Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bloody Sunday

No. Nothing as dramatic as that.

So - This past Sunday I did a 81 mile bike ride, on a great day, through the southern tier of NY. It was a beautiful course, not super difficult, not too easy..  When I am riding any distance, I figure a decent ride is 50 feet of climbing per mile travelled. If it's 100 feet a mile, which we used to shoot for in our race training, I would consider that a serious amount of climbing.  This was 81 miles, and over 4200 feet according to RideWithGPS.. Addison 80 is the ride we did.

Four of us left from the Acorn parking lot in Addison on Sunday morning. Bill Fischer, Mark Sheehan, Mark Hogan, and myself. The first 25 miles of the course are a very subtle climb, not really noticeable to speak of. There was a little headwind, and I kept looking at my tires to see if one was going flat. They were fine, but my legs were just having trouble pushing me. 35 miles into the ride, while talking with Bill, I mentioned giving blood the prior Friday, just 2 days earlier. He asked me what the hell I was thinking, and the truth is, I wasn't.. I figured that 36 hours would be plenty of time to recover. Bill said "do you know why you can't give blood more than every 56 days? because it takes 30 to recover the blood you gave!"

Hindsight is hindsight, and I struggled on a ride that wasn't that hard.  Sure, we had some climbs, and a headwind, but neither of them were anything I hadn't been up against before. Research after the fact between reading and talking to friends says it can take anywhere from a few days for sprint recovery, to multiple days to a week for distance or competition recovery. I believe it. One of my friends jokingly mentioned - "you know, blood doping is ADDING blood".  It was funny, but honestly, yeah, that makes sense.. When you donate blood you give 10% of your blood. Think about this... 10% of the blood that carries oxygen and glycogen to your muscles..  So yeah, it's going to affect performance, DUH! The following is from the Red Cross site :  "The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours. Red cells need about four to six weeks for complete replacement. That's why at least eight weeks are required between whole blood donations." Yeah, that's right, red cells, the one's that carry oxygen. Oops!

So - basically, this whole blog post is about one great big lesson learned.

Well, Maybe two lessons, I may have also learned something about the stomach issues I am having riding also, but I am not positive. I think it's conditioning. The fact that I am not in as good of shape as I need to be, and I push right near my limit. Keeping my heart rate just high enough to push, but those times when I go over that limit, long or steep climbs, it pushes me over that edge. Sunday this happened exactly at 3:15 into the ride. I remember looking at my watch and thinking damn! It just happened! It's going to be a rough second half of the ride. I was only a little over 3 hours in, suffering, but still keeping an OK pace, considering.

It was probably one of my all time worst rides. The kind of ride that makes you want to quit riding forever. You finish ready to give it all up. Then you wake up the next morning, look at your bike in the back of the car, and start planning for the next ride. Even to go as far as to book a bike rental for your business trip to Seattle in late April, so that you can get a 200K in on Saturday and a 100K on Sunday of the weekend, before the course starts.

The important thing is to learn from your mistakes. I need to condition more, follow my rules, and work on Obeying the Rules. I need to drop 15 lbs, and work on my diet (not dieting, food intake).  I need to stick with a workout program, and ignore my loving wife when she tells me to "skip the workout this morning and get some rest". She means well, but it's not doing me any good.. I know how to pace myself during my workouts, I need to keep pushing.

Weather is supposed to be decent this coming Friday, so I think I'll be riding in from Bath in the morning. That'll give me about a 45 miles day. Time to get cracking! I have a half marathon to run in about 4 weeks! Got to get running those roads also.

Take care..   Obey the Rules.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beyond Hope 200K - Blairstown, NJ

SO ! My 3rd 200K, and my second of 2012 is completed. I am writing this 3 days after the ride, but am sure I should be able to recall most of the ride. The ride date was 2/4/2012, and a link to the results can be seen here: PA Randonneurs: Beyond Hope to New Hope 200K

I woke up, well actually I went to bed around 8:30PM on Friday, alarm set for 2AM, and woke up at 11, 12, and 1AM, when I finally just got out of bed. Knowing I had to meet up with Bill Fischer at 4AM, and that he would be counting on me to show up had me a little jumpy with an hour and 45 minute drive to get to the Park and Ride. I had slept well, just less than I would have liked, but this didn't bother me, because I figured in a few months, in May, when I am doing the 24 hour ride, I will be functioning on little or no sleep, so might as well get used to it.

