Drove out to Longview College for one last good speed run, and a second shot at this awesome ride -- last time, about a month ago, I didn't have the Cannondale yet --- and YES: it has nothing to do with the bike, but it can't hurt, right??? S'pose...I sure FELT like one of the bunch, and a wee bit faster because of it. At least I was avoiding the "fender" jokes. hehe.
Anyways...met up with Mike Neven and company from the Bicycle Shack racing team, and we were in for a great ride this time out: The first loop was the 10-miler, with an average of about 14.2, which was too fast for the normal group, really, but everyone hung in. I got a little excited, as one guy jumped off the front of the pack and started racing up the hill on Scherer - no-one really reacted, so we let him get about 1/2 mile up the hill, then it was GO time -- so I jumped off, caught him, and beat him (barely) to the stop-sign at Raytown Rd. After that , I waited for the pack to come back up to me, for the spin back to the parking lot. That was fun, and a good threshold session. The second leg was AWESOME -- good tempo with the group, setting about an 18 mph pace, and - for some reason again - I was off the front, but maintaining the group with Mike Neven! It was a fantastic display of pace control, as we held a solid group pretty much all the way to Casey’s, as we held up good conversation and such. After 150 highway, however, a group of three of us - Jed, and some girl and me, took off the front, and set a solid pace -- until the racers decided not to let us get away with it, and gave chase -- I latched on, for a little bit, but it was pretty hot, and into the wind -- as soon as I lost touch, I was done. Awesome training! Average at from College to Casey's was 18.2! Not bad -- a quick refuel and rest, and it was time again for the FUN PART. The Ride from the Casey's back to the College is insane - last month, I got dropped in the first 2 miles.
This time, I was gonna try my luck again. Despite my extra body weight, the training must be working -- and maybe the protein increase is helping with strength, and maybe the e-caps are a factor, too - maybe -- but it really comes down to training: If you don't have IT, no amount of supplementation will give IT to you. So, credit to me - humbly. Mike and I took off first, and after about a mile of wondering when ‘it’ was gonna happen, it happened – a four man break caught and passed us both – Mike latched on, as did I – I strapped onto Tim’s wheel – Tim, a huge, perfect specimen of an athlete – former professional football player, and owner of the most intimidating legs I’ve ever had the pleasure to follow. At upwards of 27 MPH, we blasted northward towards the first turn of the course onto 155th Street. I fell off a little after the turn, having not quite mastered the criterium snap that everyone ahead of me knew from racing – but I managed to latch back on. This train was FLYING, and the hills hadn’t even come yet. A small rotation was taking place, and I took a turn, and then barely hooked back on again for the “rest” at the back of the paceline – Mike was behind me, and a few more people managed to bridge up, too, including a couple of Cat.2 racers that were on their “off” bikes – a tourer with cyclo-cross tires and heavy-looking racks ridden by a giant of a man in camo-shorts and a ratty jersey. He was TALL, and fast. Followed by him was another racer on a Mountainsmith Mtn. bike with slick tires – running in his absolute top gear, and hanging in nicely. I was getting outgunned – talk about it not being about the bike, these guys prove it. I just doesn’t matter. So far, we were averaging upwards of 26 MPH for the first few miles of the 17.5 mile run back to the college. INSANE!
Then, the hills came, and gears were madly shifted, riders standing, pumping, grunting at the grades. Madness! My spin-training was paying off, but not as much as I’d hoped – at least, I’d never practiced it at this pace before. I was passed by two very strong riders, both in Bicycle Shack colors – looked to be Tim and one other rider that hammered out of the saddle and off the front. Mike Never followed, and a couple others – and I groaned in self-disappointment, shifted and stood up to try and chase. Still on the road to improvement, it seems – which was why I was here in the first place! CHASE! GET STRONGER!
The hills here are brutal, long climbs that really take their toll at these speeds, and the pacelines were beginning to crumble. Up the road, I could see two lone riders making their way solo – a successful break. Another group of three were behind them, Mike and two others, and then me, and the touring bike and one other rider in white and black, and possibly a purple bike; hard to tell, as I was gasping for breath and pushing over the gears. I managed to hang in, even when the heavy-hitters managed to get up the road a little, I was able to claw my way back up – and it felt hard, but really good!
While it isn’t the make or break in my head anymore, the bike was EXCELLENT in this role – the STI shifters made gear changes nearly telepathic, and the smaller tires felt wicked fast, stable, and sure in the corners – plus, the whole package felt engaged, connected to the road and willing – but not twitchy or tentative. I LOVE THIS BIKE.
Shift, stomp! The last of the monster grades was now past us, and it was time for the miracle-run on the frontage road, to hopefully make up some time and catch a few folks. The lone two up the road were not to be seen, but I could see Mike and the one other rider still with him (John, I think). We managed to sweep someone up on the way up the last couple hills, and surprisingly I was still on the front of our current three-man chase group, having pulled up the last big hill, and leading the turn onto the frontage road. It was GO TIME. The pace had dropped a bit on the hills, and it was time to try and make it up. With Mike in my sights, and a clear road ahead, I shifted, got in the drops, and began the chase-down. To my own surprise, the speed was coming up – 25….27…..30…..35?!!? With the help of a slight tailwind, and a slight downward pitch in the road, I was hammering out a pro-pace and catching Mike and the rider in front of him! A little unfair, however, as the traffic light at 150 highway changed to red, just as I was making the final assault – and we came to a sharp halt next to Mike and John. It was then that I got the accolades of a lifetime from the tall, strong rider that had been behind me.
