Friday, August 21, 2009

What a Week

Well, it looks like the great times from the weekend decided to spill over into the week. The cool thing about this week was it's impromtu-ness (is that a word?). I was expecting it to be much more work then play and definitely more stress then fun. Here are some of the highlights.

Monday - Mondays are Mondays and I can usually count on 2 things, work and stress. Around 3:30 my cell phone starts to vibrate but I can't answer it because I am in a meeting. Finally, around 5:30 I check the voicemail and get the most pleasant surprise. Our neighbors want to have us for dinner to celebrate Sherry's birthday. So instead of grilled burgers, ice tea and sitcom reruns, it's bolognese, great wine and talking with friends.

Tuesday - Back to the grind at work. However I managed to leave early so it's out for a ride. Few things help me unwind faster after a long day then rolling along on my bike. I was supposed to do speed intervals but I determined very quickly that wasn't going to happen. Instead, I decided to do endurance intervals. That didn't happen either. Ultimately, I simply decided enjoy being on the bike.

As I ride towards Oakmont I see my friend, Julie, riding towards me with 2 women I didn't know. Turns out she didn't know them either. She started riding with her tri-group, got dropped, made a wrong turn and got lost in the maze that is Oakmont. The 2 women she was riding with were helping her get back to her car.

I invite her to join me and the original ride of speed intervals is now a leisurely ride with a friend. We were riding and chatting and having a great time until we found her tri-group who were fixing a flat tire. They all started talking immediately about what happened while I circle near by feeling like a creepy old man in a trench coat hanging out by the girls locker room. I finally realized she was riding back with them so off I go to finish my ride. In the end, it was another great evening.

Wednesday - Work, work, work! Stress, stress, stress! I get home to discover that Sherry has skipped Jazzercise. She has also made a apricot tart. Since neither of us want to cook dinner it's off to Riviera. We had a great dinner with lots of cycling talk and even more flirtation from Gianluca. We decline dessert because of the apricot tart back home. Gianluca starts going on and on about how much he loves apricots. So we head back home and, after taste testing the tart, we take a couple of slices back to him. His face was one of pure joy and the highlight of another great night.

Thursday - Meeting, meeting, meeting! Stress, stress, stress! I ended Thursday with another bike ride. This time I was much more serious and headed to Fountaingrove for hill repeats. So 22 miles, and 1600 feet, later I was back home and stress free. After another "we don't feel like cooking conversation" it was time for pizza and relaxation.

So there you have it. It has been a great week. What does today have in store? It's Friday so it doesn't really matter. I just need to get through the day because tomorrow 10 or so of us are riding King Ridge to prepare for the Gran Fondo. What a perfect way to end a great week.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Just a hint of cycling

Well, it's been another 2 weeks since my last blog. I think it's because I have only been writing about cycling and to be honest it's getting a little blah. I mean hell, even I think one ride report is starting to sound like all the others. That means it's time to shake things up a bit and this weekend's mini-vacation provided the perfect opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I am still training hard for the Gran Fondo, which is now completely sold out. That has meant more hill repeats and power intervals. However, I am starting to feel a little fatigued so Coach Tim and I are tweaking the training just a bit. I have also done some great rides like yesterday's Tour of Napa. But let's talk about something else shall we?

Friday was Sherry's birthday. I won't tell you how old she is for fear of never having french toast again. I will say that we have both reached that point in our lives where our 30's are getting harder and harder to remember and we simply don't care. We are too busy having fun and living life to be concerned with physical age.

The original plan was lunch at Etoile. This is a phenomenal restaurant at the Domain Chandon winery in Yontville. So with reservations for 1:30 on Saturday the birthday lunch is all set. But wait! A couple weeks before her birthday Sherry decided she wanted to have dinner on Friday as well. So how did she convince me to provide a birthday dinner and lunch. It was really quite easy. She suggested Riviera Ristorante, my favorite, for Friday night's dinner.

Friday night's dinner was excellent. Giampaolo and Luca were up to their usual magic of food and friendship. Everyone stopped by the table to offer Sherry birthday wishes. Giampaolo sat with us for a while and we all discussed cycling (is Levi really signing with Team RadioShack?). It was the perfect way to start what was fast becoming a birthday weekend.

