Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Old School

Today’s early morning workout had me on the spin bike, alone, in a dark room. I took a visit to the pain cave this morning. After a brief warmup ~ 5 minutes or so, I started cranking up the flywheel resistance on the bike. About every 30 seconds I would increase the resistance about 1/4 of a turn of the resistance adjustment knob. I did that routine over the course of 6 minutes. Essentially, I did a hill workout with no rests and a constantly increasing grade. By the end of the 6 minutes, I could barely turn the cranks because the tension was so damn high and my quads were burning.

I followed that fun little exercise with a series of 30-second sprints, with 30-second rests in between sprints. Again, I would increase the tension slightly with every sprint, and then back it off for the rests. After a long rest period of about 5 minutes, I did another sprint session, only this time, I did each sprint at a high tension. This particular type of exercise is fairly close to what I would experience on a mountain bike on a typical ride. Unlike road biking, where there is a propensity to get into a gear set and crank away at a constant rpm for a long period of time, mountain biking is alot more dynamic. The trails are rarely long, flat and straight – they undulate, they twist, they turn, and therefore mountain biking requires alot of quick, explosive bursts of energy to crank up a small incline, or sprint out of a corner. Since 99% of all the riding I do now is on a mountain bike, it doesnt make any sense for me to do alot of time trailing exercises, but I throw them in anyway, and that’s how I ended my routine this morning. I got the tension on the bike to a point where my heart rate was in the mid to upper 150’s, and just cranked away at a high rpm for about 3 or 4 minutes, adjusting the tension in minor adjustments to keep my HR steady, and then I cooled down for another 3 minutes or so. I logged about 45 minutes this morning.

I *might* give a short run a try tonight.. The strained oblique is feeling much better. I was thinking about joining the Delco RRC crew over at Swarthmore for the Wednesday night run, and humping out the 3.5 mile course.

Looking back on Sunday’s race, I take away one really good memory from the day’s events. The race definitely had an old-school vibe to it. I am talking about a period of time, about eight years ago or so, where there was a group of us racing mountain bikes all over the place. We raced at some really cool places – University of Massachusetts, Univ of Vermont, Penn State, Bucknell…. And after college, most of that same group raced a local race series. At the time, we were riding under the sponsorship of a local shop in Narbeth – Mainly Bikes. And if we weren’t racing, we were riding. When I was still in school, there we weekend rides where there would be close to 15 of us out on the trail. I remember Thursday night rides at Valley Forge, where we would have a consistent contingent of riders – guys like Matt Shafer, Jay Hall…. I remember when Schoutens and I started the team in 1996 and there were only six of us filling the ranks. And the best part: we never took ourselves seriously. It was all about riding, having fun, f*cking around, busting b@lls

Sunday’s race had a lot of those same vibes. We had the race compound set up in the parking lot and there here was plenty of sh*t talking leading up to the race, and a lot of ball-busting before, during and after the race.

I am lucky in the fact that a group of us have managed to keep that vibe going to a certain extent. Me, Dom, Lou and now Mike – we all do MTB rides (and road rides) fairly regularly and we still keep that “have fun” attitude. And I remember a point in time, not all that long ago, when we were all on top of our game. We were all greasy fast, and some of our rides were an all-out hammerfest. But even on those suffer-fest rides, we were still having fun and breaking each other’s stones. And, after every ride, one of us (usually me) would write a race report, and those “reports” were nothing more than a cheap way to break some balls even after the ride was over…

This Sunday, Schoutens is making a return to the States, and we’re going to get the group together (minus Dom) for an old school ride. We got Schoutens hooked up with Lou’s old Trek FS; Matt is coming down from upstate, and we’re going to meet at our old stomping grounds at Valley Forge. For as many years as we called “The Wiss” home, Valley Forge has become our home field for the past couple of years. We know every inch of that park. You could probably blind-fold me and I could ride just about every bump, every route, every turn without breaking a sweat.

And you have to pay it forward. Its the reason why I try to go to some of Lou’s races even when I am not racing. Although we’re no longer on a team together, guys like Lou, Schoutens, Shafer, Dom, Zajac, Jay Hall, Danny H, Joey K – they will always be my teammates. We’ll always be the *DFTC or the Mainly Bikes crew. Even Mike – although he’s relatively “new” to the crew, he’s part of the crew.

The last time Schoutens came to town over the winter, I was without a set of wheels. My bike was on an extended stay at the shop getting the rear shock replaced. I still came to the ride, but I ran the trails while those clowns rode. I managed to hang them, oddly enough, over the first two miles of the trails, only because it was hilly, and I could run up some of the hills just as fast as those clowns could ride them. But, as soon as we hit the singletrack, they were gone, and I ran out the last section of trails alone. It will be nice to actually join them on the ride. The mountain bike is in good shape –the shock is new, the bottom bracket was just replaced, and I spent a fair amount of time on Monday giving the bike a general looking over – adjust the brakes, adjusted the shifting – the usual stuff. I am not sure how much riding Schoutens has been doing over in Switzerland, but I dont think its very much, so I would be surprised if this thing turned into a hammerfest, although with this crew, anything is possible.

FYI creepy staring dude is sitting about ten rows ahead of me. He sits at the end of the car, in the seat that is in the opposite direction of everyone else. He just sits there and stares like a wooden Indian. Really creepy. Tomorrow, I will tell you about alligator boy at the gym….

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