Monday, July 10, 2006

A Fat Guy Walks Into a Bar...

Yesterday was my second attempt at a 200 mile ride. A few local club riders, who had missed the official annual double century, organized a makeup ride and I joined in. This time, there were to be four riders and the route was modified to start at 5:30 from Sleepy Hollow, rather than 5:00 from Purchase. The anticipated extra 30 minutes of "sleep" did not materialize, given that a party nextdoor kept me awake most of the night. I doubt that I got more than two hours of fitful sleep. Earplugs are no match for overdriven subwoofers.

When I rolled into the starting lot at 5:15 am, one of the riders, Nate, was there ahead of me. Although I had never met him, he has a reputation for being one of the strongest riders in the club. As I shook his hand, I was starting to wonder if I had made a wise decision in agreeing to ride with this group. Then the second rider rolled in. Another 0% bodyfat guy. Now, I was getting nervous.

The final rider turned out to be someone that I had ridden with earlier in the year. The familiar face made me feel a little more relaxed, even if it was the lean face of a rider who was usually well ahead of me. Now that we were all ready, we rolled out. Three racehorses and a Clydesdale.

The plan was to stick together, but we soon found ourselves split. Once the climbing began, Nate was off the front of the group. Not so far off as to drop us (which he could have easily done at any time) but far enough to suggest that he wanted to ride faster. I tried to split the distance between Nate and the other two riders with the idea of keeping everyone in sight -- Nate ahead of me, Brad and Klaus behind me.

That did not really work. It seemed that the faster I rode, the faster Nate rode. Eventually, I felt that I had to choose between catching Nate or dropping back. It was time to make an informed, logical, and conservative decision. I made a quick assessment of the situation:

  • I was already pushing harder than I should have been, considering that we had 175 miles to go.

  • Being the heavy guy in the group, I was near my lactate threshold trying to keep sight of Nate (who is about 50 pounds lighter) on the climbs. It was reasonable to assume that everyone else was riding well below their aerobic limit.

  • We still had about 8000 feet of climbing left for the day.

  • I had never finished a 200 mile ride before.

  • I had little sleep the previous night.

  • It was getting warm and the humidity was picking up. If I stayed at my lactate threshold, I was going to need a lot more water than everyone else.

  • The facts seemed to indicate only one sensible choice. I should drop back and pace myself at a more sustainable power output and heart rate. I would be a barfing fainting fool to try to maintain this pace. Well, call me Jester -- because, against my own advice, I dug in and went after Nate.

    I eventually caught him, and we stopped at a deli near the 50 mile mark for food and water. I refilled my empty bottles, mixed in my food powder, drank an extra bottle while at the deli, and inhaled a sandwich. Meanwhile, Nate, who had only drank 1/2 of one of his bottles over the past 50 miles, sat sipping a coffee while I rushed to top everything off. While I had been time-trialing, Nate had apparently been on a leisurely recovery ride.

    About five minutes later, Brad and Klaus rolled in to fill up. We sat together for a couple of minutes, and we all got on the road again. By this time, I guess the idea of staying together had been abandoned. Nate and I did not see much of them after that.

    For the rest of the day, I time-trialed alongside (or behind) Nate. He stayed within sight the entire day -- giving me motivation to catch him. I gulped food and water all day. I would estimate that I drank 12 bottles to Nate's 4. Had it been much hotter, I might have run into trouble finding enough stops to fill my water. Nate was a good sport to stick with me. He gave me a lot of motivation and good advice.

    So, this attempt was successful. We finished the 200 miles in a little over 13.5 hours total time with an on-bike average speed of 16.8 mph. That's just under 12 hours on the bike. Nate really pushed the pace (by my standards) during the last 30 miles. By the time I got home, my back was locking up and I felt kind of sick. I had one celebratory beer and drifted off into a nauseated sleep.

    My back is still feeling pretty sore and my head hurts a bit. I doubt that I will get much done today -- other than figuring out how I am going to increase my speed for the next 200.

    Ride Summary

    Past Two Weeks: Miscellaneous short training rides
    Sunday: 200 Mile loop from Sleep Hollow, NY to Great Barrington, MA and back.

    Miles this year: 6457


    At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dude - that is nuts - Westchester to Mass and back. Way to go - a personal best. - Rich


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