Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ups and downs of cycling

Cycling is full of ups and downs. Of course, I mean this both figuratively and literally. If you cycle in the Wine Country then you are going to climb some hills. Or if you prefer, you can climb a mountain or two. Cycling also seems to generate emotional ups and downs. Last night’s Tuesday Night Hill Repeats with Coach Tim offered a snapshot of a few of the ups and downs offered by this great sport.

It all started on my ride out. As I was rolling down Montgomery Drive this Suburban lays on the horn and gives a WTF look as they drive past. I fight the urge to flip them off and keep rolling. At the next intersection my Suburban is stuck at the light. I roll up to his open window fully prepared to go on a rant that’s worthy of Mr. Dithers, Dr. Cox, and Dennis Miller all rolled into one. Instead, I politely ask what he thought I was doing wrong. He presented his side and I mine. He started with not liking me on the road because it slowed him down and moved to he did not want to hit me. I agreed that I did not want him to hit me either. As the light finally turned green, we parted ways with him telling me to have a nice day.  Not bad.  A little bit of emotional up and down in that one.

As I continue on, I am still a little miffed that I was honked at in the first place when I look down and notice I cruising much faster then normal. There’s nothing like a little riding angry to increase your average speed. Then I notice I am gaining on another bike. And not just any bike but a motorized bike. I am sorry to admit I felt pretty damn good as I caught, then dropped him without even raising my heart rate.

Finally, I reach the starting point.  As we cruise along, we are chatting away and enjoying the easy part of the ride. As we enter Oakmont, I noticed we were joined by another rider.  He asks me about our plans and since they are pretty much the same as his he decides to tag along.  As we wait for a final friend to finish getting ready I get a good look at the stranger among us.  Of course, as I look at him, he’s looking at me. “Lee?” he asks. “Mike?” I reply.  That’s right!  We’ve ridden together 2-3 times before.  I simply love this aspect of cycling.

Now we are really headed for the hills to some of the more literal up and down parts of cycling.  We start up Sugar Loaf, which is about a 1.5 mile climb. I hit the climb pretty hard and have a really good pace going.  However, about half way up my legs inform me that if I do not back off the pace they will cramp up so bad I will wish I was dead.  So, I listened and slowed down to ease my way to the top.  Initially I was disappointed but then I realized that I have climbed over 11,000 feet in my last five rides so it’s okay to be a little fatigued.

The next hill was Pythian and Coach Tim tells me to climb the entire 1.0 mile route out of the saddle.  So I get on his wheel and hang on.  We passed four other riders out doing hill repeats which made me feel pretty good even in my tired state.  Then I noticed I was slipping off Tim’s wheel.  So I accelerate and get back on.  Then I am off again.  Not by much, maybe half a bike length at the most.  So I accelerate again only to get slightly dropped again.  This continues all the way to the top.  I then asked him if he was intentionally staying just ahead of me and he simply smiles and says “That’s what makes me a good coach.”  (Of course, my thought is “Yeah, that or it makes you a complete ass!” I decided to go with good coach.)

With the Pythian climb done, we headed back home.

There you have it.  A great training ride that included both the literal and figurative ups and downs of cycling.


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