Sunday, January 24, 2010

Living After Midnight

Well, not too long I posted about "Life at 26 Degrees", so today's post is about - Living After Midnight. Night riding is a big part of RAAM. No kidding. Sure, it's in June, and I will *probably* sleep through part of the dark hours - but being able to ride around the clock is what it's all about.

The Sebring 24 - coming in three weeks! - is going to be a good test. Last night's training ride was all about Sebring, really - about checking the systems that I'll need to depend on to get a good result there. Although things didn't go quite as planned, I got what I needed out of the ride, so I'm chalking it up in the "win" column.

First - lights. Wow. Overperformed. Conditions were half-moon, light, slinky overcast that came and went. I used the MiNewt on the low setting most of the time and I got nearly 5 laps of the (15-mile Coburg TT) test course before swapping out the battery pack. The Petzl headlamp was a good addition, especially in the corners. Thanks to the generosity of friends who are loaning spare MiNewt batteries - Mark and Mark - I'll have the luxury of running high beams all night, which is good - Sebring will have no moon at all.

Second - music. Rocks. I set the iPod to shuffle everything that was in there, including for some weird reason "Music Box Dancer". My guess is that it was left on the system by the previous owner of my computer, and it got imported when I sync'd for the first time. Oddly, "Music Box Dancer" is pretty decent cycling music - bops right along. I can fantasize (hallucinate?) that I'm being chased down by the ice cream truck....but mainly it was good old hard rock like the video selection below.

Exercise physiologists and armchair quarterbacks (hey - would a recumbent bike coach be an armchair quarterback?)  - here's an interesting anecdotal piece of info: when I had a (positive) emotional reaction to the music being played, there was an increase in apparent power and an objective increase in total output/speed. My subjective sense is that hamstring action was a disproportionate part of the increase. Does this make sense? Does muscle fiber type factor in to sympathetic nervous system response? Or am I just closer to redline on the quads, so the hams have more to give?

Third - Nutrition - also very good. On Friday, I schooled Dave Seybert on the evils of sports drink marketing - Sandy's stock lecture on "Why the heck would I care how long it takes a trained male cyclist to bonk after having ONE serving of Magic Drink and then starving himself while he cranks out watts?" Dave mentioned that he tends to the old school TDF ham-and-jelly sandwich trick, and when I was grocery shopping on Saturday after work, that sounded oddly appealing. I updated the recipe a little bit: Black Forest ham, cherry preserves, Nancy's Cultured cream cheese, and a few shavings of goat cheddar - because I thought that sounded interesting and yummy. Instead of normal bread, I put them on these, which I think are going to be the bomb for RAAM:

Just the right size for a "hand-me-a" sandwich, not too floppy, and they don't get soggy. Yummy! I was also going through espresso-spiked soymilk and Honey Stinger protein bars (half at a time, please! They make half-sized ones and I may have to get some). Started Red Bull therapy at midnight - yep, that system still works, too.

Dressed well for the temps - possibly a little overdressed, though the back side of the loop felt several degrees cooler. Lena Caton had warned  me about falling temps - John had just come in pretty cold from his long ride when I was getting ready to leave.

I parked at the school - my usual place - because the lighting there is really good. I was a little worried that the local authorities might wonder what I was up to, but I wasn't bothered.

Night life abounded - skunks, raccoons, slithery things in ditches. And SHEEP. Who let the sheep out? They looked like aliens on the road. Sheep eyes glow green in headlights - but dimly. Probably a measure of the underlying mental activity...literally a dim bulb. That sat me up, for sure.

Got a flat tire on the 6th loop. Didn't think much of it, found the shard of rock and replaced the tube. My current pump is losing its oomph and I should get something more substantial (perhaps a Topeak Road Morph) before Sebring, so since it was slightly shorter to return counterclockwise, that's what did. I was able to get something like 50 psi into the tire - enough to live on, but no reason to do so longer than I had to. Limped back and refilled the tire, pushed in another half Stinger, and off I went. I KNOW I only put the tire to 100 psi, but I wasn't more than a few miles down the road when I heard a BANG! and the back was flat again. Okay, last tube...I knew from the sound that I wasn't going to have to do any head-scratching about what had happened, and I was right: the tire had blown out, right through the center of the tread. Crap. Crap. Crap. Booted that with a tire patch, put the last tube in, blew it back up to 50 psi....

I decided to call it a day there. I was able to test what I needed to, felt good, and I knew that at some point the rain would be coming in (don't know when it arrived but it was definitely here when I got up at 6AM to let Cog out).

So - I get to make up the difference, metabolically, at the gym today. And I had the last ham sandwich for breakfast.

Exciting future developments: (1) The web poll closes on 1/31. Currently it's a runaway for the RAO jersey.
(2) Next Saturday, I'm watching Bicycle Dreams with some of my RAAM crew and riding buddies. I'll post a review here as soon as I can. (3) Also on Saturday I'm hoping to roll out proofs of the team jersey and hat designs.

1 comment:

  1. Night riding is almost as much a psychological training experience as it is physical. I'm stuck here in Chicago and would have to drive 45 miles just to keep from being run over by a bus. Especially in the Winter. So I typically train indoors all winter.

    To keep all the balls in the air I juggle work, family, training. These weeks I'm training two hours every morning on Tues, Wed and Thursday. Then, on Thursday night I get home from work around 11pm and go down to the basement to train from midnight til .. 6 - 7am, as much as I can bear. On the weekend I put in another 3 -5 hours in the basement on the Trainer.

    Extending my Thursday til Friday morning around 8am means that I train twice, once during the night, pushing the sleep deficit monster.

    Immensely boring. Probably the biggest limiting factor for me. Though I do listen to my iPod with killing `house' music.

    And we call this a `hobby?'

    - Dan