Monday, March 21, 2011

The stinging hand of Reality slaps Morale upside the head

Sunday. The PR ride with Team Mountain Khaki. A 128 kilometer ride past the three big climbs on the area: Hanging Rock, Sauratown and Pilot mountain. It was billed as a easy 24-26 kmh ride with SAG support. Going into this ride I had numerous ways I was going to consider this a success.

The Goal(s)

1. Unrealistic super optimistic ride. Ride/stay with the group, climb hanging rock, get dropped then use the cue sheet to get home and pocket my first metric century of the season and my longest ride ever.

2. Super optimistic.  Stay with the group, not do the climb but have them catch up as I carried on to the next climb, and get my metric and longest ride ever.

3. Optimistic. Stay with the group, get my metric and and little more to get my longest ride ever, pile into the SAG for the rest of the ride.

4. Reasonable. Stay with the group until I got my metric, bail and SAG home

5. Bad day. Get dropped but get my metric before bailing and SAGing home

6. Suck. Dropped by the group but at least I did my longest ride this year (63K will do).

Result: Well below Suck.

The Ride

It did not start well. We went up the first short, small hill right by Mock and I was already struggling. O God! What have I done? I've not ridden 3K and I'm in trouble.

But, it looked like it was a warmup issue. I got over the rest of the little hills OK and started feeling better. On the ride to hanging rock I had a few nice conversations with people I've never met, chatted with a few guys from the team and even did a pull on the front, earning my place in the group. After the pull I faded to the back than struggled a little getting back on but recovered nicely. I moved back up through the pack until I was about six back, getting ready to do another pull when we started hitting some hillier sections. One hill after another. No breaks. On the climbs I would drop back but wasn't too worried. I've been training. I just got into my rhythm and climbed at my own pace. Sure I ended at the back but I was pretty satisfied with how I was doing. But they did seem to be going pretty fast......

Then things started to unravel. I was near the back when we hit another hill and I was spit out the back pretty convincingly. Still climbed as best I could. No panic. I had seen earlier where my mass gave me a bit of an advantage on the downhill so I was able to scurry back on. Another hill, off the back. Harder to get on this time. And another, huffing, puffing, focussed but not pulling it back. Had my first real doubts and even thought about bailing.

Up ahead riders began pulling off. Hooray! A pee break! I got back on and now was determined to avoid getting dropped so I engaged in what I heroically call Hushovd climbing (but the rest of the group call SAG climbing). Got off the front on the downhill and have everyone pass me on the way back up. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. I'm pretty tired but feeling OK as we pull in for the first store stop, about 50K into the ride. I downed a few creme filled oatmeal cookies and a gel. About now the group starts to figure out the rest of the ride. We were approaching Hanging Rock. The first "real" climb. It was here that my heart started to sink and serious doubts about the day crept into my mind.

Some were not interested in the climbs so there would be a group that just carried on, the other group that was going to do all 3. My problem was that it was the strong group that wanted to do all three and I was certain I would be dropped and not have a group to fall back to if I attempted Hanging Rock. Plus, I was told the approach to and after Hanging Rock were pretty severe and I was certain I could not Hushovd my way through all of them.

So, I gave up on the idea of doing at least one climb. Time to drop to goal 2 or maybe even 3 or 4. We headed out and as we hit the first hill I hadn't had a chance to get off the front and I dropped off. Then the first of several mishaps. One of my water bottles fell out of my jersey. I had to stop half way up a hill to pick it up. Now, I'm off the back and don't even see the group any more. The SAG pulls up and the thought to bail rears it's ugly head again. Nope, I decided I would just carry on and get ahead of the climbing group and they would joinup with me further down the road. The SAG handed me some cue sheets and continued to follow me. I'm now alone on a road I've never ridden with my own personal SAG.

I came to an intersection that I think is the start of the official hanging rock climb and carry on. On my way downhill, hoping to catch sight of the first group, my Garmin goes flying off! Fuck! More time wasted. It took me and Jenna (you were awesome Sunday BTW, thanks to both you and Megan) from the SAG wagon ~ 5 minutes to find it and get back on the road.

I'm cruising away, having a good time, riding within myself, anticipating the climbing group catching up and getting back into the group. SAG pulled up and said they are going to scout ahead and see how far up the first group was. Cool, I'm fine and off they went. Several minutes later they came back and esstentially put the nail in my coffin. I had made a wrong turn. That intersection was not the climb start but the cut across to the way home. I was now in the middle of nowhere, had no chance of catching on to any group, 56K from home, still reeling from having been spit out the back because of a stupid water bottle and a dropped cyclometer and feeling crappy. It was too much, I bagged and got into the SAG, thereby dropping rapidly from goal 2,3 or 4 to goal 6 and beyond. Epic fail.

To make it a pefect epic fail though required an added bonus. As the SAG, now well behind all groups due to my wrong turn and delays, attempted to catchup to either group, we followed the cue sheet ... which had errors!!! It said to turn right when we should have turned left. That took a while to figure out, wasting more time. Another cue sheet error and another. Each time putting us further and further behind (or was it ahead?). We ended up ahead of all the groups without passing anyone. Bloody perfect end to a perfect day. Yup. Perfect Epic Fail.

Clearly I was not as prepared as I thought. Sure I had ridden 40, 50 and 60 K rides in the last three days so my legs weren't the freshest. And I was off the bike a fair bit in the week and a half since the orginally scheduled ride but even if those things were not true I don't think I would have been able to get beyond Suck. The group went a lot faster than I expected and the roads were a lot hillier than I was prepared for. All in all,  pretty crappy day.

Distance: 56.49 km
Speed: 26.78 kmh
Cadence: 82 rpm
AVG HR: 157 bpm
Weight: 201.2 lbs

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