Sunday, August 13, 2006

What a ride...

112 miles.


Well. That's a very acceptable time, and it's good to finally see what I'm capable of at the Ironman distance. It was a pretty solid ride, and I went south again to the hills - and it was hilly - and have to feel like this gives me some kind of indication. We'll know more next week, when I actually ride the Ironman course 112 miles, but it's good to have this in my proverbial back pocket.

The wind was from the South/Southeast, and that worked to my advantage on the way home, as I headed mostly that direction going out. I averaged about 16mph going down and about 18mph with the wind at my back for an average just shy of 17mph. I'm riding with heartrate, power, and cadence in mind before any consideration given for speed at all, and I've figured anything around 16mph, or 7 hours, seems pretty realistic - and that's what I'll continue to think. But of course, you just never know what drama might await to throw off any said plans - wind or rain or broken hub on a rear wheel (we'll get to that), so - like all of Ironman - the numbers always require some perspective.

Is anybody familiar with the comedian Dane Cook? He makes me laugh. And once he came out on stage and just suddenly kicked over the stool and said, "I hate you stool." And it was so random that I laughed. So that was me on this section of road southeast of Hugo yesterday. Seriously, this chunk of road is absurd. There are cracks in it that are seriously 3 inches wide at least. They need to repave it, and yesterday. And I hate that road. My teeth rattle on it and I can just feel my machine quaking all over. I'll of course never ride it again - I will go 20 miles out of my way if I have to just to avoid it - but just that it exists pisses me off. I hate you road.

So I have two sets of wheels - training wheels and racing wheels. Not everybody does, and they're not required in any way - but some people do, and I am one of them. My training wheels have lots of spokes and are a bit heavy and I just mash them all over the roads. They're kind of cheapy things that aren't made of anything special, go out of true pretty easily, and are basically on the bike for me to bang around on for hundreds and hundreds of miles without a ton of regard for their performance. I put the biggest, thickest tires on them. They're big and thick and inelegant. My racing wheels are freakshow light. They have few spokes to create less turbulence. They have a carbon fiber rim around them an inch thick to cut through the wind. They're ultra responsive, and I probably average 1-2mph faster with them - which can be 15-20 minutes at Ironman. Physically, it's a little like running with ankle weights or something - you acclimate to a heavier load, so then on raceday, with the lighter weight, less surface area and more responsiveness, I ride and especially climb much faster and easier. There's also a mental thing that's useful to me. But lately my racing wheels and I, we haven't been getting along. First was the infamous wheel wobble the last time I was on the IM course, which nearly friggin' killed me. So they've been off the bike since, and getting straightened out at the shop, etc. Yesterday was my first ride with them since, and I wanted to get a couple workouts at the full distance in on them before the race. Anyway, after I get off the miserable annoying hateful stretch of road yesterday, with about 20 miles or so to go home, everything goes to hell. I'd spin my pedals but they wouldn't catch on the wheel. I'd just sit there. It was especially fun at stoplights, when the light turned green and rather than pedal through the intersection I stalled there spinning away and going nowhere like a jackass. I'd have to spin and spin, then finally it would catch. It basically meant, once it caught, that I couldn't stop pedaling. So I'd walk the bike across stop lights - or pedal through in whatever monster gear I could get to catch in - and then once I finally got going, I couldn't stop pedaling or I'd risk not being able to catch the wheel again. Not even to coast. So the last 20 miles were pretty crazy, but valuable I supposed - I kept thinking, Well, if this happens at Ironman, what are you going to do? Just figure it out. Anyway, I knew that the culprit was the hub of the rear wheel - the damn road killed my hub. Stupid road. I hate you road. I drove straight to the bike shop from my 112th mile - about 3 blocks from home - and they confirmed it was a hub issue. I rode the bike home, brought the wheel back to them a bit later, and today did my ride (more on that in a minute) on my training wheels. Vampire called from the bike shop (remember, the dude with the puncture wounds tattooed on his neck complete with gushing blood effects - sweet) and told me the wheel's shot all to hell. Gooood times. Back to that in a minute.

Today's ride: I was scheduled for about 40 miles, but only got in 20 thanks to a Wrath of God thunderstorm that didn't so much as rain on the earth as it did crash down on it. It was fun riding through for about 5 minutes, and then it felt stupid. I stopped and waited it out a bit under a tree, but 15 minutes later it hadn't changed tone one bit, and with lightening and thunder everywhere I decided to turn around and get home. We're just too close now to risk something stupid like a wipeout or a driver not seeing me or whatever. There's a time to do battle and a time to retreat, and I tried to keep the larger war in mind. So, not without some reluctance, I rode back to the car and then ran 3 miles in the torrent. It was crazy. And then Steve commented on yesterday's post that SLS is out there today in this for 112 miles! I hope she's safe and having a kickass time out there. What a rockstar. Can't wait to read all about it. By the way, check out Steve's blog, he's freakin' hilarious.

So, the wheels: Cripes, I don't know. I have my regular wheels, and I could ride them...but they have always been more of a training device for me. They're intentionally heavy and bulky. I've ridden them on the IM course, and pulling them up a hill compared to my lightweight race wheels is night and day - and things like that will make a difference for me. So I'm thinking it over today, but have a new pair of my same wheels bookmarked and ready to order tomorrow if that's what I decide. Whatever I decide, they have to be on my bike by next Saturday for my final 112 miles on-course. And only 28 days out, it's not ideal to be throwing new toys into the mix (which is why I'd stick with my same I love the wheels in general...just not lately with these particular two...). Sigh. Things to think about.

Anyway, I was thinking today, sloshing through ankle deep puddles - this is crazy. Only crazy people do this, ride 112 miles and then not 20 hours later throw themselves into a thunderstorm for the better part of a morning. And only crazy people do that because Ironman is not made for the sane and rational. It just isn't. So. So be it. Here's to the crazy ones.


Pharmie said...

Made it home just fine, thanks. I only had torrential downpours for the last 15 miles of my ride, so all was good. My shoes are soaked, though. I had to spin through some 8 inch puddles to get home. I know what you mean about the crappy roads. I hit a few crappy roads/trails myself today and at one point realized that my aero bars shifted down about 15-20 degrees as a result! You'd think that in a suburb where everybody has 3 car garages, they'd be able to keep up their roads and trails!

Hope the wheel fiasco turns out ok!

qcmier said...

I am fortunate enough to have two sets of wheels, but am having some issues with my race wheels as well.

You could borrow or rent a set?