Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Black Lungs, Black Tape and a Black Heart

I've got the gank, it's official. After Saturday's practice I pretty much crawled into bed and got out to go to work this morning. There's still a lot of stuffing in my head that wants to get out. Maybe I'll do a light spin on the rollers this evening but in it's probably more beneficial to just bail and rest.

Saturday taught me a couple of things. Among them was that paying too much attention to your power meter can make you suck at riding your bike. On Saturday, my capacity was seriously reduced. If I hadn't leaned on people to show for this ride, I would have stayed in bed and skipped it since I felt like hell already and could tell that things were headed down the mine. So my expectations for myself were low, but competitiveness being what it is I still put in an effort to make a game of it. At one point this meant putting in a decisive attack, which had me cracking 1100 watts and doing two five second bursts of 1000 watts twice within a minute (I know 1100 watts isn't anything to write home about, but I'm not exactly Cavendish here). As anyone who has studied my training files knows, this is something I can't do: I've got a sprint like melting ice. In a regular workout I wouldn't have pushed myself to try anything that would require that kind of output. In fact in the last few weeks I have spent Tuesdays trying to improve myself at these type of efforts, but topping 1100 watts twice in a minute, which doing once a week was noteworthy until somewhat recently, shows genuine improvement. Short and intense intervals offer no chance to look at your output while the interval is on, which I think is just a really good thing. The whole point is that you are going all out, and any sort of distraction is just going to infringe on your effort.

In general, of course, I really did suck on Saturday. The perceived effort was grotesque, as was my heart rate. The results on the road and recorded on the meter were seriously trifling. Such is trying to race sick.

A good thing about having a wireless power meter is that you don't have to have it on your bars for it to record. During the second of two 20 minute intervals, I can put it in my jersey pocket so that I can't see it, but I still get to check the score at the end. I haven't had a second effort that topped the first of a workout, but I often come close (usually about as close whether I can see the power meter or not) and expect that someday soon I will. Along with its role as a taskmaster urging you to maintain effort during longer intervals, the power meter can be demotivational, making you believe that you are giving your best when you are capable of more.

Sage and august coaching voices say that it takes about two weeks for a workout to being to pay off. The adaptations and gains happening now are from intervals that I was doing in early May. This works out well, as I am beginning to see predicted and hoped for adaptations. It's one of those things where you've got your nose to the grindstone and you're really impatient to find out when in the heck you are going to have something to show for your work. Two weeks, more or less. Good. I didn't know that before. Things make more sense now.

It comes to my attention that some of my team mates, and possibly others in the MABRA community, think of me as an angry person during races. Disheartening, as pictures taken of me during previous seasons always show me smiling in a kind of Horner-esque way. Sometimes squinting, but usually smiling. I liked that. Racing is supposed to be and usually is fun. I think the crap I went through last year (and to be honest am still going through) changed the nature of the game for me. Getting injured really blows, but until it happens, you don't adequately appreciate the reality of what can happen. So when people do really just dumb stuff like swerve away from potholes or dive the inside of corners, it pisses me off. As it should piss everyone around off. These are the things that put people in ambulances. But I'm also aware that people letting gaps open or fighting to the front only to sit up piss me off more than it used to. This is probably common among people who've overstayed their welcome in a category, but I think it's also a function of the environment.

The other thing that gets me is sleazy riding. Last week at Greenbelt, a certain team had two riders up the road (with two others from other teams) and two near the front. It was pretty early, and somehow I'd gotten the mother of all crap staging spots, and hadn't yet had enough times up the hill to get to the front so I wasn't able to do much about the state of things. So this team has a team mate just buzz from the back to the front, totally ignoring the yellow line, and now they have three on the front and they stop pedaling. My response to all of this was to go outside the yellow line and start chasing, very deliberately not bridging. I felt that the break deserved to be neutralized for this sleazy move. As I passed by the three from the offending team, the offender himself gave me a look and a "hey..." My response was a simple "don't say a f--king word." Are your balls that big that you think you just get away with that? My team does plenty of dumb stuff, but I'm fairly certain that anyone doing something like that would get a pretty sharp talking to from a long line of people, not just me.


TerribleTerry said...

getting sick on a holiday weekend? getting sleazed in a training race? these all sound like legitimate reasons to bitch to me. Let it roll!! Don't worry about what others think.

c said...

i often refer to you as the angriest person i know around here, but in the most endearing way i can and tongue in cheek (and certainly not disrespectful). sorry if it offended ya.

c said...

also on greenbelt - i love how everyone is so stingy about the yellow line on the downhill except that those on the front (who shouldn't have had to exhaust themselves out of the turn) slow it down, causing us to bunch up, which results in the sketchiness and overall crash last week.

Martin Andres Austermuhle said...

I think I know what team you're talking about, because it's mine. I can safely say that we all try to be pretty strict on the yellow line rule, especially at Greenbelt. If what you say happened did happen, our bad. I yell plenty at other guys for this type of stuff and understand the frustration. Next time, feel free to come talk to me and I'll do some talking of my own, even if to my own teammates.

More generally, though, the yellow line at Greenbelt is a source of frustration for everyone. I assume that the 200 meters leading into the one turn is the one place where people can cross the yellow line, and should really only do so to get in position for the turn and not to shoot ahead of the pack.

I was also surprised at some of the guys last week who thought the best time to attack would be after that crash. I yelled at the dude who said, "Go!" after some guys went down. No class at all.

Kyle Jones said...

In the a race, what yellow line. Seriously, it is not treated the same as the b race where it is avoided at all costs. In the a race if somebody is blocking guys will just go around them. As long as your not riding the whole time over the yellow at greenbelt, nobody cares as long as it is brief and not endangering anyone. That goes for a lot of races I have noticed.

Chuck Wagon said...

Terry - Hellz yeah I'm letting it roll.
C - That I ever have to use brakes on that turn makes me very a***y.
M - Indeed it was. Will try to address off line. I talked to Greyson about it, unfortunately it probably sounded like me unloading on him. He's a very good guy, and he was decidedly not the offender.
K - If everyone's playing by those rules, it's cool. Until that de facto decision gets made and accepted, it's not. Plus I think that the B race in general can not handle the foresight, thinking, response and execution that playing that way requires. You've seen the difference. I'd love to play full road rules, but I think people in the B race would get killed doing that.

TerribleTerry said...

I've also found in the A race, if you ask people to let you through so you can pull.....they do. This isn't the same as cheating up the inside before a corner and yelling "INSIDE" and hoping to screw everyone. They'll let you go and get in behind you, which makes you the only one pulling, but that's my job on my team...pull back the brakes. The B races don't have that same team mentality. Plus people are afraid to burn even 1 match pulling or working, because they aren't quite sure if they have 2 matches.

TerribleTerry said...

DOH, I did a Kyle and said brakes instead of breaks.

Chuck Wagon said...

Terry and Kyle, the two of you have hit on the very heart of the matter. To simplify it as much as humanly possible - I think that people go to the front of the A race planning to speed it up and people go to the front of the B race hoping to slow it down. That is an oversimplification but illustrates my basic thinking on this.