Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jamming It All In

At work, I sometimes get impossible requests. Occasionally, I like to fulfill these requests, thus proving to the company for which I work that I am really Superman. Or at least Super Clark Kent, because I do nerdy stuff for which a cape and the curl of hair on the forehead is not suited, but glasses are.

I don't like to brag (although it does give me pleasure to state observations that place me in a favorable light), but I am pretty damned good at what I do for a living.

Sometimes, however, the request is truly impossible. Somebody needs something that will take a lot of work, and they need it way too soon. The requester usually tells me that they have money in the budget so that I can bring in contract help, and that I can pull other folks off other projects. In these instances, I fall back on one of my favorite truisms: It takes one woman nine months to make a baby, but nine women cannot make a baby in one month.

This is even more true when training. If the schedule for the week calls for one hour of tempo riding, three hours of foundation miles, weight training two days, two off days, and a time-trial, you should not try to do all of that in one day.

Especially the two off days, since that would be like a heavy-duty rest day. I think they call that "a coma."

My training this week had called for
  • Two days with 1.5 hours of foundation mile each, which I do by riding to work (done)
  • Two sessions in the weight room, on the foundation mile days (sorry, I only did one)
  • One tempo session for 1.5 hours (meant to do that at the track Thursday night)
  • Two one-hour time trial sessions
  • Recovery ride (scheduled for this afternoon)
To get a rest day, I would have to combine my foundation mile days with weight-room days.

This schedule would make me so strong. I get goose pimples just thinking of how strong I would have become.

But it was cold this week, and really windy Tuesday. And the bike club canceled the Thursday night session at the Nashville Motorplex because of the cold. And the Randowife was sick (she got my cold from last week), so I wanted to take care of her. And my teeth felt funny.

Yes, I could have probably still done my sessions on the trainer indoors. I should have.

But instead, I tried to cram the tempo and both time-trials into a single ride yesterday, in the middle of a 200K.

Dog Meat. Again.

Jeff Bauer -- one of my teammates for the Heart of the South in April -- and Peter Lee joined me on Jeff's tandem to ride my Dog Meat permanent. Now, if you've never drafted a tandem, it can be an exhilarating experience. And when you get two strong, fast, light randonneurs like Jeff and Peter, it can be an ethereal, out-of-body, transmogrifying experience similar to committing sepuku with a dull potato peeler, while being forced to watch the entire film catalog of Pauly Shore.

About 10 miles in, we were coming up on the hardest climb of this route -- Paw Paw Springs Road. Jeff suggested that, since they would be slow going up this, I should go ahead and do my first time-trial effort starting here. This sounded good, so I attacked the climb and got the heart rate up -- I had to maintain just under 160 bpm for the full effort -- and dropped them.

A few miles later, they passed me back. I didn't see them again until the control.

Meanwhile, the route turned south and I discovered it was a windy day. I'm staying at 158 bpm, head down, and still only crawling along at just over 15 mph.

Very disheartening.

55 minutes later, I got to the first control, and I was tired. We all grabbed something to drink, and I tore off my tights and jacket. I was wearing a long-sleeve wool jersey, and it was soaked. Even my hat was soaked with sweat. The temperature outside was almost 60.

The next leg was dead into the wind, but I planned to just sit in behind the tandem and recover for the next 21 miles.


Jeff and Peter excel at working over flat terrain into a stiff wind, and they maintained a 17-mph pace. I checked my heart rate monitor after a few miles of this and I was still clicking along at 145 bpm -- tempo pace for me. This was not the recovery I would need.

At one point, Peter pulled out his camera and snapped a few pictures. Then he passed the camera to me, and I got this shot.

Two things about this: One, you can tell that they are working pretty hard, staying tucked out of the wind, and riding strong. The other is, when I pulled out to take the picture, I realized just how windy it was. It took me less than a minute to frame the shot, make sure I got it, give the camera back to Peter, and get back on that wheel. But that minute toasted me for the next five miles.

After Shelbyville, we headed for Chapel Hill. During this stretch, I did my second time trial effort. The wind was now more from our left, but still against us, and it was a rough hour. By the time we rolled into Chapel Hill at noon, my morning had been
  • One hour foundation miles
  • One hour time-trial
  • 15 minutes rest
  • 1.5 hours tempo
  • 15 minutes rest
  • One hour time-trial
I walked into the Subway in Chapel Hill looking like this:

If we had not had a tailwind for the rest of the ride, I'd still be there.


  1. At least toast is firm, with chiseled edges; much better appearing than oatmeal.

  2. If you cut off the edges, will you look like Cipo?