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Saturday, January 12, 2008

The 70th mile strikes again

There was an omen before the Upstate Winter Bicycle League this morning. I forgot my helmet. I got out of the truck, got my bike off the rack, and realized my helmet was back at home!

To make matters worse, I knew I wouldn't be able to get in the house if I went home because the beautiful red head was taking Things 1, 2, and 3 to Thing 1's piano guild. (She did very well, by the way. I watched the video.) The door would be locked.

Thankfully, the folks at Carolina Triathlon let me use a helmet for demo rides. I got it on without anyone getting on my case for riding my bike from the truck without one.

Today's ride was to be a 95 miler. My Garmin showed that it was more like 92. There would be three attack zones and sprints. Ooooo, it was going to be a tough one.

The beginning was the same old same old -- except we started going in reverse. No, not our bikes, but the route. I had hoped that things would be pretty close to last week so I could know more what to expect.

We eased into a nice pace and I was able to achieve one of my goals I had set for the day -- take some time to talk to riders around me. I saw Craig Lewis and said hello. Then I spent a good amount of time talking with Dave from Charleston. He is one of the organizers of the Lowcountry races coming up in the Spring.

We had just finished our conversation when we neared the first attack zone. It started right after a stop at an intersection about 35 miles in. I was right up there in the top 12 or so. The whistle blew and we took off.

George and Craig were up there with Sperry, Andy Baker and some other really good riders. I didn't know much about the other riders in the group. All I really needed to know was who would be up front.

A silly grin crossed my face as we started. I decided to see what it would be like to mix it up with these guys. We were flying! It was pretty flat and we were well over 30 mph.

I was right behind a guy in a Furman kit. I just hooked on his wheel and followed -- looking at his wheel. When I looked up, I noticed a gap had formed between the Furman rider and the group of 8 before us!

I went around the slowing rider and actually started to close the gap. I then looked down at my Garmin and saw my heart rate was at 191 and would keep going if I kept this up. 196 is my max. It was time to slow down.

I took my time and allowed some riders to pass me while I got myself back together. It didn't take too long so I got back in line and was able to close up to the lead group in time to see the leaders cross the line up ahead of me. A BMW girl was right in front of me and I just had to pick it up and pass her before we reached the marker.

The good news is that within a minute of finishing the sprint my heart rate was down to the low 140's. The pace went down some and by the time we reached the next attack zone, I was feeling pretty good.

The attack zone was going to be a climb above Ware Shoals. I was actually looking forward to it because climbing steep grades seems to be one of my strengths (relatively speaking). Unfortunately, I was toward the back as the attack started and half the group -- those who didn't want to climb -- turned left to go into the town. I had to slow to get around them and the leaders were nearly 30 yards away.

I decided just to see how many I could pass on the way up. My reckoning put me passing at least 12 riders. I rode in to the store stop leading the second group.

Lots of good things happened in that first half. I was through the first 52 miles and had made it through the first two attack zones. There would be only one more at the very end. Surely I would have a better second half this time.

Things started out pretty good. Unfortunately, around mile 72 we came to an unfamiliar stretch. We had just turned from a stop sign and I got caught flat footed. I was dropped from the main group before I knew what was going on. I tried to catch back on, but this was when I started to feel the same weakness as last week.

It got so bad that I had to do a mile or so behind the broom wagon drafting back up to the main group. From that point up until the last attack zone, I was riding along just fine. There were even a number of grades where I climbed with no problem.

Going into that last attack zone, I just pulled over and let them go. I tried to stay in a secondary group so that I could come in with a respectable finish. It didn't happen.

Just as I was about to turn onto Piedmont Highway the broom wagon caught me again. I waved her on. Drafting off the broom wagon is adding insult to injury. I decided to just enjoy the day and ride in at my own pace.

Turns out I wasn't the only one. Two other riders came up behind me and we paced together for awhile. As we got closer to downtown, I started feeling better and I picked up my pace.

Up ahead I could see a rider in a yellow and black kit. I guessed it was Stradford Helms. What was he doing back here? I caught him and we rode in together. It turns out he broke a shifting cable and was stuck in his small front ring and his 14 ring in the rear. I think he basically spun himself to death for the last 30 miles!

I finished the 92 miles in 4'33" averaging 20.2 mph. We had just under 5000 feet of climbing. I burned 5800 calories and averaged 158 bpm HR.

There just seems to be something about the 70 mile mark where I hit a wall or something. It is the same thing as before. It isn't that I am in a bunch of pain or anything. I pedal and still watch the group slowly ride away. Once there is a gap, I have to work that much harder to close it up again. That puts me deeper in the hole.

It has to be that I am fooling myself on the way out. Once again the elevation chart shows a downhill ride in the first half. The second half is uphill. These long sections with speeds over 25 mph up a 2% grade are the ones that get me. I just don't know what I need to do to improve it.

Oh well, next week I'm going to go back to my Sunshine Cycle Shop ride. We climb nearly as much, but it is in a 28 mile ride. I don't think George will be there pushing the pace either!

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At 1:43 PM, Anonymous dave said...

How much did you eat and when did you start? If you truly burned 5800 calories then you would have run out of them around the mid-point of the ride (assuming you don't have a hollow leg). Standard sports drinks would only give you 120 an hour if you're lucky. Might be time to throw in a clif bar after about 15 minutes of riding and then keep downing them (or gels) every 45 minutes or so. That would give you an extra 1500 calories or so.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Jonathan Pait said...

Had 1000 calories for breakfast.

Started with Hammer Gel about 30 minutes in and emptied one and a half flasks of the stuff during the ride. Had a Clif Bar halfway through.

No sports drinks. Just water.


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