Tag Archives: Cleveland Park

Strava Segment: Little Hill Near Cleveland Park

A few days ago in my post If at first you don’t succeed: More Power, I wrote of my frustrations with a certain segment near Cleveland Park. As a matter of fact, it is named Little Hill Near Cleveland Park on Strava. Today it is our next installment in the Strava Segment Series.

Several years ago, I created a segment video, but video and software has improved since then. So, I went out yesterday and captured an attempt. Unfortunately, I did so after a pretty hard effort up the CVS side of Paris Mountain and after putting out watts recording another segment for the series. You can tell by the way my power drops off at the end.

I do not know who created this segment. I discovered back in 2012 while KOM hunting. Strava was new to me then. It was like firing a shot gun into a huge flock of ducks. It was easy to find segments I had not done before, and at that time it wasn’t too hard landing KOMs as well.

This one fell to me with a time of 31 seconds. I hoped that the segment would be hidden for a bit seeing how it was not the normal loop around the park. Unfortunately, in less than three days, I lost it. Ben Renkema took the KOM with a time of 30 seconds.

11081415_10155344543340603_93107765442339886_nHere is Ben taking his first win of the year. He is known as a pretty good racer. He is another one of those guys around that have made it into the pro ranks having raced for Kenda Pro Cycling back in 2009. He currently races with the Elite Finish-Strong Team that is based here in Greenville. However, he is probably best known as the husband of Christy Red Rocket who can do stuff like this… 😉

Of course, I’ll keep slugging away in hopes that I can knock off that one second. I can’t imagine getting up that incline in 29 seconds. Seems the best I can hope for is a tie.

With my luck, Ben will probably read this and go out there and lay down a 29er — and I don’t mean wheel size. This is another instance where the combination of power and weight gives him a distinct advantage — not to mention experience and overall athleticism.

Still, hope remains that on a certain day I will be able to pop a perfect effort up the .1 mile distance with an average 8% grade. The key is going to be to hit the bottom with loads of momentum and then saving a bit for the final push at the end.

What time can you get on his Little Hill Near Cleveland Park?

If at first you don’t succeed: More power!

There are those certain Strava segments that I just can’t get over. Try as I might, I just can’t get that extra oomph to get me over the top. The little hill near Cleveland Park is one of those.

myleaderboard

Try as I might, I cannot get below 31 seconds. As you can see, it isn’t as though I have not tried. I’ve gone after it with different bikes. I have attempted it in big gearing and small. I got to the point where I just stopped trying.

Sunday afternoon I was out for an easy ride down town. It was actually a mistake that I ended up down in Cleveland Park. I made a wrong turn on the other side of Greenville. To get back home, I had to take the route through the park.

On a lark, I went for it as the lead in for an all-out attack on the climb was possible. I felt good. I started thinking about it as I headed for home. Maybe… just maybe… it was good enough.

Nope. As you can see above, June 7, 2015 shows 31s at 911 watts. I once again hit the 31s wall.

So, I went out again on Monday to try once more. The obsession was setting in again. I hoped by changing up my approach with my gearing I could at least tie with Ben Renkema for the KOM.

I took along my GoPro in hopes of creating an updated Strava Segment video in my series. Unfortunately, my Garmin 1000 was out of battery. I had to pull out an order 705 for the ride.

I got the Garmin going and then headed out. I enjoyed the morning and rode around the Cleveland Street area to warm up before the attempt. Then it was time to give it a go.

I started the GoPro and big ringed it down toward the traffic light that marks the turn onto Ridgeland Drive. If the light was green, then the attempt was a go. If it was red, then I would have to abort as you need the speed to get momentum for the first kick up.

The light was green and I attacked still in my 53×11. As soon as I felt resistance growing, I hit my SRAM shifter to pop two gears lower in the back. This kept me from feeling bogged down and allowed me to keep going over the top.

I had also been running the Strava iPhone app and expected to get some sort of announcement on my time. However, it never came. I can only assume that the heavy canopy of trees caused an issue.

I stopped to look. No way. Once again I landed a 31s attempt. Arrrrrggggghhhh! Well, at least I got my video.

