Saturday, January 12, 2008

Hindsight is 20/20...and a new appreciation for mountain bikers

Well, on Friday I had two choices for a Saturday ride:

Option 1: 50ish miles of gravel road grinding in the mountains with some cool peeps...but start time of 8:30am..ouch.


Option 2: 90ish miles of road hammering with the who's who of road racing in Georgia..the Winter Bike League. Also, 55nine Performance was sponsoring this particular ride.

While Option 1 sounded like a hell of a lot more fun, I chose Option 2 so I could sleep in longer, and we were the day's sponsor, after all.

Little did I know that waking up for an 8:30 am ride would pale in comparison to the pain and misery I felt on the Winter Bike League ride!

So, here's my ride report:

My big mistake in these types of rides is always not staying close to the front where the pace is consistent and so is the effort. Riding at the back is an interval exercise. Brake on the downhill, hammer on the uphill..and this is no flat ride. Well, at 10:15 or so, they whistled "go" but for some reason the people in front of me were not going, while everyone else was riding away. Before I knew it, I was already pretty far in the back, knowing my task was to move myself as forward in the pack as I could. This wasn't easy, as there were a hundred or so people in front of me, tightly packed in.

The first couple rollers were ok, but then I started to feel the yo-yo effect you get in the back of the pack. Eddie was still riding next to me and I was confident that we could make our way up into a more "safe" place. Before I knew it, though, the pace on the hills was heating up, and the space between me and them was increasing. My heart rate was WAAAAY above my base zone where I was supposed to be, but I didn't care..I just didn't want to get dropped (at least not this early on). I silently hoped that my quads would soon start feeling like muscles again and not like two ton bricks. It takes me awhile to warm up (well hey, can you blame me? i'm an endurance racer after all) of course after no more than ten miles I felt it happening..I was falling back...back to where I did NOT want to be. We hit another steep hill and all of a sudden I started to panic. I looked up and Eddie hammered past me like I was standing still...and all I could think of was "huh? WAAIIIT!!! aren't we supposed to work together or something like that?"

Apparently not, since that was the last I saw of Eddie...

Several others started passing me, as well. Apparently they know the game and can warm up faster than I can. I felt them shaking their heads and looking at me pathetically, thinking "Wow, you suck", or "Wow, sucks to be you", or "Hope you brought a map!, See ya!" I wanted to yell at them and say "HEY! I AM A MOUNTAIN BIKER! I WOULD KICK YOUR ASS ON THE TRAIL! OH, AND I'M STILL IN BASE MILES!! HAVE A NICE DAY!" But I didn't. They didn't care, maybe it wasn't true, or maybe I just didn't have the breath in me to yell. It didn't matter anyway.

It was unbelievable...dropped less than an hour into the ride. As I was swallowing my pride, the SAG wagon comes up next to me and says "hold on to the door, I'll get you back up there".

"Cool" I thought. My savior. Until I held onto his door and he started speeding up. I'm not sure how fast he was going, but it was a roadie move I'm just not comfortable with. I just pictured myself wobbling, crashing, and being run over by the SAG vehicle. So, I let go and thanked him but told him to just leave me. Instead he accelerated and I snuck in his draft. Great! For some reason I was much more comfortable doing 30mph 6 inches from his bumper than I was riding next to his front wheel.

Drafting the car was OK for awhile until that even had my heart rate pegged and I just couldn't see myself holding that..for 5 hours none the less. Unfortunately the main pack didn't seem to be getting any closer either.

Luckily there were several others dropped and we ended up riding together for the next 3 hours. The pace was consistent and still brisk, but I was ok with it now since I was warmed up. Unfortunately, though, I was still carrying around two bricks for quads. I had three run-ins (not literally) with dogs, but one very very close fact I saw my life flash before my eyes and thank goodness I have some skills because three crazy dogs basically ran at me while I was descending and shoved me off the road onto the grass..and unbelievably I didn't crash. I am a dog lover but when I am on the road, they turn into the devil.

So, that's that. My ride ended with coffee with some cool guys that I ended up riding with. They told some great stories and had me entertained most of the ride.

I ended up with 3 hours, about 55 miles, and a need for singletrack.

Sorry roadies, I know you'll miss me over the next year...(not)...but the dirt is calling.

p.s. I think I will just say that I'm done with base miles since this is the 2nd weekend in a row that I HAVE TOTALLY BLOWN IT. 139bpm? Ha, try 180. Whatever.


Blogger Javaun said...

Where was this weekend's ride? (Sounds like the ride you passed up was fire roads in Dahlonega or Ellijay?)

I'm trying to do some base this year for the first time in maybe 3 years. The hardest part is dealing with the boredom of trying to keep your heart down. So far, I've been entirely unsuccessful.

Keep at it, we're looking forward to following you and Eddie this year.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Namrita O'Dea said...

The WBL is out of downtown Athens, and the gravel ride was the Springer Mtn-Noontootla loop outside of Dahlonega.

I don't know how I feel about base..I mean it makes sense..but then the people that do Airport ride and WBL..there's no way they can be in "base" HR training...can they?!?! Anyway, yes the hardest part of it is being disciplined, it is a lot easier to do when riding alone. Pretty hard to do when riding with others if they are not on the same training plan. Good luck with it.

6:28 AM  
Blogger i8chocolate said...

Yes, dearie, you just summarized what I endured the first 5 yrs of my cycling career. It's the school of very hard knocks. Road riding sucks & most riders are mean, but man it gets your butt in some kick arse shape so you can kick arse on the dirt! Our WBL days are long over, and I don't miss them one bit. "Base" didn't exist in our day; every ride was like that every time no matter what the calender said. You're right, the dirt is 1,000x more fun, and that's where you find us now! Glad to have you back over to the Cool Side:) You can come ride our butts into the dirt anyday, and we'll still smile at you when you trample over us!
We missed you Saturday! 47 miles, 4hrs 10min, 4,000'....pooped.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Laina said...

I think base training (in the true sense) is for people just starting an exercise program or maybe just picking it back up. Perhaps it should be called something else when you're a seasoned rider/racer. I have heard about the WBL rides and hearing your experience confirms it. I know how tough and strong you are, so I will stay far away from those rides!

5:01 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Outlaw said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I've just started road riding (hoping it will help my endurance) and will keep your experience in mind before accepting any invitation to join a ride with other whom I don't know! At least you were able to turn your ride into a very funny post! :)

6:52 AM  

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