Saturday was shaping up to be the most perfect day for a leisurely lunch on the patio of Etoile. We arrived and were shown to our table, which had a great view of the grounds and gardens. The food was amazing and it may now be our favorite restaurant in Napa. Domain Chandon is known for their sparkling wine, so we paired each course with their recommendation. I'll skip the details and just say that 2 and a hours, and a lot of birthday wishes, later we were taking a lovely drive through the vineyards on the way home.

On Sunday, I rode the Tour of Napa. It was a great day with great friends. The ride went as planned and I made sure not to flog myself since Sherry and I had decided to go to a movie that night. I was afraid that riding too hard would lead to either sleeping or cramping during the movie and neither of those scenarios ended well for me.

After the Tour of Napa ride, and a nice long nap, we head to movie. I am not a big movie guy and Sherry is not a fan of crowds so we rarely go to the movies but everyone we know said we had to see Julie & Julia because of our love of food and Paris. It was entertaining (I could have waited for the DVD) and we had a nice time. Of course the highlight was smuggling in gourmet chocolates for our snacking pleasure.

All in all it was a nice and relaxing weekend. Of course, now it's Monday, the birthday weekend is complete and it's back to the daily grind. That's okay. I will head into the office this morning knowing that in less then 30 days we will be on a plane for France. That's when the real vacation will begin.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's been a hard week

As I was looking at Coach Tim's training calendar for last week, I knew well in advance I was in for sore legs. I was scheduled for hill intervals on Tuesday and power intervals on Thursday. Throw in the grand finale of the climb up Sweetwater on Saturday and you may understand why I chose to sleep in this morning.

Let's start with the hill work on Tuedsay.

Normally, my hill work takes the form of hill repeats. Tim will even suggest which hills to ride. This week was different. This week my goal was to simply go ride hills. Lots of them. After work, I hop on the bike and head to Fountain Grove which is nothing but hills. You are either going up or down. Plus, the selection of hills offers varying lengths and grades. Here are some examples of what I climbed on Tuesday.
  • Ridgeview Drive - .75 miles/maximum grade = 19%
  • Parker Hill Road - 1.75 miles/maximum grade = 15%
  • Cross Creek Road - 1.5 miles/maximum grade = 11%
Of course their were numerous small climbs in between, all with double digit gradients. The end result was a 17-mile ride with 1725 feet of climbing and just as much descending. This means I spent most of ride either going 7 or 40 mph.

Thursday found me riding power intervals in Oakmont in strong winds. Nothing like a little added resistance to make a workout pay off. As workouts go, I find power intervals a little boring but man do they work. I was totally flogged when I finished and I was also feeling the effects of Tuedsya's hill work. Now only one question remains. With all of this hill and power work, will I be stronger for Sweetwater on Saturday?

On Saturday, we were riding a most unusual ride. You see, many of our friends were participating in the Vineman Triathalon in either Barb's Race or the Aquabike. The plan was to ride to Guerneville to watch the swim, race them to Chalk Hill and watch the climb and then race them again to the bike-run transition.

We get a late start and have to hammer the pace from Windsor to Guerneville but still arrived in time to wish Carmen luck. After her swim, we cheered her away from T1 as she heads out on the bike course. In about 45 miles she will reach Chalk Hill along the rolling hills of the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. We are taking a more direct route up and over Sweetwater.

I have written about Sweetwater in the past. It is the first hill I had to walk up as my heart rate hit 196. On Saturday, I rode with one of our sprinters, hill climbing is definitely not her specialty, and managed the entire climb in the middle ring with a max heart rate or 168. Things are definitely improving.

The rest of the ride went as planned. We got to Chalk Hill just in time to cheer Carmen over the top. Then we put together a very fast train and beat her to the transition to cheer her on again.

In the end, all of my cylcing friends had great days yesterday in their events. As I think about it, so did I.

So what was my reward for a strong week of training? You guess it. Sleeping in, relaxing and french toast! What a great way to spend a Sunday.