The weather this time of year, to me, is frightful. In December, if it's too cold, or it's raining or snowing, I am fine either taking the day off, or riding inside. Rides can be much shorter, as the "season" is a ways away. By the time you get to March and April, though, excuse time is running thin and you have to start getting outside no matter what. A 90 minute trainer ride just does not do what a 3+ hour ride on the roads will do. Of course, it's also the time of year when it rains (all the f***ing time) and is always super windy. And sometimes you luck out and it's warm but a lot of times it's not.
This was the case with Saturday, which became Super GT Saturday (Super Get Tough Saturday). The planned ride was the famed Lineboro ride. It was the first ride I did with OJ and Benda all those years ago (I guess 2006?) when I overestimated my abilities and got left in Glen Rock to ride 30 miles home by myself. From old Tri-Speed in Timonium, it's a 78 mile ride. From home, it's 115. I was up for something in the middle, so Pat and I met Ben W and Benda at Meadowbrook shortly after 8am on Saturday.
Rewinding for a minute, back in college, training with Tri Guy Tommy meant that you went out in all conditions. One day I remember was so bad that I wanted to scream bloody murder. 38 degrees, monsoon-like rain. I made it through 90 minutes or 2 hours or something and had to call it a day. From that day forward I was committed to not doing that again. Over time, OJ and I have developed our system. If it's below 50 and actively precipitating at the time we are supposed to ride, we call the ride off. If it is not raining at the start, but we think we will get rained on during the ride, we'll suck it up. Shoot, just riding below 40 degrees sometimes is a challenge, without rain.
Saturday morning when I woke up it was 32. When we got to Meadowbrook, it was maybe 34. And it looked like it was going to rain. As we were putting our stuff on, it started to rain. Shit. Get on the bikes, quick, I said. As we pedaled out of the parking lot and onto Falls Road, it was a steady rain. For 2 hours it rained. We went up and up and up, until finally we were in Hampstead. When we got to Lineboro Rd, we were pleased to finally have some respite. For at least 20 miles, it's generally flat to small rollers, and with the tailwind we had, it was pretty comfortable.
But riding in the rain is weird, and does strange things to you. You can be miserable, but totally fine, while it's raining, but then it stops and your legs lock up. It's happened to me before, and it happened to me on this day. I tend to not do well with stops, particularly extended ones, on cold days. The sun was not shining and even at 1pm the temperature was still not above 40, and the hours of rain enabled my body to get pretty cold. One minute I was riding well, we stopped in Glen Rock for a refueling break, and when we got going again, I had nothing.
As we got onto York Rd (22 miles from HV, at least 34 back to Meadowbrook), there was no power left in the engine room. It took everything I had to get up the grueling hills of Hereford. Ben, who is training for an IM in a few weeks, was riding stronger now and I told him to go home. Pat stayed back with me and I quickly crushed a Snickers, a glazed donut and drank a Coke from a (now) 7-11 on Mt. Carmel Rd. It seemed to get me back to a better place, and I was able to get home from there. As I don't ride with a computer, Ben's was malfunctioning and Pat forgot to start his for a few miles, the ride was somewhere between 96 and 97 miles. Easily the worst day I've ever tried to ride that long in my life, so even though I was brutalized by the end, I deposited that one into the fitness bank.
All plans to do anything else on Saturday were now erased, and efforts went toward recovering for Sunday's very early long run. I started running from College Park to DC in college, and for most of the last 12 years I've always done the run on the weekend of Cherry Blossom, timing it so I finish my run around the time of the finish of the race. Waking up at 5:30 on Sunday to accomplish this, this time, was tough for me, but we made it down just in time to see Zero get across the line. The run was probably not too slow, either. None of us seemed to have great legs, but we muddled through and put in an hour and fifty minutes, so we figured at least 15 miles.
The two days of long ride/run had taken their toll, and by the time I got home Sunday at noon, I was not much in the mood for getting out on the bike again. This was a good move, as I felt a little better on Monday morning. With Monday being Orioles Opening Day, and the mercury hitting 80 degrees, it was an opportune time to get out on the bike. Alyssa wanted to go down to the Columbia course, and since I haven't ridden it in two years, thought it would be a good idea as well. The forecast said it was going to be windy, and you know anytime they actually bother to say that, it's going to be SUPER windy, which it was. I hate riding in Columbia to begin with, and the wind just makes it worse.
I break that course into 3 parts - beginning (to the second traffic circle), middle (the lollipop section, back to the circle) and end (circle back home). It breaks pretty nicely almost into even thirds (by distance), with the beginning being somewhat hard, the middle being hard, and the end being somewhat easy. I don't often go out to Columbia, so when I do, I try to ride an honest effort (if I am just doing the course). In the first section, we got to the circle in 25:35. Three times over, that would be a 1:16ish ride. The middle was particularly tough on this day, because of the wind. That section took 29:18 so we were just under 55 minutes back at the circle. The way home was quite fast, at just over 21 minutes, and we finished up at just over 1:16. That's a pretty decent ride out there, particularly for Alyssa, who rode around 1:19 last time she raced there.
For me, though, I always get somewhat disheartened when I realize how much time I have to pull to ride what I need to ride. 12-16 minutes, where can I even find that time? I didn't feel like I was going all out, but I also just don't understand how I've ridden as fast as I have there. A time trial bike will certainly help a little, and full-on race effort. I guess that could be 10 minutes. So right now I'd give myself a 1:06. I need at least 2 minutes in the next 6 weeks. Considering how badly I'm going to get smoked in the water and on the run, I really need to make sure there's at least one shining moment come race day. Nevertheless, a ride like that goes a long way. From there it was Orioles time, where the O's won their Opening Day matchup against the Tigers to start the season 4-0 for the first time in a decade and a half.
I have been feeling pretty crappy for a while now, some days like I'm completely broken. Too bad I'm not better on a bike, maybe I'd just stop running and swimming.
Here are some of bike riding tips mentioned in today's post:
1) Besides being uncomfortable, and my hatred of being cold, the real reason I don't ride outside in the rain is safety. When faced with choices now I try to think safety first. Rain may be okay for us on our bikes, but with the talking/texting/asians/women/old people, etc, going on in cars, I don't trust them. I'd rather take the day off or ride inside.
2) A Coke and a Snickers can bring you back from the brink.
3) If you plan on riding your TT bike, plan on that day being windy. It's Murphy's Law, just the way it works.