Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lunchtime DD rides: Sycamore, Welsh, Barry-Holt-Eleanor

Quick (ok, not so much) Dirty Dozen hill ride with Brian and Robbie. Aside from an early flat on Brian's part, it went pretty well.

Sycamore was, well, Sycamore. Nothing exciting there. Welsh was short and sweet; 20 seconds of "I feel okay, this is no big deal", followed by 10 seconds of "this sucks", followed by 20 seconds of "I'm gonna puke".

I blew up on Eleanor, up near the top at Primrose; had to pull off to the side to get enough speed to get moving again. 'Saright...I'll just have to redeem myself on Sunday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Redemption, DD-style

Led another Dirty Dozen training ride today; Rialto, Logan, Suffolk-Hazelton-Burgess, and Sycamore. This time, I failed to fail: although I didn't exactly lead the pack up every hill, I was only dead last on one (Sycamore?!? The EASIEST?!?), and didn't feel like I was going to/wanted to die for more than a minute or two.

Eight riders showed up at the Jail Trail in town; myself, Jim Logan, Guido, Mark and his teenage son (AKA 100 pounds of hill-climbing monster), Don, Brian, and another gentleman whose name I've shamefully forgotten. We cut through town over to 31st St Bridge, then pounded up Rialto as our warm-up hill. Heh. I threw caution to the winds, invoked granny, and just attacked the crap out of that hill. As a result, I was in the first 4 up the hill...kind of a cool feeling not to be last for a change. On the down side, if that hill had been 100 feet longer, I may well have blown myself up, since I was really sucking wind by the top. But hey, it went okay, and I recovered quickly.

From the top of Rialto, we circled around to the top of Logan, then gingerly descended. (As a side note, I've decided to do something about my brakes; I'm just not confident in their ability to stop me when I NEED to stop.) Turning around at the bottom, we began the ascent. I was in my zone, happily pumping along at *mumble* miles per hour, when Guido hit the ground jut ahead of me, less than 100 feet from the top. I could have gone around and kept going, 'cause I HAD that hill, but decided to stop and render assistance as necessary. I feel no guilt over claiming victory on that climb; even if not technically a true DD success, I've beat that hill before, and could have done so again today. Now, I won't try to pretend that taking a break for a few minutes didn't feel really, really nice...

From there, we took Pittview back through Troy Hill, then down to Chestnut and over to East St. A quick glide up East to the left on Suffolk, and "my problems, they were just beginning". Suffolk-Hazellton-Burgess is one of those hills where I almost beat myself before even getting started; I've built it up in my mind so much that defeat seems almost inevitable. Fortunately, I'm a pretty stubborn rider; all that long steady distance this year, if nothing else, has taught me to just keep turning the pedals over. Sometimes at 35 RPM, but still turning them over...

Regardless, I pushed through, and avoided A) stopping, 2) puking and III) rain-of-brimstone-inducing blasphemy. To be fair to myself, I did a LOT better this year than last; last year darn near killed me, while this year was merely pretty frickin' tough. At this rate, I'll be within striking distance of "not sucking" in another decade or so.

Sycamore was not all that much of a much; I didn't put my heart into it, so finished a good 30 seconds behind everyone else. No biggie; Sycamore, much like High St, has become "just another long hill" in my mind.

All in all, I'm pleased. Coming off three weeks of a chest cold, and being a good 30-40 pounds over where I should be, and I can still survive the steeps. Of course, a willingness to go r-e-a-l-l-y slow helps, as does a mountain cassette.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DD training ride FAIL

[Backdated, 'cause I've been slacking in my postings]

So, due to scheduling pressure and being a frickin' moron, I ended up committing to lead a Dirty Dozen training ride, for the first four hills, the day after riding a 200K populaire. Yeesh. What a maroon.

Long story short, I barely made it up Center, and gratefully handed off ride leader duties to Fred Klehm. The fatigue from the prior day's ride was, surprisingly, not a real factor; the vicious cough and fever, on the other hand, were less than helpful. Regardless of the excuses, the end result was that I wussed out big time.

I feebly wobbled my way up Parker over to Millvale, then hung out at the BP for a while, nursing coffee and waiting for medication to take effect. That was fun. :-(

On a related note, I'm a little disturbed by a recent trend in ride failures; I've bailed on three in the last two weeks, when I normally don't bail under any circumstances short of family emergency. I'm not sure why, but it seems much easier to find reasons not to ride hard right now. Perhaps I'm a little burnt out, after the rando season.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thrift Drug Classic 200K Populaire

[Backdated, 'cause I've been slacking on my postings.]

Jim Logan, Shane Shin, and myself had a lovely ride in the country today. Starting with an invigorating climb up Sycamore after departing Jim's place in Shaler, we made our way to Carnegie via Temperanceville (AKA the West End), then shot out Noblestown to Sturgeon. A quick spin up Fink/Kelso deposited us on Ye Olde Steubenville Pike; then, Potato Garden over to 151, and Rt 30 out to East Liverpool, OH. 68 brought us all the way back to Evans City, then some back roads over to 3 Degree, Babcock, and Thomson Run back into Shaler.

Fun ride, if a bit well endowed with Scenery (Jim's GPS claimed 10,000'+ of gain); while there were only a couple of tough climbs, very, very little of the route was actually flat.

I started out feeling a bit rocky, as I'd been fighting illness for the last week or so; however, once we got through Carnegie, I was feeling pretty good. Once again, proof of something I know, but keep forgetting: just ride, even when you feel like crap, and you'll often find yourself in a much better place.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Well, bugger. Rando FAIL.

I had planned to scout the route for the Thrift Drug Classic 200K Populaire; after all, since I designed much of the route, it seemed only fair that I make sure it's not an utter deathtrap, and that the cues aren't completely hosed.

So, I set off this morning at about 7:45 or so, enjoying the traditional randonneuring combination of drizzle and high 40s temperature. Did I want to turn around and go home? Hellya! Did that desire fade after the first couple of miles, like it usually does? Uh, no..that's not good.

Also in the big pile of "things that aren't good"; I wasn't feeling the usual snap in the legs. To be fair, what I call "snap", many cyclists would call "lethargy", but still, I was running well under my normal cruising speed. Ah well, I said; no sense worrying about it now, here comes Sycamore.

Sycamore killed me. I stopped twice to hyper-v and try not to puke, when I haven't had to stop once in the last dozen times I've climbed that hill. WTF was up with me? I may be a wimp, but I'm not usually that feeble. Anyway, I made it to the top, and pressed on along Grandview to Greenleaf and down to the West End Circle. Hmmm...I was cruising on the flats at a whopping 10 miles per; that's not a good sign, when I'm only 10 miles into a 125-mile ride. Finally, after a brief jaunt into good old Temperanceville, I decided to pack it in, and pedaled home with my metaphoric tail tucked quite neatly betwixt my slow-moving legs.

I dunno; didn't feel sick per se, and I've only got a little residual congestion from a cold; just didn't have much to give today. After I got home, I poured a couple of cups of coffee down my throat, then spent the rest of the day happily rebuilding the Rocket and framing in walls in the basement; no real problems, no lack of energy.

Definitely feeling a bit of shame; us tough-as-nails rando types are supposed to soldier on, not throw in the proverbial towel at the first sign of trouble. But, given how poorly I was doing, it was probably the right choice, especially since I'm supposed to not only ride the Populaire next Saturday, but also lead a Dirty Dozen training ride the following Sunday morning. That's gonna be interesting...