You will notice there is no video with this post. The reason is that while the GoPro worked perfectly, the Garmin 705 did not maintain a connection with my power meter. I had no power data from the climb. Without it, I couldn’t create my video.

Maybe someone else will read this and like Ron Babington did on another segment in Cleveland Park, they will figure a way to break the spell. It could be that there is just someone else out there that has the right power-to-weight ratio to overcome the gravity that seems to be holding me down.

vanity

Hmmmmm, maybe if I lost a few pounds…

Strava Segment: Woodland Way Sprint Climb

I could have headed over to Donaldson Center for the Tuesday Night World Championships or stayed home for the throw down on Watopia. Instead, I made my way to Cleveland Park to make an attempt at earning back my KOM on the Woodland Way Sprint Climb segment.

My secondary objective was to get some video of the attempt in order to create another installment of my YouTube Strava Segments series. The cameras were prepped and the lighting was great. So I had no doubt I’d get some some good video. Whether I would get the KOM was not so certain.

Woodland Way Sprint Climb is .2 miles long with a 3% average grade. That average is a bit deceitful when it comes to understanding how much that segment can hurt. If you divide the climb into two sections you find the first portion averages more like 6%. The second section even has some negative grade. This combination actually adds to the challenge.

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I rolled into the park feeling kind of fatigued. The night before I climbed on the trainer to help get in some miles for the $5000 fundraising campaign on Watopia. As I was spinning, I felt that my legs were very flat. I made an attempt on the Watopia climb and it was as if my legs were telling me to “Shut up, Jonathan.”

After several laps of the abbreviated park route due to bridge construction, I decided it didn’t matter how my legs felt. I was going to have to give it an attempt at some point. It was now or I might as well go home.

irf_gear

“Pain is good. Pain means you are going fast.” This is what I told myself. “Your legs might feel tired, but you’ve got power. This is yours.” I picked up the pace and my confidence lifted with my cadence.

I hit the base of the climb in 53×11. The Felt surged forward and I could feel the power transferring to the rubber on the road. As I fought against the grade, there were times when the bicycle seemed to want to buck to the right or left. I worked to keep it going as straight as possible to avoid any waste of movement.

I had no idea what power I was putting out. I just went hard. With the top in sight the effort began to catch up with me. I did feel that fatigue, but what I felt beneath it was power. The training was making itself known. My legs were riding through it.

Then I crested the major part of the climb and now I had to deal with something else. While earlier I was fighting getting bogged down, now I was fighting to get power and speed from a more rapidly turning crank. The problem was it still wasn’t turning fast enough.

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The slow twitch muscle that helped me on the climb was now working against me. I couldn’t get my cadence up enough to take advantage of the negative to shallow grade. My wattage dropped and my speed increased, but not by as much as it could have. In the words of Jeremy Clarkson, “More powaaarrrr!”

As I crossed the line I was done. It wasn’t that I was gasping for air or felt nausea. It was that my legs felt like two sticks of wood. With the effort done, so were they. Had I been in a race, I would have been dropped right there.

It was with some surprise I arrived home to find I had indeed earned back my crown. However, it wasn’t an out-and-out victory. I had tied Nathan Race’s KOM of 40 seconds.

I’ll take it! A PR and sharing the KOM isn’t so bad. Yes, I do believe it can be done faster. However, I’m not sure I could get the speed I would need to make the jump to 39 seconds. Frankly, I think this one will stand for a bit.

That is just fine with me! My legs aren’t ready to go out there to defend it.

The shorter they are the harder they fall

Got another alert from Strava last night. Seems I just lost another KOM. This one has me concerned. I’m not sure I’ll be getting this one back.

The segment is the Woodland Way Sprint Climb… or is it the Woodland Way Burst? This is an example of one of the annoying things about Strava. These two segments are basically the same thing with the later being a bit shorter than the former. There is also a Woodland Sprint Interval which is shorter still. I removed my 7 second KOM from that leaderboard because I realize there was absolutely no way I went up that segment at 56 mph!

That leads us to a second thing you have to keep in mind when you are looking at the leaderboards with your mouth dropped open as you consider some of the times posted. In some cases you may even think that someone rode through the segment in their car. However, that isn’t always the case, and the shorter the segment the more likely you’ll see these wildly varying times.

