Saturday, February 4, 2012

The first ride of the year

The Junior Guidebook is a wonderful tome, full of wisdom beyond ken, passing on knowledge both inscrutable and scrutable.

Of course, of the two, the scrutable is the more useful because it can actually be scruted whereas the inscrutable is, by definition, unable to be scruted and thus highly unlikely to be of any use.

At the risk of losing my Junior Woodchuck Loyalty Badge, however, I must point out one tiny flaw with the magnificence of our favored text.

With knowledge comes an adjustment in thinking. But first, the ride.

My friends Riot Kitty and Fluffy the Cat, aka Attila the Honey Bear aka Mr. Wimpy Pants Who Will Only ride his Bike When It Is One Billion Degrees Celsius were meeting me at the theatre to see modern day entertainment fest The Adventures of Tin Tin (2012).

Taking advantage of an unseasonably warm 54 degrees, I decided to ride my bike instead of driving. So consulting the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook, I quickly discovered it is preferable to get your brakes fixed prior to riding along the TV Highway so off to the bike shop I went.

13 minutes and a shade over 3 miles later I arrived at the bike shop. I explained to them how  last time I rode the bike they took all my 'emergency ride money" to adjust the brakes...and the brakes gave out after a half hour.

So they looked at them again and discovered a problem with the breaks, so I need a new something or other...brake caliper maybe?

They of course do not carry them in stock so while they tried to figure out how to special order one I drooled over a sexy number that someday shall be mine...maybe...


Anyway, we got the part ordered and I continued with my ride. The next section was long the TV Highway so I pushed it a little bit. Up hill and down dale, from hither to yon, zipping along at a modest pace.

After 5.66 miles at 15 mph...a pace I am particularly proud of since it was constant up and down hills of varying steepnesses...I arrived at ye olde theatre.

The marvelous thing about the hills is an oddity I noticed; when I am on the trainer I am not a big fan of intervals. But when riding on the roads I love intervals. Let me explain.

When taking off from a light, I do a close resemblance to modified spin ups...I start in a moderate gear and rapidly increase to a high cadence, then shift to higher gear after higher gear while maintaining the same cadence. While doing it, I actually have better form than at any other time, and actually get that "not quite sitting on the seat, almost dancing" movement. My legs piston forward with the power of Thundering Typhoons*, the bike feels nigh weightless, and I attain speeds I did not realize I was capable of. I am also able to maintain this pace for longer than I can typically hit that cadence in that gear.

And it gives me that release of endorphins, that happy, nearly euphoric feeling. I love those intervals.

Anyhow, on the ride back I am not going to lie...I was scuffling a bit. See, I am still in the "cross-training" I may have played almost 6-1/2 hours of racquetball last week, but I was on the bike for zero hours. My legs are stronger, but not bike stronger.

And here is where consulting the knowledge bases is detrimental.

Normally my thought processes would be something like, "My legs are tired and hurting. I am pushing too hard." And a bit later, "I am short of breath. I am pushing too hard." And "My lower back is hurting. Ow."

However, consulting the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook along with other, lesser books by mere doctors and world famous trainers, now my thought process goes like this.

"My legs are tired and hurting. I am building up lactic acid faster than my body can disperse it. I am definitely riding past my LT (Lactate Threshold for those of you who have not studied either the might Junior Woodchuck Guidebook or the aforementioned lesser books.) and it is too early in the season for that."

"I am short of breath. I have reached the anaerobic threshold. It is too early to be there, I need to work on my conditioning."

And last but not least, "My lower back is hurting. It really hurts. Ow. OW. OW. Oh, please stop hurting."

So as you can see, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

The funny thing is, though I was admittedly scuffling and riding slower, noticeably worn down after a relatively short ride...I noticed my form was slipping. So I made a conscious effort to work on my form. Toes to the front of the pedal, elevate the heel, power through...

And promptly had the strongest portion of riding for the entire day over the last 2 miles. Faster. easier. No crossing the LT or hitting the anaerobic threshold.

Score one for training and knowledge.

Still, I averaged just 12.8 mph on the last 8.57 mile ride...very slow by my standards, but acceptable for not having been on the bike for a couple weeks.

For the day I managed 15.26 miles in 1:06 for an overall 13.9 mph average...I will take those numbers. Especially on a stop and go series of rides like those three.

So while the knowledge gleaned from the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook and its subsidiaries has some drawbacks, I believe I still have overall shown progress.

I really look forward to the next ride.

* In the movie Tin Tin the Captain repeatedly blasts out this innocuous phrase, each time garnering gales of laughter from those of us in the audience.

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