Friday, March 16, 2007

Hell Week day 7: Sherpa Steven, massage day

I'm waiting for my well-earned massage appointment. This week has been all about training, so I'm making to most of it by scheduling some recovery. Today wasn't particularly hilly by yesterday's standards, so I was able to get in some good motoring on the flats. The difference between my max heart rate and my average heart rate was minimal, so it was a good day for long, steady, sub-maximal effort. Helping that was the fact that I was towing someone for most of the route. If I'm blocking the wind, I make an even greater effort to maintain a steady effort and ride a little faster than normal, knowing that the person behind me is going to pedaling much easier. On the way out I was a bit annoyed, though. We started late, and Sascha fell behind early on because of yesterday's effort. I motored up through the stragglers that started on time, passing some fast-looking guys, as well waving to Laura from Minneapolis, a super nice lady that was also staying at our hotel. Not someone who looks particularly fast on the bike, though. After a while I was aware of someone on my wheel. Getting into my rhythm I time-trialed my way along the course, and after a few miles I was ready for my draftee to take a turn. Pulling off, I waited for him to pull through, but he never did. So I moved back over and resumed the pace. I could hear him breathing hard on the hills, but I maintained my pace. As we rolled into the store, it turns out that my draftee was Laura! Although she's clearly been cycling for a long time, I don't think she understands the etiquette, so I forgave her and we had a nice chat at the store while I waited for Sascha. Turns out she threw her chain again, so was straggling behind a bit. We rolled out of the store again, but Sascha and Laura ended up sticking together while I settled back into my groove. I felt really good today, even into the wind, so it really seems like this week has been working well. On the way back into Fredericksburg I was leapfrogging with a few riders, including Lauren from Minneapolis in the Grand Performance kit from a few years ago. There really are a lot of Twin Cities area riders here! On the final roll into town I was aware of a rider on my wheel, which encouraged me to keep up a strong steady effort all the way into town. Turns out it was Lauren on my wheel, and one of the other riders we'd been leapfrogging. Lauren thanked me for my effort and we chatted a bit. Turns out she's doing RAAM (Race Across AMerica)! I was pleased to be worthy of being a RAAM competitor's domestique for a while.
__Tonight we're meeting up again with Robin and maybe Chris and Anya. Robin's still on the road doing the 100 mile route. She's not a speed demon, but she's hard core, having biked from Austin to Fredericksburg and back last year to do this ride! She lives car-free in Austin, and is a Unix sysadmin. Cool chick, and she and Sascha are getting along famously.
__I think it's time for a few shout outs. Thanks first to Sascha for bailing me out on bike disaster day and for being an awesome travelling companion. All you who didn't make it down this week for one reason or another are missing a great time. She booked the hotel again for next year, so hopefully we'll get a bigger group again, but I have to admit it's been nice having the room - even as it is the room looks like it's been hit by a biking-gear bomb, with clothes, equipment, two bikes, technology geek toys and enough food for an army scattered about. Speaking of food, Hammer Nutrition's Heed has fueled me on the bike. I've been mixing 1.5 scoops to the regular size water bottle, and along with a Gu or two or a few fig bars it has kept me bonk-free for each of these 75 mile days. I haven't been as hydrated as I'd like to be though, so I need to experiment with the ratio a bit, as my body can only take in so many calories at once, so I tend not to drink enough of the Heed to be getting enough water and electrolytes, even though the calories are perfect. I'll often ride with a bottle of Heed and a bottle of Gatorade, but after the first few days I found I wasn't drinking the Gatorade because my body was needing the calories of the Heed. Still, I'm learning what my body needs on the bike, and I'm doing better than I have been. The Specialized Allez has been holding up like a trouper, although shifting a triple blows. Pearl Izumi arm warmers and Gel Lite gloves have been indispensable on every ride.
__Tomorrow is the last day, and I plan to take it easy and explore the so-called 'bat cave' with Sascha on the scenic route they have scheduled. It involves a little hike, so we'll have to see if my legs remember what it's like not to be moving in circles!

Sheep dog on duty