5/4/10 Build a Better Bike

Tuesday.  Ah DOMS, delayed onset of muscle soreness.  Yesterday I was feeling pretty darn good and today, feeling the work of the weekend.  Nothing bad, just feeling the way I’m supposed to feel.  Like I worked out.

Last Thursday was a crazy travel day for me.  I had to be up in CT and I was planning on heading to training camp directly from CT.  Unfortunately my tri bike (Tina) was not back from Florida yet (they told me it would be Saturday before it was back) so I was looking suspiciously at Betty (my road bike) wondering how was she going to feel for Sunday’s six hour ride?  It was only after I got to CT that I got an email saying that in fact my tri bike was back in NYC and in the shop.  DARN!!!  I would have preferred to use that bike for my long ride.  Oh well, that’s how it goes sometimes.

But a dear friend of mine goes up North past my house in CT every week for work and I realized that the bike shop was very near her apartment.  On a long shot I gave her text to see if there was anyway she could pick it up for me and bring it to CT.  I would meet her and grab the bike.  She said yes she could do that and I was so excited!!  Saved!!  Things were looking good for the weekend!

So I was in CT all hooked up with my two bikes and ready for camp.  I had dropped my road bike off at the bike shop in Newington to get a tune up (and a new  derailleur which I’m not really sure I needed but I let them talk me into it.)  While I was at the bike shop I had a sudden realization.  I had my tri bike but the pedals were on my table back in NYC!!  They made us take the pedals off before shipping.  Chapstick!  Now I would have to buy new pedals too.  Enough with spending all this money on triathlon.  Then they rolled Betty out and she looked so nice and shiny.  And then I noticed her pedals.   Those pedals!!   I felt like the Wicked Witch of the West when she spies Dorothy’s ruby slippers!  Those shoes are mine!!!  I grabbed a pedro’s hex pedal thingamabobby and put it on the counter, I’ll take this too.  My master plan in place.

Flash forward to Saturday night, post 4.5 brick session in the heat.  I go up to one of the head coaches and do something I have never done.  I asked for a modified bike workout.  I just knew there was no way I was going to be able to do all that hill climbing for six hours based on my Saturday performance.  In all my years of training with Trilife, I have never had to get off my bike even once.  Even when other people had to, I was always able to gut it out.  I had come to accept my new limitations.  I would need an old lady version.  I felt like this was the beginning of the end.  You start making concessions now and then next thing you know you are playing shuffleboard on the Princess line.  But I had to acknowledge my limits.  Six hours in the heat was going to be a long time and those were some serious mountains on the route.  Coach was cool as usual and told me to let him think about it.  Maybe do the first loop and then a modified second loop.  That sounded like a happy compromise.  He’d let me know in the morning.

Saturday night I was planning on doing my operation on Betty and Tina.  Remove Betty’s pedals and put them on Tina.   I knew in theory it should work.    I took out the hex pedal thingamadoozie and put it into the pedal.  It didn’t fit.  WHAT!?!?!  I can’t believe it.  How many hex pedal sizes are there out there?  Can’t they standardize anything!!  I was so mad.  I was defeated.  Now I would have to ride my road bike for six hours and to be honest it wasn’t that comfortable after 2 hours.  My knees start to hurt a little.  Okay, okay, true confession time.  I did my own bike fit on my road bike.  It feels fine for 3-4 loops of the park but when I get off my knees hurt a little.  On my tri bike they don’t hurt at all.  So yes I know, I know, I will bring my road bike to get a fit but that wasn’t going to help me now.  I sat on the bed and fumed for a minute until I remembered that handy dandy little tool in my bike bag.

I have a mini bike tool with a hex part that has another little bit on the end that comes off.  I took that thingy and put it in the pedal.  Then I took the hex wrench from the bike shop and put it in the thingy.  It FIT!!   I was so excited.  But then I pushed and pulled and pushed and pulled and it was not moving anything.  I knew enough that I had to go the opposite way of the pedal (as you pedal you are tightening the pedal) and I knew that the right and left side were opposites, but no matter which way I tried I couldn’t get the thingy to move.  Once again my lack of arm strength coming to haunt me.  I had to call in the reserves.  One of the assistant coaches was staying on the floor above and he knew a lot about bikes.  I called him to come down and see if he could help.  He came in, looked at it, went pop, pop, pop and the pedal moved.  Couple more twists and he had it off.   Then the big test was would Tina take Betty’s pedals?   She did!!!  The shoe fits!!!  Woo hoo!!!  We put the pedals on in about two seconds and Tina was ready to ride.  I was so happy and so grateful I still can’t tell you.

Sunday morning 6:30 a.m. we meet in the parking lot to start riding exactly at 6:45.  I’m riding Tina and we are all set to go.  Of course I am expecting Tina to be all temperamental as she sometimes is.  But instead I start pedalling and she starts to purr.  She really gave me no problem whatsoever in Florida and she was happy here too.  Had we come to some kind of reconciliation after Lake Placid?   The temperature is just fine, I’m feeling fine.  The coach is following behind me and makes me stop because I don’t have my quick release lever tightened correctly.  Then he makes me adjust my shoes.  He makes me review my nutrition strategy with him.  How many calories would I be taking?  When did I start taking them?  What about fresh water?  How was I going to refuel?   LOL he must think I’m a mess.  But I was okay.  I had a plan.  I feel okay.  I’m just going to stay in the moment and go as far as I could.  I had some gels and some powders.  I kind of counted it out.  I don’t need as much as I think I need.  I take too many calories anyway.  I’ll be good.  I have plenty.

