Monday, May 28, 2012

Training Ride - Saturday, 26 May

While the Tahoe team was busy loading the truck to ship the team's bikes out west, the Vegas and Fletcher teams were riding up in beautiful Cartersville, GA. As I am fortunate enough to have a B (and now, C) bike, I was happily able to join them. The route for the Vegas team was a short 20-mile out-and-back, with a few hills and two rambunctious dogs (I yelled them off). I rode with T, a two-time survivor of Hodgkin Lymphoma: you know, the "good" kind. He had been in remission for 10 years before relapsing last year, and is now waiting for the official all-clear from his doctor. He has an incredible attitude and is just a generally friendly, all-around great guy. I am looking forward to riding with and getting to know him more this season. As we approached the SAG at mile 12, I asked if he wanted to stop. "Not really", and we blew past it.

Everyone looked GREAT on the ride (the six of us who were able to make it, that is). J crushed the route, and sweet M, who may well be my new favorite person, was beside herself at the end. Last week she didn't make it out of the parking lot. She'd brought an old mountain bike, but ended up borrowing a road bike that Coach D had brought for another participant. At the end of that ride, she was glowing, but nothing could top how she felt after this weekend. She had gone out during the week on the borrowed bike a few times, and ended up spec-ing a few bikes at Performance, finding one she liked. She rode the 20 miles with the two coaches and had tears in her eyes at the end as she told me how this was part of a total life change for herself. Every other sentence out of her mouth was "I am just so happy", and she radiated it. M has an amazing attitude and determination, and again, I am looking forward to getting to know her this season, as well.

Seriously, who are these people? How on Earth did we get so lucky that they found us?

Stats (from Strava, because there isn't a computer on the new bike yet):

Maximum speed: 27.3 mph
Average speed: 13.6 mph
Distance: 20.3 mi
Time: 1.29.44

Details and map here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Training Ride - Saturday, 19 May

Yesterday was the inaugural GTR for the inaugural season of the Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo for Georgia's Team in Training. We rode 16 miles up at Riverside Park, and it is shaping up to be a great team. We have people of all abilities (per usual), some on mtb but most on road, and some people who have long experience riding and some who only got their bike last year. Everyone had a GREAT attitude, kept together, and worked it out. I had a wonderful time meeting my new teammates and am very much looking forward to riding with them in the heat and humidity this summer. I can't wait for the Tahoe/Fletcher teammates to join the Vegas GTRs, because it will be great for the new participants to see how big the team is and how great the camaraderie can be.


Maximum speed: 36.4 mph
Average speed: 15.0 mph
Distance: 16.06 mi
Time: 1.06.00

Details and map can be found here.

Afterward, Coach and I went down to Silk Sheets to join the current team on their last GTR and get a few extra miles in (he didn't make it out of the parking lot with the Vegas team, helping newer participants get comfortable being on a bike for the first time in years again), but I ended up SAGing in a few people and just hanging out with great friends.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Up The Creek - Saturday, 12 May

On Saturday the team rode the beautiful, well-organized Up The Creek Without a Pedal, in Rome, GA. If you will recall, last year I gave the ride rave reviews, and this year was no disappointment in that sense. In the "how did Megan feel" sense, however, I felt like poop. I rode about half of the first 23 miles by myself, because V dropped me (she should have, my legs were tight and heavy and useless), and I spent the remaining 40 miles in a paceline with V and L (and occasionally C), which made the ridiculous headwinds more bearable. The company was great, and it made for an otherwise icky ride. It's nice having friends around when you're not feeling up to snuff.  My legs showed up around mile 40, but not for long. I was tight and heavy the whole day, and at the end of the ride J ordered me to rest this week, saying "If you want to go out and really spin easy, that is probably fine, but you suck at that." (Verbatim, it was via g-chat).

And, since he's completely right, I've imposed a week off. It's hard. It will be made easier by a few things:

1. My legs need to rest
2. I need to get work done
3. My left hand (ulnar nerve) went numb again, despite continuously changing my position and spending a fair amount of time in the drops; the hand, arm, and elbow still feel funny (as does my right elbow, but to a much lesser extent)
4. If I get the work in 2 done I get to work in B&B's quilt, and that will be satisfying

So, Saturday was a long day, with 4 hours of driving and not quite 4 hours of cycling. It was still a success, looking at the numbers, but if I had taken a proper recovery anytime in the last two weeks, instead of pushing pushing pushing through the tired, stiff legs, I probably could have bested my time from last year (I'm in better shape, with a better base).


Maximum speed: 40.3 mph (this is for real: it was an intentional effort to get there at the bottom of a descent)
Average speed: 16.2 mph
Distance: 60.70 mi
Time: 3.43.15

Details and map can be found here. (The achievements are dubious, because V was killing it -- and me -- the whole ride, but her Strava app only recorded 22 of the 60 miles and because B doesn't use Strava).

