The last few days I’ve had a pretty nasty sore throat, which turned into laryngitis, and after a long day of trying not to talk much at the shop Saturday (but failing miserably at that since it’s tough to work with customers without talking), I was not in great shape, just kinda squeaking and croaking and discovering that it’s not just hard to talk when you have laryngitis, but forcing yourself to talk really causes some lasting pain! So come this morning and I really wasn’t sure what I’d be up to. Making matters more interesting was Kevin having a really nasty headache, so it was just me, heading out for, what, maybe a 10 mile ride?
Like I said, that first mile was tough. I was thinking I’d be heading out to Woodside and then turn back. But the next mile was easier, and soon I was thinking sure, just do the loop. It was tough passing Old LaHonda and not heading up, but I didn’t see that as an option. Yet it continued to get easier as I rode, so I decided to play a game with myself and do a bit of climbing while forcing myself to stay in the saddle, thinking that might keep my effort down to a reasonable level. Which would be fine except that I decided what the heck, let’s do Joaquim (aka “Walking Joaquim” at the end of Alpine Road). Ouch. But not deathly ouch.
From there I started heading back towards Woodside, still feeling better and better. What the heck, let’s detour up Old LaHonda! Again, staying completely in the saddle the whole way (not my style). Slow, yeah (26 minutes) but nice. Great view on the other side, then back over 84 into Woodside.
Only 36 miles total, but that’s about 26 more than I was thinking at first, and by the top of Old LaHonda, heck, I felt like I could have just kept heading out to the coast and doing Tunitas! But reason prevailed.
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.