Please stick to the gravel steady state that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothin’ at all
But I think you’re movin’ too fast
Well, last week I talked about how since moving to State College, I had already done things wrong enough that I was getting really close to doing them right. Well, it couldn’t just be all smooth sailing from there, could it? Of course not. Over the weekend I got greedy, and got yet another Rothrock smackdown lesson in what not to do.
With all of the gravel climbing that I’ve been doing lately, my ego has been receiving a pretty steady stream of stroking as my carbon fiber ‘cross bike allows me to climb at the speed of much faster women on mountain bikes. I know that I’m bike-doping, but for the moment, it’s keeping me motivated. With the ‘cross bike to mountain bike speed conversion, or at least how it applies to me, climbing “sorta fast” on a ‘cross bike still means that I’ll be pretty darn slow on a mountain bike. I’m shooting for “Cheryl Sornson in the 2012 W101” pace on the ‘cross bike before I even attempt dragging my Lust up those climbs, and I still have my work cut out for me there.
A couple of weeks ago, I did manage to poach an obscure QOM on a five-minute climb that is not part of any of the races that take place in Rothrock, and thus had a much shallower leaderboard than most of the gravel that I’ve been riding. I followed that with my first ascent of Greenlee since Frank took me up it on my first visit to State College almost two years ago. The five-minute puke-hard effort that preceded the climb, plus the 90-degree heat that day, lead me to the conclusion that Greenlee was “really that hard” with my breaking down for a walk break when the final switchback didn’t provide the relief for which I was hoping.
Apparently I learned my lesson about this for a whole two weeks, then my satisfying 48 mile ride last weekend gave me an over-inflated boost of confidence. I decided that Saturday’s ride should include an attempt at the Bear Gap QOM, as the fastest time was a bit was over 12 minutes, and since #crossiscoming, I should be able to extend my puke-hard abilities out that far. I was able to hold the effort and improve my PR by a minute (still 1:11 off the QOM), and perhaps my body will thank me during the first lap of the first ‘cross race of the season, having already exposed it to “my teeth hurt” effort at least once in August. However, I think it was a bad decision, since my planned 42 mile ride got cut to 20 really quickly after that. It probably would have been even less if I hadn’t ridden down the far side of the mountain while still in a lactic acid buzz and been forced to drag myself back over Gettis to get home regardless of how much it sucked.
In the end, I was disappointed that I blew myself up early in the ride and didn’t get the full distance that I’d planned. While preparing for the intensity of ‘cross might be helpful, I’m really surprised at how much fitness I’ve gained so quickly from just a few weeks of long gravel rides. I only have a few more weeks of those left, so I wish I hadn’t wasted that opportunity. There will be plenty of time for aching teeth in September. I guess it’s just another Rothrock lesson learned the hard way.
Next weekend will definitely include a long gravel ride, but it won’t be in Rothrock. Frank and I are heading to Richmond, VA to test our gravel prowess against actual people at Guts Gravel Glory. It will be interesting to try out, since it is a multi-lap gravel circuit race that is a lot more steady and rolling than the extended ups and downs that we’ve been riding. I’m hoping that the lap format will be motivating and not boring, but mostly I’m just excited to actually race instead of just pretending to on Strava.