The ride was also remarkable because it's the last one I'll do with the Tahoe/Fletcher teams until Tahoe on 3 June. This weekend I'll be riding with the Vegas team at their first GTR, and the following weekend the Tahoe team's bikes will ship (and I will be on the Giant (!!!!)) with the Vegas team. Then, it's TAHOE. Here's hoping they had the same mild winter we did.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Training ride - Saturday, 5 May

Honestly, I don't know if I can take much more excitement. I skipped blogging about a subpar training week (in which the awesome A got on her bike for her first Brookhaven loops, and J and all of Team Hertweeney had an appearance), and made it to Saturday, our second GTR in the gaps this year. We did the 3 Gap Fifty, out of the Walmart down the way, adding 12 miles to our previous route (otherwise, it was identical). It started off warm and got hot. Sweaty hot hot hot. We were down two mentors, so the four staff members there were stretched a bit thin... or we would have been. I ended up getting to spend some time with V, which was great. She's gotten so strong and fast! I'm so glad she's riding again this season! I spent a lot of time with K and J, going all the way up (and down) Neal's Gap with them. Then K and I saw A ahead on Wolfpen, rode with her for a little bit, and then it was just the two of us again as she crushed the climb. The three of us regrouped at the top and rode into Suches and up Woody together, picking up D along the way.

At the top of Woody is where it got exciting. Down the hill, one of the front riders had crashed. He's fine, banged up a bit, wrecked his bike (the fork sheared off the crown completely), and got a few stitches in the back of his head, but he's a tough cookie. The four of us (V got sagged up to us after J sagged in) heard the story, took it in stride, and started our descent down Woody and then down farther to the Walmart.

What started out with me in a foul mood (because of the heat? the sour/anxious stomach that has dogged me the last two GTRs?) ended up being a great personal ride. Fears were overcome, lessons were learned, and a chocolate Frosty was had.

Stats (the phone is too far away for me to get it, so these are from Strava):

Maximum speed: 50.3 mph (that's a lie, it was like 35 mph)
Average speed: 10.6 mph
Distance: 49.8 mi
Time: 4.40.51

Details and map can be found here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Training ride - Saturday, 28 April

Those of you who follow me on facebook already know what an exciting day we had on Saturday. It's due to that excitement (and the ensuing busyness of the weekend) that it is only now, Tuesday, that I am able to sit down and write it up, hoping I can do it justice.

The short version: we rode in the rolling hills of Warm Springs (and through Pine Mountain). There was an accident. I rode in an ambulance. All survived.

The longer version:
It was a perfectly cool start to the morning. I had never been to the Warm Springs ride before, because of travel (Andrew and Ronnell's wedding) and injury (I wrenched my back the morning of the ride). I had heard about a hill, "The Wall", but otherwise was looking forward to the ride. We started out pretty lively, and made good time into the first SAG stop of the day, around mile 18. That gave us time to loosen the legs on an easy stretch (rolling and fast, with only one tour coach coming within 3 feet of me) before putting in another 8 miles to get to the hill. I noticed a lot of marks for the Wilson100, and recognized some of the areas we had ridden through on that ride. The TNT SAG stop had actually been located just before The Wall, but the Wilson route took us in the opposite direction of it. The Wall is a Category 4 climb, 400' over 1.5 miles. No switchbacks, just a straight-on climb. The best part about it is that you can see the top, so you know exactly how much further you need to go. J was there, taking pictures of everyone as they got to him, but he was an artificial summit: there was still a way to go. I stopped just beyond him to cheer the rest of my group up. A quick regroup at the Best Western (undergoing renovation because of severe tornado damage last year), and we were off into Pine Mountain.

There was a bit more climbing, but it was more rolling (check out the ride's profile on Strava). After the second SAG, though, it was surprisingly technical descent for two miles, and back onto the fast, easy terrain. It was shortly after the descent that I turned to H, whom I had been riding with most of the day, and said "Can you believe we've been on the bike for 2 hours and 45 minutes? It doesn't feel like that at all." She agreed: it had been, thus far, a comfortable and fast ride.

Then we found ourselves on the beautifully new tarmac on Stovall Rd. We had a pretty large group of people, which was just damn resistant to getting a paceline together. H was falling off the back, so mentor A and I talked -- he agreed to wrangle the herd up front, and I (and V) would ride back with H to keep her going. Then, not long after that, H -- who had been riding close to the edge -- clipped the lip of the new pavement and went down hard. A kind couple stopped their truck not long after, providing towels to prop H's head, paper towels to dress the gash over her eye, and (most importantly), shade under their large umbrella while we waited for our SAG driver and the ambulance to arrive.

H is fine, but that was the end of her ride, and mine, for the day. I rode the ambulance with her to the hospital, at which point I started making brilliantly sarcastic comments to her, which lasted for the duration of the next 5 hours she was stuck with me, as we waited for radiology results, stitches, and collected her car and took her to some friends'.

So, a very exciting day. The ride itself, as I said, was comfortable, fast, and enjoyable. We stopped just about a quarter mile short of the last SAG stop, and looking at the map, we were very close to the end - maybe another hour of riding, tops. H can do this, if she can get on the bike again.

This ride reinforces two key things:
1. Wear a helmet, and wear it appropriately. The gash she received was a helmet injury (the styrofoam over the forehead strap gave way, and the impact of the ground->helmet->forehead strap->forehead is what cut her. This is preferable to ground->forehead, which would have been disastrously worse.

2. Carry ID and insurance information on you. I'm not a shill for, but they are a great company. H never lost consciousness, but she was definitely confused and couldn't tell us where some of her things were, and couldn't tell us anyone we could contact. AND SHE WAS AWAKE. If something like this happens while you're on your own, or if you do lose consciousness, without that information on your person or bike, responses and information are slowed down.

Stats (I hadn't even looked at the cycle computer since Saturday... these are off because the bike has been walked a few times):

Maximum speed: 34.1 mph
Average speed: 14.7 mph
Distance: 52.40 mi
Time: 3.32.51

Route details and map can be found here.