Monday, February 27, 2006

Breaking the Cycle

No Pun Intended...

So the past couple of weekends have gone like this, get up early Saturday morning to head off and ride my bike for 3+ hours with the team, come home, eat, veg out, eat, go to bed. Sunday, sleep in until about 9, head down to the coffee shop in EC, then head to and go home to work on the never ending laundry list of projects.

Atleast the past 2 Saturdays have seen a change of scenery with the trips out west to get in some intensity training, what like D-ville isn't intense? Only to make this ride I have to get up even earlier, earlier than I do to go to work.

This weekend was no different, however a small success in getting the family room so close to completion that only Bob Vila would notice the gaps between the floor and the baseboard moulding. Hell, the office now has a ceiling light for the first time in over a year, now that's progress.

This weekend will be completely different, we're heading to Disney for the weekend with Gina's sister Gail, her husband Brian and the 3 nieces. I'm looking forward to the trip since I've never been there, but I can't help to feel 4 full days in Orlando is about 3 days too many for me, atleast without a bike. Already I'm feeling guilty knowing I'm not going to ride this weekend. Even worse is knowing I'm going to miss another hard workout on Sunday. Trust me I've checked and none of the local shops rent bikes, atleast decent road bikes. Is it work boxing up the fixie and shipping FedEx to get a ride in? Don't tempt me.

Just saying that makes me think how oddly sadistic a sport like cycling is. To say you will miss making a hard workout doing 10 minute long hill repeats because you'll be getting your photo taken with Mickey and Goofey while getting a nice pre-season tan leaves me to wonder about my own mental status. Don't get me wrong, I like vacations, but I like my bike even more. Unfortuantely Gina doesn't see it that way. She could sit on a beach for weeks doing nothing and be perfectly content. I'm pulling my hair out after 10 minutes. Vacations with bikes, now that's a vacation. To just go somewhere and cruise around casually, actually enjoying the scenery and the freedom of riding a bike, that's a vacation from training.

I'll try to post something from Orlando, I'm sure there'll be plenty of pictures.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hump Day, Hooray

Having Monday off really help the week go faster. Too bad there's nothing to help traffic.
Another slow ass commute on the DC parking lot. A little bit of snow and everyone flips, it's not that bad people!

I got to work and as usual there were plates full of food in the kitchen, this place is killing my training. I put in over 200km this weekend and any extra weight I may have shed went right back on with the bagels and cream cheese. Cream cheese rocks, I'm convinced that's the only reason bagels were invented, so fat bastard felt guilty just eating it straight from the tub.

Today is going too slow, feel like I've been here forever and it's only 1:30. I need a nap.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Friends, Food and more Agony

Well, who says you can never get too much of a good thing? Saturday's ride was a good indicator of fitness both personally and where my teammates are realtive to each other. After spending the day out in the cold, Sunday brought a rest day with the only rise in heart rate coming from trying to install new lighting fixture in our family room.

Thomas had called the night before and mentioned a ride on Monday in Gettysburg with Trey and a few other Tri-geeks preparing for the Columbia triathlon. Sunday night Gina and I went to Thomas' for Thai food, Christine was there as well. I decided to try my hand a Thai cooking so I went with something easy, green curry chicken, yummy, epsecially if you like it hot. I think I used one too many scoops of curry paste for it to be 'mild'. Oh well. We had a good time eating Thai and topping it off with Ben and Jerry's along with an assortment of various toppings, reddi whip rocks.

As my Monday off due to pres' day rolls around, I find myself once again getting up earlier to go ride my bike than I do to go to work, is that wrong?

Met up with the crew at the P&R off of 32, finally met this guy Reese everyone keeps asking me if I know. What just because I ride a bike I'm suppose to know everyone else that rides one? Anyway, the ride sounds like it's going to be a repeat of Saturday, not exactly what I was looking for, bit this will let me guage my recovery, atleast that's my excuse. I figured there was a chance Thomas wouldn't hand for the full 70miles and that we could cut it short. This would be his longest road ride.

As we started out of Thurmont, we immediately headed up, climbing up 77. I knew this wasn't the ride I was looking for. Fortunately as we made our way, the roads where we could have gone up we avoided and the ride was rolling as somewhat effortless. Thomas was a tropper, somewhat oblivious as to whether or not he could sustain for a ride of this duration, yet attacking and riding hard off the front early on in the ride. The ride for the ost part was steady and uneventful, Reese was in aw of the rolling landscape and the smooth roads. The final accent of the day took us up 491 from Smithsburg to Ft. Ritchie. Trey decided this would be a good point to send Thomas back a shorter, yet not that easy way over 77 from Smithsburg straight to Thurmont.

