April 19, 2009

Training is going well

...if you can indeed call it "training" --- although, now that I think about it, the crux of training is preparing for an event, practicing, that sort of thing.  So, I suppose I have been.  It's very clear to me, after several evening training rides wrapping up most recently with the first official DSR of 2009, that I'm in need of some more work - and so this "training" notion is paying off.  The first step is admitting that there is progress to be made.  After months and months of riding on my own pace, yes:  I was able to knock off the R-12.  Not to poo-poo it... it's still a BIG goal, and a lofty challenge... but, my average speeds were, well, not in the ultra-racer category.  I don't want to pigeon-hole myself and admit that's what I'm shooting for, but it'd be nice to achieve the kinds of goals that have lately been out of reach:  things like 12 and 24-hour road races, errr... time trials.  That's the major difference between randonneuring and ultra-racing.  In the rando world, you're still on the clock... but it's a slower clock.  In the Ultra world, you're literally trying to beat the clock, along with everyone else.  So, to that end, speed is becoming more and more of a concern for my notebooks.  Going on rides with the express purpose of having to chase people that are already faster than I am.  So far, so good.

Wednesday nite is quickly becoming the speed-demon death trials.  Last week, a record turn-out, and some real talent in the group.  This guy, Jimbo, is auditioning his newest purchase - my dream bike.  Ugh... almost like he knew what I was thinking, from a few posts ago where I was going on-and-on about the Cervelo S3 and last year's Cervelo SLC-SL... Jimbo shows up on an SLC-SL.  Yep... just as gorgeous in person.  But, the difference here is in the rider.  An aspiring triathlete, this guy is business on the bike.  Everyone has their speciality when it comes to Triathlons:  there are some that are terrific runners, and the compete in the other two events just to compete in SOMETHING.  The challenge is there, and the necessary training makes for a more rounded-out package of total fitness.  The same can be said for swimmers;  there are some that are such solid swimmers that nearly everyone in attendance knows who is going to be first out of the water... but they'll end up getting passed on the run, or on the bike.  And then, cyclists, too, can be specialists.  I haven't seen Jimbo run or swim... but if those events are on par with what I saw on the bike... look out.  "I like hills." is pretty much all he'll say about himself when it comes to cycling talent.  He's good at 'em.  Period.  Combined with a bout of dehydration, I hit the sack Wednesday night after the ride, and I was completely and utterly cooked.  I haven't worked that hard in the saddle.... rather, suffered... for years.  I think even if I'd hydrated properly, it would have been the same result.  This is what I wanted, though, and I'm certainly not complaining.  In fact, I won't be satisfied until I can get right up there on his wheel and lock myself to it.  Then, the only test is maintaining that kind of speed for, oh I dunno... 24 hours.  
I've got two years... no hurry.   The Tejas 500 isn't going anywhere.  (You hear that, Driscoll?)


Friday night, the week was rounded out SO nicely, it's almost like someone put a big red bow on it for me.  The first 2009 Dark Side Ride went off perfectly, even with a solid threat of rain in the forecast and thick cloud cover late in the afternoon making it look serious - we stayed dry the entire time!  The winds died down, and about 14 people showed up, and we had really one of the best times on the bicycle that I'd had in a while.  About 34 miles, not including the ride to and from the house, and a terrific time with some really terrific folks.  Noah was there, Clem, Kevin on the Truckaccino, DaveK, KCNan, Badger, DiNewt, C-Foster, Darius, Staatz-Man, ..... ugh, there go the brain cells again!!!..... DiNewt's friend.... *I* was there.... A rando guy that rode the 200K on April 4th.... three more.... ACK!   thud.  FAIL FAIL FAIL.  dangit.   Gene?   The guy on the Trek 1200 that wants to do a permanent....    
I even shook everyone's hands, and that didn't work.  No offense, please!  I stink at this game. 

Anyways... out we went on 199th Street into a perfect night, and just put a TON of candlepower on the road which was really awesome to see.  Some of my shots turned out, some didn't ... I'll post those later on.  The pace was really solid, and on the way out we all stayed together;  something I've failed to do with a group in almost ten years of MS-150 teams.  It was really a good, good ride, and a talented bunch of cyclists, all very seasoned.  We floated into the night, there was good conversation, and a lot of catching up.  People rode up and chatted left and right, the groupings changed up here and there, and all in all it was just a magical experience.  We hit Prospect Road, and enjoyed many car-free miles.  I love this road... on the other side of Missouri state route "D" (aka, Holmes Rd.) traffic just dies off, even in the daytime.  Locals only.  This is one of those un-spoiled gems of country lane, passing between no-where and Grandview, MO.  This is one of my fabled "gateway" roads that gets me to Longview Lake when I feel so bold as to knock off a century from the house, heading eastbound.  We meander through sleepy southwestern Belton, waking up probably fifteen dogs, and hit the c-store on MO-58 like a wave of hungry construction workers.  All draped in reflective vests and safety lights, we look like something out of a OHSA training video - with bikes.  Hungry fists collide with peanut butter crackers, fig bars, coffee, snack cakes, beef sticks - and the bathrooms -- and before you know it, everyone is back in the saddle, and ready to roll out.  It was actually kinda neat - another one of those "moments" where all of the sudden everyone is ready to go, at the same time.  They were actually waiting on me!  What is this, a Lone Star Randonneurs' ride?  Choppy Choppy!

