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Saturday, December 01, 2007

That was a 2/3 of a pizza ride

The morning was going great. Since I didn't do the Sunshine ride this morning I got to sleep in a little bit. Right as I was getting ready my boss called me about a news story that broke last night. That call threw me off and I started running out of time.

Thankfully, I still made it just on time. Turns out I didn't have to worry too much because there were so many announcements and people who parked their cars in the wrong place, we didn't actually roll out until 10:20.

There were probably 120 to 150 riders there when we started off. Things were kind of back and forth as we couldn't get any type of rhythm because of the traffic lights. Once we got on highway 20 things opened up.

I quickly learned you can throw the two abreast rule out the window. I was trying to hold to the rule but it meant I kept getting boxed in and because I was so far back in the field it was frustrating. I don't think I have ever used my brakes so much.

Finally, I stopped worrying about the rule and started working my way up toward the front. About ten minutes into the ride I made it up to the top 20 riders. But that changed quickly as riders would stream by on the left and you could find yourself thirty back in minute.

This continued on for most of the ride. There really isn't much to write about. 150 people going down the road at about 20 miles an hour.

I've learned a little bit about myself. I am not a sprinter. I am a climber. If I ever found myself back, I found it very easy to make my way to the front when we came to inclines. One of those climbs put me up in the top ten riders right before the first sprint of the day.

The first problem with the sprint was that I had no idea what we were sprinting for. How long was the sprint? Was it a climbing sprint, downhill, or level? I figured I was going to have to base my decisions on what was happening around me.

I eased back a little and let some riders go around me as we neared the sprint zone. The whistle blew and things shifted into a different gear. All of a sudden we were in a pace line hitting 30 mph. Then two guys in Land Rover kits came around my left. I jumped out of line to join them. I figured they would be working together and maybe I could invite myself into the group.

The Rover guys pulled back into the main line near another Land Rover guy. I pulled in with them. We were moving along at 33 mph at that point. Then I was near the front. Two Rover guys in front of me and one behind. The first guy pulled and then moved over. The second guy pulled and then moved over. It was my turn to pull.

I remembered what John James told me. He said to not increase your speed when you pull and don't pull any longer than anybody else. When the guy in front of me started to pull, I counted how long he lead the line: Ten seconds. To avoid anybody saying I didn't pull my weight I pulled for twelve.

I then moved over for the next guy to do his turn. No one came through. They left me hanging out there. I looked back and saw that the group had busted. I wasn't about to go on by myself. Besides, I had just hit 191 bpm on my heart rate. I knew I was in trouble.

The group reformed and tried to start something up but a guy with legs that looked like oak trees led a group around us and at that point I decided it was time to save some strength for the remaining 30 miles. I have no idea who won the sprint. I was dropped like a hot potato.

At first I wondered if I was going to be able to make it. The group up and left me as I was trying to get my legs back. Thankfully, a guy who had flatted earlier came by and I jumped on his wheel. Another rider joined us and the first rider pulled us back to the group.

Finally, I was starting to feel better. I began to work my way back toward the front of the group. When I was about 20 riders back, the whistle blew again and the sprint started up again. This time I decided not to go to the front.

I just stayed in the group and just rode along. Again, I had no idea where we were going. There was no way to know how to take advantage of anything without information. I was happy that I was able to move up at will. I was glad that was able to recover.

Wow, while in the group, I was hitting the same speeds we had hit earlier - actually peaking at 40 mph. However, my max HR during that period was 172 bpm. I think I learned a little bit about sprinting from this experience.

After that sprint we just took our time back to the start point. I spent 3 hours pedaling. We rode a total of 64 miles. I averaged 20.9 mph hitting a max speed of 41 mph. I averaged 157 bpm and climbed a total of 3,300 feet.

It has been a long time since I have ridden 64 miles. Over all, I was very happy. I was discouraged after that first sprint. However, perhaps most of my troubles are mental rather than physical. The second sprint gave my confidence a little boost. There is no doubt in my mind that I can keep up with those guys - I might not be able to beat them, but I can hang with them.

Afterwards, I was tired and stopped by Little Caesars to get me a pizza. Two-thirds of a pizza and one liter of SunKist soda later, I was feeling good. Overall, I would say that the ride was fun and I'll be doing it again.



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