I double checked everything, had a bowl of oatmeal, and a cup of coffee, filled my water bottles, and headed out. I had packed the car the night before. Of course I forgot something. Since my previous ride, we had purchased a food dehydrator, and the dehydrated Kiwi, and Mango's got left in the fridge, ah well, I still had the "Trail Mix" that Kris had bought with yogurt covered raisins, nuts, chocolate covered nuts, dates, figs, and raisins in it, so I would be fine. On the road at just after 2!

I rolled into the Lowman Park and Ride about 5 minutes early to find Bill of course ready to roll! We had decided to take my Impreza, and figured both bikes would fit in the back end - which quite amazingly they did. Yes folks, that's 2 - 60 inch bikes with the front tires removed, helmets, change of clothes, shoes, etc.. Plus - two guys over 6 feet and 200 lbs each! NICE!

We got back on the road immediately, and headed to the Blairstown Diner in Blairstown, NJ just across the creek from where the ride would start, arriving around 6:30AM.

Bill was pretty psyched to see a good friend of his - Chip Adams, who he had ridden with multiple times, who had also ridden PBP with Bill the previous year. They don't live close together, and met riding and became fast friends, and only see each other on rides. But, sometimes that's the way it is. See Chip's PBP report here! Good reading : Chip Adams PBP 2011 report

We sat down at a table in the corner with a guy Bill introduced as Geoff Brunner. Geoff had done RAAM the previous year (Ride Across America), which is a 3000 mile race across the country with a 12 day time limit. Yes, that's 250 miles a day minimum!! Geoff had done it in the alotted time, which was his goal, and is hoping to cut a few DAYS off his time this year! Holy Cow! Also met big George Metzler who crewed for 2011 RAAM second place finisher Mark Pattinson, who finished in 9 Days and 41 minutes!!  That's over 330 miles PER DAY!!  I can't imagine riding an event like that, and crewing it is almost as hard I am sure! Anyways - both of these guys are super nice, and it was my pleasure to get a chance to meet them. You can see Geoff's website and follow his progress here: Geoff Brunner - RAAM

Chip showed up shortly after we got there, and we shook hands, chatted, and downed some food. We headed out the door of the diner shortly after 7 to head to the parking area of a nearby park where the ride would start, and get the bikes ready to head out. 28 folks showed up for the ride, and it was a crisp morning, but not too cold. As always, I scrambled to get everything together, get my SPOT started, and my computers zeroed, and make sure I had my keys, some cash, my brevet card, phone, water bottles, check check check check..  We listened to the pre-ride pep talk given by Tom Rosenbauer, and got on our way at 7:30. I think I remember the sun shining, and I always forget, because I feel so good at the beginning, to remember the terrain in the first 10 miles - because this is the last 10 miles also, and you're going to want to know exactly how much pain you're going to be enduring in 10 hours when you come back through.

The ride was great. It was a direct out and back on fairly flat roads. I had made a saddle adjustment prior to the ride, because I had been having knee pain, so I had raised it about 1/4 of an inch to see if that would help. About 10 miles in, I realized it was too high, and putting pressure where I didn't want pressure. I should have stopped immediately and lowered it. It would have taken me only 2 minutes, and saved me what ended up being groin pain, leg fatigue, and other discomforts that we won't mention. But, I figured I could handle it till I got to the Control at 42 miles. Heck, that's only about 3 hours..

We get to the Control, and we're doing OK. Along the first portion I had lost Bill and Chip, and rode with Rick Collins, who was riding more my pace. Rick was a super climber who would pull away from me on the climbs, and then I would catch back up with him on the downhills and flats. We ended up riding together all day. The control was in Milford, NJ and was a cool little bakery. I popped in, got my card signed and dated, grabbed a chocolate covered biscotti, walked out and ate that, took a few photos with the iphone, and got back on the road, of course forgetting to adjust my saddle.. Ah, I will just get it at the next stop, which is only 20 more miles.

