I woke up before the alarm went off. The light of the already rising sun was coming through the window. Over on the dresser were the various items I would need for my morning ride. After a bit of psyching myself up, I rolled out of bed to get ready to head out to Sunshine Cycle Shop for the Hour of Power.
Friday’s recovery ride had my body feeling pretty good. The calf that has been giving trouble still hurt slightly, but not nearly as bad as the morning before. I figured after getting a bite to eat, I would be ready for some fun sprinting.
As I pulled into the lot, I could see a good number of riders. A quick glance showed that the normal sprinters weren’t around. Luis was the only one I could see. Bob sometimes mixes it up, but there was no John, Tyler, Tony, Peter, or any of those guys. Hmmmm, this could be interesting.
Then Mike came out and announced that we were going to do the traditional route backward. I guess there would be no need to have anyone there going for the sprints – we wouldn’t know where to attack. Suddenly, my morning was taking on a whole different feel.
Turns out it was okay. It was a pretty good workout. You think that the route will be easier because there are so many long climbs going the traditional route. However, what goes up must come down. The difference is that the backward route has more short “popping” climbs.
The one negative was that our stops to wait for the slower riders were much longer. It was much harder to get the feeling of a sustained effort. Most times it was Luis, JWinn, Billy (who joined us after the ride started), and myself building a gap and then waiting.
I’m pretty sure that if we hadn’t had the down times I would have averaged some solid wattage for the entire ride. What that means is that this route is not easier. As a matter of fact, my average wattage was 189 watts for the entire ride. Compare that with 162 watts of one of my recent Hour of Power rides. The climbing? This morning we climbed 3038 feet cumulative. The traditional route takes us over 3020 feet. This route is looking harder all the time!
Still, it just didn’t seem as fun and it didn’t seem to be as good of a work out. For most part, though, it was good to mix things up. I’m sure we’ll be doing it some more in the future.
Once back at the shop I hung out for a bit, but I was feeling like I needed to get a bit more in on my legs. I mentioned to Bob that I was planning on getting in some more miles and he decided to go with me. It was a simple ride, but it was a great one.
It wasn’t the route. It was basically an over and back of Altamont Road. The one change was that Bob decided to take us on Audubon Road. Other than that we headed over to Furman to cool down in the shade before heading back up to the top and then returning to the shop.
First, it was fun to hang out with Bob. It seems like a long time since the old crew had been together on one of these rides. With just the two of us it was kind of like old times. We were taking it easy, so there was time to talk.
After cresting the top, I started down at an easy pace. Bob followed. The air was cool because of the shade and the wind created as I descended. Over to the right I could see out toward the mountains in the distance. The bike shifted easily beneath me as I carved my way through the curves.
It was during this section that I got hit with that thought. It is a sensation that every cyclist experiences. It is that almost giddy feeling that comes to your upper chest and pops up on your face as a smile. I call it the “everything’s right with the world” feeling. You might want to call it a “Now THIS is why I ride my bike” experience.
Of course, we had to turn around and head back. As we started up Altamont, I told Bob I wasn’t going to press my lap button to time the climb. This one was going to go unrecorded. We discussed what we thought our times might be. I guessed it could be anywhere between 16 and 18 minutes.
What a difference it makes riding with someone! The climb seemed to go much faster with someone to talk to and get encouragement from during the hateful sections. As we neared the top, I saw a lone rider ahead of us. It was an encouragement to keep my pace up and perhaps we could catch him before the top.
He must have heard us talking because he picked up his pace. As we neared the wall I said to Bob, “He can have it.” Then we turned onto that final climb. I put my head down and just began to pace it up. When I glanced up, I saw that the rider ahead was much closer now. Then I went around him. Whew! He was suffering!
At the top I glanced at my computer. Yes, I didn’t use the timer, but I couldn’t help but notice the time of day as we started the climb. Turns out we covered the two miles in 15 minutes and 30 seconds. That really wasn’t so bad for not trying.
Right there at the first turn from the top was a dad and his two daughters with a lemonade stand. The Life’s Little Instruction Book says to always stop and buy lemonade from these young entrepreneurs, so we pulled up and got a couple of cups. Wow! That was some great lemonade!
From there is was an easy ride back to Sunshine Cycle Shop. That second 22 mile ride took as long to complete as the earlier 28 mile one. We climbed nearly as much, though we didn’t work quite as hard. If I had to rate the two, I’d have to give the second one the higher score.
Overall it was a good day – and a good week. I’ve finally started getting in some +100 mile weeks. Yep, I haven’t had a 200 mile week in ages. This month has been my biggest month yet for the year with over 450 miles. In the past, July has always been a good mileage month. I’m looking forward to it.