The point is, it takes time and distance to make up a segment. Time is measured by the distance. Gimpy GPS data can lead to suspect time. My 7 second climb up the first part of Woodland Way is a perfect example. The more real estate Strava has to work with, the more accurate the time will be. Throw is the fact that Woodland Way is heavily covered in foliage and Woodland Sprint Interval can be a Strava tracking nightmare.

I had this confirmed from Strava when I once created a segment called Wellington Wall. I was frustrated because people were actually getting the KOM (which is a tough one to claim!) by simply riding down a perpendicular street. I went to Strava to see if I could find out what was going on and they let me know that the segment was too short. Also, it was in a wooded area that at times led to errant GPS readings.

So, I went back and increased the length of the segment. It is still a tough one with an average 17% grade! However, there are no longer any false-positive KOMs.

For this reason, I’m putting my focus on the Woodland Way Sprint Climb. While the Woodland Sprint Interval segment was the first created of the three, it can’t be trusted to be an accurate leaderboard. Woodland Burst is longer than the Interval, but I figure if you get the Woodland Way Sprint Climb, you are probably going to land the Burst anyway.

I am going to give it a try, but I’m not holding out much hope on this one. I know how hard I’ve gone up this segment. That one second looms large!

That is the other thing about short segments. The shorter the distance the less you have to work with to gain speed. The amount of speed you need to shave off a second grows each time a rider chops it down. At some point, you reach the lowest time humanly possible.

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When I took the KOM back in 2012, I crossed the segment in 41 seconds at 25.9 mph. I had to put out 710 watts to make it happen. Yesterday, Nathan Race knocked out a 40 second time at 26.6 mph. Strava shows he averaged 861 watts for the climb with a max of 1404 watts!

It doesn’t matter if Nathan did it in 40.9 seconds and I do it in 40.1 seconds. It still shows up as 40 seconds on Strava. Best case scenario there is that I manage a tie.

To get down in the 39 second range will require me to average over 27.5 mph. That will require quite an increase in power output! The closest segment I’ve done recently to this is the Walker Wimps. It is the same distance, but most of the climb is at the end instead of the start — kind of the opposite of my target segment. Also the average grade is 7% while Woodland Way Sprint Climb is 3%.

The question becomes… “Can I put out around 900 watts for 39 seconds?” My lungs and legs are screaming at me just thinking about it! However, I’m thinking that is what it is going to take if I’m to reclaim the crown.

Here is my one hope. You see, I’ve never actually set out to claim this segment. I landed the KOM back when I was attempting to get the KOM for the Cleveland Loop. That means I was not going all out up the climb because I was having to conserve a bit for the best time over a 2 mile effort. I landed the Cleveland Loop KOM that day with a time of 6:15 and then reclaimed it at 6:05, but I’m pretty certain I’ve lost it for good to Christopher Uberti (a continental professional who races for Smart Stop) who owns the KOM at 5:02.

Well, stay tuned… I’ll go for it and hopefully won’t die trying!

UPDATE: So what happened when an attempt was made to take back the KOM?

On the trails again

Thing Two and I hit the trails yesterday when I got off work. It was nothing big, we loaded up the MTBs and headed down to Cleveland Park to ride the Eagle trail. It was a good way to ease my son into different types of terrain though I was the one to take a fall.

Felt Mountain Bike

Felt Nine Sport 29er

I will say that I am enjoying the bike. It is taking me a little bit to get used to the larger wheels. The bike weighs in at over 30 pounds and I’m used to riding a bike that weighs about half that! Also, the taller bike isn’t as easy to “throw around” as the smaller wheeled mountain bike. However, it will certainly roll over stuff!

It was not challenged at all by the Eagle Trail. This is a trail built by an Eagle scout back in the late 90’s (or was it early 2000’s?) It connects an older section of unpaved trailed with a “newer” one that is closer to the zoo. The older section that goes above the tennis courts and follows Woodland Way is a smooth packed single track. Without walkers, you could really pick up some speed.

The newer section is more technical but only relatively speaking. The primary challenge for us on that portion of the trail were all the leaves. There is a pretty steep climb and we simply couldn’t make it up. The reason was because we could get no traction. No matter how much weight I tried to get back on the rear wheel, it would still slip out from under me.

