Monday, April 7, 2014

In the Desert - Days 5 and 6

Day 5
Recovering the prior day with a pretty leisurely 51 miles made a difference in riding 60 miles today.  It began to sink in that I would be traveling back home in two more days to wet and cool spring days in the northwest.  I knew I would miss seeing the White Tank Mountains at sunrise each ride and that it would be a few weeks before I was riding in shorts and a jersey absent several layers again.

Today, I did not feel like hammering along in the saddle for 3 hours so I warmed-up until I found a 2 mile section of a slight uphill grade and did max effort sprints until I was out of gas.  Hill repeats are different here because they are less steep than the northwest so I do not cool-down as badly on the recovery.  The other cool thing about the Sun Valley Parkway is that there is a U-turn lane about every mile or so which makes it easy to do multiple laps once you find a suitable section.

In this case each lap was 4 miles so 5 laps was enough and then time to head back to the ranch.

Day 6
My last day of riding in sunny AZ in conditions I most likely wont see at home until June or July so I made the most of it with a 60 mile ride at max sustainable effort.  I learned a few years ago that I can ride for hours in the bottom to middle of Zone 4 as long as I keep the fluids and calories going during the ride - effectively my max sustainable effort.

The other thing I learned was that just because I am burning 900 calories per hour at this level of work, I do not need to replace (nor should I) more than 250 to 300 of those calories per hour on the bike.  In other words, I was eating too much on the bike and would overload my system and cause it to shut down on long rides resulting in dehydration, bloating, cramping and bonking.  Optimally, I should drink one large bottle and take two gel packs each hour. 

My ultimate test of this system was the 2012 Ride Around the Pioneers in One Day (RATPOD) where I completed the 130 mile ride with 6,000 feet of climbing, heat and horrendous headwinds.  The only solid food I had all day was a couple slices of bread, half a bagel, 4 fig Newtons and half a cookie.  Using the 1 bottle of water and 2 gel packs an hour rule had me feeling as good as could be expected at the end of a grueling ride, but I digress.

I felt well enough to crank-out the 60.1 miles in 3 hours for a glorious end to 6 days of spring riding camp.

Days: 6
Total Miles: 350

Does riding a week in warmer, drier and flatter conditions make for a better cycling season?  I do not know, but it certainly felt nice to ride in the sun and be warm again after winter.

What I do know is even though the MOOTS is a CX bike, I had a great time riding it on the road and was incredibly comfortable the entire time.  I also know that the Hutchinson Sector 28 tires performed very well with no flats and a supple ride at 65 psi the entire time.  After 425 miles I am really starting to be impressed with these tires - they are THAT good.

The real test will be getting them out on some gravel roads at varying pressures to see how they handle and whether they are durable enough to handle the sharp Spokane County basalt. 

Obligatory Selfie at 23 MPH

As noted above, I do not know whether this trip will make much difference in my fitness level this season, but mentally it made all the difference in the world.  My work schedule for the past 18 months has been probably the most intense of my professional career without much break.

Being able to hang with my folks, ride in the sunshine for hours on uninterrupted asphalt and let my mind go where it wanted is a good start to getting some perspective.  Perhaps this should be an annual trek each winter though with my family in the future.  I knew it was time to head for home when I began to tire of the same stark landscape and the same stretch of road and miss my wife and kids.

Next up is getting back to some gravel riding in the northwest and reporting on the 2,000 mile mark on the MOOTS.  Thanks for reading.

Two Wheel Transit - Cycling for Life

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