Saturday, March 27, 2010

In short...

...that was painful.  Brad and I left from Pinnacle in the crisp cool air around 9:30, planning to pull a big chunk of the 3 Mountain Madness route.  Here's a profile of the 75-mile route (which we did not do), but you get a sense of the rollers and the climbs as we DID tackle all three biggies.  Check the section between mile 40 and mile 60 - nothing but up and downs (more later):
At first, I wasn't planning on hitting Pilot at the end.  Then Brad reminded me that it was supposed to be a hard ride.  'Race simulation' if you will.  I went out today with hopes of riding in Zone 4 most of the way with trips into Zone 5 on some of the rollers and definitely the big climbs.  Well, I certainly got that.  Brad and I traded off pulls for most of the way, and essentially rode two-up on the climbs.  I was really pleased about that latter aspect as half-way up Hanging Rock, I realized he was riding a compact chainring set.

Aside:  When I sold my Trek 2200 and bought a Cannondale CAAD9 a few years ago, I swapped a standard crankset for a compact crankset.  All of a sudden, I could climb just about anything in sight without lumbering out of the saddle like some drooling neanderthal on a bike.  I think Brad was taking it easy on me, as now that I'm back on standard gearing, just getting up all three climbs is an achievement.

We crested Hanging Rock, turned around, and descended at break-neck speed.  Brad later let it slip that he is the slowest descender of his friends, which is frightening as Dr. J seems almost fearless in my book.  The real trick to this ride is not the massive monuments you must climb, but all of the stuff in between.  By stuff, I mean the rollers.  There is almost no flat asphalt up there (see the map above), and we had a steady headwind / crosswind for the majority of the ride.  That said, we pushed hard anyway - up and down, up and down, up and down...2 minutes of climbing (me out of the saddle, Brad sitting and having a cold beer) followed by 30 seconds of screaming descent.  Now, repeat about 30 times. 

I felt my legs soften after Sauratown, with a few cramps sneaking in on Taylor Rd. as we cleared the foot of the mountain.  This happens sometimes, and I think it has more to do with a toxic buildup in my legs as I descend (and don't pedal as much) than with'd think the cramps would hit on the climb, but no...

The rollers between Sauratown and Pilot were the worst, just as Brad promised.  We were down to 10mph in places, just grinding it out.  Finally, we spied Pilot in the distance.  The weather was cool, but the chilled wind brought us unlimited visibility.  The knob was crystal clear and taunting me.  I'd told Brad that Pilot would be a 'game-time decision' for me, but once we were at the foot of her slopes, I knew what I had to do.  "Leave it all out here," Brad said.

Luckily, I'd hydrated and eaten well, so I felt somewhat recovered at the base.  Up we went.  I started slowly, as the steepest section is about halfway up.  Once you clear that hard right switchback (those who've been there know what I'm taking about), you're home free.  We had a few cars to deal with, but only on the descent did they get in our way.  The view at the top was breathtaking, as usual.  No time for that, though, gotta shove some food in and keep going. 

Our descent was just as harrowing.  In those moments, rocketing down some mountain road towards a hairpin turn, my mind may wonder to many places: "I hope I checked the tires for damage after that last off-road ride" and even "There must be a limit to how hard I can lean on these things before they just give..."  That last one only snuck into my mind after I nearly overshot a left-hander while trying to make up time on Brad.  The tires are great by the way, and the Cervelo goes down as well as it goes up. 

We kicked it with gusto coming back into Pinnacle and returned to the car.  I had exhausted my 3+ bottles, eaten all of my food, and finished the ride without significant cramping and feeling 'okay.'  Could I have ridden back to W-S if we'd gone for a full Triple Hump?  Maybe, but not with any amount of impressive speed. 

The stats are fuzzy as I didn't do a good job with the speedo.  Brad had us at 60.8 miles, averaging in the mid- to high 16s.  Not what coach ordered, but possibly more if we'd measured watts and calories.  I am relatively sure we bested 5000' of climbing, and perhaps more.  the 75-mile 3MM route offers nearly 9000' and we did the bulk of the hard work in our shorter route. 

If fatigue is any indicator, now that I have eaten a bit and done some laundry - I have not felt this wiped-out in a long time.  Possibly since my last 55-mile training ride.  Even the TMK training camp ride (as abbreviated as it was for us) was less harsh. 

Big thanks to Brad.  Recovery ride tomorrow.  But, most importantly: beer tonight.


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