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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Helotes Tuesday Night ride goes into hibernation

I wrote most of this Tuesday night but I started to drool on my keyboard before I finished.  I just retrieved my keyboard from the dishwasher so I will finish the post today.  I'm not going to change everywhere it says "today" or "tonight" to "two days ago" or "two nights ago".  We'll have to work with suspended disbelief, hop in our way-back machine, and pretend it is Tuesday night.

What a rough day. I didn't get a great night of sleep. I still got a lot more sleep than my wife but I had a bout of compassionate fatigue to support her. I was exhausted all day. There was a dull ache in my legs all day and I had trouble keeping my eyes open. But, as the last official Helotes Tuesday Nighter of the year I wasn't going to let a little tiredness get me down. I thought ahead and brought my bike to work so I could drive straight to the ride and not have to stop at the house first. Of course, having thought ahead, I wasn't actually in a rush at all and got to the ride with a little time to spare.

I tried to make the best use of this extra time by going for a very easy spin, little ring stuff. I rode about 8 miles at 160W average power. Basically, this was a recovery effort. My legs felt heavy. There was no power and I had a hard time telling if this was due to the poor night of sleep, accumulated fatigue, illness, or other. I figured that I would go out on the nighter a little easier than normal. I'd still pull, I just wouldn't pull as much as normal.  After being a pace-setter on the nighter through the summer was I gong to be !gasp! dropped tonight?  It didn't look good.

The traditional warm up miles down to Galm Rd. were no problem. We made the turn onto Galm and Kent decided to take off on his tri bike. I'd have let him go, we'd catch him on 211 if not before, but Zeeff saw this as an opportunity not to be missed and quickly bridged the gap to Kent. There was no major reaction in the peloton. Ed was pulling at that point and he gradually increased his pace and slowly, without excess effort, Zeeff and Kent were reeled in. I took a decent pull on Galm down to 471.

Once on 211 the action started to heat up and the group started to split. There were still 8 of us who hit the final climb together. This week I borrowed a page from Ed's playbook and attacked from the back halfway up the last hill on 211. I did this for a couple different reasons. First, because I wasn't feeling too great I figured if I could hit the San Geronimo climb on my own I could go over it at whatever speed I wanted and sit up for the peloton over the top (or ride on). That's a rough little climb and your day may be done for if you start to slip off the wheel of the other riders. I also wanted to break the group up a bit. I knew Zeeff would be gunning for the sprint at the end and the more riders who made it over 211/San Geronimo with the lead group the better rested Zeeff would be for that final sprint.

So I attacked and Zeeff put in a good effort to bridge the gap but was unsuccessful. I made it over the top of 211, down the other side, and over the climb in San Geronimo alone. Then I sat up for the other riders. Zeeff was still in an attacking mood at this point and we hammered along. Some of the riders had been trying to sit out their pulls or take very short pulls on 211. Now on 16 we were hammering along with pretty evenly distributed work. There will always be some who pull longer than others. We also passed one gentleman who tagged onto the back of our group but he was very polite in not messing up our rotation. As we got within 2 or 3 miles of the end Zeeff started to play his hand, rotating through very quickly on two successive pulls. He may have been hurting. To some extent we all were, that's the point. But I suspect he was trying to save some strength for the final sprint. Karma is a bitch and as he was pulling off there was a loud PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSTTTT! Zeeff had punctured. I asked if he wanted us to stop but it was just a formality. You don't stop on a midweek nighter for someone else's flat, each man is on his own. Stefano, Ed, Dickerson , and I hammered on. Stefano was barely hanging on at this point and it seemed for a moment he might be dropped. He made it back into the safety of the draft. As we approached the last incline leading up to the final sprint I jumped and opened up a gap. Ed and Stefano tried to get on my wheel. Ed put up a good fight but eventually sat up and left it to Stefano. It was a long sprint and I probably jumped just a little too early. With my quads on fire, my lungs ready to burst, and the contents of my lunch suspended somewhere between my stomach and my uvula I pushed on trying to find a second burst of speed. The tank was running dry and Stefano had found my wheel. He had the upper hand now as we were 100 meters or less from the line. At the last moment was coming around on my left when we hit the line. It was a photo finish with no camera in site. I really don't know who won. He may have had me by an inch or two but I threw my bike towards the line and might have just taken it.

After the ride I loaded up my stuff in the car and headed down the road to look for Zeeff and make sure he was OK. I drove past the spot where he flatted and turned around. I never saw him so I assume he made it back OK. It was a good last "official" nighter of the year. Ed reminded me that my move on the last hill on 211, which he had done the last two weeks, was actually the same thing I did the first time I rode the Helotes nighter earlier this year. It was my move all along.

