As the evening air now has a hint of crispness, the mornings have more than a hint of darkness. This morning they sky had and abundance of God's light diffuser and the sun was coming up later than yesterday. This is a pattern than has been repeating since late June. It was time to start my morning commutes with the aid of my headlight.With Cyclocross season just around a loose gravel corner, I am doing intervals and increasing my intensity in general. As McWoodie says, "every ride now is either a recovery ride, or a hard ride." With intervals you are generally either going hard or recovering from the hard effort and
As I careen down the back streets of Snohomish county on my way to work I am a plethora of rolling contradictions. I have bike bags full of clothes and my lunch (and sometimes my computer), yet I am speeding along at full gas somewhere between twenty-five and thirty miles an hour. I have on a team kit, yet there is what appears to be a miner's headlamp on my helmet. My loaded bike looks like I am a refugee, yet I am pedaling like I am being chased by the police. Am I a commuter or a racer? Yep, it's Evo rolling down the street. Then when I have completed my duties in the pain cave, I roll along slowly like a beaten warrior. I get passed by another bike commuter whom I flew past a week ago. Perplexities abound.
My preparations for Cyclocross seem to be going well. How do I know you ask? After our Sunday morning throw down, I hurt everywhere. I see my statement has flummoxed you. Allow me to explain. In kind of the same way much of Christianity has the apparently contradictory view that God I everywhere, and nowhere at the same time (If God is everywhere..is he in my diet coke, and thus did I just take communion when I gulped a swig?) so too is my pain. If I hurt somewhere; my lower back, my hamstrings, or my quads, then I have a weakness I need to address. If I hurt everywhere with the same level of discomfort, then my training is going just fine.
Here is how it went down Sunday: Ten of us rolled out and we were a dozen strong when we arrived on Mercer Island. My goal was to make it to the climb with the lead group. We paused and shed arm warmers and with little more than a wink and a nod, it was on.
John was off the front from the start but was soft pedaling and soon we were in formation. McWoodie would have none of it and pressed on the uphill. I was purposely positioned near the front and I held Big John's wheel like it was my precious. I held my spot and we climbed at a ferocious pace. I worked on my circular pedal stroke and breathed deep.
By the time we finished the initial climb our group was down from twelve to eight. We rotated through once and after McWoodie's second pull It was John's turn for pull number two and he attacked out of the saddle. I was on his wheel so I jumped out of the saddle and chased. I closed the gap and a minute later the lead group was only four and Evo was still in the mix. I looked at my computer and we were going fifty kilometers and hour. John and McWoodie traded pulls and Michael and I just hung on.
As we approached the climb I was sitting second wheel to John. McWoodie came around and Michael moved up on the right. Without a word, wink, or nod we were sprinting to the top of the hill. This hill was my goal and I cranked and got a gap. My quads were screaming but I was faking deafness and drove to the top.
I waved as the charging trio shot past and I soft pedaled as my heart rate dropped back to a number that would allow normal vision.
On the return Matthew and I were leading a double pace line as Hank asked us not to pull off, so we brought the group back almost the whole way. I did dig once again on the final climb and when I reached the top my legs were quivering. My work was done. How spent were we? On the I-90 bridge nobody attacked, we just cruised to the lid.
Every year about this time, I think I have mastered the magic formula and I set my Cyclocross expectations nice and high, only to be humbled in the first race.
That is all I'm going to say about that...