Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Zen Of Cycling, Part 1.

What it's all about.

I got invited on a cycling trip this past weekend.

> From: solobreak
> Hey we are planning a four gap ride in VT on Saturday. Start in Rochester
> VT around 1000-1100. Route will be Middlebury, App, Roxbury, Rochester,
> around 90 miles and 7500-8000 feet climbing.
> You and any non-douchebag friends are welcome. [presidente] has set us up with a
> place where non-douchebags are welcome to stay on Friday and Saturday
> night. We will ride on Sunday as well, around the stage 3 course for the
> KSR. Please check with [presidente] for a judgment on the douchebag status of
> anyone you're thinking about bringing.....

[presidente] is the host for the weekend. I'm calling him [presidente] since I'm quite sure he doesn't want his name mentioned in connection with this blog.

Of course, after seeing the distribution list, my reply:

From: Zen
>Are you kidding? If anything this seems
> like "ride of the super douchebags",

Since I was familiar with the abilities of the protagonists and didn't have any pressing issues at home this weekend, I bit. Three days of riding in the green mountains of Vermont. It was planned right, A couple hours friday afternoon, epic day saturday, and a few hours sunday.

It was pretty much Solos plan with heavy collusion from the 'host' for the weekend. I'm in a state of ultimate contentment, with nothing weighing heavily upon my mind at this moment - or since saturday, for that fact. The Ethereal Mental Plane I experience when allowed to ride hours of stress-free miles is in a waning manifest, yet still quite palpable.

Readers Digest version:
Friday afternoon - ~45 miles with no real climbs.
Saturday - ~100 miles, ~9000' total climbing, including Middlebury Gap, Appalachian Gap, Roxbury Gap, and Rochester Gap. We took a very easy pace when we weren't climbing (hey, working a 39x26 up an 8% grade for three miles at 6 mph is hard work, I don't care who you are), so the riding time was ~6:20. My Polar HRM only holds 5 hours worth of data with the power module hooked up, so I didn't get any of the last climb in.
Sunday - ~40 miles, including the finish of the last stage of this years Killington Stage race, good for about another 2000'.

No tales of debauchery or idiocy. We generally behaved and took the trip seriously as a training event - that it, no one was criticized for riding hard, riding slow, drinking to much or too little. Extra kudos to [presidente] for not only allowing us into his home, but also driving all four of us to the ride locations on saturday and sunday in his BP sponsored extra large SUV.

If it interests you, this is a longer version, part 1:

I was torn about what bike to bring. Should I bring the Scott CR1 or my Merlin Road 'commuter'? The CR1 would certainly be the choice if I was racing. It's much lighter and much quicker. The Merlin has low-end parts, is 3.5 pounds heavier, but has the bars set a bit higher (good for climbing), has the power meter, and is way comfy. Not that the Scott isn't comfortable, it's quite comfortable, but the Merlin is more so. I don't have the extralight from the link, I have your basic Merlin Road that they stopped making 15 years ago. It's a Tom Kellogg designed frame, doesn't have the s-bend stays. There's no question I would climb faster on the Scott, but I opted for the merlin. I have no power data for long climbs, and having a heavy bike that lacks the snap of a high-end racer could be a convenient excuse.

Friday afternoon, I met up with solobreak, [presidente], and BadBalls (I've written about him before). Since we had too much shit to stuff into [presidente]'s transport, we took two cars. Solo with me, Badballs with [presidente]. Now, [presidente] has a habit of...hmmmm....'spirited' driving. Indeed, when we hit the highway, I've never seen a vehicle that size disappear through new hampshire-93-northbound-on-friday-afternoon traffic that quickly. According to Solo, we weren't in any rush, so I just camped out with the flow of traffic.

Once at [presidente]'s northern palace, we unloaded a bit then hit the road for a casual ride. Hit the road at six, took easy valley roads, home just before dark. ~45 miles with no real climbs. Cleaned up then out to dinner at 9 pm.

We ended up at a local 'irish' pub called DJ's (as irish as you can get in Ludlow VT I guess). It wasn't packed, mostly obviously-locals. We had two rounds of Guinness and dinner. It wasn't wonderful, but it came with an all-you-can-eat salad bar that was reasonably stocked with a reasonably fresh variety. As it was mid-may in a southern VT ski area, there were few hot chick sightings....well, none at all, really. I thought the barmaid was cute, attractive looks with one of those farm-raised builds. Not beefy, stocky, or fat, but well filled out, the kind you really want to wrestle with.....naked.....with baby oil. She had a not-quite-full back tattoo as well, and as any of you regulars may know I dig tattooed chicks. She showed no interest at all in our presence. After dinner we went back to the house where I pretty much crashed right away.

We hadn't planned an early start for saturday, and after all these years I've finally seen the wisdom in not riding until noon. If you start at noon and plan all day in the saddle, by the time you get home it's pretty much time to eat, clean up, relax a bit, then crash. No hanging out drinking beer, thinking of things to do that wreck your recovery. A nice casual start after the morning chill had burned off.

That's the way to do it.

We hit a local breakfast spot called The Hatchery where I really didn't have enough to eat. I felt nice and full when we left, but since we didn't actually start riding for another three hours I should have thought to eat some more 'endurance' food. Good stuff like a cheese omlette and sausage. It wasn't that the portions were small, I just didn't order enough. Solo raved about the pancakes. I'm not a fan of pancakes.

After breakfast we went back and got our shit together, still at a casual pace. Once again, [presidente] offered to drive to the start point in Rochester. Other than me driving up from massachusetts, I didn't get in my car until we went home on sunday. [Presidente] drove everywhere, in part because I can only take two people in my little SUV

Oh, wait, that isn't the right one...

Anyways, but also because I think he likes to drive. We finally saddled up around 12:30, planning for about 6 hours in the saddle. We were supposed to be another of the usual suspects in rochester. His van was there, he wasn't. Phone calls went unanswered, cell service is spotty at best up there.

I was dubious about my clothing selection - a long-sleeved base layer, bibshorts kit, arm warmers, wind breaker and gloves. Temps were in the mid 50s, and I wasn't sure about staying warm at the higher elevations. A 50 mph downhill gets pretty cold when you're wet. I was sure I'd be warm if I wore the jacket and gloves, but kept them tucked away until I could gauge things on the road. It turned out I was never really cold more than a momentary chill on some of the downhills, but thin tights would have been better. I never needed the gloves, and only put the jacket on for the descent off App Gap. The rest of the ride I was ok just pulling the arm warmers up and down. I think I would have been a bit more comfortable with something more on my legs though.

I was really anticipating that Solo would treat us to a novella, but he blew my mind with a bullet list. I'll continue this later when I have a chance to crunch some power/graphic data.


solobreak said...

Did you forget the road the house was on, or is that not a "real climb" to you?

I noticed you don't eat much compared to the rest of us. The not drinking water thing is just weird, but I know others like that. But most of them are not as fast as you. You seemed to manage fine even at the end.

To the curious, zen drank less than a liter of water on a 6+ hour ride. He beat me up the last gap by almost a minute, and I wanted that one. I drank at least 3 liters and would have drank more if it were readily available.

zencycle said...

Good point - I guess I didn't mention the climb the house was on becasue we only did it once and we did it _really_ slow, but yeah, if that climb was anywhere around here it would be famous.

I've often wondered about the water thing. The look on your face when I showed you the full bottle was almost comical. You may not remember, but I still peed next to the car when we got back, and I almost pulled over a couple times during the ride to pee so I was obviously hydrated enough.