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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Test Day.

Tomorrow is the last really hard, obscenely painful, ridiculously crushing ride I'm supposed to do until I saddle up on April 10.  It's been a fascinating journey thus far:  from December when a 30-mile ride induced a blurry-eyed, peanut M&M feeding frenzy to last night, when I almost finished the Thursday Night World Championship ride with the fast boys.  Those rides are still harder than most any race a Cat 4 will ever do.  It's not time to get sappy yet, so I'll hold off for now...

Brad called me up today and, knowing I was thinking of going to Boone, deftly talked me out of it and into riding with him.  I've ridden with Brad several times, but never one-on-one.  I know he's got quite a bit of cycling history under his saddle, includng a podium at the 2009 Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race.  He and his teammate are in the orange/black/white in 2nd place.  This pic was in cyclingnews.  We are proud to claim him as part of the CLM.

So, we're heading out of Pinnacle tomorrow around 9am, aiming to get in around 62-65 miles.  Coach has given strict orders for a race-effort ride (not sure what a non-race effort ride is like anymore, to be honest) to equal the distance of the Battenkill:  100 kilometers.

Interesting that it's just two of us, as it will absolutely prohibit me from sitting in or resting too much.  I expect the Battenkill to be many things, but I do not expect it to be a race in which I have a lot of time to rest.  Even if a large group stays together, the variety of the course will demand 100% attention at all times.

So, with a glass of merlot and a belly full of protein and carbs, I hit the hay.  Expect a post-ride, post-nap, beer-tinged update tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


A quick note about today's group ride.  Coach approved a mid-week foray into the group ride scene, so I found the hardest one around (on Tuesday, anyway).  Tonight we were forced to a shorter (28 mile) distance as the sun is still setting pretty early.  Barry came along to get a little intensity before Boone-Roubaix. 

Usually, there are two distinct groups:  A and B.  Barry and I rolled out with who we thought were the A folks (Scott Morris and Ken Craven among them), but shortly after descending Conrad did we find ourselves all together in a group of around 30 folks.  No real action until the end of Bethel Church Rd., where a skyward pitch beckoned to the climbers and early selections were made.  Unfortuately for Brother Barry, he was chillin' in the pack, enjoying a cold beer and mixed in among the B riders when the surges started.  The gap was soon pretty big and Barry was stranded.   I looked back for him, then poured out some Gatorade for my lost comrade, and soldiered on at Mach 3 carrying the CLM colors. 

Coming back into Lewisville, we rolled up and over Turbo Hill with a select group of around 6-7.  I felt great and very comfortable despite the speeds.  In classic Erich style, I spaced out when it came time to set-up for the sprint and scratched my head as Scott rolled away from the group.  "Oh man, the sprint line is that 'right turn ahead' sign and not the old Lewisville town limit sign."  Doh.  I stood up and cranked it but there ain't no catchin' Scotty when he's motoring for the line.

All in all, a great time.  We averaged 21mph for 28 miles, and it was very friendly.  Reflecting on the effort involved, it is striking how much harder my training rides have been than these group rides.  I do not mean to say I am as fast or faster than the guys on that ride, but the feeling of pure exhaustion that follows the 50 and 55 mile training rides puts these rides to shame.  I am sure that will change as the days lengthen and the locals dust off the cobwebs...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Un pave' pre-ride

The CLM crew headed to the NC high country this weekend.  Several of the CLM are signed-up for Boone-Roubaix, also dubbed "The Hell of the High Country."  After pre-riding big chunks of the course on Saturday, I think they hit the nail on the head.  There are two loops, and depending on your category, the distances vary.  We ended up riding most of the big loop and two laps of the shorter loop.  Due to a little cue-sheet snafu, we didn't exactly know where we were going. 

Nonetheless, we rocked our new kits and climbed like maniacs.  The downhills are screamers as well, and I don't envy my buddies who will be streaking down those things at 45+ mph.  Godspeed, CLM.

We ended up with about 30 miles and 2500 ft of climbing.  I think this will be a race of attrition, for those who don't flat or end up with mechanicals on the gravel.  The summary statement:  sit in and move up on the hills.

A few pics stolen from Barry and Mitch:  The CLM rolls out...
Barry and I pulling along...
I flatted with about 1 ft to go in the first gravel section...ugh.
Top of the big climb, getting our bearings.  Mitch showing some sort of gang sign...
Happily pedaling along the New River.  A perfect day...
Now the training is going to get crunchy, however.  Lots of fast rides coming up, with my race simulation on Saturday.  62 miles at 22.5 avg, solo.  It will be a feat if I pull it off.