Just when I thought that I was out

Tales from the mountain warriors
By Peter T. “Gunn”

I thought I was done torturing myself after the Death Ride. Well, what’s one more ride? After all, this was my first Diablo Challenge. And, after logging all those miles training for the Death Ride, I knew this would be my best chance of posting a decent time for the Challenge. All the training leading up to the race had gone according to plan. Hill intervals with the Wheely Coolers, weekend hilll climbs, and the trial run up Mt. Diablo all helped me prepare physically and mentally. Not only was this training important in developing a solid physical baseline, it also helped me come to the unfortunate realization that finishing the Challenge in under 1 hour was a pipe dream. Not only is that 1 hour mark an impossibility this year, it will never happen for me.

Believe it or not, that realization was actually a big stress relief. I accepted that fact, and now, by doing this race, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. I now thought that my self-timed trial run at 1hr10min was pretty good, and could only get better come race day. Approaching the big event in good spirits was huge! All I had to do now was taper off, and talk about race strategy with the guys. That’s what a smart rider would do anyway.

The week prior to the race, I had taken time off from work, and dove into long overdue house projects for four straight days. Come Friday, I was dying to get out and ride. I figured I could get away with an “easy” mountain bike ride on Friday, and a light road spin on Saturday to keep the legs loose. This is why racers have coaches who can lay the smack down.

Even though I still felt good, once the race started, I could tell it was going to be a struggle. After only one third of the way up the mountain, my legs were complaining. By the halfway point, I couldn’t even keep my heart rate in my target high intensity/race zone. The best I could hope for now was that my legs don’t give out completely and start cramping. If I did anything right, I knew I was well hydrated. I drank tons of water starting the day before, I drank a full bottle pre-race, and I had electrolytes in my race bottle. I didn’t have my “A” game. Now I started to think, what if I finished slower than my practice run? STOP! No negative thoughts! That was it. Can’t cry about it now, so I just had to focus on turning those cranks. (Ugh, didn’t I have enough of this with the DR?) I focused on picking good lines. When faster riders passed me, I studied their form. It reminded me to keep smooth, efficient pedal strokes, and to minimize energy sapping body movements.
Before I knew it, streaks of liquid squirted from bottles marked the pavement beneath me. That was the sign for the home stretch! The sign to dig deep and finish strong. Every grueling pedal stroke seemed to take forever, but I pedal until I hear the beep of the timer logging my official time. No regrets.
Overall, I was very happy with my results. I still finished with a respectable time. And it was a blast sharing this day with Don, Gary, and Willis.

My stats:

Finish time: 1:10:16
Avg. HR: 190 bpm (91% of max)
Time in zone: 11 minutes
Calories: 1018

Getting Engaged Makes You Faster

Tales from the mountain warriors
By Don L.

Really, it actually seems to. I propose, she accepts, and here I am with a cool 5 minutes off my time from last year. And I have a feeling that Willis set his PR the year he and Alicia got engaged, although I maybe I should check my facts. It also doesn’t hurt that my engagement gift from Elaine was a new bike with a spiffy light wheel set that I rode up the mountain today. That and because Elaine can ride a bike faster than I can, quality time and fast training rides can be efficiently multi-tasked together.

This was my first race on my new bike, a LeMond with the new Triomphe frame. It’s a pretty big change from my old Klein. Different position, different drivetrain. It certainly took some time getting used to the altered position – it immediately made a noticeable difference on flat ground, but on long hills it wasn’t clear it was a huge improvement, so I wasn’t sure how this race would turn out. The new compact frame causes me to use less of my quadriceps and more of my hamstring and gluts, and even after a month and 400 miles on it I feel like I still am making an adjustment. My LeMond is spec’d with a compact double crank set with slightly taller gears compared to the bike it replaced. I find I can’t spin as comfortably and I need to stand up more frequently. In the shallower slopes low on the mountain the bigger gears worked well for me, but I was suffering in the steep switchbacks near the top. I didn’t notice the race photographer at the end because I’m looking at the ground after crossing the finish line, pretty much completely cooked. Afterwards, I mostly just stood at the table outside the Jamba Juice truck drinking my berry workout smoothie, which was pretty refreshing in the sun this year.

Some things went really well this year, other things not. Last night’s pre-race meal I think wasn’t so great. I ate a huge bowl of ramen noodles from Santa Ramen, the local Japanese restaurant. Great for carbs and protein, but I think it had far too much sodium in it which didn’t help my hydration levels, and I felt less hydrated than I should have been. Several times during the race I drank because I actually felt thirsty. Also this year I didn’t get a good position at the start, which seemed more disorganized than last year. I actually stood clipped out for a few seconds after the gun because so many people from the wrong wave were standing at the start line so I lost some time there. This year I also opted not to eat during the ride, and that was fine, but I also drank more water than in years past and had to take water from the support staff costing me a couple of seconds. In all though, I was pretty happy with my race time even though I was the Wheely Cool lanterne rouge this year – I was able to extend my streak at Diablo now to 3 consecutive faster times. I may have to hit the weight room this winter to continue to speed up.

I will be watching closely to see if marital status affects other Wheely Cool people’s ride times. Maybe it will be the next generation replacement for doping. It may well be impossible to test for.

Race by numbers:

Finish time: 1:19:57
Avg. HR: 180 bpm
Time in zone: 0 minutes (!)
Calories: 1243

View more of Don’s photos on flickr here.