Monday, June 2, 2008

Deceptive rides

Bike Race:
1. Any occasion on which two or more cyclists--typically, but not always, of comparable ability--are riding on the same course at the same time. All riders need not be aware that the ride is competitive for it to be a race.

Ladd and I met up Saturday morning for what would ordinarily be a fairly easy 70 miler. The first 10 miles or so we didn't even bother trying to get in a paceline; we just rode side by side, chatting, discussing the Giro, and not really pushing it too hard.

Once we got to the first of the two climbs, we settled into a rhythm, and I pulled up the first pitch. I felt fairly strong and left it in the big ring as we made our way up a moderate hill. Towards the top, Ladd made the comment that we were really moving. I looked at my heart rate monitor: 178. Yeah, I was going too hard, so I backed it off a bit.

Ladd took the lead, but didn't back it off as much as I'd have liked. He opened up a small gap, which I was content to let him have. There's a false flat before the final three mile pitch, where we regrouped, caught our breath, and agreed that neither of us was looking forward to finishing the climb.

Which is not to say that we took it easy. Ladd continued pushing the pace and opened up another gap. He runs a standard double crank, while I've got a compact. So when it got steep and he was out of the saddle, I was just spinning in an easy gear. I gradually started reeling him back in. Towards the top, I could tell we were both hurting, so I decided to try and pull in front. I accelerated and moved past him. I expected he'd let me go considering we still had another 50 miles to ride, but instead he latched onto my wheel. I accelerated again hoping to drop him. He stayed on. Finally, I shifted up two gears, got out of the saddle, and attacked, hoping to win the imaginary King of the Mountain points at the top. He tried to follow, but had nothing left. Unfortunately, neither did I, and after about ten cranks, I sat back down. I looked at my heart rate monitor: 192. Tactically speaking, this was not my best move.

Fortunately we had a five mile descent on which to rest our legs and spin out the lactic acid. Would have been nice to have a five mile descent that finished at my driveway, but instead it finished in the Payette River Canyon, which meant a moderate but consistent headwind for the next 25 miles.

We put our heads down and pushed through the canyon, without saying much for the first ten miles or so. I was starting to fade and needed to eat something, so I sat up and reached for my jersey pocket. A few weeks back, Fatty wrote about the "best jersey pocket food ever." I'll admit that I've never actually tried it as he recommends--plain avocado on white bread--mostly because we almost never have white bread in the house. But I did have my variation on this theme with me today: turkey, avocado, and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. Without having tried the original, I cannot categorically state that mine is better, but I've got to think that a flour tortilla is better than bread just because of the squish factor.

I've been experimenting with on-bike food lately to try and get a better understanding of what my body can tolerate on long rides. I know from experience that I cannot tolerate straight energy food for more than a few hours. I get to the point where I know I need to eat, but I just can't get myself to eat any more. I'm trying to figure out whether if I eat normal food as much as possible during the first hours of the ride, my stomach will better tolerate gels and blocks later in the ride.

So far, I've found three things that I tolerate well: turkey & avocado wraps (I can take or leave the cheese part, avocado must be salted), fruit (apples and bananas, though these are best picked up from an aid station and eaten immediately), and coca-cola (in the water bottle, on the rocks). I'll continue playing around with this, particularly as my rides get longer in preparation for Lotoja. One thing I know for certain I will be skipping is Red Bull. Unless I feel like I'm going to die. Even then, I'd rather just have a coke.

With a turkey-avocado wrap and some coca-cola in my belly (Ladd had some concoction he described as being similar to vanilla cake batter), we were ready to get back to business and push until we got to Emmett where we could stop and refill our bottles.

I'm always delighted to visit a convenience store and encounter happy, helpful clerks that don't laugh at my lycra. Usually if I smile and ask politely, they're glad to let us have free water and ice. In this case, I grabbed a bottle of coke as well. And Ladd learned when purchasing his peanut nut roll that you CAN use a debit card for a purchase of 53 cents.

One good climb and 22 miles to go with full bottles and stretched-out legs is a good feeling. Ladd wasn't willing to let me take it easy on the climb up Old Freeze Out, though. Had he not been in front, I may not have noticed the large snake sunning itself directly in our path. From the top of the last climb, it's just a flat to rolling grind back home. Usually at this point, I can smell the barn and have some extra snap in my legs trying to get the ride over with. On this occasion, however, we could smell the barn and then some, as our course took us past about 160 acres of feedlot, directly upwind.

The last ten miles after the feedlot seemed to go by quickly, though I was surprised how tired my legs were. I thought for sure that having already done a century on my mountain bike that riding 70 road miles would be a piece of cake. I was wrong. I went way too hard on that first climb and blew a lot of my reserves. By the time I rolled into my driveway, I had logged a little over 70 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing. Not really that big of a deal, yet all I had left was two servings of over-cooked leg from the Bonketeria.