15 September 2007

A Most Excellent Evening Ride

This post is a little late, but Thursday afternoon I left work early in order to ride. I figured an earlier departure would give me enough time to have a decent ride before sundown around 7:35-ish.

I hit the Gaul Rd. climb at around 5:45-ish , this time in a smaller gear (I've read that smaller gears and a faster cadence is better for the knees -- especially early in a ride). My legs felt great moving faster like that, but I was really gasping for air by the time I reached Wooltown, as usual. But I was satisfied that, yeah, it's getting easier every time. And I'm starting to work on conditioning my brain to ignore certain things. A pro rider once said that it's all about the brain -- the body can adapt to anything.

So I tempted the setting sun and rode the 18 miles all the way out to Myerstown: the tiny village along 422 with the big water tower next to the road, and a diner called "KUMM ESSE". By the time I reached Myerstown, it was about 6:50. Less than an hour to darkness. As such, I decided to "time trial" home. In other words, go as (steadily) fast as I could for the 18 mile return.

6:55. The goal: try to get as close to Dave Zibriskie's first place US PRO time trail result of 18 miles in 39 minutes.

This was the best I've ever felt on a bike (other than my sit bones which were KILLING for some reason). Seriously. I felt like I was flying. Even on the steeper climb at Womelsdorf and the steady climb into Wernersville, I was able to keep a faster pace and really move. I'm not at the level yet where I could time-trial-pump continuously, but I did the best I could. A couple of traffic lights forced me to stop entirely and I slowed for a hundred meters to watch a group of genuine Amish guys build a produce tent along the road. Other than that, I really felt like I was moving. I don't know how fast, but in comparison to other rides, this had to have been the most consistently fast I've ever cycled.

I reached the steady climb into Wernersville at the Zibriskie time: 39 minutes, and I still had another 5 or 6 miles to go. I hit the climb and concentrated hard in order to keep up my cadence -- which I successfully did. But the weirdest thing happened. When I reached the top and entered the town, my feet felt like they were literally on fire. I mean, hot burning sensation. It went away quickly but it was a hell of a thing. Anyway, yeah, I came up way short on my time trial goal but I figured -- hey -- I'm doing pretty good considering he's the American time trial champion, and I'm a 36-year-old, 6'4", 230 lb. rookie on a cyclocross bike.

At this point, however, it was officially night and I began to really worry about, you know, being killed. I have reflectors on my bike, but what driver is expecting a giant man on a bike to go flying down the road next to -- or perpendicular to -- his or her SUV? With adrenaline pumping, and with some refreshingly chilly evening wind, I booked as hard as I could towards home.

I pulled into the garage at exactly 8PM. 18 miles in 65 minutes. 26 minutes short of my goal. Ride total: 36 miles. I don't know if this "time trial" was fast or slow (probably really slow) for my level, but it felt really fast -- and more importantly for why I ride... it felt really good.

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