Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tales from the Draft.....

....a summary of my Madison ride behind Adam’s wheel.

I do 95% of my training solo, not because I am totally opposed to training in a group, and I am definitely not anti social, but primarily it’s because I have a crazy schedule. It is often more work to coordinate workouts and meet up with people. I have my windows to fit in the workouts, without a lot of room for error. Training with others has its benefits and purpose especially if the group as fast as or faster than you and your goal for that workout is to push yourself. Other times training in a group can slow you down, or make you work harder than you should on an easy day. On those rare times I get to train with Adam, I am always pushed to my limits.

We spontaneously decided to take a trip to Madison for a change of scenery and to get some hillier miles along with our Aussie athletes. This meant I’d be riding with 2 very fast guys on a tough course, but I was up to the challenge and definitely bored with my flat cornfield routes. We packed up the car Fri afternoon, headed north, and checked into our hotel by the capital. Thanks to priceline.com we scored huge last minute deal. We roamed around State St. and grabbed a late dinner. Madison is such a fun town, and as we were showing Courtney and Raija the swim course, finish line etc for the IM, I had little twinges of…..if I ever did an IM again I would love to do this one…. but then I quickly came to my senses!

We decided to start the ride in Verona because doing the loops with places to re fuel works so great and none of us are actually doing IM MOO, so to heck with the “stick”.

My goal for the day was to stay with the boys for as long as I could, and not to worry about power, pace, HR etc. and “work the uphills”. My plan was to do 2 loops/ roughly 80 miles.


I stuck to his wheel like glue. On the downhills I would lose him some and would have to hammer in my hardest gear to maintain contact. I road the uphills hard, just to stay as close as possible. Some of what went through my head on loop 1:

>Thank goodness my legs feel ready for this!
>It’s hot already
>Why is my left hand sweating more than my right? Weird.
>There are lot of riders out here, there must be an IM coming soon.
>It’s hard to let go and take a drink trying to stick to his wheel, let alone take a gel
>We are flying past these people really fast, but I can’t look away to see who they are
>Already done with loop 1, that wasn’t so bad

Back in town we re-filled our water bottles and laughed about the macho guy who decided he was a better rider than the OA age group winner of several 70.3 races as well as the Champion of IM Australia and was racing us at the end decked out in his race wheels, aero helmet and aero bottles. My guess is he eventually drifted off into a cornfield somewhere completely shelled.

Loop 2:

Because I was still felt human, I decided to keep hanging on. I did notice the pace seemed a little quicker and on the flatter sections I was having to work harder to stay in the draft. I made it a goal to work as hard as I could to stay on that wheel until 3 hrs of riding and then I could cruise, but until then keep pushing. Those steep uphills through the farms after Mt.Horeb hurt a bit more the 2nd time around and that is where I noticed my HR getting pretty high and starting to feel the effort.

Thoughts from loops 2;
>Wow it’s hot
>Hmmm we are going a little faster this time
>This is definitely how you aren’t supposed to ride this course if you are racing the IM
>Where is the next uphill, hammering in these flats is getting tough
>Wow we are already back to here
>When I trained for the IM here years ago these loops seemed to take much longer

I made it to nearly the end of the loop but lost contact with them on one of the hard uphills almost back to town, that was at about 3:40 hrs of riding. I was very happy to see Verona. I did my transition run practically smiling the whole way even though it was sizzling out.

I never looked at my power, really, the whole ride, because I was really staring at a wheel and a nice pair of legs for almost 4 hrs, but what is interesting is that even though you save about 30% of the energy by drafting, my normalized power for the 81 miles was right smack in the middle of the wattage range I try to hold for my ½ Ironmans.

No pics from this outing, I was too busy holding on for life!

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