We finally ended up walking to the top of that section to get a chance to access other parts of the small trail network. We did a couple of loops there and then headed back to the older section to make our way back to the car. It was only a 30 minute ride, but it was enough to get some blood flowing.

I did come out of it with my wrist injured. Another things I am having to get used to is the new pedal system. I’m used to my Speedplay pedals that with an easy twist of my foot get me disengaged from the bike. The system on the Felt MTB isn’t a bad one. It just isn’t what I’m used to.

Thing Two and I stopped on the side of a grassy hill and I came to a stop. I then went to get out of the pedal to put my foot down. You guessed it. I couldn’t get out fast enough and over I went.

Thankfully, as I was going down, my foot finally released. I remember distinctly thinking as I put my left hand out that I shouldn’t do it. I knew my wrist was already damaged and who knows what would happen if I put all my weight on that arm.

This was going through my mind as my hand reached the ground. I couldn’t avoid it touching at that point, but I did buckle it quickly and rolled to my shoulder. I then kept rolling and came up on my feet.

There was an immediate twinge of pain in my wrist, but not really any worse than it had been. I mounted back up and we started to ride. At first the wrist continued to bother me, but soon I wasn’t thinking about it anymore.

We finished up my ride and headed home. I was kind of glad it was a short one. It left me wanting to do more instead of feeling like we were suffering to a finish. I did realize that we would have gotten bored if we stayed on that short and limited trail for very long.

Next will be Paris Mountain State Park and then perhaps Dupont. Of course, that reminds me of why I stopped mountain biking in the first place. There is always the search for a new trail to ride and that leads you farther and farther afield. That takes more and more time.

Hey, we’ll worry about that when we get there.

Compete by wandering around

Knowing that I wouldn’t get a lot of riding in over the weekend, I didn’t take a break from training during the week. By Friday, I was a little tired. The Time-Crunched Cyclist plan doesn’t take so much time, but it can be intense.

Still, I had to get one last ride in before heading out of town with my family for a conference hosted by my church at a camp in North Carolina. It was chilly as I started my morning ride so I was dressed pretty warmly. The good news was that it wasn’t an interval day.

Even so, there was one thing tapping at the back of my mind. Strava. What is Strava? It is an online community of cyclist who record their ride information. What makes it fun is that it allows you compare your ride with others and compete against other riders in “segments.”

On Strava, segments are stretches of road that a member of the community has designated as a “competition zone.” Now, that could be they are simply competing against themselves to see if they can improve their times on those sections. Of course, any time you put something like that out there other cyclists are going to see if they can beat it!

Strava plays on this by awarding “King of the Mountain” trophies for the riders who hold the fastest times during these segments. There are quite a few segments around Greenville and because of the USA Professional Cycling Championship here there are quite a few segments “owned” by pros. Basically, that means, I’m out of the running!

I was first introduced to Strava a couple of years ago by Scottie Weiss who was racing with the Kenda Pro Cycling team at the time. He had recommended it to me during one of my duldrum times as a way to get motivated again during training. I took a look at it, but didn’t really get into it. My account sat dormant for quite awhile.

Then I got a message one day about a week ago from a newer rider who pointed out that he was just a second or so off of my time on a particular segment. “What segment,” I thought to myself. “I don’t recall entering any segment on Strava.” So, I logged in to see what he was talking about. Sure enough one of my recorded rides — I believe it was a Sunshine Cycle Shop ride back in 2011 — had me going through a segment and I was holding 8th place or something like that.

Well now, that couldn’t be allowed to stand! I knew the segment — Nature Trail — and the rider who was holding the KOM. I could definitely beat that time. So, I went out Sunday a week ago and took my rightful place at the top. 🙂

I was hooked. I kept uploading my data and even went back to catch up. Another segment KOM came my way and I didn’t even realize it. It happened on a day when I was doing intervals in Cleveland Park. As I made a turn off of McDaniel at the start of an interval, I came upon too much traffic. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my necessary wattage through the park, so I diverted onto Ridgeland Drive. Since I was on a power interval, I was pushing it up at a good pace.

When I got home and put in my data, I was surprised to see I had a KOM award. It turns out that someone had created a segment on that Ridgeland Drive climb. So, now I had two KOM’s notched to my belt.