Meandering back through suburban Belton... easier said than done, as I get sidetracked, and side-track everyone else in the process... Ahhh... nice park!  Now, turn around!  This is where the ride got interesting - and it kinda makes me like the idea of more out-n-back routes.  The idea, which played out here, was that everyone now knows the exact way back.  The pace "restriction" can be lifted, people can drift into their own pace if they like, or pick a group and just hang out.  It's kinda neat how this happened, without really planning it, but it made for a solid ending to a really great ride, and no concerns with getting lost or missing a turn after the sleepies start to creep in.  After all, we're approaching 11:30pm here!  As 199th began to stretch out in front of us, the pace of Badger and the front group began to grow gaps here and there, and everyone began to splinter off into smaller sections.  We all regrouped at 199th and Metcalf, where Noah and Clem decided to break off and head for home via a shortcut.  Starting back up, the groups splintered again - a group of five or so up front, a smaller group of four, and then me and the truckaccino (did I mention I love this guy's bike?  I didn't?  I love this guy's bike.) pulling up the rear.  We eventually bridge up, and the trucker just kept on going, up to the front pack.  As ride leader, I took the opportunity to begin fading back to make sure I was the last one on the road.... from a leaders perspective, another benefit of the out and back:  at this point, I can relax, too.  I pull up behind DiNewt and "friend" (sorry.. Karen?  ack.)  and spin away, as we catch up to Nan and C-Foster, with DaveK in the mix, as well - with the big candlepower on the handlebars!  Cutting a hole in the night, we are all quite comfortable just spinning along in the perfect night air.  No rain... not even a lightning show in the distance... the forecast, well, it was scary - but I'm really glad we all rolled the dice and just came out anyways.  It's the middle of April, and only in the last couple of days leading up to this ride could any of us say that Spring was really here yet.

Of course, as I take a few pictures of all of the red taillights in front of me, stretching out along the valley between Quivira and Pflumm, it strikes me.... training.... hmmmm..... and, so, a little selfishness ensues, and I begin to bet myself that I can't catch the lead pack, a good 3/4 mile ahead of us, before the last turn.  I bid my farewell, and begin to push it a little.  Unfortunately, I didn't really announce my farewell to everyone, so there was a little confusion at first, but I still had to try.  Big ring engaged.... little more..... little more....  Man, this actually feels pretty good!  Harder..... harder......    ugh, not quite.  While I did manage to reel back some of the gap, I launched way too late:  which is to say, I wasn't fast enough.  But, all in all, it's good training, even in small bursts like that.  Only a couple months ago, that would have been a lot harder to pull off - or at least it would have lasted a lot shorter span of time.  Alas, a good end to a great ride.  I loop back around at the final turn and round everyone up off the course, and back to the parking lot.  Whew... still have to ride home, and Truckaccino is along for at least a couple miles.  We talk about headlights and podcasts for a bit, watching as car after bike-laden car passes us with a wave out the window, off into the night for showers and sleep.  I'm alone after 183rd street, wound up by KCNan and C-Foster at 175th Street for a quick chat, and then alone in the dark once more.  The smells of spring are heavy... blossoms mixed with freshly spread fertilizer in the fields nearby, the dash of a rabbit in the ditch, and a moth flying lazy circles around my headlight beam until I feel him smack into my chest with a small thump, and watch his shadow flutter off confused into the mirk.  A single, solitary raindrop smacks me squarely in the forearm.  There is barely any wind, no cars, no sounds save for a BNSF train sounding in the distance, another load of coal for La Cygne....  I love nights like this, and I love nights like this that come after rides like the DSR ride.  The best one yet.  

If this is what training is all about, I'm game.  


Darius said...

Great ride. Thanks for setting it up. Count me in next time.

Chris said...

If you can make weather like this happen on each ride I think the attendance would grow even more! Awesome night and route, great to see such a good group.