The rest of us set a tempo up 491, Reese and I rode together at a steady pace until Kent followed by Trey passed us about a mile and a half or so from the top. I decided to dig into the reserves to see just what I had and laid chase. I was riding about 20m infront of Reese chasing Trey, as I was cloing the gap on Trey Reese had pulled himself back onto my wheel and we worked to finish bringing Trey in. From there the three of us caught Kent and began our long, cold decent into Thurmont. At about the same time, Trey and I looked at each other and made the comment that our toe warmers had just wore out, almost 5 hrs. Not bad, but not the 6+ hours they advertise. We cruised into Thurmont and Thomas was waiting at the car, a well timed arrival, he had only waited 5 minutes or so, not having a key to the car, he could have been standing out there for a while.

All I know is that I was spent, maybe a bit more than I need to be at this time of the year. I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning, even more than usual. To top it off, the agony continued as I had to sit in the worst traffic on the way in. 2 hours to get to Herndon, an hour and a half was just getting past 29 on the beltway. Rediculous.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Agony and the Ecstacy

I've haven't been training as much on the bike this winter as i did last winter. Maybe due to the unseasonably warm weather, even warmer than last winter, or just lack of motivation to ride the trainer all together. I'm leaning towards the later, as I seem to get outside for rides in the nice weather. I've been doing the Davidsonville rides pretty consistently, but I decided it was time to bump it up a notch and head west to the mountains, well not really, but in Maryland 2,000 ft. of elevation is a mountain.

In keeping with the mantra of "it's always better to suffer with someone else than suffer alone", I organized a group ride for the 4/5 team. In designing the route, I put together what I thought would be a challenging yet achieveable ride for a group at this level. As the days grew closer it seemed as though more and more people were bailing from the ride, then the weather reports made it seem almost doomed, going from highs in the upper 50's and lower 60's at the end of the week to low 30's for a high on Saturday. That may have been enough, even for me. To top it off, the wind was predicted to be 20-30mph. It even had me questioning my sanity, but then I thought hey, I put up with worse at 'cross nat's, but that was only 45 minutes, not 4+ hrs.

As I rolled into the parking lot of Myersville elementary school, I was pleasantly surprised to see a solid group had shown for the ride. Even in the freezing temps of a 9am start with overcast skies. As we assembled in the parking lot, we discussed our sanity amongst the choices of clothing best suited for mostly steady uphill tempo and screaming decents in what would surely be sub 30 degree weather. As the 9 of us with abilities ranging from seasoned vet to realtive newcomer set out for the high country, I think we all knew we were about the share one of the toughest, yet satisfying days of training one could possibly imagine.

The ride started out with a somewhat hurried pace with an unorganized intent, not so much as to go hard, but to get warm. As we began the accent of the first climb of the day, a long gradual 3 miler, the wind made it's precense know and constantly reminded us it was going to be there to stay. Quickly the abilities of the group were made apparent and a sense of what was in store to come. As the day wore on, there was much laughing and cursing, especially on the accent of Buck lantz Rd. I threw this road into the ride as a way to get up to High Rock with som additional elevation gain on the way. However, my memory of this road did not include the fact that for the 3/4 mile or so climbing portion, this road was composed solely of dirt and loose gravel withe the heads of larger rocks protrudung through the errorded soil. At several points on the climb, the grade kicked up to 14%, forbidable enough on smooth pave, but a test of strength, balance and determination on dirt.

As we made our way over to High Rock the feelings in the group were mixed, for some this was already the hardest thing they've ever done on a bike, for others this was was the sort of sadistic fun cyclist are known to love. Personally, I'm the later. We made our accesnt of High Rock with a lead group of 4, Arch, Jon, James and myself. Jon "Mountain Goat" Gdowik and I get a gap early but then Jon pulls away leaving me. James and Arch are behind me as I cruise along at a steady tempo enjoying the scenic view north into Pennsylvania. Then I hear this taunting voice from behind me "I'm coming for you", it's James. As Metallica began to blair into my head, overriding the pounding of my own heartbeat, James continues his taunting. I give the shifter a few clicks and rise out of the saddle to give myself the kick I need to push it up a notch. As I glance back I can see instantly that I've put several meters on him, then I hear, "Oh, man." I knew I had him. Sorry James!

On the way back we managed to have enough juice left in the legs to pace line down Rt 17 from Wolfesville. As we cruised back into the elementary school there was a complete and utter sense of both elation and fatigue. Everyone put in a good ride and eventhough there were sometime when "this sucks" really meant "this sucks", no one wished they'd hadn't come out on this miserably cold day in February.