 The next part of the ride was along the Delaware River, and passing through Frenchtown, NJ which was another cool little town, heck, they were all cool little towns, that I would love to come back and visit some time with my family.

We continued to ride along the river, with an appreciated slight downhill grade, and crossed the river in Stockton on a steel bridge that you have to walk the bike across on the sidewalk. It was nice to stretch the legs a bit. Once we got across the bridge, it was only 4 miles to the next Control which was also the midway point. We met up with a couple of local guys doing a "long ride of 50 miles", and chatted for a while, talking about this and that, and dreams of future rides. It was a nice distraction. We got to the 3rd Control (second stop) and had some lunch, and met back up with Bill there, who was graciously waiting to ride the second half with me. I felt a little guilty that he was missing ride time with Chip, as he would be graced with my presence in the car on the way home. So - I downed 3/4 of a banana (I have to repeat here that I really don't like bananas..), they're fine in a shake, banana bread or whatever, but as a fruit I just don't care for them. So, the Banana, 1/2 a turkey wrap, and washed it down with electrolyte drink. Topped off both of my water bottles with electrolyte drink, remembered to adjust my saddle back down, and headed back towards Blairstown!

My legs at this point were pretty shot. I was 5 hours into the ride, and knew that the return ride was more of an uphill grade and that I was going to suffer. Bill was great as always and attempted to pull me (allow me to draft), but I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep the pace without bonking, so I just did what I needed to, kept the pace I could maintain, and got to the next Control. Between the mid-point and the finish I developed nausea, and a lack of appetite, which is NOT what you want at that point in the ride. I had trouble keeping my head up because of just not feeling well. Bill was waiting for me at this Control with Rick. I had mentioned earlier to Bill to take my keys and I would meet him at the finish, and he took me up on it and left the control about 5 minutes after I arrived.

Rick and I left for the last leg about 5 minutes behind Bill. I have a new bottom bracket generator and B&M Lumotec IC CYO light on the bike now, and was looking forward to getting to try it out. We got another 15 miles before I had to engage the dynamo and was glad once engaged that I only had 10 miles. I probably dropped 2 miles per hour (15+%) of my speed immediately, and probably ended up with a 1.5 mph drop once I got used to the dynamo. It was added drag on the wheel, and felt like alot of added work. I may have to consider a hub dynamo as a replacement, as they're supposed to be a little less resistance. I didn't choose to use battery powered lights when I chose my lights, just because over a full night, I might go through 3 sets of batteries, and it seems not the best for the environment. I am no tree hugger, but figure I should try to do my part in some aspects.

Anyways - I rolled into the final Control at 6:15PM, 10 hours and 45 minutes after I had left the area. I was shot. Bill had pulled the car up to the front of the Blairstown Inn, and I was glad of that, and he graciously had filled the tank and offered to drive the 2.5 hours back to his car. I got my brevet card signed, handed it in, changed my clothes, and got in the passenger seat, and just relaxed. Bill had finished the ride in 9 hours and 50 minutes, so in the last 25 miles, he had finished 50 minutes faster than I had. Of course, I was dragging, but he was humming right along too.

It was a great ride, and before I was home, I was looking forward to my next brevet in March, and possibly even doing a 200K permanent with Bill before the end of February!

Here's a shot of the SPOT tracking..  IT seemed to lose track of me between 2 and 3:30, but I was along the bottom of a bluff wall along the river, and that likely had something to do with it, must have lost GPS signal.

What I learned -
1) don't adjust the saddle before a long ride (btw - I already knew this)
2) give yourself enough time to get ready (I never do this)
3) nutrition slow and easy. Wash real food down with water, and use electrolytes between real food.
4) train more - real training -with Randonneuring spinning class doesn't cut it.
5) do NOT fill both bottles with a mix or electrolytes. Make sure one bottle is straight water.