Sunday’s pracice ride up Mt. Diablo was somewhat useful. Kevin and I started at the usual school parking lot and Alicia took the car to drive up the mountain and hike around. We start climbing and Kevin asks me if I’m going to try for the 1 hour time. I said no, and my goals for the day were to ride right at aerobic threshold and see where my baseline is. That way on race day, I might know how much harder I can push and for how long would I need to go anaerobic to get the minutes I need to finish in under an hour. So He still says “See you at the top” to my dismay, and we still both rode different paces. Like I’m obligated to ride faster or something…
On the ride from the car to the base of the mountain, I had somehow lost my wrist watch heart rate monitor. I didn’t even notice it was missing until I started climbing. So I had no idea what my heart rate was going to be. So I had to rely on my labored breath to tell me when I was at my limit.
I kept it a pretty steady 9.8 mph for the first half of the ride, and a high cadence for hillclimbing, about 82rpm. This is so I wouldn’t fatigue the legs and avoid any cramps from overexertion. I also forced myself to drink water after every switchback, to try to avoid leg cramping and keep the muscles “lubricated”, and also to reduce the weight of excess water by the time I got to the top. I felt good, and would occasionally stop, turn down the hill to ride back to Kevin (who was never too far back) and then ride up with him, off the clock. So as to try to keep it a continuous workout.
about a quarter of the way up, there’s a flat section, where you even get some downhill before it climbs again. I used this section to make up time and could get the speed up to 15mph for short stretches, and also catch a long enough breath to drink more water. Usually when riding through a switchback, or steep section, I breathe too hard to drink water, and it seems to make things worse when you’re trying to gasp for air and send water down at the same time. So the flat section was a welcome respite.
At every change of grade, I made mentals notes of my cadence and gear selection, so that at race time, I wouldn’t waste time deciding what to choose. As long as I keep my heart rate and cadence steady, the gear selections will come easily. It’s just a matter of remembering to shift to make it either easier, or go faster (of course with extra effort)
At the halfway point, (the ranger station) I clocked 35 minutes climbing time, and felt great. Not on schedule for sub 1 hour, but maybe it’s not exactly halfway? Maybe I can make it up by pushing harder durin gthe race? As I Kevin and I took a short break, I popped an Endurolyte capsule and then a guy on a track bike with cowhorn bars and a fixed gear rode by us up the hill without stopping. I was half in awe, and half in hatred, because this guy surely would be riding the race next weekend, and if he can make it up on a fixie, he’s surely a badass and could beat me up the hill.
The awe/hatred had a carrot effect on me. If I could catch him, and keep up with him, or pass him, then I would have a pretty good idea how the race would go. So once Kevin and I started going again, I kicked the effort up a notch and tried to catch him. The second half of the mountain is slightly steeper than the first half, so it was somewhat foolish to work harder on the harder section, thereby squaring my efforts, but damn, why not chase a carrot?
After about a mile of hard work, I saw a group of riders ahead. He’s up there, and passing people. All I need to do is catch up, now that I see them, I can visually track, and mentally fixate on a goal. Forget about my own pain, just catch him. Well about a mile later of chasing, and I finally caught up the the first casualty. It wasn’t the guy, but another cyclist. I said “Hi” to him as I passed, but he gave me no love, so I spun my way on. The next guy I caught up to wasn’t the track bike guy either. This guy said “hi” back, but not really in a friendly way. I’m sure people don’t like people passing them and saying “hi” when they’re struggling, but I’d rather someone did that to me than say nothing.
two more guys, and still no tack bike guy! Did he LOSE me completely?? No other cyclsts were in sight. Oh well, he is faster, and I just wasted my time, blew my whole training plan, and used up some valuable energy to chase down a carrot that could not be caught. My energy evels were dwindling, as was my mental stamina. I kept drinking the water, shifted to the lowest gear, and just tried to spin and not cramp up. speed was down to 7mph. Hardly on pace for sub01 hour, but I had to maintain something steady rather than blow up and lose it all to leg cramps.
Before I knew it, I was in sight of the summit. I took my last swig of water, which was exactly empty. Perfect! no unnecessary weight for the “wall” at the top. No leg cramps to speak of, GOOD the electrolytes must be working. A glance at the time showed 1 hour exactly, so I knew I wasn’t going for a record breaking run, but would have a pretty decent time. I hit the wall and took it in my second lowest gear, just to get thorugh it faster. It requires a ton of all body strength to push up a 17% grade for 200 meters, but the smaller gear you choose, the slower you get to the top, and the longer the torture lasts. So my strategy, since it is the end, is to push and give it full blast, going for cardiac arrest, oxygen debt, wheezing out loud, and crank through at the highest gear I can push without my legs giving out.
Time to the top, 1:07. not bad There were a lot of other riders up there, all training for the same race next weekend. I was looking for track bike guy, to tell him he’s my idoll, but he was nowhere to be found. Afterwards Kevin had told me that he saw the track bike guy stopped on the side of the road. So maybe I could have caught him after all, who knows. The main thing is, I’m mentally and physically ready to race, so let’s bring it on, Diablo.
p.s. Cambiatta Data : 1 ride: 4 minutes in length, 1 ride: 1 minute in length, 1 ride: 1 minute in length. No heart rate data. I’m going to leave the data logging equipment off the bike for the race, to save weight, and my sanity.