Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TNR from an IT perspective, Volume One

Gosh, Todd keeps talking about "Father Mark", and today I counted 12 riders. Might there be something more to this religious metaphor? Guess again. By departure time the count was 16. Sunny skies and 65 degrees. The bold among us had full summer attire. The wimps used arm warmers. And the real chickens (like me) went with a long sleeve lifa wind block top under the jersey. Jennifer of the rose tattoo led us out down University, reveling again in her final week in Green Bay. By the time we turned east on Curry lane, I was sure I was overdressed. Full sun, a following wind, and a brisk pace combined to bring me visions of dehydration and heat exhaustion. But since the TNR is about overcoming adversity, I put those thoughts out of my mind. Luxemburg road came quickly, and we soon commenced our second eastward leg. The easy spinning didn't last long. Shortly after I followed Carl and Sue's tandem over the RR tracks, one of the high horsepower motors up front decided to ramp things up a bit. The wind was favorable, so 22, 23, 24 mph seemed reasonable. Since I had not been on my road bike for almost 2 weeks, I was hanging out at the tail end of the peloton, right behind Jenifer (of Jeff and Jen). I noticed a 2 to 3 bike length gap opening up in front of Jen, so I swung around, thinking that it was too early to lose contact with the first group. But I had a pang of conscience as I cleared her wheel. Instead of bridging up and splitting the group 11 - 5, I soft pedaled after I covered her, as thoughts of a nice tight 4 person rotating pace line lit up my synapses. I figured between Jen, Todd, myself, and the other rider (didn't get the name) we could get in some time trial teamwork practice. Captain Carl and stoker Sue were with us also, but they didn't factor into my pace line dream. Todd quickly jumped in with some field direction. "Move over to the left, Steve." I got onto the centerline, and everyone echeloned behind me. It was surprisingly easy going, and I was cruising at 22 to 23 mph. But it was soon apparent that I was the only one in the group fantasizing about the disciplined rotation of a time trial team. "Great job Steve, only 29 miles to go." Then "Keep it up, only 28 more." Todd was ticking off the miles as he sat in my slipstream. The fast group in front of us didn't look to be pulling away. In fact, 2 riders appeared to have fallen off the back. I thought that maybe we were gaining on them. If I could get a little help, we might bridge up. This went on for a time, and as they slowed for Sugarbush road, It occurred to me that a lucky break with traffic (like they get stopped and we sail right through) and we'd be all together again. But luck wasn't with us. They sailed straight through and we grabbed the brakes for a semi on the left and a minivan on the right. The semi was braking to a stop to make a right turn. He probably saw us, and was being cautious. Ditto the minivan on the right. We came to a stop, and I felt sort of guilty being way out in the center of the road. There was no place for the semi to make his turn. But then the scariest moment of the ride occurred. Carl didn't stop, but shot straight through the intersection. I hope we didn't anger the cars too much. While we made it through the intersection intact. The fast group was long gone. Furthermore, I was getting burned out from pulling. "Only 27 miles more" wasn't encouragement in my ears anymore. But help was on the way. I pulled out, and Jen took the reins. To my surprise, Hubby Jeff was right there with her. He was late to the parking lot and didn't start the ride with us. But you don't get to be an iron man by blowing off workouts, so here he was. I thought I'd be able to rest for a while, but Jeff had other ideas. The lead peloton was too great a temptation to pass up. Jeff just kept accelerating. 24 25 - 26 mph. Soon we were hitting 28 and 29 mph, and rapidly closing the gap. Jenny had been unwilling to hang on 5 miles back, but now, with Jeff out in front towing us along, she was right there. It was a very nice pull. No jump sprint breakaway to leave us in the dust, just steady gentle acceleration to keep the group together and bridge up. By the 10 mile mark, we were together again, although 1 or 2 riders had disappeared off the back after Jeff's pull.The left turn onto Rendezvous set us against the wind. Mark Z put in a big effort pulling us along. I sought out Wayne to block the wind. Riding in Wayne's lee was like following a pace car. Nice and calm. But I'm not as good at hiding from the wind as Todd, so every now and then I got out of position and had to do some extra work. After a couple of miles, the wind picked up and the skies darkened. We charged right into a cold front and it was as apparent as a dive in to lake Michigan. I was immediately glad that I was wearing an extra layer. For the rest of them, it was "ride harder to warm up." Everyone must have been conscious of the rapid pace, and the potential for bragging about a 21 mph pace. No one headed down the Bayshore Park hill. In fact, no one even bothered to wait for Captain Carl. We saw him cross highway 57, but headed for the Red Rocket en mass anyway with a nifty tail wind, gradually ramping up the speed until I could feel the lactate burning in my thighs. This is where self delusion became my training partner. I just kept repeating "Lactate is my friend, Lactate is my friend!"The good thing about passing the red rocket is that the big downhill is coming up, and that means a tight tuck and a chance to rest our legs -- Rest in preparation for the charge up the Benderville hill. The key metric on hill climbs is minimum speed. After perfecting your tuck and hitting 40 mph, how much of that momentum can be maintained up the other side. We started climbing at about 29 mph, and had only dropped to 24 mph by the top. Cresting that hill brought the bay into view. It's a beautiful spot: Roadside trees sheltering us from the wind, recovering from a hard effort to climb the hill, yet accelerating downhill on a road that looks flat and watching the sun set over Green Bay. I was too far back to see who did most of the pulling, but I know Roy and Mark Z were up there, and probably Jeff as well. Mainly I just wanted to hang on and not get dropped. I almost made it too. But by the UWGB campus, I was toast. I lost contact, and at almost the same time, Wayne dropped off to join me. We soldiered on for the last couple of miles, still moving at a respectable pace. All in all, a good early season effort.Steve

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