Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Winter Update, Part II: Quit While You’re Ahead

First race of the season: dry course, sunny, 75 degrees, I came in first in the Cat 1 35-44 category. That’s it. The pinnacle of my cycling career, it can’t get any better than that.

So yeah, I’ve been doing some training. Back in December I didn’t intend to be training this hard. After ‘cross ended I was feeling pretty done with racing and training for awhile. That, and overstretched finances lead me to stop working with my coach, Adnan Kadir. I took up watching Battlestar Galactica, drinking lots of beer and just an occasional run here or there, but that was no fun, turns out it hurts, so I didn’t do that much. Just ski. And drink. And watch Battlestar. Until one night drinking a few beers at Ira Ryan’s shop, a few of us started reminiscing about last year’s Cream Puff 100. Next thing I know I wake up in the morning to this in my inbox:

You are registered for the 2009 CCP.
Eventually you will see your name on the official site as a registered racer.
I'm looking forward to seeing each of you this July.

Oh Crap. Stupid beer and good memories. Since then I have been spending my weekends riding my Mt bike in the rain at Scapoose and Forest Park, gotta get those miles in.

Which brings me to this weekend. For the third year in a row, the first weekend of April has brought the double header of the Ronde de Oeste Portlandia (Tour of West Portland) on Saturday and the Horning’s Hustle Mt Bike Race at the local Jam Band, Hippydom of Horning’s Hideout about an hour from town.

The Ronde is an un-official ride ‘organized’ by Brad Ross (Cross Crusade fame). The ride is based on the Tour of Flanders, one of road racing’s most prestigious Spring classics. Every year, on the Saturday before the Tour of Flanders, part of the course is open for the amateurs and public to experience part of the famous race. And from what I gather it is quite the event. Brad wanted to do something similar in Portland, hence the Ronde. He made up a route in the west hills that has some of the hardest climbs around. He appropriately marks the course with the Lion of Flanders. So on Saturday morning, around 600 people met up to do the ride. It was pretty amazing to just witness such a large group riding out Highway 30 to the start of the first climb, up Saltzman Rd. I can only imagine what the poor drivers on Highway 30 were thinking at the time. Overall it is just an amazing event, if you can even call it an event. It truly is an unorganized ride, no registration, waivers, fees, permits, support, nothing but the spray painted markers to mark the way, some other crazy cyclists to ride with, and the occasional house that has some water (or beer) at the end of the driveway. Overall it’s a 47 mile course, with 5400’ of climbing. So it is no picnic by any means.

(Margi climbing College Ave, pic by Dave Roth)

Being a glutton for punishment, I reluctantly decided to also do the Mt Bike race on Sunday. I must have fried some brain cells on Saturday, as I decided that the Mt Bike race would be even better if I took the light rail to the end of the line in Hillsboro, then do the hour ride up to the race on my Mt Bike. I did the same thing last year, and it sucked. Somehow that lesson didn’t quite set in. On the bright side, I was warmed up by the time I got to the race. Long story short, it was a 4-lap, 20 mile race. And it hurt, after one lap my legs were on the edge of cramping. I had no idea how I was going to finish. I kept waiting for the masses to catch and pass me, but they never came. I guess the early season and heat had us all feeling it. Somehow, when it was all said and done I came in first for the 35-44, and fourth overall in the Cat 1. Not bad. This year they were having a special award for the riders who did both the Ronde and had the best finish in the Mt Bike race. I figured being in first I had it. Nope. Carl Dekker, the overall and pro winner, did both as well, and beat me by about 30 mins in the Mt Bike race, ouch.

Three days later and I am feeling mostly recovered from the weekend. Overall, I feel pretty good about my form right now. It has been a bit different this year. As I mentioned, I haven’t been working with Adnan, and have been trying to apply what I learned from him over the past couple seasons and develop my own training plan. If money wasn’t an issue, I would definitely continue to work with him, and I have been fortunate that he has been so awesome to continue to give me some advice and guidance. And if things work out, I hope to have him back in my corner for ‘Cross season. If you have ever thought about working with a coach, I definitely recommend it. Give Adnan a call, he will hook you up. Unless of course you race in my category, in which case, I recommend drinking some more beer and watching Battlestar Galactica.