Thursday, June 30, 2011

Antelope Creek Trail Reconstruction

I got up close and personal with the trail reconstruction at 27th and Capitol Parkway. Shh! Don't tell anyone!

I'm digging on the gentle grades and "on/off" ramp. No more "climbing the wall", so to speak. I hope it resembles the Antelope Valley trail near NU when it's all said and done.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

38 Minutes out, 39 Minutes back

I did the Nebraska Individual Time Trial Championship on a one day license today. I completed the race in about 1h17m and some change. Last year I did the race in 1h13 minutes, but this is not what it seems.

I started off fine, ramping up my speed to 19mph for the first couple of hills to find my breathing rhythm. I've ridden this course enough times to know where I can grab a drink of water without upsetting my rhythm too much and I did.

Something happened that hasn't happened before: I caught and passed someone. I had my 30 second person in my sights for much of the first quarter of the race, and he took off like a rocket down "the hill". I lost visual shortly after I made the turn towards the hill.

My 30 second guy passed my one minute guy about 2 miles back from that. I caught and passed the one minute guy on the flat section just after the final right turn. He looked like he was in agonizing pain, hands on the bar tops, sweat flowing down his face, bike wobbly under his slow cadence. I know what I must look like to seasoned racers now.

Speaking of seasoned racers, I had been passed by all manner of cat 4 and 3 racer up to this point, but only one or two had disc wheels.

Thing about disc wheels on asphalt: they sound like Imperial TIE Fighters. And when 6-8 of them pass you within a couple of minutes, you feel like you're in the Equatorial Canyon of the Death Star.

That also means the Pro/Cat1/2 racers had caught me. I don't have an X-Wing Fighter. Heck, I don't have a Millennium Falcon.

Out of all honesty: me and my bicycle make up the cyclist equivalent of a Mustang II King Cobra: a bunch of decals and tape stripes pasted to the sides of the most anemic V8 Ford ever produced. I was no match for Imperial engineering. I was blown to smithereens before I could launch my torpedos.

After the turn-around I got back up to speed and cycled through my computer. 38 minutes and some change. I wanted 35. Oh well. I could still post a respectable time if I get this whole negative split thing down. I had a slight ESE breeze pushing me along a touch faster than before the turn-around. So I upshift. I'm feeling okay. I pedal through a few more strokes and upshift again. Whoa, a bit of a jump in effort...

Instead of backing off the gear, I backed up on the saddle to get some leverage.

Yeah, dumbass move on my part. It only took a quarter of a mile of flying (and it was glorious...) for my left hamstring to smack me upside the head and tell me to stop pedaling.

The only relief I could give my left hamstring was climbing out of the saddle with my hands on the hoods. The flat portions of the race were agonizing. My left leg still hurts a bit as I type this.

I let my speed drop like a rock on the out of saddle climbs. My cadence and rhythm were toast at this point.

I told my hamstring to shut up as I made a right turn into the wind at about mile 20. I sat as far forward on the saddle as I could handle. And this is where I learn something: I should have been training for this race in that position: it was fast, smooth and relatively pain free.

When I crested the final climb, I was greeted back to the start/finish with cowbells and cheers. The race could have used more cowbell in the middle, though...

I pedaled right on through the finish line and coasted to highway 92. I took a victory lap of sorts around Yutan to cool down and pedaled back up to turn in my timing chip.

I changed out of my cycling clothes, finished my water, grabbed a bagel and awaited the results. Called my wife to tell her I was still alive, etc.

I was initially disappointed with my 1h17m and some change since I posted 1h13m in last year's Cornhusker State Games, on seemingly the same course.

Not all is lost. Last year they turned us around one "section" before NE-63/66, resulting in a 22 mile course. This year they turned us around just before the rumble strips at 63/66, giving us almost 24 miles.

That means I rode last year's course at 17.4MPH, and this year's at 18.5, with a bum leg and poor riding position. There's definitely an improvement, but not what I was hoping for.

Oh, and to the owner of the unattended white Volvo with all four doors wide open playing Girl Talk: where's the subwoofer?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fitness success and mechanical failure

Well, maybe not failure, but it sure was discomforting. I haven't put the aero bar on the bike in some time, went out yesterday for a quick two hour workout in prep for next weekend.

