Friday, August 6, 2010

Speed drills with just a touch of weirdness

Last Tuesday, Coach Tim put together a speed interval workout in Oakmont.  This was going to be fun since we usually do hill repeats on Tuesdays so I was looking forward to the change.  I just needed to get out of work in time to make it. 

The plan was to make three loops around Oakmont with each loop being almost 5 miles.  We will practice speed intervals in a pace line for the first two laps and then have a little fun that would involve some chasing on the last lap.

As expected, I get out of work just a touch late and the rest of the team is already on the first lap.  So, I ride in the opposite direction until I catch them coming my way.  After a quick U-turn I am in the group and riding along.  They were basically done and just cruising to the start of the second lap and this gave me plenty of time to chat and say hi to everyone before things got serious.

As we start the second lap, Coach Tim is barking out orders.  “Hold the speed!”  “Don’t accelerate!”  “No more then thirty seconds!  “Get off the front!”  “Lee, get your head out of your ass and pay attention!”  (Okay, he didn’t really say that last one.) 

Now, as much as I love a serious pace line, pace lines with newbies make me nervous.  They don’t always react properly just like I didn’t know how to react when I first started riding pace lines.  It’s not about how long you’ve been riding.  Pace lines are a separate skill that needs practice.  So as we rolled along, my focus was 100% on the riders in front of me.

The third lap consisted of a chase.  I would start with the two newer riders and after a head start Coach Tim’s group would try and catch us.  Early on we drop one of our riders and as I am looking  to see if she is back on my wheel I hear a rubbing sound.  I look up and notice that I have drifted right while the lead rider drifted left and now my front tire is rubbing his back tire.  This is a very dangerous situation that could have put both of us on the ground while riding at 20mph.  Instead, neither of us panicked and we drifted back in the opposite direction and kept rolling.  However, it was a little weird since I didn’t we were nearly that close to each other.

Back at the starting point more weirdness ensued.  After waiting nearly a minute for Coach Tim’s team, which means we were not caught, a car came from behind and I decide to move a little further out of the road.  As I start to move, my back tire sticks in a crack in the road and I simply fall over still clipped to my pedals.  Really!  I have dead bugged before but that was just weird.

While Coach Tim takes some of the group to do hill repeats, another group of us head home.  As we approach the bike path from Oakmont to Channel Drive, the last rider in our group missed the pole in the middle that stops cars from using the path.  And by “misses the pole” I mean she doesn’t see it and plows right into it.  That could have been another serious accident but fortunately she was left with only a bruised quad and small cut on her leg.  What’s weird is that we have ridden this path hundreds of times so you would think this simply wouldn’t happen.

There you have it.  A great night of speed drills, a silly guy falling over on his bike, and a couple of situations that could have been much more serious.  In the end, it was a reminder of the need for constant focus and attention when riding and you cannot take any situation for granted.  Personally, that’s one lesson I do not want to learn the hard way.


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