That brings us to Friday. There was another KOM I wanted… the Cleveland Park loop. This one was kind of special to me because it was one of my original training spots. For many months during my early days as a cyclists, I had goals to increase my 1 hour speed average around the park loop. I still remember the night I averaged 21 mph for an hour.

Things have changed in the park since then. It is a nicer park and that means there are many more people. Also, road bumps have been placed in the roads to slow traffic. Sure, bicycles can easily go around them, but when there is traffic you are stopped by the cars slowing to go over the bumps. It isn’t nearly the fun it once was.

Anyway, I saw that the fastest lap was 6:32 at 21.7 mph. I knew I had done a faster lap than that in the past. This might be my third KOM in a week.

The segment starts right near the port-a-john by the baseball field. You immediately turn right and climb. My plan was to get up the hills as fast as I could, recover a bit on the downhills and then hang on for dear life on the flat section that would return me to the starting point.

That climb in the beginning came back to haunt me on the flat section! I had averaged over 700 watts as I was climbing up the first hill. I was gulping oxygen on the downhill. I was ready the few seconds later when I took a right by the doggie park for the next climb. On this one I kept myself under control a bit more at 470 watts. By the time I made the right turn back onto Woodland Way, I was starting to feel it.

Now, everything depended on how I caught the lights on McDaniel. If there was a lot of traffic and red lights, my attempt would be sunk! Thankfully, I was able to make the right turn onto McDaniel with no traffic approaching. As I looked ahead, I saw the light turn red. Oh no! Thankfully, as I scanned the road there was no traffic coming. I was able to make the right turn onto Cleveland Park Drive and then pick my pace up again along the relatively flat section to the finish.

That was the hardest part of all! I was doing my best to keep the wattage up, but I kept seeing the speed drop. The good news is that it never dropped below 22 mph. I crossed the finish for the segment in 6:16. I had my third KOM.

That may be my last one. I’ll never get the one climbing Paris Mountain — nor the ones descending it. However, Strava also keeps track of your personal bests. That is definitely something to aim for. Of course, now that I’ve put this out there, I may not have the KOM’s I earned last week for very long!

Speed bumps in my training

George Hincapie was recently interviewed by Neil Brown for CarolinaCyclingNews.com. He’s feeling fit and fresh at the start of his new season. He gave insight into his training over the last few weeks. I had to laugh when I compared it to my training on Tuesday.

“I’ve been at home (in Greenville, South Carolina) motorpacing four or five days a week, trying to train as hard as possible,” he told Neil. “I’ve had good weather, daily massages and am eating well. I feel strong – definitely a lot better than I did at this time last year.” Now, less you think that is “the life.” George spends hours on his bike. If you think the description above is a piece of cake, you haven’t motorpaced.

The thing is… that’s his job. Sure, it is a job he loves, but he is being paid to be out there training and preparing for the season. It is hard work. However, that singular focus is one thing that lessens the issues that we amateur racers must face.

Consider my Tuesday workout…

I rushed out of my last meeting of the day so I could get home and possibly get my 2 hour training block done before it got too dark to ride. When I rushed in the door at home, I was faced with a fifth-grader with tears in his eyes over adding fractions. No way could I just walk past him and say, “Sorry, I have to ride my bike.”

Once I got him settled down and back to finding the least common denominator, I rushed into the bedroom to change. I looked at the clock and it was now a race against time. I grabbed my LowCadence.com bibs and started to pull them on. I couldn’t get them over my knees! Oh, these belonged to my fifth-grader. After disentangling from those, I grabbed my POA kit off the drying rack and finally got ready.

So, now I had 30 minutes to ride before leaving to go pick up my daughter from play practice. Beautiful Redhead was leaving for her aerobics session. Thankfully, I have the Batesview Criterium. By tacking a little bit to my warm-up, I was able to get the first part of my training session (including a 5 minute blow-out of 320 watts) wrapped up before leaving for my daughter.

Thankfully, practice wasn’t far away. After about 20 minutes, I was back on the bike. However, the type of workouts I needed to do wouldn’t work on the personal, but very hilly criterium course. I headed for Cleveland Park.

