Yesterday was charts and graphs day. Charts and graphs day is always an interesting one. For one it is always sad since it means the end of rest week. This rest week was more working holiday than actual rest week - a huge cut down from normal but plenty of bicycle pedaling. The mental calisthenics immediately prior to the test are tortured. Preemptive excuses, general loathing and dread, etc. Then the test begins.
When you need to slow yourself down in the beginning, the test is likely going to go well. This test went well. From 2:00 to go until 1:00 to go I died 1,000,000 deaths. It wasn't so much the legs or breathing that were jacked, it was this feeling that I can only describe as "thin and metallic" above my lungs and below my mouth that was freaking me out. Then the last minute was fine, the horse had the full scent of the barn, no average watts were dropped, and the end came. If I was not happy with the progress to date I would be a fool but my theoretical threshold is now quite higher than it has recently been and slightly higher than ever. I am a bit of a Fatty McButterpants at the moment so the w/kg is not all time. Beer. Ribs. These do bad things. So do birthdays. But of course the first thing I thought after finishing was "holy shit the benchmark 20 minute interval is now 20 watts harder than it was in the last block." Yes, the jump was that big (which, as per last week's blog, I pretty well knew it would be). Every silver lining has a dark cloud, you see?
Holy shit do I build wheels. I build a huge stack and then Mike ships them and I build more. I have guitar player calluses that Clapton would envy. Continual improvement is a big goal. I was always sort of Holden Caulfield about New Year's Resolutions, since people throw them out there knowing that they won't be held to account for them. For a long time that clouded me to the concept that we all should, indeed, be trying to better ourselves. When the prevalent circumstance under which people contemplate self-improvement is as phony (see - Holden Caulfield) as the typical New Year's Resolution, with the obligatory accompanying spate of "New Year New You!!!" bullshit exploiting these fleeting delusions, all of which are to be discarded at the first sign of actual work or sacrifice, it becomes somewhat easy to tie "desire for self improvement" to "bullshit." At least when you are as sociologically maladapted as I am. But I had a magical build on Saturday. It was far from effortless, not at all one of those ones where you put the thing in the stand and it nearly finishes itself. This one was a 28 spoke alloy front on a White Industry hub.
There have been some things that I've been working on in my builds, particularly the alloy ones. These aren't things you are likely to notice in a lifetime of riding, but if nothing else the desire to improve keeps you on your toes. They say that women don't dress up for dudes, they dress up for other women. That's kind of the vein that this is in - it's more that I want any other wheelbuilder to look at our builds and just be flat out impressed. I'm at a phase now where I'm actually slower per build, but I can trance in and do builds for 5 hours and not even pee.
Gus started auditions for his personal nemesis. I already have mine. He is a tall vegan who does both the left right pedal pedal hup hup thing and the steering of the bicycle with shocking aplomb. As we headed into our second lap at FH today, he was turning the screw pretty hard. Enough that I was thinking "is it ON?". It was indeed. I made some sketchy pass and went as hard as I could for about 8:00. Expert speed. Finally, up the hill that has some name but we call MF hill, I got a meaningful gap. Damn that was hard. The trail was hard baked dry, and weighted front tires were NOT to be trusted. Over the past few months, my ability to roll fast at all times has taken quantum jumps forward, but this was the first time I'd ridden this trail condition in a long time, and certainly not when I'd expected to do what I've come to be able to expect myself to do. At some point I got that sort of "head spent," where my mind was just like dude please take a step back I am sick of being this close to wiping out. This was in all likelihood part and parcel of having had to go well past plaid to take that one section, and I felt that any reserve badassery had been completely spent and I was riding totally hand to mouth, as it were. After this point, I took things more carefully rather than risk crashing or terminally freaking myself out and taking a step backwards because I'm a head case. So I took my thrashings on the way in. C'est la guerre.
I still haven't raced the mtb that much but I must think that doing well in some races gets closer all the time. It can't be that I'm still the same as I was last summer. We'll see soon.