Saturday, April 10, 2010

Crushed it!

Mother of Pearl! Went out to support pancreatic cancer research today and did "Rick's Ride", a 50 mile loop around Belews Lake. I fully expected to see some hardcore riders there and some recreational riders and hopefully a few, like myself, that were somewhere in between. I didn't expect to stay with the big boys but I was hoping to stay with them for awhile early on and I did.

From the start, the road was flat to downhill and an early split occurred. I didn't think it was going to happen so quickly so I was fortunate to be in the front half. I'm feeling quite good and we were cruising along @ 22+ mph. I'm slowly making my way through the paceline watching everyone carefully, trying to get a feel for what pace I should be setting and for how long. Feeling a little nervous but also excited. Then all hell broke loose.

We took a sharp right and headed down a steep, curvy wooded lane. I'm third from the front but the two in front do not have as much mass as I do (read I'm a fat frakker). Rather than burn good speed, I try to get around but neither seems to be able to find a good line and I'm forced into the oncoming lane and trying shed as much speed as possible as quickly as possible to get back behind the front two and on the right side of the road. Then, of course, we hit the 15% grade going up. I've got no speed, and I'm scrambling to find a gear to climb in as everyone else screams past. The big boys left me in the dust and I never saw them again. Ah well. So much for that plan.

I settle in and start taking advantage of this nasty, brute of a hill to find a rhythm and start calibrating my effort. Coming off this hill was tough but it turns out there were 3 other 2-3 mile climbs of ~ 8-9% and by the second one I had dialed it in. I was climbing this long, steep hill and just going and going and going. My lungs do not explode, my legs did not stop. Apparently 88% of my Max HR is my Lactate Threshold. Any more and my legs begin to burn and I lose power.

During the ride I was able to link up with 4 others and while we did not always stick together, I was able to keep them in sight and used 1 as a rabbit. i just kept pushing, keeping the cadence high, keeping the HR just under 88%. I'd get closer for awhile then he would pull away but I could always see him. I just kept going. I did remember to put some gels onboard and drink so I also avoided the bonking risk.

As I pull in to the finish I'm a bit over a mile short. I'm feeling tired but there is no way I'm not getting my first half century of the season in today. I keep pushing through and wind out enough to push me over 50. I'm beat but happy. I didn't stay with the big boys but I was somewhere in the middle of the second group. Two other groups were behind. If that was the entire day I would have been entirely satisfied. But then, I had a peek at the Garmin stats. I did the ride in under 3 hours! An average of 17.1 mph. Crushed my previous best at this distance (14.9 and 15.4), I got a new max speed of 41.9, and dialed in my long climbing effort! Freaking awesome day.

I'll pay for this tomorrow but tonight I sleep the sleep of the conquering hero. I really can't express how awesome this feeling is. Today was crazy, over-the-top, maxxed out, top of the line great.... Until next time.

Here's the link to all the gory details

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