Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making the Long Choice

Last year, I spent much of my riding season in a tug of war between RandoBoy and Max Watzz. At heart, I will always be more RandoBoy-ish than Max Watzz-esque, but there will always be a part of me that yearns for the conquest that only comes when I cry "Ouch!" and let slip the Quads of War.

Of course, last year I had more freedom. I could choose the Max Watzz solution during the summer, once I had finished doing a 200K, 300K, 400K, and 600K in preparation for Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP). By the end of May, the long rides that I had to do were over, and I could just train for shorter-but-faster races. This year, I've got to do another full series, and then maintain my endurance in preparation for PBP in August. So, while I will have the option of doing a few races during the summer, I can't let that interfere with my brevet schedule or continuing to regularly ride 200Ks and 300Ks during June and July.

You would think that this would be no big deal. You would be wrong.

Maybe if I was 20 years younger, I would be able to recover better from brevets and race ... or vice-versa. In the Grand Tours, cyclists race 200K day after day for three weeks, with the occasional day off and some shorter routes that have 10,000 feet of climbing. Of course, the oldest pro cyclist is in his late 30's, and these are the best bicyclists in the world. They've trained for this their entire lives. And, they have access to better drugs than I.

Anyway, I realized that I might not be able to balance my RandoBoy brevets with my Max Watzz ways last Sunday, when I tried to do a two-hour endurance-pace ride with Team Belladium on the day after riding the Cathey's Creek 200K permanent on my single-speed.

Now, if you've never done a 200K on a single-speed or fixed gear bike, you really should. It is, of course, a little harder in some ways than doing that same ride with gears and derailleurs, but in other ways it is very simple. You don't waste a lot of time shifting. As long as the grade stays below 15%, I think that you climb better. When it gets above 15%, you walk about the same.

From a racer perspective, it's actually an excellent mix of "fast-pedal" drills with "muscle tension" workouts. If a racer were ever to do a 200K on a single-speed, they would find that they could work on their stroke mechanics and build power at the same time.

So, doing the 200K on my Salsa was a good workout for RandoBoy and Max Watzz. I got lots of saddle time and did the kind of training that Coach MacKillimiquads would prescribe.

But racing requires you regularly get into a fast-paced group and hang on. You win road races by doing this, particularly if you can somehow have something left at the end so you can out-sprint everyone over the finish line. And the best way to train for fast-paced group rides is by doing fast-paced group rides.

So, Sunday I tried to hang onto these folks.

Yes, it's "a bunch of girls." You'll notice that they are very fit girls. If you try to ride with them, you'll find that they are very strong girls.

The goal had been to go out on a 35-mile route. Two-hours at an endurance pace. I felt like I could handle two hours of 17 mph.

A little over an hour in, at mile 25, I fell off the back, making noises about "taking a more direct route home." I wobbled back to the RandoCave and crawled inside. The next day, everything hurt.

I'm going to suck at racing this year. Hopefully, I'll have a good time at PBP to make up for it.

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