Sunday, May 6, 2012


Yesterday, hurrah, I did 65 miles. Well okay - more like 65-ish. I think it was somewhere between 62 and 63, but I've decided to be less die-hard about exact numbers, especially now that we're in the range where a few miles is nuttin. I mean, the proportional difference, if that's what it's called. It's like driving across town to save 2 pennies per gallon on tax: so what if I pay $43 for a tank of gas instead of $41?  Let's be real, people.

Okay that might not make much sense but I am tired and not really focused on being all coherent and stuff. The only real reason I cut the mileage was because I had a leg muscle that was seriously complaining and who knew Burr Ridge was so freaking hilly? So we cut out some hills near the end, which meant cutting a few miles. I'm not chuffed at all, since I did the hills the first 2-3 times they came around on the course (the whole route was just a series of repeated loops on the same roads) and because I have learned not to push it when it comes to complaining leg muscles. Lately, it's not my calves. It's my hip adductors. Otherwise known as The Groin.

Through this training process, I have become intimately acquainted with the anatomy of my legs.

I have been conducting peacekeeping talks with my Adductor Magnus for the last couple of weeks. At first he refused to acknowledge my authority (due to my having confused him with Vastus Medialis, of quadriceps fame), but our working relationship was coming along quite nicely until yesterday's breakdown in negotiations. I stretched and stretched but Magnus was only willing to give so much before refusing to put up with it anymore. I could tell a screeching tantrum was on the way, so we cut some hills and called it a day.

In fact, I even walked it up a couple of really steep long hills. I hate to walk a hill, so that tells you how traumatized I still am by the pain of the charley horse from hell. No way will I unwittingly let that happen again.

Here's some great news: I was much faster this time! There was wind, but at least half the time it helped instead of hindered. (Yes, half the time it DID hinder, but hey - I'll take what I can get.) I think I do better on hilly terrain, because I can really take advantage of the momentum I get from downhills. And I have to say that I'm beginning to wonder how much of my slowness is my weakness as a rider, and how much might be my bike. Now I know it's a poor rider who blames the bike, but I also know from reading Lovely Bicycle's thought and reviews on different bikes (which are addictive, btw) that the bike really does make a difference.  Some bikes are built to easily pick up and retain momentum. And a lot of times, it's the combination of the rider and the bike, in terms of weight, positioning, and riding style. So I am beginning to think that some of my speedlessness is the Pepe half of this relationship. Maybe we're just not the best couple to go a fast distance?

In any case, I apparently got up to like 19-20 mph in some places, and often cruised along at 15 mph. This is the advantage of having a cycling computer (I don't, but all the coaches do). It's funny, because I would never ever have guess I was going that fast. Kinda cool. I also learned that a 1% grade downhill is my all-time favorite terrain ever. It's exactly perfect because it doesn't FEEL like you're going downhill, it just feels like you're effortlessly zooming along. Highly recommended.

I got to ride with Coach Tom, who has done Tahoe like 9 or 10 times. He shared all his Tahoe Tricks with me. Well, he'd shared them before, but we made sure I hadn't missed any. The most valuable one is to NOT stop at the first rest stop - everyone wants to, because it's right after the much-dreaded switchbacks, but Tom says it's a big mistake because the rest area is right at the bottom of a downhill, just before a nasty uphill. And here's how you make it up hills: Never, ever ever waste a good downhill. If you stop, then you give up the momentum that would carry you most of the way (sometimes all the way) up the next hill. If I ever stop, it's at the top of a hill.

Anyway, that's all boring endurance-cycle talk, so let's just leave it at: I made it, my legs are tired, and I have much stretching to do. And here's a little bit of the switchbacks:

Actually, this guy did a whole series of videos, so you can watch bits of the whole ride, in sequence. I haven't had the strength yet to look directly at what's coming, but you feel free to do so. I think I'd rather let it all be a surprise. In LESS THAN A MONTH OMG.

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