Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Today was Old Mans Ride

With cyclocross season on my mind, i have naturally been motivated to get back into a solid training routine after my crash three weeks ago in a race.  Today the plan was to try my luck with the "Bakkers" group ride tonight out of Zaventem so i could gauge where i am in my recovery.  While it is called a ride, it is more like a controlled race where they drive each other into the ground.  It is mainly either racers or unnaturally fast dudes who show.  If i could hold on, then I'd be theoretically ready to race.  As i was not sure if i could do it, i enlisted my friend Kenny to "babysit" me for the evening so that way he could keep me in the group if i have a bad moment.  Kenny is one of those freaks of nature who rides 2-3 times per week at most but somehow remains the guy to watch in a group consisting of crazy fast guys.

But with rain scheduled for tonight, i changed my plans and joined the Old Mans Ride this afternoon instead.  While i didnt get the full test i did get enough of a teaser to have an idea of where my fitness is at the moment, especially when they were pushing the pace at 44kph (27.3mph) for a while.  It took myself out of the line of riders so i could do the work with full wind in my face.   I am pleased to say that, while it didnt feel completely comfortable, it also didnt put me in the red.  I could tell, however, that if it went faster i would feel pain from breathing harder.  And standing on the pedals doesnt work yet without pain - i found out today, again. But it's coming along, and that was the purpose of today's ride - mission accomplished. 

While riding on the Old Mans Ride, i couldnt help but think about how far they've come over the years.  The first time i rode with this group out of Kortenberg located in the center of Belgium was six years ago.  The group consisted mainly of 60-85 years olds (hence, the nickname that a bunch of us use for the group) and rode no faster than 30kph (18.5mph) - ever with an average speed no higher than 26kph (16mph) by the end of their flat tour. But for the last two years, the "Old Mans Ride" nickname has become a bit misleading.  It's still mainly the same guys but now they are fast old guys. Today's ride, for instance, was average 31kph (19.2mph).  When you take into consideration all the turns, stop signs, stop lights, etc that they encounter when riding through a country consisting of little towns that connect to one another, it is very impressive.  They even enjoy playtime where they take turns attacking each other.

As an American, i can't help but to find it bizarre to watch a group of old guys killing each other and periodically exploding with full fireworks coming out of their heads when they go too deep. But i must say that i am inspired by them. I really hope i can be that fast when i am their age.

Today we passed a group of guys who were about the same age as our guys, but the others were all on upright town bikes going about half our speed.  I couldnt have been more proud of my Old Men as we zipped by the other old guys. It is a common occurence here in Belgium to see older folks killing on the bike but i couldnt imagine groups like this in USA. I remember in California and also in NYC, the group rides I knew of (and joined) were basically mainly racer dudes with a few older folks who were mostly former racers.  I must say that it is a nice feeling to know that no matter my age or speed level, here in Belgium i can always find a group to ride with. That is...if i remain in the country long enough to reach that age.  The thought of eventually moving to Spain or southern France still makes me happy - to be warm in the winter is not such a bad thing, i think.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Still in the Neverending Healing Phase

Well, it has now been 2 1/2 weeks since my crash in Aalburg. And as of last night, the torn back muscle pain (that decided to spread completely around to the front of my chest where it deposited a collection of blood bruises) combined with a nasty case of whiplash has diminished enough that i can just now get away with simple "over the counter" pain meds.  How happy am I!! It looks like I'll actually get a full night of sleep at some point in the near future.

With diminished pain, i even got in a couple of rides outdoors although i found i definitely have a limit to how long i can ride.  After about 40 minutes or so the discomfort starts jumping up quickly. I did however figure out a way to cheat the breathing part of the injury a little bit.  If i go faster than a very easy pace where i have to breathe a little deeper, the pain is sharp. But i found that if i just push a bigger gear (haha) it takes a slightly higher speed before the breathing pain kicks in. 

Yeah, sure it's a bummer that it happened but at least i can see now that there can possibly be an end to this where i can start training normally again.  Cyclocross season may still be three months away but this period of the year is really when i needed to be getting in some real training for optimal preparation - so its good to see that i may be "normal" soon.

At least my bike is mostly in good condition, although the wheel took a lethal hit from the gal who was catapulted into me from the domino effect that seemingly started on the other side of her.

Hopefully my next post will be a bit more cheery. And thanks to all of you who sent me well wishes! That really meant a lot!!