Friday, March 7, 2008

Walk on the Beach

Apparently I need a week at the beach, not just a stroll. Since this picture post was inadvertently placed here on the wrong blog, (juggling multiple blogs tests me), I decided not to delete it, but rather go turn my lemons into lemonade.

Ah, yes, a nice stroll on the beach would have been just what the doctor ordered after my workout last Thursday. It would have the perfect ending to a perfect day.
But no luxury for me of wiggling sand between my toes while the gentle lap of ocean waves massaged my tired legs. Instead, I braced my achy quads and gluts against the shock of icy cold water for 8 minutes of an ice bath in my boring tub with no tropical view. The best way to end an otherwise perfect day.

Georgia winters may be mild compared to the rest of the country, but they are erratic at best. One day it is 69 degrees and the next it can be 34degrees and snowing. It has not been bitterly cold, but enough to discourage me from getting outside during the week. Thursday's forecast was for 66 degrees with the following days dramatically changing to 40s, rain, and degrading to snow flurries. This would be my only chance to get in some real quality time on the bike. I knew just what to do.

For 3 months my cycling routine has been suspiciously void of any real workouts, i.e. no road riding. It's the same excuse I sloth by every year. "Oh, it's winter, time to take it easy, I'll pick it up next month." Problem is, next month always comes a month too early and I'm never ready. Raja said he would prefer to ride the mtn bike Thursday, but I knew that was not what I needed. What I wanted and what I needed were two different things. I needed a long arse kicking road ride.

The first week of March, like clock work, I'll purposely go on a ride with Greg Turner or some other shredder friend and get chewed up and spit out like I was flavorless chewing gum. I use it as my "Reality Check" or "Wake-up Call". Shock therapy. Jumping in the deep end of a swimming pool without testing the waters.

Works like a charm. A ride like that will jolt you out of winter's deep slumber in a New York minute. Makes you feel like you're standing in front of the mirror naked and you don't like what you see. But it's all the motivation you need to get off your duff and start doing something about it.

I lined up a ride date with my task master friend, the Caminator. With Greg recovering from a couple broken ribs, maybe I should have called him instead. Oh well, the damage has been done. Time to anty up. I added in a little security blanket and got rlaz to come along too. It was a beautiful day and I was riding with friends. What could possibly go wrong?

We were starting the part of our ride that entered the land of endless climbs, when I was aware of a new presence among us. Two svelte little decked out riders appeared out of nowhere. I barely caught a glimpse of one of the riders as they zoomed by, but immediately recognized him. It was Maurizio of The Latino Cycling Team. We met each other during hill repeats last year at Kennesaw Mountain.

I braced myself for the shock therapy about to begin.

Little Julio from Uruguay, all of 26 yrs old, had been racing bikes for 6 years, and was riding like a race horse just let out of the gates. On the other hand, Maurizio, was going to celebrate his 50th in a week, and he rides like a gazelle. Couple that with the Caminator who has thighs the size of my torso and logs 20+ hours weekly on the bike, and you've got a real problem on your hands.

Looking on the bright side, rlaz and I were relieved that Cam would now have someone else to torture. But we knew it meant we'd still get a working over. For some reason I wore my heartrate monitor that day, and I am glad I did. 4-5 digit numbers were popping on the screen, and my lungs were using air pockets they didn't know existed.

After the first climb, I managed to make it up to Maurizio to reintroduce myself. For the next moderate climb, he rode alongside me to chit chat. But it was difficult enough for me to speak, let alone use any extra energy to try and understand his thick Colombian accent. Don't get me wrong! I have nothing against an accent. It's just that I was using every ounce of get up and go to propel my body forward, and had no get up left for extra synapses of the brain.

It was embarrassing to be wheezing and huffing at this alarming rate in front of someone I barely knew. A quick glance at my monitor showed my redline was fast approaching. If I wanted to survive the remaining 40 miles, I had to come up with a better plan. My only hope is he would become bored with my lameness, and go pick on Cam.

We crossed the highway en route to the real climb of the day. As the threesome quickly jumped off the front, rlaz asked me who I'd put my money on to take the climb. Hmmmmm? That was a tough one. I didn't really know the full extent of these Latino's abilities and they did not know this climb. Cam, however, could do this climb in his sleep, but he is also the size of the 2 Latinos ductaped together. We rode our hearts out trying to keep the gap close enough in order to see the outcome.