Since the wind was out of the north I headed out on Highway 77.

I got into my tuck and noticed the muscle on the inside of my left leg was feeling strained. Spinning up made it worse, so I decided to grind it out slowly.

I noticed the same pain last weekend, but it wasn't as pronounced. I scooted back on my saddle to exaggerate the pain and found that my left foot is about 1/4" forward of my right. A slow cadence relieved the strain on that left leg muscle but brought back knee pain. I cut the ride short at Raymond Rd and worked on maintaining balance in the aero bar at speed.

On the bright side, I fueled up properly prior to leaving (Bacon!) and I was well hydrated. No cramping, no bonking. I put 38 minutes in at just over 19mph and felt like I could do another 76, save for the leg strain.

I should also mention that folks riding on road shoulders should ride with the flow of traffic, even if you are making a movie while dressed in camo face masks.

So did I ice up the inside of my leg to relieve the pain completely? Heck no. That would be intelligent. We went to the Funny Farm and harvested Mulberries to make about a gallon of wine. (Silly me, bringing the 7gallon jug...)

Climbing and shaking trees barefoot makes you feel like a Sasquatch.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Taking it easy

Today I took it easy on the ride to work on the trails. I had some miles ahead of me on the ride home: I made a stop at Wright Park (South Folsom and West Pioneers) to watch my daughter's softball game. On the way home from there I took a "new to me" trail from West Pioneers back to Charleston street. I would guess it was about 8 miles of pea gravel... without a pinch flat on stupid-skinny road tires.

I discovered that 15mph is the "sweet spot" for 23mm tires and pea gravel. The bike feels like it's bouncing all over the place when I go faster, while the bike feels like it's mushing down into the gravel when I go slower. Going slower is not unlike riding on Nokians in the winter.

Overall I spent about 95 minutes on the bike today. I haven't checked to see how far I went because I don't really care: today was a "light effort" day.

Tomorrow I hit the weights one last time before the Yutan TT. Early Saturday morning is my last tune-up before Yutan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trail Re-alignment?

If you cycle through Lincoln at all, you know they're upgrading the trail network. Part of these growing pains involve fixing existing trails and re-routing us on super narrow sidewalks. Yesterday I noticed a collection of stakes in the ground across the creek channel from the trail and decided to ask google what was going on. This is what I got in return
There will also be temporary detours between 27th Street and Randolph Street as a new bridge and connection to the Antelope Valley Trails is being completed. The Trail is going to be relocated to the east side of the channel. Temporary detour is the sidewalk on the west side of Capitol Parkway.
There's already a trail on the east side of the channel that goes under J street and terminates near the Lincoln Arts Program door. Perhaps I wasn't far off in my last post about a Randolph/G street underpass in the coming years. That would be sweet!

I'm still curious as to how it's going to work under 27th and capitol parkway, going from the west side of the channel to the east side without flooding over every time it rains.

Time will tell!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who ordered the wind?

The weather has been awesome recently, save for the wind. Had I ridden to work today, I would have gotten to experience the dreaded "dual headwind", where one ride to their destination into the wind, and then the wind shifts... and one gets to ride into the wind back home.

Not to be confused with the mythical "dual tailwind", which is where one pedals to their destination with the wind at their back, and the wind shifts... and one gets to ride with the wind back home. (Anyone who says this happened to them is, perhaps, embellishing the truth...)

I didn't ride to work today because I dropped my bike off at the shop Monday because of a creaking bottom bracket. I caught a ride with my wife this morning, picked the bike up at the shop and rode it home today. Smooth, like butter on the muffin.

Most Lincoln cyclists know the city is "remodeling" the Antelope Creek and the adjacent bike trail in an effort to reduce the floodplain in the central part of the city. I rode the train at the zoo with my kids Saturday and got to see work on the bike trail and creekbed to the east. The grading work that's been completed appears to yield a much wider and smoother trail than the narrow, twisted and crumbly asphalt trail they removed.

It's scheduled to be completed by November 2011. I'd like to see a G/Randolph street underpass completed by November 2012. Then one could conceivably cross the city under human power faster than internal combustion.

Well, as long as the 25mph (gusts to 55) wind was at your back.