“Holy gawd, man – nice freakin’ pull!” he said, gasping for breath. This coming from HIM? I was beaming…and proud…the average speed was up to 23.8 MPH!!!
I also knew that I didn’t have much of it left in my legs – but I was gonna try anyways! As the light turned green, Mike suggested that we stick together and take 15-20 second pulls, to try and reel in the first two riders – the only ones ahead of us. No-one was catching us! Try as we might, however, it takes a while to get back into a rhythm after even a short stop, and our early efforts to organize were a little shaky. We fell apart, then got back together, and then fell apart again – everntually, we started our track back east towards the lake with a turn onto 140th St, and down a short hill into residential – John was pulling hard, and it was everything I had to latch back on – then I died. The 5-man paceline started to advance up the road without me. Ugh… was I shot???
Determined to at least TRY, I shifted, and jumped up the cadence to try and capture the group, and after a couple hard blocks, I did it! With congratulations from the strong rider in white and black, I was back in the hunt. But, unfortunately it wouldn’t last! I wasted myself latching back on, and couldn’t even hold the rear of the pack anymore! ACK!
We blasted out of residential, made a quick dog-leg turn and were onto Raytown Rd again, for the final run around the lake. With the wind again as my helper, I was determined to try and bridge back up, one last time before this run was over. With my average speed sitting at 23.6 now, it would be a miracle if I could stay at this pace much longer – it had been AGES since I’d ridden this fast! It was worth a shot. I dug in, set my sights on the five-man group, and started the attack. I didn’t catch them…but they didn’t ride away from me, either – to my own amazement, I even managed to gain some ground on the uphill sections, but I was never close enough to spring and bridge up. It was consolation enough, however, that I was managing to maintain the same pace as a five-man group, and wasn’t getting caught by anyone else from behind at the same time! With my speed up in the high-20’s again, I was feeling the burn, but it was not debilitating! For the first time in a long time, I was riding a solid speed session, and not slobbering all over myself and wanting to die!
As we made he final approach to View High Drive, after passing over the dam and climbing the last little rise in the road, the group ahead of me had split – three off the front, an Mike and the black and white rider behind. And, as I rounded the last corner at the top of the hill, I had caught the last two in the bunch! Smiling, and determined to at least try and catch the other three, I shifted again, and BANG!
Cramp!! Right hamstring!!
Dang it!!!! I know better! All that hammering, and I had neglected to take in enough water and fuel in that last hard solo section. It wasn’t a massive, stop-everything cramp like I’d had in the past – this was rideable, but I had to get something in me QUICK. Just as soon as I’d passed them, Mike and the other rider passed be right back, as I soft-pedaled and slammed down fluids. Thankfully, after a few more pedal strokes, the cramp was worked out – and I began, in earnest, another last-ditch effort to make up ground – but there wasn’t enough road left! I turned onto 3rd Street, with Mike in my sights – but it was too late for a miracle sprint, even though my legs were back.
With my head held proud, however, I dashed into the parking lot with a REALLY good number intact for the day: 23.1 MPH average, for 17.5 miles! Not a bad little time-trail, if I do say so myself! And, an honor again to perform so well in such company! Mike is always fast, whether he says so or not, and the rest of the pack was just amazing - the guy on the tourer is a racer from St.Louis, and the rest of the bunch are all successful catergorized racers that have had excellent seasons -- to only have four or five of them finish ahead of me is a huge shot in the arm for my mental game - and it was excellent training for what lies ahead!
In fact, I’ll have to look back at the journal, but I think this is some kind of record for me. Except for the KCCC Time Trial with averages in the 26-27 range for 2.5 miles, this is the highest average for any appreciable distance I think I’ve ever achieved, and much of it was not paceline assisted, which is even better!
Fewer miles – better results?
With almost 1,500 miles LESS than this time last year, I think my 2006 mantra is working!
Next steps – taper carefully, and pack and prepare for Tinbutt THIS WEEKEND!!!!
Snippet from SpinMan's Website:
Sat July 8
Once again the weather couldn't have been better as there were over 50 riders on the first ride around the lake. Even changed the route slightly to eliminate some traffic and even make it nicer. The 2nd ride also started with quite a huge group on the way out to Casey's - it also stayed basically all together on the way out. It doesn't get any better than that! The return from Casey's broke no records, but was still fast. It was Reggie and Tim Colfield riding away from the group before the ride even hit 71 access road. The last I, or anyone else saw of them was a couple of fleeting dots after the 150 Hwy intersection. They were probably a 24+ plus average as the rest of the people started filtering in at 23, 22, 21, 20 speeds. Looks like everyone is getting faster as I'm sure that this was the largest group of 20+ riders all year. PS... CommuterDude is back - basically riding by himself after being dropped and still coming in at around 23! Next week I have the Road I Certification Clinic at Longview - feel free to sign up. Later....
Confirmation is always good! kG