Monday, June 1, 2009

Is it time to race yet??

Since returning from NYC i have been back to training, training, training, and more training! But there is nothing like a race to get your blood flowing with so much adrenaline with which almost no drug can compare. I say almost because i am somewhat of a drug neophyte. I have tried most of those that accompany broken bones and such, but my list of drugs for recreational use - or at least ones used when there is no medical emergency - is a pretty short one, namely alcohol. I havent even tried pot.

When i was in California last April, my friend told me about a story of a 75 year old guy who arrived at his girlfriend's house before she did, rummaged for food, found the big bag of special chocolate chip cookies laced with hash and ate them all. Luckily he didnt die but was awfully confused and probably a bit perturbed. Since i never tried that drug, i couldnt help but wonder if he would have enjoyed the high more had he been privy to ramifications of his cookie monster indulgence.

Back on the topic of training, i am pleased to report it is still going well. Last week i included four group rides in my training! And at each ride i got much needed feedback on my fitness level at the moment.

The first was the Begijnendijk ride that averages about 35-36kph. There are so many cyclists in attendance that the ride is usually split up into three groups of fifty. Usually the first group is the only one to ride in a double paceline where each rider takes pulls of 2km on the front of each line before making her way to the back. The second and third groups often ride the same speed as the first but without trading organized pulls. But for some reason, on Tuesday the second group was riding about 5km slower than the first. So in a spur-of-the-moment decision, Jonas and I decided to bridge to the first group. Within a millisecond of our decision he was gone. While i was chasing behind, i noticed that my speedometer read 51kph. How thrilled was i to see that i can put my face in the wind at speeds of over 50kph (30mph). That little maneuver to the front group totally made my day.

The second of the group rides was last Thursday with the Zaventem riders who average 36kph - no matter wind, rain, a passing train. Thursday was no exception - strong winds and sprinkles (or maybe that was sweat from the guys in front) made for a tough 36. From the proverbial gun, the ride was up at full speed, standard single file formation while weaving in and out of the neighborhoods on tiny streets riddled with parked cars and trees planted in the middle of the street (a strange belgian thing).

This is my second time doing this ride so i learned a thing or five. One of the lessons learned from my first ride was to never show your face in the wind for long periods of time if you want to be assured to finish the ride - with the group. First time around i showed my face a few times in the beginning, making the rest of the ride one hell of a struggle.

This time i kept to the back. Lesson learned here was the same every racer learns during "Racing 101". It is harder in the back due to the yo-yo effect, where you have to sprint out of every turn faster and longer than the riders in front. And if that wasnt enough punishment, with about 10km to go Jonas jumps out of the peloton in solo pursuit of the two-rider breakaway. Without thinking, which is usually how these things happen, I jump too. With no draft from him, I too had to bridge with no help AND a whole peloton in tow. Just when i was almost bridged, my engine stalled. I remained three meters behind them for what felt like forever. Thankfully, the guy in queue behind me gave a little push and i landed on the three-man train. No less than a minute later, the rollers hit. Bad timing. I worked so hard my head was spinning but i stayed tough to the end and even finished well in the uphill sprint.

The next two group rides were yesterday and today - both mtb rides (although i use my Ahrens cross bike.) Here in belgium they have about 10-50 mtb tours per week. You pay 3-5€ and you get marked trails, riding companions and feed zones filled with cookies, cake, bananas, raisins, dark chocolate, energy drink and water. Not a bad deal! During these two rides I got to test my cyclocross skills at top speed through turns, lots of sand, cobbles and tight twisty singletrack. And it was a success!

Now that i have positive feedback that my fitness is on the right track, I am ready to start pushing the envelope as they say. First up is this Thursday's Zaventem ride. Maybe i will try a few things...And motorpacing starts this week as well. My first race is scheduled for July 4th. It is a local race in a neighboring town so i will fill the backpack and ride over. Last time i did this race i placed 2nd. Although i dont have any designs on winning it this year as it is my first race of the season, i remind myself that stranger things have happened...
BTW, the fruit tart has nothing to do with this story but i posted the foto in honor of cherry season.


