Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time to Get Aero

Today was a great training day.  It was also generally a lot better day than yesterday was.  Yesterday was a bit of a mess.  Not a great work day as I had to deal with some work issues and cancellations (Ugh!) and I was just feeling a little down in general.  In the end I decided not to go down to Narragansett for the swim.  My head just wasn't in it and my energy was too low to be out in the ocean.  So instead I took the day off.  However I did get up to some tri related fun.  I went to see Sean at Providence Bicycle yesterday to get some new toys for my bike.  For a while I was going back and forth as to whether or not it was worth buying clip on aero bars for my bike.  But after three straight weeks in the TT of having the same time again and again I decided it was time to do something about it.  Hopefully having the bars on my bike will allow me to get through the descents on the course just a little bit faster.  The other reason of course was for the FIRM 70.3.  Being more aero means less wind resistance which means less effort required to go the same distance at the same pace which means fresher legs on the run.  Granted aero bars aren't going to work miracles but this is about adding up lots of little time bonuses through a variety of methods.  Its also going to give me another position to put my body in during the long ride so I'm not stuck on the hoods for three hours.  The other thing I bought was a rear bottle cage system.  For now this is temporarily mounted to my road bike.  However as soon as I get a tri bike this offseason it will be moved to that.  My plan is to keep aquiring things I'm going to need for my tri bike so I'm not faced with buying the bike AND all the accessories I'll need at the same time pushing the price up considerably.  So here's what Dale looks like with the new additions....

The bottle cage inside the frame will only be there for long training rides in the heat when carrying three bottles is nice, otherwise I'll take it off.

So now I've got aerobars on the bike I need to try them out!  I was orginally planning on riding the FIRM bike course today, but Sean invited me along on a ride with he and Jill in Westport and I'll always ride with other people given the choice.  So this morning I was up at the crack of dawn and in the water at GVP with Luis at 545am for the mile out and back swim to the dock.  I was tight on time so I only did 1.1 miles today, figuring I'll do the 1.5 mile swim again on Friday.  Highlights of the swim were that on the way back I tried to stay really close to Luis and swim directly at his side for the whole way back.  For a long time we maintained this other than a brief spot in the middle when I lost him.  I think I've watched too many Total Immersion videos of people swimming in formation.  But it was fun and kept my mind occupied on the swim back to the beach.  I bolted from GVP and ran home to take a quick shower and grab my bike and then I was out the door again.

The plan for the day was to ride between 50-60 miles at around a 17-18mph pace for a nice steady effort.  In the end we got pretty lucky as the weather pretty much held out for us.  We rode through a few sprinkles, and a brief rain shower but it really wasn't that bad.  However the moments the sun came out were brutal, hot, humid, and gross.  Anyway...   Right out of the gate I let Sean and Jill head out first as I wanted to bring up the rear so I could mess around with the aerobars and get used to reaching for bottles in a new position without worrying about annoying anyone riding behind me.  So right away I got into the aerobars and started riding.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much in control of the bike I felt.  I was anticipating it being much harder than it was.  In fact I felt pretty comfortable right away.  So much so I spent about 85-90% of the 60 mile ride in the aero position which was awesome.  In fact I found it more comfortable than riding on the hoods.  My neck will need some time to get used to it but my back and legs felt better I think than riding in the traditional road postion.  There were a few moments when I got a little squirelly such as when reaching for bottles and leaving one arm in the aero bars or when I was swerving around potholes and things but it never got hairy.  And those moments will be gone quickly.  It wasn't long into the ride that I was comfortable enough to get into the aero position and ride in any of the front, middle, or rear positions of our group.  I was very very pleased with how my first day with them went so that was great.

What I was not pleased with was the jackass in the Jeep!  We spent our time riding a mix of a tight paceline and also leaving about 10-15' between all of us.  At this point in the ride we were coming into a small town and we were in a fairly tight line.  Sean was in front, I was in the middle, and Jill was in the rear.  This idiot in the Jeep who is coming up the road towards us on our left suddenly turns left into a parking lot directly in front of our path.  However something causes him to stop half in the road, and half in the parking lot.  Essentially he not only cut us off, but he's now stopped sideways directly in front of three riders, all in a tight line, all in the aero position.  It happened REALLY REALLY fast!  Sean broke left and managed to just get around the Jeep.  Jill also broke left and got around him.  In the split second I had to react I looked left and I knew if I went left I was either going to collide with Sean or Jill.  But I knew I had to go right.  Except there was nowhere to go to the right except into the side of the Jeep or a curb too tall to get over.  So I grabbed both brakes and prayed pretty much.  I really thought I was going into the side of this guy.  I tried to not lock the brakes up but since it had been sprinkling rain for the last hour my tires started to slip on the road.  I pretty much just unclipped my right foot and braced for impact.  I was pretty fricking shocked to realize I managed to stop just a few inches shy of colliding into his door.  I was in such shock I didn't even yell anything good at the driver who was now looking right at me through the passenger side window.  I just clipped back in and rode around him.  That was close!  Lets not do that again!

Other than that it was a great ride.  I'm really pleased with how it felt in the aerobars and I also really liked having bottles behind the seat.  I found reaching for them and returning them to be much easier and much more comfortable.  Plus that setup is a lot more flexible in terms of allowing me to add various accessories and expand the amount of stuff I can carry on a really long ride.

In the end we rode 60 miles exactly in pretty much 3.5 hours exactly at around a 17.5mph average.  I think something just a little faster than that will be my perfect half iron pace that will still leave me feeling plenty strong on the run.  Speaking of which when we finished the ride we added Sean's girlfriend Jen to the group and then all went out on a quick three mile run.  Which was HOT and HUMID! as the sun had come out again.  But was nice as we all got a chance to chat a bit more than on the bike.

All in all a great training day.  After that I went home and got to work, ran a few errands and then made a huge 1300 calorie dinner of brown rice, unprocessed organic, hormone free chicken sausage, cranberries, and a little sesame oil.  It was AWESOME!  Definitely hit the spot.  And now that I'm done writing this I'm about ready to pass out and crawl into bed even though its only 8PM.  Tomorrow I have to be back up at 445am to swim at GVP at 6 followed by a 13 mile run and a busy work day.  Lots to do!

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