Friday, February 26, 2010

Got 'em Dirty

It was Friday morning when I started this entry about my inaugural ride on my new bike, but it turned out to be a very busy day at work and then I spent the weekend in a achy, gross, sore-throaty funk. Basically, last week was a recovery week and since my Thursday assignment was 45 minutes easy riding, my urge to ride my new bike overcame my fear of getting it dirty.

I know, it's a mountain bike and it's supposed to get dirty. Something about the pristine natural dirt that flies up from singletrack riding seems less corrosive that the salty, scummy film that results from riding on pavement in the winter time or riding on wet gravel roads. Luckily, the streets were dry, so splattering salt wasn't as issue, and the mud on the Clear Creek Trail didn't seem too toxic. It was good to get out and give it a real try, since I'd only ridden it up and down the side street next to our house a couple of times. I felt good after getting used to being so high and the way the it felt to steer the bigger front wheel. I still need a proper bike fit before I race, though.

It looks a little like singletrack with the snow, but not exactly a good test of off-road handling.

As I mentioned earlier, the days since have been a bit weird. I've felt really crappy since Friday evening and I didn't ride on Saturday. I tried to ride a bit on Sunday, mostly to convince myself that I really felt bad physically and didn't just want to get out of riding. I really did feel bad, so I cut it short and spent the rest of the day resting. Today I'm much improved but not 100%. The good news is that after a weekend spent mostly on the couch, I seem to have shaken the "spinning out of control" feeling that's hanging over me the last few weeks and I'm craving sugar a lot less. I think the real honest-to-goodness rest did me some good, and now I just need to figure out how to maintain the calm as training kicks into gear again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Three S's I've Been Missing



And Shorts (I ordered a pair of these.)

Despite having some good training under my belt for late February (80% of a hella hard training plan still does a lot of good), I still feel slow. I'm very confident in my ability to muscle up the OC climbs and not dissolve into a sobbing blob of jello by the end of the race, which should be good for a two hour PR in itself, but I'm having a hard time imagining myself setting a strong tempo on the roads or flowing through the Womble with the greatest of ease.

Even though I've spent sufficient time outdoors this winter, I think I still have the same cabin fever that every in town seems to be blogging about. Mine just has more to do with being trapped in Roubaix fabic, pavement, and low, overcast skies. I realized this last weekend when I really wanted to hold a strong pace through my ride, but it just wasn't happening. My conclusion is that no matter how hard you train, it's just hard to feel fast in lobster gloves, and the its harder to go fast on long road rides because, while working harder on the dirt increasing the fun, working hard on the road just increases the work.

I know I won't being seeing any of the above in the immediate future (except maybe some sun on the lower 2/3 of my face), but at least naming the things I miss is a good reminder that cycling doesn't completely suck all of the time like it has lately. Summer will come again, my limbs will see daylight, and I can go to Versailles (lusting for VSP much more than BCSP) and jet through the flowy, flowy loop unemcombered by pounds of fabric.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Suck It Up Sunday

Nine o'clock already
I was just in the middle of a dream
I was ridin' my 29er
Through a mud-clouded Arkansas stream
But I can't be late
'Cause then I guess I just won't get paid
These are the days
When you wish your power file was already made

It's just another suck it up Sunday
I wish it was Monday
Cause that's my rest day
My "I'll be riding well the next day"
It's just another suck it up Sunday

Have to ride four more hours
Got to push my weekend total to nine
And if I had some ster-o-roids
My legs still would bounce back on time
'Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I'm gonna wear
Blame it on the snow
But the coach is already there

It's just another suck it up Sunday
I wish it was Monday
Cause that's my rest day
My "I'll be riding well the next day"
It's just another suck it up Sunday


That's a classic from my mental Ipod Shuffle that hadn't come up in quite a while until yesterday. When it came back, it came back with verses and everything (okay, I made some of it up just now, but mostly on my ride). A side effect of not giving my Saturday workouts 100% of the time and power assigned during the last month is the fact that Sunday rides have been a lot less painful than I remember them being last summer. Another factor is that I've been riding with Emily on Sundays, which provides and an appropriate push in my effort and some pleasant distraction from most of the leg funk that does come up.