So, while I started out feeling pretty crappy and wasn't sure if my legs would ever wake up, the ride ended strong and I was happy with the effort. Specifically, looking at the critical power curve I was able to sustain some good power at time intervals from 15 or 30 seconds all the way up to two and a half minutes. The max power was nothing to brag about but my legs didn't have it. The 20min+ power numbers are not impressive but that's what happens when you are only on the front for 3 minutes at the most before pulling off.

Here are the pics from the ride.  I didn't get as many as I would have liked.  Deal with it.

And the Strava data:

I have had a couple people ask me about the charts on the left margin of my blog, at least when you look at the full desktop site and not the mobile site. These images are Strava data aggregated by, which I highly recommend to anybody who both uses Strava and likes to analyze the data. If you use Strava it's worth a look.

My parents are coming into town for the weekend so I should get some rides in with my dad.  More to follow on that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Slideshow trial

I've been trying to find a convenient way to get an HTML5 slideshow into my site.  Here as test, from my days as a ski jumper.  Hard to believe 20 years goes by so quickly!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Setting the bar high, then ducking under it- I'm a crafty rouleur!

If you are expecting me to match the wit of yesterday's post you are up for a big disappointment.  It's going to just be an average post.  Some would say, slightly below average.

It was kind of a tale of two rides today.  I needed to get home early at the request of my wife so not only was I cutting the ride short by 12 miles, but it was imperitive we didn't waste too much time.  I had promised to be home by noon, as in showered and ready for daddy duties.  Rolling into the driveway at 12:00 wouldn't cut it.  I headed out to Helotes to meet Greg and expected to see Tom Bain as well as a host of Wheelmen there.  Tom was there but the Wheelmen barely made an appearance.  Andy was there as the ride starter and three others joined Tom, Greg, and myself.

Our ride got off to a rough start as Andy hit a large nail that did a number on his tire.  He got it fixed but it wasn't quick, about 7 or 8 minutes which feels like an eternity standing on the side of the road waiting for somebody.  I felt the need to make up for lost time.  I figured I could pull the group fairly casually down to Galm and then hammer down Galm to 471 which might get us back on track and get me home on time.  I also thought I might get a hard effort in early.  The plan was going great, I pulled to Galm at 235W average and about 22 mph.  We made the turn onto Galm and my plan fell apart after half a mile or so.  Jack, being the nice guy that he is, saw that I had been on the front for about 5 miles and thought he'd come up to help out.  He was going to peel off and ride with his wife when we overtook them so I'm sure he wanted to do his share of the work before that happened.  Jack is never afraid to pull.  The trouble is I was enjoying myself.  This was going to alter my plans.  I felt the need to get my long pull in.  Jack pulled for about a mile until we caught up to his better half.  I took over again from there.  So if Jack took a mile of my pull, one would think it would be sufficient to add a mile on to make up for that, right?  Well I decided I would pull until mile 10 instead of mile 8.  I added two miles not one.

I was trying to keep the effort even at about 300W.  I had to ease off a couple times as I started to open a gap on the group.  At mile 10 I was still feeling good and decided I would shoot for 15 miles.  The way to prevent anybody coming around was to hold the pace faster than they would want to pull at.  They'd appreciated the work that was being done on the front saving their own legs and travelling at higher velocities.  For the most part it worked out, except when Andy came around briefly, on my left, assuming the lead.  I appreciate the gesture but the pace did drop a touch when that happened and after a few tenths I was back out front.  After that I decided 15 miles was near enough to the end of Talley that I would just pull all the way to Potranco.  The end of Talley Rd has some rollers and I was opening gaps on the uphills and had to ease off a bit.  On the final climb up to Potranco I opened a gap on the group but I kept going, knowing I would be sitting up at the intersection.  It ended up being 16 miles where I spent almost all of it on the front setting an honest pace for the group to follow.  Here's a shot of 10 miles of it after Jack pulled off:  25 minutes, 23.4 mph, 292W (normalized).  Most importantly the VI was 1.028 indicating that it was really quite a steady effort.

After that I mostly sat in, rotating through with the group until we hit 471.  At that point Greg, Reeves, and I turned right rather than heading down to Castroville.  The pace I had set had been a bit quick for Reeves, who has two total hip arthroplasties, so we agreed to take it easy from that point on.  We benefited from a little tailwind at this point and almost no hills so we did the last 22 miles of the ride at 21 mph and about 200W, much of it riding side by side with Greg chatting with Reeves in tow.  I made it home on time and was spared the wrath of wife.  There were two time trial for 16 miles early on and then the casual ride home.  I enjoyed them both.

My wife was hosting a book club, which has nothing to do with books, and I opted to take the kids out of the house to the playground at Woodlawn Lake.  I was glad to see that they were more interested in playing with stick, leaves, and stones at the water's edge than play on the playground.  That's the way kids should be.

Noah and Keira running along the lake shore

Nothing like playing with sticks, leaves, and water