Sunday, November 28, 2010


I did a killer ride today. Basically the Orchards plus some climbing around Harriman (Willow Grove to Gate Hill) and back-to-front over Little Tor. And then, of course, Rockland hill and the hills back from Piermont. All told, 7000 ft of climbing over 90 miles. (map) (cue sheet) Note that the cue sheet starts at the NJ side of the GWB. I forgot the cue sheet was written that way, and thus was surprised when a 75mi ride turned into a 90mi ride. But anyway.

Brad has been telling me that I go too quickly up hills, and it's somewhat sunk in. The problem has been that I didn't really internalize just how slow I could go. Today, after blowing up on Willow Grove, and almost killing myself getting to The Orchards, I slowed it down a bunch.

Here's The Orchards approach. The thick yellow line is 250 watts. I was dying by the time I reached the top of that climb.

To demonstrate that I didn't learn my lesson, here's Willow Grove to Gate Hill. Again, the thick yellow line is 250 watts. The red arrow points to the place where I had to stop to catch my breath. The eagle-eyed will note that this comes after about 0.6mi at about 300 watts. I rounded a bend which I thought marked the end of the climb, only to see (wait for it) much more climb ahead. I knew I couldn't pull that off at my current pace, and had to stop.

Why have I highlighted 250 watts? At some point after those two hills, I began to realize that I can climb significantly longer in the range 200-250 watts (preferably around 225) than if I go above 250 watts. Those who are rolling their eyes at the obviousness of all of this are requested to pretend that I'm new to all of this.

Here's Little Tor, where I began to put that knowledge into practice. Happily, the route called for a back-to-front traversal, which means a 225' climb rather than a 450' climb. I swear I did a better job at staying below 250 than this graph shows, but c'est la vie. The blips above 250 aren't due to inattention -- I was watching the power meter like a hawk the whole way up. Instead, they're where I didn't think I could stay upright at the speed required to stay in the magic range on that grade. Later on, I discovered that I could go even slower.

Now we come to some familiar hills, where I really put it into practice. By this point, I had well over a mile of climbing on my legs, as well as over 60 miles of hard riding. Had I not had this epiphany regarding the power range, I think I would've had an extremely difficult time getting over these hills. Instead, over Rockland, I was breathing hard at the top, but not panting. My breathing was back to normal quite quickly. It got progressively harder for the subsequent hills, but again no panting, and no burning -- just tiredness in my leg muscles. This is significantly different than what I normally encounter going up these hills, to say nothing of when I go up them after a crazy ride.

In the above pictures, I marked both ends of the 200-250 range. There just wasn't any point to marking the bottom end of the range in the earlier pictures.

As for nutrition, I did all of this with minimal nutrition. Water in the bottles, save for one Gatorade I picked up at Bunbury (with the worlds best muffin). While riding, I alternated between a GU and half of a Clif Bar every 30 minutes, for an intake of 200cal/hr. The riding nutrition came out to about 840 calories, to which we must add the muffin (say, 450 calories) and the Gatorade (100 calories?). That's 1390 calories taken in versus 3990 burned according to the power meter. It's worth noting that I packed riding nutrition for a 75 mile ride, not realizing it would be 90 miles (and slow). I ran out of riding nutrition several miles before Rockland Hill, but didn't really pay for it until Nyack. Nyack to Piermont was ... exciting.

And finally, pain. Soreness in my right elbow, presumably due to putting too much weight on my hands on the handlebars. The core work may actually be working, as finger numbness was minimal (versus significant in prior rides). Towards the end of the ride, my knees started to get a little bit sore on/after the climbs. I'm assuming this is because the need to stay in the power range resulted in cadences which hovered around 50. My poor knees.

Bottom line: Always listen to Brad. I'd like to do this ride again with the 200-250 range for the entire thing. I suspect The Orchards would be much easier, and that I'd be able to make it up Willow Grove without stopping. I'd also like to try Little Tor the hard way (i.e. all 450' up the front rather than just 225' up the back). Last time I attempted the front side, I had to stop twice.

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