Friday, March 6, 2009

Ain't Antisocial

I haven't written for a while, mostly because I had nothing to say. The weather was crummy here, and I didn't get outside at all last weekend (five hours on the trainer ... yuck).

But the weather has been better this week, at least the past few days of this week. Monday, it was windy as all get out and the temperature barely got over freezing, but I rode in to work any way. It was better than the trainer, and that's all I've got to say about that.

But Wednesday was warmer, and Thursday was great. Both of those days I rode in to work, and was able to ride home in the afternoon in just shorts and a long-sleeve wool jersey. And Thursday night, I did the track with the rest of the Harpeth Bicycle Club.

Go Straight. Turn Left. Repeat.

I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but I'm going to give you more details today. My bike club rents out the Nashville Speedway (also known as the Music City Motorplex, but I've gotten jaded about anything that refers to Nashville as Music City ... I mean, c'mon ... like there's not music in every city?!) on Thursday nights. Members can ride around the quarter-mile oval, under the lights, between 6 and 8 pm.

It's great ... sort of. It's an opportunity to ride a bike - which I always like - without having to worry about cars, dogs, cats, flooded rivers, rabid marsupials, etc. And you get to ride on a weeknight, but you don't need lights and reflective gear and stuff. You don't even have to bring a spare tube and a frame pump, since you're just a couple hundred yards walk to your car ... if you drive there, which I didn't last night, since my office is only about 20 minutes by bike (15 by car) from the track. Which is another plus.

But it's dull riding. Sure, you can talk to the other riders some, but not much since we're not supposed to ride two abreast. And, of course, it's pretty darned near flat, except for the banked turns, so you don't get the fun of steep climbs and swift decents. Finally, obviously, there ain't much to see. Even the Coyote Ugly billboard at the northeast turn quickly loses its charms.

So, you can either jump in a paceline with the racers, which is exciting and will give you a good workout, or do what I've been doing pretty much for the last few weeks and ride tempo.

Tempo? Like the Bossa Nova?

For those of you who don't formally train but just ride your bike, tempo training is riding hard - basically, 85-95% of your threshold. Get on your bike on a calm, level piece of road and go as hard as you can - until your eyes start to bug out of your head and you think you're gonna hurl - and then back down just a smidge. Whatever your heart rate or wattage (if you train using power) is then, that is tempo riding for you. Ride at this level for an hour or two each week, and you will become faster. PezCycling News has a great article, if you need more information.

A quarter-mile oval is ideal for tempo riding. You just stay in your lane and keep turning the cranks so that the power-meter and/or heart rate monitor stays at the right level. Mind-numbing? Yes. You can't even get in a fast paceline, usually, because the ebb and flow of the group won't match the level you're supposed to ride ... at least, not for long. But, when there ain't much scenery ("Oh, look. The Coyote Ugly billboard again."), this is the way to go.

Last night, as I went round and round and round, I noticed a number of the folks from the club were hanging out in the southwest corner, where we're supposed to come on and off the track. I would have liked to stop by and chat, but that would have broken the workout routine. Also, the Randowife was out there with me doing her workout. I would have liked to ride some with her, and find out how her day went, but that would have broken both of our workout routines.

So there I was, going round and round and round, passing and being passed by my friends, and barely able to spare enough breath for a quick "Hey!" It's the price I pay in the effort to become faster.

I don't want y'all to think that I don't care - I just want y'all to know that I'm being antisocial for a cause.

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