Sunday, May 25, 2008

Training Saturday, 5/24/08

Following the recent knee troubles, I took an entire week off hoping to get all my parts back in better shape. By Tuesday my knee felt much better, but by Thursday middle of the day it was hurting again. Definitely seems to come and go, either on or off. By Saturday morning it was barely noticeable, and I didn't think I could put off training any more, so I hopped on the bike for an easy 40-mile spin. Knee was fairly well behaved most of the ride -- I could feel it and had a bit of pain, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with.

My mistake, however, was in not mapping out my route directly, and instead picking some general directions without regard to topography. I started off at a nice leisurely pace, and even explored a couple neighborhood developments as a meandered around before getting serious about getting somewhere again.

About 20 miles in I encountered a hill just south of Egypt (Egypt, NY). {skipping the lame jokes here, they're just too easy...} The climb past the stop light looked reasonable, and with the many trees around the area, I couldn't see that the climb continued. And continued. And continued. Each bend was more higher-grade climbing. I made it to the top, but I'd really burnt myself out, and was sorely wishing I'd taken my bike in previously to swap out the rear cassette for one with an easier gearing or two (currently the Felt has a true 50/34 compact double on the front, and a 12-25 on the back. Pretty sure I'd best get at least a 12-27 if I want to save my knees in the long run). Had been trying very hard to stay seated and avoid excess knee pressure, but when the grade started showing as 10-12%, it got to be too much to do comfortably.
Once I reached the top, I found a nice spot of grass to take a break in, drink some Gatorade, and munch on a banana for a few minutes. From there, the descent was rapid, exciting, and a bit cold (all that sweat from the climb dried out in a hurry at 33.5 mph -- and I was riding the brakes). Once I got to the bottom, I had a brief spell of flat land to enjoy, and followed another rider until I saw a familiar road -- turned on to Valentown Road with the intent of starting my way back, and as I turned north toward home at the next intersection, I ended up with the thrill of another steep climb.

Distance wasn't quite as bad, but my legs still hadn't recovered from the last climb, and the grade was just as high if not higher. I made it roughly halfway up the hill and pulled over to take a breather and convince myself that hills weren't evil, but should be thought of as friendly training opportunities. Despite the little voice in my head telling me to walk the bike up the hill (how embarrassing!) I turned my attitude a bit more positive, hopped back on the bike and continued up the hill out of the saddle for the half the distance, then sat down and pushed the rest of the way up in my 34/25 easiest gear, again wishing I had something easier on the rear cassette.

Made it to the top, and had a beautiful view to enjoy while I 'cruised' along the peak in my granny gear, as that was all my legs could handle for the moment. I turned off the peak toward the west, climbed the small remainder of Turk Hill Road south of Fairport, and from there took Turk Hill Road all the way back to Penfield on my way back north. I figured the hills on Turk Hill Road would be difficult, but was quite pleased to find that due to the rolling nature of the hills, in most cases I had plenty of speed on the downhill swing to make the uphill journey on the opposite side fairly easily. These may look like big hills in a car, but compared to the grades I had dealt with previously, they were relative 'cake.'

Once I got back to Penfield I could tell I was still a bit low on energy, and was fighting a 10mph wind out of the northwest, but I wanted to get at least 40 miles in, so I zig-zagged through Penfield and on into Webster, leaving my last few miles a straight eastward journey down flat, smooth, friendly Klem Road before turning for home.

A post-ride review of my route shows that pre-planning my route would have allowed me to avoid the high-grade hills fairly easily, but twice I made "less than optimal" choices that led to the big climbs. However, for future reference, I've found two great hills for challenging climbing practice.

Ride Statistics:
  • Distance: 43 miles
  • Avg. Speed: 14.6 mph
  • Max Speed: 33.5 mph
  • Avg. HR: 151
  • Max HR: 191 (on the hills, of course)
  • Climbing: 2331 feet
  • Calories Burned: ~ 2544

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