At first we could keep them in sight. But then it became a losing battle. Our focus then turned to our own survival. I was riding as hard as I could, a bit annoyed at rlaz's fast cadence. We were climbing for goodness sake. How the heck could he be spinning like that. Oh, that big fat cassette might have something to do with it. I continued to mash my 39x23 hoping my hip wouldn't revolt. Janusz's magic weekly therapy was working like a charm, and my hip did just fine, despite the never ending climb.

Every friend I've brought to this delightful "little" climb always has a wide-eyed dazed look at the top. Even Duckman was in horror over the pain this beautiful empty country road can deliver. "Is this the top," rlaz asked as we crested a small rise. "No, not yet," was all I could muster. I too know this climb like the back of my hand, and there was still more suffering in store.

Finally, the Col di Cemeteri was in sight. The last rise with a cemetery off to the side, is the sign of the KOM sprint. No energy for sprinting today. We could see Cam circling like a vulture at the top waiting for us. Was this the sign of victory. Were Maurizio and Julio piled in a heap on the side of the road, or were they riding on ahead with fists raised high?

"So, who took it", we asked in eager anticipation. Without a second hesitation, Cam answered rather matter of factly, "Oh, they did. They were playing with me." We shuddered in our shoes. Anybody that can mess around with the Caminator is...well, I ain't messing with them.

We joined up with our 2 new friends and continued on the lovely backroads. This time I had a chance to admire Julio's gorgeous bike. "That's a beautiful bike," I told him. He told me it was barely 2 weeks old. It is an Aerocat, one of the team sponsors. The blue design matched their team kit perfectly. It was very impressive. Of course, the one day I decide not to bring my camera. Agh.

Enough socializing, time for more pacelining. Well, not pacelining. More of, they pull and I sit and try to hang on for dear life. Fortunately I knew the rest of the way and tried to mentally map out my strategy for survival. A truce must have secretly been called, because the pace backed off to Level 5 on the last road leading back to the Comet. Cam and rlaz had no problem conversing in Spanglish, while I tried to pick up bits and pieces here and there.

The only thing I did that Julio didn't do was make the "dirt ride" traverse from the road hooking us back up to the Comet trail. Remember, I can ride a mtn bike! Dirt is one thing that will scare a roadie senseless. A short lived glory moment.

We ran into Raja as he was just getting off the Comet to do some of the climbing we did. In my delirious state, I did not have the sense to just split off from the group and ride with him. We wished him a happy ride and carried on the Comet back to our starting point, still a good ways back. After a few minutes it occured to me, "why didn't I ride with Raja?" Yes, I really was wiped out!

Maurizio and Julio were having such a good time, that they decided to continue riding with us instead of stopping at their cars. Oh joy. But it turned out alright. Our hard riding was done, and everyone was happy to spin. Thank goodness!!

I saw Flatfender and Shane go riding by in the other direction. And we waved to G-OFF heading out on the trail a few miles later. It was too pretty a day for anyone to miss out on a ride.

It was quite the lashing and thrashing, but in a good sort of way! The type where at the end when you remove your helmet to see the straps are completely white with salt, you get a big ole grin on your face. It was a slap in the face of "You have a lot of work to do Missy", but also a pat on the back of "way to put forth the effort". A huge thanks to rlaz and the Camster for motivating me. It's nice to have fast friends that will put up with you while not making you feel like a slug.

I got home with 5 minutes to spare before Raja rolled in behind me. He was a bit jealous as I went over the details of my adventure, still stoked with adrenaline. The bad part of having a wife that rides is you don't get to come home from your workout to a warm homecooked meal. You come home to a wife that blabs on about her ride, then retreats to the stretching mat, and hollers from the next room, "What's for dinner?"

After 19 years, he used to it. And he's used to me taking my silly ice baths. But hey, they help me get out of bed the next day. In fact, I went out for a spin Friday. Those 40 degree temps didn't make a show. Instead it was a balmy 58 degrees. I got in a ride and even a visit with my friend, Greg. A great past 2 days!

Now, if I could just manage to get that walk on the beach, it would be beyond great. It would be a dream!

1 comment:

Becky said...

Is that you walking on stilts? Maybe that's the key to your excellent balance on the mtn bike!?