I was supposed to do 6 x 3 minute efforts at 320 watts. I would rest 3 minutes between each. Then I would ride easy for 10 minutes before doing 4 x 2 minutes at 320 watts with 4 minutes easy spinning between each. Once I got done, I would ride easy for the 15 minutes back home. Adding up all those minutes as I headed down East North Street toward the park, I realized that I was going to be in a race against the sun.

Once in the park, I ran into a new frustration. It used to be that I could start at the intersection of Ridgeland Drive and Cleveland Park Drive and put the hammer down along Cleveland Park Drive onto Lakehurst Drive all the way to Cleveirvine Avenue. At 350 watts that takes about 1 minute and 40 seconds. Then I would turn right on Cleveirvine Avenue followed by a second right onto Woodland Way. I would then crest the hill above the park right about the 3 minute mark.

Things could be worse!

Things could be worse!

Enter the speed bumps. I don’t begrudge the bumps they put in where the Swamp Rabbit Trail intersects Cleveland Park Drive. It does slow that traffic in an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic. When I’m riding my bike, I don’t normally notice it because there is enough space around the bumps for a bike to pass easily.

During my workout they were a nuisance. It seemed that every time I got close to the bumps, a car would pull out of the nearby parking lot and then come to a complete stop as they slowly traversed the 10 inch mounds. On a couple of my efforts I had to come to a rolling stop. This meant to get my average above 320 watts, I had to punch it up Woodland Way.

Just as I was starting my second 2 minute effort the sun disappeared. Things started getting scary. Still, I hoped that I could get the final two before going home.

On the third effort I got to the bumps and the car not only went slowly over the obstacles, but I also could see two ladies in the car talking away. They continued at a very slow pace. My average was blown. I decided it was time to go home.

Thankfully, I made it to the bicycle lanes on East North Street with no mishaps. I pushed my lap button and decided to get one more two minute effort on my way home. Not bad… at the end of the session I was still able to turn out a 385 watt 2 minute effort. Of course, that meant I only got a 3 minute cool down.

Yes, it was a frustrating evening, but looking back over the ride data I have to be pretty happy. I nailed every one of the efforts (except one at 310 watts due to traffic) at 320 watts or above. This is showing me that I’m beginning to add some matches to my matchbook. I’m still not where I was last year before the wreck, but I’m starting to believe again that I can get there — even with speed bumps in my way.

Getting ready for the end

My coach optimistically calls this workout “Race Winning Efforts.” Yesterday, I got a good dose of them. I don’t think I’m to the “race winning” stage yet, but I do know that these efforts are going to help me finish strong.

February 10, 2011 workout (red heart rate/purple wattage)I’ve been doing a good number of these recently. However, this was the first one I have done on the road this training season. In some ways it was easier and in others it was more difficult than the trainer.

I went down to Cleveland Park and marked out a distance that fell somewhere between a kilometer and a mile. This means I was starting my effort just as you turn onto Cleveland Park Drive from McDaniel Avenue. This gave me a pretty flat section to open up on until I had to turn first onto Woodland Way. For several meters I was on a 5 to 8% grade up to the finish line.

Jim told me to attack out of the seat for 8 to 10 seconds before settling in a between 375 watts to 400 watts to the finish. This is pretty easy to do on the trainer. On the road, it was a bit harder. I would get settled in at a wattage and then the road would dip down just slightly, I would have to compensate to keep the wattage within range. However, I did pretty well.

I averaged 422 watts for my first effort followed by… 403, 408, 400, and then on my last effort… 367. Jim told me to do 5 to 7 of these or until the wattage dropped significantly. Turns out that fifth one was the one.

It was also encouraging to know that the efforts on the trainer were within the same parameters of the road efforts. I figured it would take me 2 minutes to cover the mile and I tailored my trainer efforts accordingly. Out on the road I was covering .9 miles in 2 minutes 16 seconds. I’ll keep that in mind next time I have to do these on the trainer.

I know these are going to help me during the times near the end of the race where someone pegs it and everyone is just trying to stay in contention. Of course, this doesn’t only happen at the conclusion of a race, but that is the time when it really counts. I don’t like them, but doing them now will help me like riding a lot more in the future!

