Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hills of the West Coast Recovery Week? I Don't Think So

Miles: 45 Climbing: 3900’ Route: Sam Smith—Honda Hill—Newport Way—Issaquah—Mountain Parkway climb on Squak—Sunset climb to Olympus on Squak—Montreaux or 164th climb—behind Newcastle Golf Club—Coal Creek—89th—Mercer Island—Sam Smith Attrition Rate: 0% Cima Coppi (in honor of the Giro): 1st Tom Meloy 2nd Roger Violette 3rd Mark Clausen Wildlife: One black bear cub, approx. 30#

Notwithstanding the holiday weekend and the significant threat of rain, we had 11 solid riders at the start line today. The plan was to head through the tunnel, see what the weather looked like on the eastside, and head out to Squak and Cougar Mountains for some climbing if things looked OK. The goal was to get in as many hard climbs as we could, and then turn tail if and when the weather started to close in. Late May just doesn’t feel like the time to ride in the rain.

Given the crappy weather of late, and the fact that I only got in two rides last week instead of my normal five or six, I felt like I needed a hard ride. I expected everyone, including me, to feel very rested and ready to go hard.

Despite the “bike holiday,” as soon as I hit the first little hill riding out to the start from downtown, I could tell that something wasn’t quite right. We mostly went pretty easy all the way out to Issaquah, with a good warm-up climb up the Honda Hill. Don’t get me wrong; I feel I climbed and rode well today. What was a little bit of a shock was just how much my legs hurt while doing so. Yes, the legs always hurt on a hard climb, but this was different. I had great energy, but it wasn’t until late in the ride that the extra special pain sensations went away.

As a coach, part of the advice you give a rider is how to build recovery weeks into a build cycle, as well as how to taper properly before a goal event. For someone who rides as frequently as me, what seems to work best is to scale back the intensity and volume, but maintain the frequency. I have a feeling that I would have felt great from the start today if I had done a short, easy ride on Saturday just to loosen the legs. I find it also helps to throw in 3-5 minutes of hard effort as part of a 1-2 hour mellow ride.

All this is great in theory, but I have come back from a week long non-cycling trip and felt like Superman from the first minute of the first ride. So who knows what works best from one week to the next? I guess trying to be consistent is the best solution.

In any case, I was not really sad when we decided to head back home after two good climbs on Squak, and one hard climb on Cougar. Our weather timing was good, and we never had more than a few sprinkles of rain. Today’s HOWC was not nearly as hard as recent editions, but I got plenty of training effect out of it. Everyone rode well, and it’s nice to see everyone’s form coming on, particularly Mark and Emil’s.

Mike was out in front as the group ground up Montreaux, and about two thirds of the way up, a brown bear cub trotted across the road in front of him. It’s that time of the year, and Mike was glad that momma bear must have preceded baby bear, as he never saw her. This brought back memories of a solo trip I took in 2003. Leaving Whistler/Pemberton on June 2nd, my first day riding, I rode over and through the stunning glaciated mountains to the northeast. Later in the day, somewhere near 100 Mile House, I was descending at about 40mph, when a full grown bear ran across the road in front of me. He was quartering in from the right and behind, kind of coming almost over my right shoulder. The bear bounded over the guard rail and was gone.

A few days later, as I was entering my cabin in the Mt. Robson area I noticed a quite large bear standing up with its head and “shoulders” squished through a window in the cabin next to mine. When I told the proprietor about this, he described the bear as if he was personally acquainted; he even had a name for it! Two or three days later, after spotting two or three more bears, as well as elk and a fox from the road, I was going by Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies, south of Jasper. Off to the right, down below the road, was a full size grizzly bear; at least he looked full size to me. Outside of the zoo, this is the only time I have ever seen a Grizz.

I knew I was taking a chance on the weather doing this trip in early June, but I also knew I would likely have very light traffic, which I did. It seems that summer holiday doesn’t really start for Canadians until July 1st. Here I was, riding through spectacular country, including Banff and Jasper, and the critters all had their guard down because they hadn’t seen many folks for awhile. Gotta love western Canada.

Perhaps today’s pain in the legs was a payback for doing something new to them yesterday. For the first time in my life, I was riding with hairless legs this morning. I guess I can’t even use the “s” word, although technically it was a Nair job. Never having even been curious about the bare leg thing, here I was, succumbing. Tracy’s promise of a daily post-ride massage might have had a little bit to do with it.

In any case, no one on the ride today noticed, or if they did, they were kind enough not to mention. It must have been the knee warmer coverage, because there were quite a few regulars on today’s ride; not that we check each other’s legs out.

My legs look pretty goofy to me. That in itself is not enough to go back to being hairy. I’ll have to see what else comes with the territory before I make smooth legs a permanent condition.


Mark C said...

Tough to notice shaved legs when we're all dressed for winter riding. I think the shaved/unshaved question boils down to two questions: (1) how much do you hate hair mixed in with your road rash; vs. (2) how much is your masculinity tied to having hairy legs? Personally, I shave when I'm consistently riding more than 100 mi/week, just because of the higher risk of going down on the bike. I hate hair mixed in my road rash. I don't think shaving is that big a deal. I do think legs (men's and women's) look better shaved than hairy.

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