Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spring, in Winter.

The groundhog saw his shadow last week, falsely predicting six more weeks of winter.   Hard to believe this year.   It's been incredibly warm.   And guys are FLYING too.  

Did a great Sunday ride with the Arc En Ciel team last week - a hilly one they call their L-B-L ride... a winter ritual.   It was a little above my current form, hard as a race.   Ex-Pro Mark McCormack was leading the dance, smoothly churning a big gear up and down some tough climbs.  Steady tempo, but one that mortals and old guys like me struggled to hold at times.  Markie, seeing me struggle, pushed me a few times - telling me I had to 'make the selection'.   Good guy.
My buddy Keith Kelly was chatting with me as I starting going OTB at one point, on the toughest long climb, about halfway through the ride.   He was chatting away like it was nothing, while I was pulling the bars harder, rocking, losing form, fighting the bike with everything I had, finally audibly swearing.  
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Kel's exhortions to fight back had the predicted effect, much like the red flag in front of a bull.  Nothing like the promise of good fight for no important reason at all to an get an Irishman to totally kill himself.

I once (somewhat infamously) explained to one of 'Milwaukee's finest', "When a guy takes your chair officer, you've got to fight him, whether you're drunk or not!"

So, summoning up the ol' genetically instilled warrior code,  I did the requisite, textbook 'close-it-now-or-never' sprint effort to get back on... 100%.   Only closed about halfway.  500 meters later, KABLOOM!   "Arrrggh...Kel, I think I'll wait for the next group".   Rationalized it of course.   It's only January, after all.   A little brawl is one thing.  But charging over the top into a machine gun emplacement is quite another.

So I watched as Keith just danced back up to the front group like it was nothing.   What a motor.  Gotta git me one of those one of these days.  

Good time though.  I'm exaggerating of course... it was a totally enjoyable ride with a great bunch of fit guys.  After a mercy feed stop regroup, some high speed double paceline followed by the final showdown on Shannock Hill blew the winter carbon out of the lungs and legs.   It was the first time I'd dirtied the big ring this year.   Had to.  No snow, not slow. 

The last week's warm weather helped continue the mileage fest, several 3-4 hour rides.   Wed. did a 3 hour ride with 2 hours of tempo.  Friday another 3 with some more tempo.  Saturday, four hours with Dr. Brad - long steady distance.   Incredible weather.  Got to get the rides in when you can.

The Rik's got one dirt climb like this one it's namesake
blugeoned his way over.
Yesterday, in between a work crunch caved out another long ride on a route I christened the 'Rik van Bastard' about ten years ago.  (Because it's as 'haahd as a bastid,' stoopid...)

It's a loop from Lincoln Woods over mostly lightly traveled backroads of northern RI towns like Smithfield, Cumberland and Lincoln.  And it takes in every big climb in the area I could string together.   14 or so, most close to a mile or more long, and the shorter ones are steep.   There are a few variations, but the basic route is the same, anywhere between 45 and 70 miles of all up and down.   You'll use the 21, 23, maybe even the 25 in few parts if you're in a spinning mood.   De Rik is flandria cafe's "L-B-L" ride.
"Dave's a Killer!!!" And so's the RvB.

And it's a killer.  The climbs on the Rik may not have names like Stockeu or La Redoute, but they have names that can conjure up that same pit of the stomach feeling:  Breakneck Hill,  Capron,  Burlingame,  Brayton, Iron Mine Hill,  Manville Hill,  Staples Road,  Bear Hill,  Scott Road,  Tower Hill.

The pain cave antidote.  Slainte!
Yesterday it was about 50 degrees.  At first I felt like a load, but after settling down and not trying to battle the climbs, after a hour or so, the old rhythm started to come back.  The gears a little less granny.  The power coming back.   One of those rides when the legs never really tired, every climb felt better than the one before.  

Tonight was a one-hour session at the Pain Cave at the Tri Fit studio in Warren with the BikeWorks team.  The operative word being pain.  A one hour computer controlled criterium that kicked my butt.  Tomorrow will be a well earned rest.

...or maybe just one more easy spin.   After all, it's going to be almost 50 degrees again.    After all, Puxatawney Phil the Groundhog says we're due for winter again at some point.


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