I was just thinking early on in my 70 mile Saturday ride that perhaps my ability to physically recover from hard workouts is improving, but once said ride was complete, it was obvious that my ability to recover would be put to its first major test in quite a while. It definitely didn't pass with the flying colors that I'd hoped. It was really no better or worse than Sundays past and unfortunately, my riding companion was stuck indoors. The result a cold, hard trudge through four hours of riding and the rebirth of my Sunday theme song. However, I'm already brainstorming ways of preventing this from becoming a Sunday ritual again.

The good news is that Saturday's ride was awesome and my Sunday fatigue was well earned. I rode to Gatesville for the first time and snapped this picture of my winding route through the snowing glacial ridges of Brown County.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kicking My Own Ass

They seem to be getting along...

It's been a while since I posted about anything other than my new 29er, although I still haven't taken a decent outside, real camera picture of it. That's mostly because the weather has been too crappy to take it out of the garage. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it now has pink cable housing, bottle cage, seat post collar, and a pink on white saddle. It also has a Thompson seat post instead of the Giant branded one that it came with. I've heard lots of bad things about the delivered seat post, so in spite of Adam's insistence that those bad things probably all came from 300 lb guys who didn't tighten things properly, I just felt better using something I knew was good. I'm also super excited to have a mountain bike with a bottle cage for the first time in two years.

Now I just have to deal with the trail condition waiting game until I get a chance to take it for a spin. I guess that's the problem with buying a bike in February, but it turns out that it was the last Small in the warehouse, so it's probably good that I acted when I did.

Anyway, aside from the new bike excitement, my other reason for 2-3 weeks of 29er-related posts is that my training hasn't been super blog-worthy. My Big Blue Ox training plan has been executed with perhaps 80% accuracy so far, which I suppose means that I will only be as strong as a medium-sized pink ox for the OC. I've done more than 80% of the workouts. In fact, yesterday was the first non-optional workout that I've missed, which was due to a tweaked knee and blowing snow conditions at the end of the work day. The problem lies more in the fact that I have skipped ALL of my optional workouts, come up short on time on multiple occasions, and have phoned in a few Zone 2 rides.

All that being said I have also had quite a few significant HTFU moments, riding in all conditions that this above-average crappy winter has thrown at me until yesterday. I've also put in over twice the number of hours that I had at this point in 2009, which wasn't my best winter, but I'm above and beyond anything that I've ever done before.

I was starting to get a bit down on myself for not being super woman until after Sunday's ride, when Emily and I put in 50+ miles out on 446 because no other route was clear of snow. For non-Bloomingtonians, that means 25 miles out-and-back of boring, boring riding with more wind exposure than the average route around here. In my mind, it was a nice day because it was sunny, but it was also in the mid-20's and windy with plenty of leftover snow patches. I expected to see tons of cyclists, because everyone who would be out would probably be on that road. However, I only saw a big group of fast guys, Adam, who caught us around the halfway point, and a couple of others. We were among the few that rode all the way to the end that day, which was pretty cool.

So I wonder, am I being too hard on myself or not hard enough? I think this is one reason why I'm OCD about doing every workout right every time. Because otherwise I can never really come to terms with whether my excuse was good enough. Sure the weather is crappy and my schedule is hard, but would I have been given that schedule if I wasn't hard enough to handle it? I just don't know.

P.S. In case anyone's wondering exactly how many bikes are stashed in our garage/basement now, the answer is twelve.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Initial Crappy Cell Phone Pics

The new bike arrived a day earlier than expected and Adam threw it together kind of quickly. We still need to do some adjustments, swap out some parts, and do a proper bike fit. You can't really tell from the pictures, but there is actually a lot of blue on the frame that wasn't visible on the website. It also came with various blue accoutrements, including blue spoke nipples. Someone worked very hard to choose my accent color for me, so I'm a little worried about how well shoving a bunch of pink into the picture will work. The saddle doesn't match at all right now, but that's what I have for it, so it's on there. I'm going to add some more pink stuff and hope some sort of gaudy equilibrium is reached, but I'm wondering how long I can fight the power. Maybe I should just put more blue stuff on it and "boy it out", even if that's totally not me.

I guess as long as it rides well, that's all that matters.

BTW, I now have a black Fizik Tundra for sale if anyone wants to make an offer.