Friday, May 25, 2012

Pain Train And The Time Trial... Ride and Race Report

This past week has been a pretty awesome week on the bicycle.  Last weekend saw brutal, long, and exhausting hours working on the ladder.  I came into this week knowing that I would be tired.  Monday I ran with a friend and logged a surprisingly sharp pace given the level of fatigue in my legs and a relatively low perceived effort.  Tuesday night was a group ride and what a group ride it was!!  It is called the "Pain Train Race Ride" for a reason!!  Wednesday was a moderate length run with speed intervals followed by a time trial yesterday.

Oh wait?  What was that?  TIME TRIAL!!  Yes.  For the first time in a year…. the Duck toed the starting line of a race.  It was a short time trial held by the Tyler Bicycle Club and the East Texas Triathletes.  I haven't found the results posted online but I think I finished second among the women… though that could be waaaay off base since I determined that by scouring the time sheets for times faster than mine.  EIther way, I am thrilled with the result.  The photographer was a volunteer and she is going to send me a disk with my photos on it.  I will post them when I have them.

The course was 4 miles and I did it in 7:41.39.  I was a little too conservative at the start.  There was a tail wind and I went out determined not to blow up.  The other riders had made a big deal about two hills at the end of the course.  I knew I would need to have something in reserve to deal with hills and I was wary of the intense week I had loaded into my legs.  They have let me down before when they get deep into overload.  When I started, I felt great and quickly ran to the high 20's for speed.  I remember thinking.. "ease off.  You've got a ways to go!"  I cautiously pushed to speeds up over 30 and let myself off the leash at 2.5 miles.  I crossed the finish line still accelerating and felt like I could have gone twice the distance!  What hills?  Oh yeah, crested those going 29 and my max speed on course was 37.  I am a little sorry I didn't fire earlier, but I am glad I stuck to my plan since I had no idea what to expect.  Without that tailwind, those speeds would have felt a LOT worse.  Now I know how fast a short course feels (everyone kept saying how long it felt) and I will follow perceived exertion a little more closely next time.  An old riding instructor once told me that showing is a skill that must be learned and practiced like any other.  Same idea applies to racing.  I am just thrilled to be back in the game after SOOOO long!!  I finished the race on my toes and hungry for more!!

Rewind to earlier in the week and there is the group ride I mentioned.  Don't let the word "group" fool you.  It was a crit style race ride with a ruthless pack of excellent riders jockeying for position and taking corners at astonishing speeds.  This duck was in some deep water here!  I had expected a fast ride but assumed there would be a pace line, which I knew I would be dependent upon to maintain averages in the low to mid 20's for 40 miles.  Nope, sorry, Duck.  No pace line!  I found myself at a huge disadvantage since I did not know the route.  Never really knowing when to floor it and when to back off.  Also, I was not confident cornering at those speeds on some really sketchy road surfaces.  After having to chase out of every corner for 45 mins, I finally got dropped on a hill where I made a bad choice in gearing and lost some momentum.  The pack was going to fast for me to make it up.

I rode briefly with a couple of other riders who were recently dropped but ended up being happier finding my own space and stayed a short distance behind them, maintaining the same speeds.  This worked well until they turned a corner and disappeared!  I am serious!!  Disappeared!  As in abducted by aliens!  Then I was alone.  Ordinarily not a concern as I usually ride alone but since I was in a strange town, on an unfamiliar route, and totally disoriented…. Well, I guess that is why I had a gps in my pocket.  I pulled up a map and got a route back to the shop.  The road home was some kind of crazy packed gravel for six miles so I had to watch that pretty average speed plummet as I felt all of the fillings in my teeth rattle loose!  After that, the road changed to smooth asphalt and I could not have been more grateful.  In the end, it was still a respectable average pace and I was pleased that I hung on as long as I did.

It was a great week.  I felt like I was outside my comfort zone and developing as a cyclist, athlete, and racer.  I will be back for more abuse the next time I am in Tyler!!

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