Monday, June 14, 2010

6-13-10 HOWC Ride Report The Super Six

Miles: 61.5 Climbing: 5800’ Route: Sam Smith Park—Honda Hill—164th climb—112th climb off May Valley—Tiger Mountain North climb—Tiger Mountain South climb—Wildwood on Squak climb—Somerset climb via 150th Cima Coppi: Chris Ragsdale Soldier of the Day: Chris Ragsdale for the work on the front General of the Day: Chris Ragsdale for doing, well, almost all of the work Superman: Chris Ragsdale for spending most of each climb in a different zip code than the rest of the group (after pulling us to the base of the climb) Attrition Rate: 15%

Well, it looks like a sweep for Chris.

I was thinking that we might have a very small crew this morning, or at least a really tired group, given that Flying Wheels was yesterday. We had neither, but instead had a very, very strong group of 13 riders. Normally when Chris Ragsdale shows up for a ride at the “summer pace,” I tend to steer the ride away from the big climbs. I know we are going to have to take some punishment on the flats, and I think the addition of a bunch of hard climbs simply might amount to over the top pain and suffering.

I always tell Chris to do whatever it takes so that our little ride is a worthwhile training ride for him. This usually amounts to him pulling the group for virtually the entire 60 or 70 miles at 25+ (sometimes ++) mph, and then doing every climb at an incredible pace. You never can tell if he is even working hard, but I like to think he is, at least for a few minutes at a time.

Even before Chris showed up, I was leaning towards a mostly flat Snoqualmie Valley trip for the HOWC this morning, before I recalled venturing out there in 2009 several weeks after the Flying Wheels event. Having encountered a not so warm “reception,” I decided not to ride out there for a little while. Best to let the shock of the Flying Wheels memories diminish a little bit with the locals.

Like so many times over the last few months, we headed out to do some serious climbs, and quite a few of them. We completed another Triple Bypass/Six Pack/Super Six by climbing Cougar, Tiger, and Squak Mountains twice each.

We had one rider drop out about halfway through the ride, and we lost Andrew Roths on the last climb up Somerset. We have not seen Andrew on the HOWC for a while. He’s a very strong rider who decided to give racing a try this year. Unfortunately, he was involved in a bad crash at the Mason Lake race, and he is just now starting to regain his fitness. It was undeniable that he was in the Hurt Locker today, and it couldn’t have been easy for him. He hung in there, and he’ll be back to fight another day.

I’ve been leading these rides for a long time now, and I am usually aware of how I stack up compared with the rest of the gang. A lot of the time I am in the top quartile on the climbs, most of the time I’m in the top third, and I am almost always in the top half. Today, I was sucking wind in the bottom quartile for the first half of the ride, and it wasn’t until the last third of the ride that I worked my way up to the top half, and ultimately the top quartile or third.

Normally, I tend to do better as the ride goes on, but today most of my rallying was due to the 55mg of caffeine I ingested at the Tiger Mountain Store via a Dr. Pepper. So I have to ask myself some questions: Bad Day? Not recovered from Tuesday when I did today’s exact route solo? Not as fit as normal this time of the year (but it’s likely no one else is either, what with the recent relapse of winter weather)? Super strong group today (true)? Or is the answer the dreaded one? I AM OLDER AND SLOWER—whoa, hit the panic button! I’m not ready to throw that towel in. I won't ever admit to this without a long and protracted fight. I’ll have a better day next time, I promise (myself).

I don’t follow sports, so I’m not what you would call a fan. It’s hard to relate to the cycling pros on TV, and I’m not sure I’d want to anyway. Chris Ragsdale is a first class guy who also happens to be a world class athlete that many of us know and ride with. Now this is someone that I can root for.

I’m sure Chris would love to hear any words of encouragement you might send his way before and during his upcoming big day on July 31st. The goals: two world endurance records. Chris holds the US 24 hour cycling record at 502 miles. On the weekend of the 31st, he’s going for 541 miles to break the world record. I guess he figures once he’s in that deep, why not just keep going? The second goal is to break the world record for 1000km by riding it in under 29 hours.

Do the math. I have, and this is mind boggling cycling. I like Chris’s chances, but then, I always like his chances.

I hope to see you out there cheering Chris on.