Monday, December 22, 2008

Cold ride, short run

Saturday I met the Team at the Orinda BART station for an anticipated 3 Bears ride. It was very cold and I was nervous about the hills. And nervous about the cold; it was below freezing and there was ice on the roads. When I was offered a chance to take an alternate route which also included hills I jumped on it.

There were only 6 people in our group, a very nice size for a ride. We headed in the opposite direction of the Bears, toward the hills between Orinda and Oakland. I had last ridden that route (from the other direction) more than 10 years ago and all I remembered was it was very tough. We rode down Moraga Road and within minutes my toes and fingers were numb. We paused a couple of times to regroup since we didn't all ride the same speed. Then we turned onto Canyon and went up toward Pinehurst.

This was the route where we did hill repeats and the ride portion of our bricks during tri training. I was wondering how I would do without the run portion, without the back pain, with the new bike. I was at the top of the first hill before I realized it was much easier than it was a couple months ago. Although I was in my lowest gear I was still able to spin at a good cadence. Then we got to Pinehurst and oy, it was as tough as I remembered.

Because I'd been flexing them my fingers felt ok but I still couldn't feel my toes. The cold was causing my eyes to drip as badly as if I had been crying. I had to blink rapidly to be able to see the pavement at all. I ran out of gears right at the bottom of the hill and had to watch out for the icy patches on the road; anything wet in the shade was suspect.

It was nowhere near as hard as the Bears but it wasn't a piece of cake either. The climb was shorter and had less of a grade but I was in my last gear and working hard. I got slower and slower and finally -- finally - made it to the top. We stopped there for a breather and to regroup. Then it was time to go down toward Redwood Road.

That was very unnerving. The ice, remember? And the whole feel-like-a-weenie-descending on the new light bike. The road had some twists and turns and switch-backs and don't forget the ice. Scary. I was a little freaked out by the time I reached the bottom and faced the reality that I had to go back up again.

The climb wasn't that bad, although I think it was steeper than the climb in other direction. At least I could give my hands a break and didn't have to squeeze the brakes for dear life. We regrouped again at the top and then uh-oh, time to descend again.

This was just as scary to me as the other descent: icy, twisty, fast and bouncy. I was glad to reach the spot where I knew it was a straight, although very fast, road. I went faster there than anywhere else during the ride but it was still only mid-20s where I had gone in the mid-30s on the other bike. Yeah, I really need to get used to this light-as-a-feather bike.

The rest of the ride was very uneventful except that my breathing got bad. It wasn't deep asthma but I still couldn't get a good breath. I'm sure it was the cold and the tree pollens being sucked into my lungs while I was gasping on the uphills. I was thrilled to finally pull back into the parking lot and put on warmer clothes, pull on my new fuzzy boots, anticipate feeling my toes again.

why yes, it was hilly

I was happy going a different route than the 3 Bears even if it was an easier ride and maybe not as good training. It was very close to the same distance but much less climbing. If I had done the Bears my lungs would my given it up just about the middle of Papa and it would have been very uncomfortable. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with that. There will be plenty of hills as we proceed with training.

I need to mention that despite the freezing cold and the bad breathing I enjoyed the ride, enjoyed our group, enjoyed the scenery and the company and the working hard and the pay-off at the tops (and bottoms) of the hills. I'm remembering how much I used to like to ride. It's not running, but it's still fun.

I had planned to run 8 miles on Sunday; I haven't run more than 6 miles since my wipe-out at the 18 miler. But my lungs weren't feeling much better and it was still hard to get a deep breath. I was just Anita and I, and after running less than a mile we started walking. We turned around after 2 miles and since it was down-grade I figured it would be easier to run. We ran a mile, (an amazingly fast mile), then walked and ran the remainder. I wasn't happy to only go 4 miles but I don't need to push the running when I don't feel well. I need to schedule a running race soon, otherwise I'll keep telling myself that!

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