For about 10 miles we pedal nicely along the flats.  Then we hit the first steep climb.  Coach tells me to hold back and monitor my heart rate and don’t try to keep up with the sparkly kids.  He doesn’t need to tell me twice.  I was feeling fine but I was well aware of the difference between 1/2 hour of riding and 6 hours of riding.  I made it to the top of the first climb.  Coming down the mountain I felt great to be riding Tina.  I felt more control and I wasn’t scared at all.  I mentally thanked my friends for helping me get my bike.  Basically I spent the entire six hours thanking them in my head.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me be able to ride this bike.  When Tina is good she is the best bike on the planet.  I feel like my feet and the pedals are one unit.  My back is long and relaxed.  I can now stay in aero for a hundred years.  We are back to being together.  (Took a little while to get back into aero but now I’m good). 

Rode mostly by myself and then with a couple of others.  Stopped at the gas station to refill on water and have a gu.  Then we had the huge climb to get back.  This is where I kind of lost it.  My legs were shattered.  I had nothing.  Zip, nada, nothing.  I was climbing 2 miles per hour.  I was thinking back to previous years when coach George would come by and tell me to go into a harder gear because I was spinning too fast.  Not now, I was in my easiest gear and it felt like I was hauling a truckload of timber up the mountain behind me.  I was fading fast.  Coach Earl popping in to check on me periodically as I slogged my way up the mountain.  This wasn’t good.

Coming down the mountain was so much better on my tri bike.  Again I had to thank my friends for helping me.  If I had to do this on my road bike I would not have been happy.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Then I got a chance to chat a little more with one of the coaches and I had a bit of a revelation.   Have you ever had an idea going around in your head and in your mind it makes perfect sense but when you utter it out loud you realize that the idea is totally idiotic?  Something about the idea hitting air makes it expand into stupidity.  Well that is what happened to me.   I’m pedalling along next to Coach Earl and I’m telling him all about my drama of the day before.  I knew it wasn’t just me that had a hard time and I also know that I have a lot of factors going on, blah de blah, blah, blah.  So he says “How’s your nutrition?”  I say fine, my head feels clear.  (I use my head feeling clear as my barometer of how I am feeling — if I can think, I figure I have enough calories.)  Then I tell him my theory.  “See I’m trying to lose weight so I’m playing around with finding the minimum number of calories I can do these rides with.  I used to take 350 calories an hour when I was doing Ironman but now I am only taking 250 an hour and I feel fine with that.”   Poof, did you see the big balloon of stupidity blow up in front me?  Earl (who has been coaching me since 2003) looked at me.  I looked at him.  I said “oh my God, I’m an idiot aren’t I?”  Then I had to feel even more stupid when I said, okay I had two bottles with 200 calories in each of them and a gu for 100 calories that’s five hundred calories.  How far are we into the ride?  2 hours and 48 minutes.   I’m behind on my calories.  No wonder I was tired going up that hill.   Oh yeah, I also tried a different breakfast this morning.  I haven’t been able to eat solid foods so I tried a protein shake made of green stuff.  I could only choke down half of it, so the 400 calorie breakfast I thought I had was really only about 300 calories.   And that was at 5:30!  Oh my God!!!  Am I really such an idiot?  I know this stuff.  I know this stuff cold.  How could I be so absolutely stupid?  It’s hot out.  I am expending even more calories than normal.    What is wrong with me?

The coach is really nice though his face says “I cannot believe that after seven years you are making such a rookie mistake.”  He doesn’t say it but let’s just say it is hanging in the air above us.  Instead he says “okay when we get back to cars I want you to eat some solid food, okay?”   I mumble yes, mea culpa, mea culpa.  How do you say I’m an idiot in Latin?

We get back to the cars I fill up with water and calories and eat an entire cliff bar (300 calories).  I start to feel just fine.  I’m pedalling fine.  I’m keeping to the flats.  No more climbing.  But I’m feeling just fine.  Same coach comes by and tells me my focus is on digestion and to keep my heart rate low enough to digest the calories.  Yes sir.    I pedal nice and easy and start to feel better and better.  I suck down more calories in a drink.  I feel even better.  I’m absolutely kicking myself.  Practice caloric reduction outside of practice not during.  Yutz, Yutz, Yutz.  (Ooops I think those are potato chips.)

My last hour I am riding my strongest of the entire weekend.  I feel I have some strength.  My head is clear.   I have some numbness in my feet but that’s okay.  My bike is still humming along.  I’m feeling just fine and to think all it took was a big cookie…  Lesson learned the hard way. 

I will keep exploring breakfast options.  I’m also going to talk to my doctor about skipping the heavy iron right before a big training day as it makes it really hard for me to get solid food down.

I’m going to find something tasty and not green for a morning protein shake.  That Vegan powder thing was gross.

I’m going to incorporate some more solid food into my calories.  I used use Infinite exclusively but I think now I need to explore some different options.  We don’t just stay the same, that’s why we need options A, B and C. 

I’m going to go back to consuming 350 calories an hour for training sessions greater than 3 hours.  Under 3 hours I can go lighter and eat afterwards.  For these long weekends I will eat.



Not loving this picture but I do like the tires my friend D&G gave me for my birthday  two years ago that I finally put on Tina!!

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