The first full week of April made me realize one thing:
I don't give a shit about May flowers, and what it takes to bring them to us.
I am seriously struggling with rain-onset depression right now, and last week was another tough week to make it through. It was not terrificly warm, and it rained a few full days, and just brought about that spring malaise I loathe so much. But, I turned lemons into lemonade and made the most of my workouts, featuring a fairly decent 4x(600-400-200) workout on the track on Tuesday, and my first Wednesday Night Ride out of Oregon Ridge of the year. I don't anticipate I'll go every week, 1) because it's the day after my track workouts and I no longer have the energy or brash stupidity of trying to do back-to-back workouts like that but 2) I like my Thursday Night Ride that I've been going to for now 6 summers. Unfortunately, Thursday Night Ride starts in Owings Mills at 5:30, and it's a pretty far drive just to ride 35-38 miles. In summers past I've driven to the running store and ridden from there, making it a little over 50, but I don't feel like riding that much right now. Riding from home, while heinous and meaning I have to ride on Route 40, is just easier. But, I also realize the value of the hard group rides, so my plan right now is to alternate which one I go to week-to-week.
Anyway, the Wednesday ride got hot pretty early, with a split occurring before it even got to Stringtown Rd. I was comfortable on Stringtown, but as soon as the group went up Yeoho I started to lose contact a bit, and spent a few miles desperately chasing. When I realized I was never going to catch back up, I just rode hard (by myself) for 45 minutes, then cooled out for a while. Later, I saw two guys a little ways back so waited for them to catch on, and then wound up largely pulling them to the finish.
After my usual 4 day hiatus, I got back in the pool Wednesday with a subpar workout. Thursday went a little better, and Friday was decent. Still need to be more consistent about it, especially because I hate getting in the pool on weekends, and if I don't get in on Mondays, I'm already three days out.
Saturday was a day I had been looking forward to, my third trip out to Frederick in the last 6 weeks and we had a big group coming - including OJ, Benda, David, Pat and Zero. We hit the first climb pretty hard, and at the top I had ridden it in 18:12. When I went out with OJ and David a month or so ago, I rode it in 19:16, so I was pleased with the improvement/personal best. On Harp, which is always the death of me, I rode solidly, and then on Wolfsville I called for a sprint point before the end of the looped road. The homefield advantage went to OJ and myself, who know the road better, but nevertheless we were lining up for a good sprint. OJ had pulled off, so it was David, Benda, me. Zero let a little gap form between us, so OJ slotted in right behind me. I knew this meant trouble, as I figured David would pull off, then Benda, and then I would be stuck leading out OJ. My only play, I felt, was to attack from third wheel and just try and go early. Unfortunately OJ was right on my wheel, and then I was burned up. OJ took it out from Benda.
Now my legs were feeling it, and the third climb back on 40 was going to be tough. OJ was grinding out a massive gear, charging up the hill in the big ring. I sat right on his wheel, content with letting him set the pace on this one. I felt awesome though, and was sitting in a small gear and riding comfortably. As we got closer to the top, I was plotting my move. The road flattens out a little, just enough to pop into a bigger gear and take off. My bike, which is falling apart in its old age, refused to go into the big ring when I needed it most. Finally I got it going and made me move, gapping OJ and Benda. The move was the death blow, or so I thought. My legs were burned up and I had to sit back down, I had gone too far into the red. The duo were coming back, fortunately not quickly enough, so I stayed ahead.
We dropped into Boonsboro and found that we were going to face a slight headwind on the way home. Coming up South Mountain, I knew what was going to happen - OJ was going to do to me what I had just done to him. That's how it goes out here, no mercy. I sat on the front, setting the tempo up the shorter climb. At one point, OJ and Benda went around me and I thought "sweet, this works out even better for me". I made one last effort, passed them both, and neither came around as we crested the hill. Rode it in 6:39 which is about as fast as I rode a few weeks ago (when I rode up in the big ring, today was small).
But now, my body was paying for the day's efforts. I was cooked. It's about 12 miles to go, mostly pretty easy on the way back but if you're not feeling great, even the little rollers feel like mountains. I had topped the first 4 climbs in first, but on the last climb of the day, the shortest one (Braddock Mountain) I had had enough. Rode up as easy as my body could, trying to regroup before the Fast and Furious 5 mile descent into the finish.
The ride ended up being the fastest I've gone out there, and the first time getting under 3 hours for the just-under-54 mile ride. We scrapped our post-ride 30 minute run and instead went to Wendy's, which was a great choice.
Sunday morning was the Port to Fort 6k, a race I've done once (2006) and a unique distance that attracts 2000 competitors (using that term loosely, a lot of corporate teams show up and basically walk). The idea was to run our long run and in the middle just try and open up the legs a bit (during the race part) and then continue with the long run. 3 of us had ridden the day before and 1 of us had gotten real ripped up at the bars, so needless to say, it was a tough one. Like the taints we are, we wore the race day t-shirt, which was cotton. Side note: I can't believe people actually do this. Generally you are picking up your shirt on race day, which means I presume you arrived at the race already wearing a shirt. Why would you wear two, or switch them? Seems crazy. I still abide by my 14 day rule. Anyway, we get in about 5 miles prior to the race, and then the race starts. My legs were trashed. Made it through the 3.72 mile run, just over 6 minute pace, and then ate a hot dog and glazed donut, and got back onto the run.
Got back at 11 (race didn't start until 9) so I only had 30 minutes to get myself together to leave for Columbia to ride. I was meeting a pretty large group down at the course, for a 40-50 mile ride. Well, a couple things didn't go right, and ended up just riding 30 miles, but that was fine by me as I was pretty cooked. And I will say this - the Beastman and Chicken Tender Runner are going to rock the bike, and the entire race, at Columbia, much to my ego's dismay. I'll have to see if I can compete on the bike at least!
It turned out to be a pretty good, and evenly distributed, training week. 9600m in the pool, 170 miles on the bike and 35 miles of running. Very efficient, not a wasted workout among the bunch.
The title of the post is also appropriate because, anyone who has ridden with me can attest, my bike is filthy. The Orbea Opal I acquired in 2005 is nearing the end of its life. Everything is original, and the crap has been ridden out of it. I think more things need to be fixed than work, and these days I sometimes wonder if it'll even make it through any given ride. Therefore, this will be its farewell season. By the fall/winter, I will need to find a suitable replacement. Usually if I need something fixed, I bribe OJ with McDonald's to help me with it (once, though, it was a Dura Ace cassette, chain, cranks and whatever else we stripped from the P2). But these things don't seem worth fixing.
However, on a more positive note, I did acquire a new bike to race on. I figured I can race on my road bike pretty well, but as I'm returning to my pre-accident level of fitness, that I need a proper time trial bike, or I'll just ride with a chip on my shoulder. I wound up getting a P3, should have it by Thursday, just in time to race Saturday. Pictures and epic story to come later.