Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Berkeley 2TTT is Useless for Guaging Fitness

Yesterday, the Boy and I went out for the Berkeley TTT. Really, we signed up just so I could get some "real" race pacing work in. So, the plan was for me to ride the race solo and just make sure he stayed on my wheel for the finish. We finished in 1:06, which was about 8.5 minutes worse than the last time I did it. I'm deciding that I won't let that say anything about my fitness, as there are too many variables at play.

I think a lot of folks - even those with the same riding partner year after year are mystified by this race and times and what it says about fitness.  I say, just have fun! Anyway, the last time I did this race, it was in the W4 category with a team mate. The race was held on March 25 - about 5 weeks later in the season, and I had raced since January that year. This year, my first hard effort was last weekend. Also, last time I rode with booties and aero helmet and shared the effort with my team mate. This time, we were Merckx, but there was no Merckx category for co-ed. I also had a triple crankset last time, which helped me motor up the steeper sections of the Mama and Papa bears. And, yesterday, I dropped my chain so bad I could not get it back on without stopping. Needless to say, I lost actual time plus rhythm with that little issue. I also think it was quite windy yesterday, even for that course, which is always a bit windy.

But, all in all, it was a good, hard effort, a chance to pace, a chance to race with my sweetie, and a good excuse to have breakfast for lunch afterward. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Beat the Clock #1

I won a pair of knee warmers for registering cool is that?

In any case, Beat the Clock was my first fitness test of the season. I didn't use any aero gear, except for the bike. Left the race wheels, helmet, skinsuit and booties at home. Just wanted to work on pacing and position on the bike.

I have a theory that if this race was run in the opposite direction, I would race at least 2 minutes faster. I need to go out and test my theory some time. It starts on Canada Rd., just a bit north of the Jefferson intersection - pretty much at the high point of the road. You basically head down hill for the first 1.5 miles and bottom out a bit below Edgewood Rd. Then, you roll your way to near the junction of highway 92 and head back. That last 1.5 miles is what kills me every time. I have a hard time pacing over that section of road even when I am in a pack. It pitches up steeply near Edgewood and then levels into a gentle up-grade the rest of the way to the finish. I blow myself up trying to get over the steep section and then slow way down on the last upward stretch. If anyone has any suggestions on how to pace this, I'd love to hear them! I'm typically turning around at 14 minutes, which means I'm 4+ minutes slower on the way back. Aaack!

Anyway, I finished 32:45 for the 10 miles, which was 45 seconds faster than last year in March. So, I am still seeing significant improvement year over year. Unfortunately, I was still last place of the individual women. But, I have to remember I am on my own journey and not compare with others!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Everything in Moderation

It's been some time since I've written on le blog. It's not that I've been uninspired. I've had a lot of stuff bobbing around in my head, but not enough time to sit down and commit it to the written word. And, a lot of stuff I've been thinking about is non-cycling-related.

One thing I've been thinking about a lot lately is moderation and balance. I had a chat with a good friend this weekend, that while leaving me a bit uncomfortable has me thinking as well. I have many good things in my life - many things that bring me joy - many things I'm afraid to let go - many things that I have taken to extremes where they no longer bring joy. I'm in the midst of a re-evaluation, which I'm going to give a good amount of time before making any changes. Last year, I tried to make a significant change in the job life, and found it was not the right thing. So, I am back where I started in that regard with a new-found joy and happiness in my work. So, maybe it wasn't a worthless exercise after all. Anyway, I digress....

One concept we studied in school in economics is the law of diminishing returns. It seems that applies in life as well. The law goes something like take a bite of something delicious, it is so good that you must take another bite. But, each bite is somewhat less satisfying than the one before, and you can never get back to that original feeling. I feel this way about cycling. When I started, it brought me so much joy. I could not get enough of it. Falling in love with cycling was intertwined with falling in love with my husband. I was on a high. Then, somewhere along the line, I decided to apply discipline to cycling - to get "better" or "faster". Always consuming more and more, revolving more and more of life around the cycling. Then, I decided to take on racing. Honestly, I've never known another sport that at the amateur/beginner level requires so much. There is no "dabbling" in racing. There is a certain level of skill that must be attained just to do it safely. And, you have to become a real athlete to keep up with the fitness demands. Pretty soon all of life revolves around this silly sport. Your sleeping, eating, all your free hours. You force yourself to ride in the rain or on the trainer when you'd rather go for a walk in the woods or meet friends for tea. The balance goes, and shortly after, the joy with it. So, you buckle down with ever more trying to recapture the joy. Maybe if I can get to nationals, I will find the joy again. That is what I tell myself. At the same time, I don't want to lose this part of my life completely and fall into a sedentary hedonism. How do I restore the balance and bring back the joy? That's what I'm going to be thinking about over the next months. I'm hoping a bike trip in Europe with my honey will help rekindle the joy of cycling.

There are other parts of life that I'm trying to find the balance in as well. I'll save those ponderings for another time, though, as this blog is mostly about cycling ;)