I’m interested to see what Jim has lined up for me next week. That Saturday is the first race of the season. I’m thinking Jim isn’t going to set up my training to make that race my “A” race. Most likely he will make the race part of my training for the future. Even that will be getting me ready for the end.

Here we go again

Last night was wonderful. After getting off work, I argued with myself about getting on the bike. A meeting had gone long and I knew the beautiful redhead needed me at the house that evening. Maybe I needed another day off the bike after the rough Friday and Saturday. I’m glad the “get on the bike” side won.

When I got home my wife said, “You’re going out riding, right?” I replied, “Well, I’m home later than I planned. What works for your schedule?” She looked at the clock above the stove, “You’re going out for an hour? That would work perfect for me.”

So, after saying hello to the Things Three, I headed out on my bike. I could tell right away that it was going to be a good ride. Yes, I was a little sore after my efforts over the weekend, but I could even tell my legs LOOKED different. They were even starting to FEEL different. There was a little bit of the snap coming back.

It was like going back in time. Jim, my coach, hasn’t given me any training objectives yet. I’m just going out and trying to find my legs again while working through the stiffness in my neck and getting comfortable on the bike. I simply headed out to Cleveland Park to do laps just as I did back in the beginning of cycling days.

The 8 minutes or so it took me to get from my house to the park gave me time to loosen up a bit, so when I got onto the loop within the park I started to open up a bit… though slowly. I still wasn’t paying much attention to the computer. It was all about feeling the bike again.

On one lap about 25 minutes in I came upon two riders who were spaced out. I could tell they weren’t together. I went around the first and then came up on the second one just as we started the climb onto Woodland Way. I really wasn’t trying to drop him or anything. It was just that I had been pushing it a bit — though I admit that coming around him on a climb made me put out a tad bit more of an effort. 🙂 I launched up the grade and took a glance at the computer. I was climbing at over 600 watts! Ahhhhh, I was leaving that guy in the dust!

I crested the hill and then swooped down toward the doggie park. Suddenly the effort caught up with and at the same time, so did the rider I had passed earlier! He didn’t slow as we started to climb this more shallow grade. I put out an effort to get on his wheel. I found it harder to stay there. Later while looking at the data from my ride, I saw I was pegging 187 bpm during that period. Yeah, that would explain that feeling I had in my stomach!

Then we got separated at an intersection. I thought he was long gone until I reached the Woodland Way climb again. There I could see him just ahead of me on the climb. Once again I put out an effort and got up to his wheel before we reached the crest. However, this time he dropped me for good on the Woodland Circle climb. I let him go.

In the past, I would have kicked myself for not being able to stay with him. Here I was all duded up in my Low Cadence kit, shaved legs, and fancy bike. Yet, here was a guy who looked more like a recreational rider taking it to me. I didn’t kick myself. I laughed at the situation.

No doubt three months ago I would have been able to leave him in the dust. No doubt three months from now I will be able to do so again. Right now it is just kind of reinvigorating to go back to those early days when it was all new to me and every rider was a question mark. Also, just being on the bike is enough. I have nothing to prove.

On the other hand, it was an evening with my first feelings of that competitive urge. That too was a welcome feeling along with the new snap in my legs. In so many ways I am beginning again. This time I am going to take the opportunity to enjoy the journey even more.

They call him McPain

Yesterday I rushed out for a couple of hours around my lunch time to get in my training ride. You may recall my post for that day was on how to beat the funk that sometimes gets you as the race season approaches. I think I found another reason why you may feel down and confirmed the way to beat it. Plus, I ran into McPain.

McPain is Anthony McClain. He is a regular commenter on the site. I told him I would put up some video of him. Here he is…

About the funk business? Well, don’t discount the weather. It is cold and the days are short. It does take a bit of the joy out of riding when you are freezing out on the road or slogging away on a trainer for a couple hours because it is too dark to ride outside.

When I came upon McClain in the park, I had to take my glove off in order to get the video. I ended up taking both of them off as I finished my ride for the day. Amazing what a difference it made to my spirit to feel warm and pedal along in the bright sunshine!

The weather here is supposed to be warm (relatively speaking) for the next several days. Looks like the UWBL might even get out and back before the rain starts. It makes it much easier to focus when you have conditions like that.

Hope to see you out there, McPain.