I broke one of the most-important rules regarding the Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride today. The one about leaving promptly at 7:45:00am, no matter what. Kevin was running a bit behind this morning, not sure why, but it takes me about 11 minutes to make it from home to the start of the ride, it was 7:33, time to get going. Got to the start, explained the situation to Mark P, George, Jr, Tom C (haven’t seen him in a long time!) and Marcus. 4 minutes late Kevin finally shows up, acting like he’s surprised we waited for him, he was just going to race up the hill after us.
Once we got going Kevin and Marcus flew up the hill while the rest of us rode a bit more, er, casually. Not that I felt like I could have ridden up much faster. I did consider telling Mark P & George they could kick it up just a tiny bit, when I realized I was in danger of slipping below 30 minutes for the climb up Kings, but thought better of it.
This wasn’t a strong day for me, and George suggested that maybe, between my breathing and the platelet meds, I might be thinking soon about riding in the foothills instead of heading up Kings twice a week. Seriously? I’ll be slowing down a bit more, maybe, but I’ll fight it out, because missing out on Skyline, on the views from West Old LaHonda, and descending 84… that would be really tough.
I approached today’s ride with a bit of apprehension, based on this week’s bloodwork showing that the stuff I’m taking to lower my too-high platelet count is also depressing my hematocrit level (as is expected to happen). For those not in the know, keeping your hematocrit level high is what doping is all about in competitive cycling. That EPO stuff you hear about, the stuff Lance was using, artificially raises it above your normal level, which allows your blood to carry more oxygen to your muscles. Normal hematocrit levels run between 39-48% or so. You don’t want to go too high, because your blood gets sludgy and your heart may decide it’s had enough and stop working. My hematocrit had been around 43-44% since the beginning of time, but has been gradually dropping due to the anti-EPO I’m taking, and on Friday’s test, came to 38%. Yuck.
So as I began this morning’s ride with Kevin, I wasn’t sure how slow I’d be on Old LaHonda, but figured it wouldn’t be terribly fast. Turns out I didn’t have to worry; Strava showed 22:19 which is my faster time in well over a year, and if I’d just been 4 seconds faster, it would have been a two-year best. Strange thing, that. I don’t know that this is a trend I’ll be able to buck much longer though; it’s likely my dosage is going to be increased soon, which will drop my hematocrit even more, and at some point, something’s gotta give. Either that or my body is re-wiring itself.
Just another great day for a ride in the SF Bay Area. Mid-70s, so a bit cooler than France, and no fancy French pastries or cheap huge bottles of Orangina, but the Pescadero Bakery does a good stand-in.
Tunitas? Well, we didn’t attack Tunitas like we did Old LaHonda. Seems like we both ran out of gas at some point, but a nice ride up the hill.