Sunday, September 30, 2012

Most climbing so far!

Today I completed a 67 mile ride that was among the hardest things I've ever done on two wheels. "Only 67 miles?! what's so hard about that!?", you are probably thinking.

The part about a total elevation gain of 6,900 feet (the elevation shown below is debatably accurate, although much higher). That is a ton of climbing. Six summits, to be precise, plus a handful of smaller climbs to keep things interesting.

And, I will say that I am actually thoroughly enjoying the fact that I got completely and totally beaten up by the elevation on this ride. While I know that I am not slow (I am sometimes frustrated by being the fastest person on a ride), I felt like a brand new rider again. It was like I was learning the true meaning of climbing, and seeing a mountain for the first time - both at once. Aaaannnnd... then I experienced what felt like total body failure at the end of summit 5 (with still about 1000 feet of climbing left to go on the ride back to New Haven.). Everything hurt, and every time the road pitched upwards even slightly my legs felt like bricks. The last long climb seemed to go on forever. A gap would start forming between me and the [notably all elite or pro level racers] group, and then I watched the formation of what felt like an abyss. At some point, one of the strongest riders doubled back for me and rode behind me, periodically launching me forward by a hand on the small of my back. By this point I was beyond cracked and beyond caring about the patheticness of such help. I was only thankful. Since getting back, I've been thinking about the incredible strength it would take to ride up a mountain AND periodically push a 123# weight. Pretty wild. At the time, I was in too much pain to think about anything but the top.

It's nice to be totally, completely and absolutely humbled. And, that I am.

No excuses about Crohn's or having an ileostomy, or nutritional deficits related to the prior. All of that is my back story, and certainly effects my stamina. But, the real determinants of strength and speed are time spent on the bike, sweat, pain, and the will to inflict more suffering on yourself. The only way to get stronger is to put in the effort. So, I'll consider this ride an investment.

Check it out:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hey look! That's me in a track race!

Things have been busy here at Yale for the past month and a half, but I'm finally feeling settled in and am enjoying my program. I'm also really seriously enjoying the New Haven cycling scene. It is amazing - truly.

You know how you've read articles featuring things like local group rides that are FAST!, with townline sprints, and the local Tuesday Night Cup informal race? I always thought these were fiction or strictly metaphor. They exist here in New Haven and it is awesome. I'm totally enjoying getting my broken butt kicked up hills on a daily basis.

The Yale cycling team is also pretty rad. I finished out the track season last weekend at the Northeast Velodrome in NH, taking 5th in the 4k pursuit (fully lapping my Harvard opponent!), 4th in the points race, and 4th in the scratch race (got nipped by less than an inch at the line in the pack sprint for 3rd. Two guys were way off the front).

Track seems to be my thing, and I'm embracing it wholeheartedly! However, that doesn't mean I don't still need to do the majority of my training on the open roads.

Speaking of track. I found this video on youtube. This is my first track race on this coast, at the Kissena Velodrome in Queens, NYC. Apparently the guy who won the race (and took this helmet cam footage) was on my wheel for essentially the whole race until the end. Hmm...

The race starts at 2:00. The beginning is just announcements and warnings, "This is a huge field! Ride safely! You will be disqualified for passing on the left!"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Track Racing!

Very quick photo post and recap of the Trexlertown collegiate track race:

Note the change of cycling kit from Pitt to Yale!

I wasn't expecting to be in great form today given that I have had the flu for the past three days. However, I woke up this morning feeling less awful. So, that was a good start.

Speaking of starts, here's a neat photo series that one of the race organizers got of me getting set up for a 2km individual pursuit race:

Bracing for the gun! And, we're off! First pedal stroke is the hardest. I need to practice throwing my weight forward more forcefully.

Picking up speed, out of the saddle. But, not too fast, since I have to pace it for 6 laps.

In the scratch race (a simple-concept mass start type race where the first person over the line at the end wins), I managed to get away with one other guy in a break off the front with 6 laps to go. Sadly, I got caught by the pack and trounced with one to go, taking 6th place - just outside of points. It's always easier after the fact to think that I could have done better, forced myself to push through more hurt. But, it's something to build on! Hurt more and don't get caught!

An experienced track racer said of it, "You can't win unless you are willing to risk losing".

All in all, it was a fun day. I learned things, saw some cool dudes I know from the collegiate road season, and am looking forward to more collegiate track racing next weekend in New Hampshire.