffering in our shared, collective, self-inflicted pain while rolling down the road as spandex-clad advertisement for our sponsors reinforces our competitive streak I suppose. In the end though, regardless of an entrance fee, it still is deeply satisfying knowing that the group you started with has whittled down to this select bunch due to attrition. On our cool down back to the parking area, I met another teammate named Eric (sp?). He too's a Master. I'm a Master. That sounds funny, master's racing...

Motorpaced/climbed up to the first big switchback on Highgrade after the HoP to accumulate more miles using different muscles. As I was getting ready to leave back home I was introduced to another competitor named Mike Woodard. From one competitor to another we did the secret cyclist handshake because we know what's involved physically and mentally in this singularly painful sport (besides boxing or UFC) and we relish the fact that nobody else knows (or cares about) this.

05 March, 2011

back to doing the hour of power

After a two week hiatus from the hour of power, I got back onto the saddle (literally) for some real pain. Ooo boy did it hoit! The climb onto Arrowhead G.C. was especially painful but there was such a long train I was able to same time it with the second group.

As usual the downhill out of the golf course was slamming and I was caught with a group of two (three counting me) between the leaders and the main pack. The first guy took a tremendous pull and I came around him and got into preying mantis tuck on the downhill and was actually able to accelerate slowly, ever so slowly closer to the leaders, who were about 200m away. There's nothing quite as lame as seeing the last people in the lead group pedaling, with no great intent, while we are pedaling furiously with our hair on fire and our arses on the horns of our saddles. Once my speed slowed down, my bridge companion busted out the Russian pace-line and pushed me mightily fierce-like and that quick acceleration allowed me--us--to close in on the leaders as I spearheaded our trio crunching my 52x12 with everything I had.

It was all for naught because I got shelled once we got into the park and had to waste energy going around people who popped while the wind was making mince-meat out of me.

The hour of power is a grand total of 21 miles of go-with-your-hair-on-fire fun (if you can call it fun). Cooled down six miles worth of post cramping spinning. Sucked then, but hours later I'm more or less pretty satisfied with my efforts.

What an introduction back after two weeks off skiing and mountain biking in this beautiful state of Colorado. Tomorrow it's soccer action with my eldest.