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Monday, September 12, 2011

Changhua County (100k)

This long weekend could have seen more riding. Instead of riding I spent some time with friends and family.

That isn't to say I didn't get a ride in.

Saturday morning I decided to put in 100k over Bagua Shan and around Changhua to get a sense of how my legs are feeling at the over 50k mark. I've been pretty consistent with my Wednesday 50k TT with averages around 31-32kph for a night course with traffic and lights.

A 50k route is different than a 100k or 160k, and they all require a specific ride plan depending upon your fitness and your goals.

My ride on Saturday lacks the usual pictures as it was hazy and I was busy riding or suffering in the furnace of the Changhua Plain.

I had a few things going against me. The first is that I had lost a lot of sleep with imaginary conversations and concerns from work filling my head to the point of getting only two hours of real sleep each night. Rest is one of the most important factors directly correlating to physical performance. Sadly, it is often the most neglected.

The second issue was the heat. I awoke at 6:00am to suit up and get out the door, but I collapsed in bed again to catch an extra hour. By the time I got out the door I didn't stand a chance. I had forgotten the sunscreen again and made a quick pit-stop at Fen Yuan to baste myself in enough white fluid that I may have been mistaken for the star of a Japanese movie.

The climb up Bagua Shan has a few sections at 10%, but it quickly comes to an end at the Route 139 along the ridge of the mountain. Bagua Shan is tricky because it seems flat, but when you check the Garmin you find that you're pushing a 7% incline. You can quickly wear yourself out. Lots of little rollers to keep busy on.

As I approached the final two kilometers before the descent into Song-bo Ling, I meekly passed a couple of hard looking guys kitted out in fan jerseys. From the looks of things it was Alberto Contador from Saxxo Bank and his minion.

I politely nodded and gave a polite "Good morning!" in Taiwanese, and then I continued at a pretty hot pace around 40kph. As I looked back, I noticed I had a wheelsucker. Mr. Saxxo Bank on his matching Specialized Tarmac was enjoying my draft. Game on!

I kept at it while Mr. Saxxo Bank abandoned his riding buddy to chase me down.

As we got to the hump just before the big drop, he made his move and put four or five bike lengths into me just up to the base of the hill. I then did the same to him on the climb until my cleat popped out. He passed and then I edged him out over the hill before gaining speed for the descent.

A real key to descents and road riding in general is to train yourself to look where you want to end up. Focus on the open spots and the bike will follow. As human beings we are hardwired to focus on objects, but in cycling this often leads to disaster. You gotta look where they ain't.

By the time I finished my descent, I was very much alone again and my scrimmage was over.

The plunge out of the tea district of Song-bo Ling to Er Shui is an absolute rush. I hit 67kph and could have gone faster if the traffic hadn't stopped up on the straightaway. Then the knee ache started in.

I tried to cool it and stretch it. It isn't as bad as before, but annoying.

This led to a final 50k that could only be described as a series of fits and starts. Bursts of speed combined with bursts of .... non-speed. I got a little lost and had to slowly assess my situation, but nothing serious.

The heat was just getting unbearable. A final popsicle provided the fuel I needed to make it home.

It was really a rough day on the bike, but as always... a good day on the bike.