Thursday, March 8

The Leadville Chronicles: The Need for Speed

Part IV

It's all about the buckle.

9 hours or less for the big one, 12 or less for the little one...little. Not so little, but not as big. BIG buckle is the goal.

The effort between the two is significant when you are not a professional racer. Between an 8.3 mph average and an 11.1 mph average over 100 miles with thousands upon thousands of feet of climbing is the difference of small (as the passenger-side door on a Honda Accord) and big (passenger-side door on a battleship).

Would it be worth it to expire Casey Jones-like in downtown Leadville on a late summer afternoon just to get to take home a battleship-door-sized belt buckle? Probably not. Likely? Most.

I've never been concerned with speed. Okay, okay...I KNOW! I know I go on about my average speeds all the time. Ramming Speed Fridays are ALL ABOUT speed. But my speeds are really not significant in the whole scheme of things. I feel pretty slow compared to most jersey-clad cyclists I see on the road. Just because I occasionally drop one, while on the Cannonball, out of fear of shame upon the MUP does not mean I am concerned with speed. Just because I brag of nicking 50 mph coming down Mount Vernon Canyon does not mean I care a whit about speed.

I'm a slow climber. That's a fact. However, I'm a rocket on descents. I proved this to myself early on during the 2009 Triple Bypass. From Bergen Park all the way to Juniper Pass I was more generally passed by others than I passed. But from Juniper Pass all the way into Idaho Springs my fellow riders were a blur as I screamed past; blowing almost everyone else's doors off; including a SAG Hummer H2. I attribute it all to stress-related weight gain. I'm not svelt in my lycra, noooo...I stretch the material to its ultimate limit. You can see skin between the strained fibers.

On long rides with significant elevation gain and loss I count on boosting my average speed on the descents. I rely on that tactic like a babe relies on its mother's mike for sustenance. And I crave the descent. In my mind, a long grueling climb is always worth it if there's a bomb-run descent on the other side, or if I can turn around and blast down the path I just crawled up to reach my apex.

For Leadville I realize I need to improve my climbing. I need to be able to maintain a steady, and elevated average speed even as I climb. The descents alone won't pad my average. I can't count on being able to maximize my downhill speeds in a crowd of other riders or on the technical Powerline, or coming back down from Columbine Mine. I've got to train to maintain. And I've got to maintain 11.1+ mph for just shy of 9 hours over torturous terrain in any conditions.

I know I'm smart enough to figure out this equation. What I need are some practice problems after doing the leg work to get to that level. Kingston Peak. Evans. At a Leadville Big Buckle pace...

No comments:

Post a Comment