All posts by Mike

Another monkey off my back, but HUGE swing-and-a-miss on another

It’s tough to say if I’m coming back or seeing a temporary reduction in mediocrity. Hopefully the former. Last week I got under 30 minutes (finally!) on Kings again, and today it was looking like I could get under 29. It-was-so-close. Strava says 29:00. Oh my goodness how many opportunities did I have to make up a single second???!!! I can play it back in my mind and find quite a few of them. However, I did manage to go over 1000 VAM (and cut that one close too, at just 1003). “VAM” is the number of vertical meters you can climb in an hour, so 1000 VAM means a bit over 3000ft elevation gain in an hour. To put that in painful perspective, a former Pro bike racer, Phil Gaimon, just set a new record last week on Old LaHonda. 13 minutes, 26 seconds. VAM of an unbelievable 1,770. Average watts 470. Impressive.

It was a damp morning, but that’s better than the rain originally forecast. Kevin, Kevin, Karen, George and Jr today, with younger Kevin having fun at the front, way out in front, finishing at 25:56. To put THAT in perspective, my fastest time on Strava (2008-on) is 26:12. He finished dropping people just past the wide-open clearing (1.41 miles to go).

I will admit to feeling much better than normal this morning. Hard to put a finger on why. Maybe because we didn’t ride hard on Sunday (I challenge anyone to find a hill between Davis and Sacramento). Maybe because I woke up a bit earlier than normal so my body was a bit more ready to go? It certainly wasn’t due to the weather. Mid to low-40s; I climb better a good 20 degrees warmer than that. I did find my heart responded much more smoothly this morning than last Thursday, where I just could not get it up where it needs to be for a hard effort. Whatever, I’ll take what I can get, and this morning, I felt like I got something.

The graph at the right shows what makes a good, steady climb. Especially nice to see the heart rate kick up pretty quickly once the hill starts, and then ever-so-gradually move from 160bmp to a final 166 at the very top. No dips where I ran out of steam, and no spikes. Cadence and power are also very consistent. Sure, it would be better if everything was a bit higher, of course! But this is better than I’ve seen in a very long time.

Last-minute change in plans worked for seeing Tour of California out nicely!

The men’s field rounding a corner on the final lap, with Quick Step’s team putting Kittel into a great position to win the sprint (which, of course, he did!).

the original plan was for Kevin and I to drive to Sacramento early this morning, park close to the American River Bike Trail, and then do a ride out towards Folsom and back, returning in time to see the finish of the men’s race.

We got off to a bit of a late start, and then hit some heavy traffic en-route, threatening to really cut into our ride time. As we approached Davis, I had an interesting thought. Why not ride from Davis into Sacramento, watch both the men’s and women’s race, and ride back? Kevin quickly checked the feasibility on GoogleMaps, which said quick, take the next exit, park & ride. So that’s what we did. And what an awesome place to leave from, with both a drive-through coffee place and Redrum Burger (formerly known as “Murder Burger” which apparently didn’t sit well with the city leaders of Davis).

 

The nearly-endless Yolo Causeway

We programmed the destination into our Garmin computers and they faithfully took us straight to the bike race! “Straight” is more than a subjective expression in this case; it’s a perfectly-straight run after the first slight curve on Olive Drive, over the Yolo Causeway and into West Sacramento. For some reason I’d always wanted to ride the Yolo Causeway, so it’s one more thing crossed off the list. Unfortunately, we had a mild headwind heading out, and a nasty headwind coming back! What’s with that? Riding next to the freeway, it’s also on the noisy side, plus, the surface isn’t much different from what you find on the Dumbarton Bridge bike path. Lots of debris! But we got through, twice, without incident.

 

Once in Sacramento we found a great place for coffee (actually, the first of two), Temple Coffee. But Food? I thought there had been a “food court” of sorts within the race course years past, but might have been mistaken? Sure couldn’t find any! Eventually we headed a block or two off the course and found a street stand selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Mmm. Bacon. This day was going very well so far!

We then set up for the women’s race, finding we really didn’t have an interesting place for pictures, about 150 meters from the finish. For the men’s, we found an area where they’d be coming hard through a corner, with reasonably-decent lighting. The result is at the top of the page.

Afterwards we retraced our steps back to Davis, facing, as mentioned, that nasty headwind. Somehow it didn’t seem that much of a bother though, which seems strange. Seriously, what could be worse than a perfectly-straight piece of road, with marginal pavement and a stiff headwind?

In the end it wasn’t a very long ride, just 30 miles, but did get me just over my 120 mile Strava goal. Plus another really good coffee place on the course (which I don’t recall the name of) and finally, upon our return to the car, dinner at Murder Burger! Er, I mean, Redrum Burger. What’s not to like?

Well, what’s not to like was the drive home, which took more than an hour longer than the drive getting there, due to really heavy traffic. Getting places by bike or train is so much nicer than by car.