Big Bad Wolf said...

Hi Peanut, nice to read your back in belgium. Weathers been great here, hehe :)

Anonymous said...

No need for an excuse to post a picture of CAKE! :)

I'm with you on the drug thing, alchohol, the odd pain killer and (Doctor prescribed) prescription meds only. A sheltered life??? Most people don't believe me given my Goth, Punk, Metal teenage years.

Awesome feedback from your training, great pace and you are obviously feeling good, you can gauge that from your writing, going with the moves etc.

Belgium's bike culture makes me jealous!


mindful mule said...

Fruit Tart is a gateway drug…

Have a great race/cherry season!

lee said...

"a 75 year old guy... found the big bag of special chocolate chip cookies laced with hash and ate them all. Luckily he didnt die"

Sorry to nitpick but cannabis isn't toxic enough to kill people! And if you check The Lancet's scale that assesses the harmful effects of drugs, you'll see that alcohol is more harmful than pot...

Anonymous said...

^^^^ Well there you have it.
I'm giving up beer infavour of getting stoned every night, apparantly it's better for me!

Anonymous said...

'Less harmful' does not equal 'better'. But I adopt an 'each to his/her own' stance when it comes to drugs, providing that all the facts are made available so that people can make their minds up based on actual evidence rather than biased media sources, anti-drug propaganda, and negative social attitudes.

I don't want to turn this into a drug argument or anything (although I can see it coming) but I find cannabis (mixed with chocolate and eaten) the only suitable remedy for my back pain. I am unable to live a pain-free life without it. Commercial pain relief drugs like Ibuprofen don't work as well for me, and some make me ill (for example Paracetamol) - I've had some pretty bad stomach bleeds as a result of using pain relief drugs prescribed by who else but my doctor. The list of side effects for all of these chemicals is extremely daunting.

The harm assessment chart mentioned above comes from one of the world's leading (independent) medical journals. It can be found here

May I recommend some educational books on the matter of marijuana...

The Science of Marijuana by Leslie L. Iversen

Understanding Marijuana by Mitch Earleywine

These are both very objective books based on independent scientific studies (scientific data on cannabis and health is hard to come by due to its legal status)

Also, read Cannabis: A History by Martin Booth for a better understanding of why it became illegal in the first place. Certainly not because of its potential to cause harm. If that were the case then coffee, cigarettes and alcohol would be illegal too.

It's a shame that the general public has such a misunderstanding and so many misconceptions about drugs, but this will always be the case for as long as misinformation is propagated via the mainstream media.

I'm not trying to promote marijuana for recreational use at all. I don't want to see any recreational drug, whether legal or not, promoted at all. But promoting education about drugs, I'm all for that.

PEANUT said...

hey jonah - i was indeed high while eating that thing.
lee - i agree with you. i think everyone was afraid that, as an "old 75" he would have a heart attack from the sensation of being high because he wont have known what was happening to him.
chris - dont switch to pot. i think it is more expensive, meaning less money for bike parts.
hey anon
Good point regarding cannabis. I have needed to take some pain pills here and there for random stuff and the side effects, especially on the tummy are not good. I, too, am not advocating the use of it for recreational use (although i have nothing against it), but i agree it would be nice if it were more accessible with less stigma attached for those who use it for medicinal reasons. Sorry to hear about your back pain. That so sucks. hope it comes good at some point soon.

Rickie Rainwater said...

Hello Christine,
Pretty amazing averages. I am loving my new Garmin 705 Gps bike computer. Did my first test with a heart meter today, my usual 28.7 mile little loop. The wind was strong from the north which kind of put a damper on my favorite section. I seemed to climb better or more powerfully too. I was able to take note of my preceived exertion and how it related to heart rate zones. The wind and those long shallow inclines, coupled with a newly graveled black top makes for a work out. About the drug and alcohol thing, you know my past, and I am so grateful to be a severe chocolate milk drinker. Rub down coe coe and chocolate for me. Nemo says hi!