One cold day in May …

I was about to pack my bike in my car before work yesterday morning in
anticipation of last night’s time trial when I opened my door and had an
awful realization: It never stops snowing in Idaho.

Outside, there was a thin, already melting, but distinctively white
accumulating layer of snowfall on the roads I’d be driving to work on. I
promptly turned my bike around and put it back where it belongs: in the
baby’s room. Then I packed my stuff and left for work with my carpool buddy
from across the parking lot still half-thinking about doing the time trial.
And the day wore on …

By the afternoon, the weather had improved (weather.com was predicting 50
degrees, which is manageable), my carpool buddy had gone home sick, and my
wife had agreed to bring up the bike and my stuff. By the time work ended,
she was on her way to meet me for the race. But something was different this
time. I didn’t feel fatigued or tired, in fact I thought I felt pretty good.
I got my bike put together and started warming up. Rather, I tried to warm
up, but instead I just got cold. My thighs were near shivering as I went up
and down the road, enviously eyeing the one guy who remembered to bring a
stationary trainer.

“Aw heck, everyone will be as cold as I am,” I thought. And that might’ve
been true, but I was the only one I could see who was doing the time trial
with only two layers of lycra and some furry chest hair to insulate me from
the chill.

So I felt cold as I crossed the start line into the abyss. The other
noticeable difference was the wind—it was coming from the opposite direction
this time, and it was coming even harder. I’d hardly gone a mile when I ran
into something new on the course: a climb. Where was that hill last time?
The reversed wind was making the topography a little more emphatic, and I
had to get out of the saddle to keep up my speed.

The closer I got to the turnaround, the more drained my legs felt, so I
decided to ease off just a little so I’d have something left. Sure enough,
when I rounded the cone, my speed shot up from below 20 to about 30 mph. I
hadn’t caught the guy ahead, and now I knew I probably wouldn’t. In my
experience, it’s pretty tough to get an advantage in a tailwind, never mind
the fact that my light frame (that’s my 133-pound frame, not my 20-pound
bike) doesn’t lend itself very well to hammering on the flats.

I crossed the line just over my goal pace at 25:08.

So what do you do when you’ve dropped 30 seconds from your previous time
trial? Do you go back to your training logs (which I don’t keep because,
hey, I’m just trying to stay healthy here), or do you shrug it off and say,
“Oh well, bad days sometimes coincide with race days.” I’d like to think my
response is the latter, but the truth is that I’ve caught myself reviewing
the past two weeks in my mind searching for reasons why my fitness might’ve
slipped. I must say, though, I think it’s just because I started cold and
underdressed. I’ve never really enjoyed cold-weather riding, despite my
assertions that I do enjoy a good light rainfall during a half century, so I
probably just didn’t have enough antifreeze in the tank.

Hey, but it was fast enough that I don’t feel like my first time was a
fluke.

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2 thoughts on “One cold day in May …

  1. Unknown

    Sounds like a good effort under crappy conditions. I\’ve been trying to commute to work more now that gas has gone sky-high, but the rain and cold have been discouraging. I rode in yesterday, which was cold and damp to work, but cold and rain on the way home. On the way down the hill, it was pouring. I caught up to a local gal who races for a regional MTB team out training on her road bike. Side by side at 35 mph, I was regretting the ride, but she was grinning ear-to-ear. I learned someting then and there – the old lemon/lemonade analogy. BTW, I rode the TT bke I built. Ya gotta get one !! What a difference, especially into the wind. It rode a little harsher, but the position wasn\’t bad, at least for the 5 miles of smooth state trail I rode. I will build one for myself next spring. Sorry to hog your blog.
     
    Boz

  2. Zed

    Yeah, descents in the rain–no fun. I\’m glad it\’s warming back up.I don\’t know how much cash I\’ll have for another bike anytime in the future (or how my wife would feel about that), but I certainly have a TT bike on my wishlist.

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