Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Last Days in Florida...

My last days in Florida were quite hectic...    Here's how it went down...

Thursday was in fact a brutal day.  It was a long day of much physical labor and we worked from 7am till 8pm.  Once that wrapped up I spent the evening organizing all the stuff I'd brought with me so that I only had to handle one suitcase on the trip north. 

The next morning I was up early and orchestrating the dance to get the car loaded.  The hotel I was staying at charges 30 dollars a day for parking.  However since I've worked at this hotel for over ten years I know where the secret staff parking lot is.  So I parked my car there for the week for free.  : )  A quick call to the Bell desk has my things headed down toward the valet line while I go and fetch my car from its hiding place.

With that done it was time to head to the beach and get an open water swim in...  or so I thought!

I drove north to West Palm Beach where I'd swam last time as it was a great spot, has a nice level area thats only 8' deep not too far from shore and has lifeguards.  Perfect spot for an open water swim by yourself.  However once again the dreaded double purple/yellow flags were out.  For "Dangerous Wildlife" and "Dangerous Surf / Rip Currents".  UGH!  And since it was too early for lifeguards to be around I decided better safe than sorry and proceeded to drive further north up the coast.  I figured I had to head north anyway right? 

Once the odometer I'd set at my hotel read 30 miles I parked the car.  Turns out I was now in the Palm Beach area.  With the car parked I looked over to the lifeguard towers here and they had the double red flag out.  Which basically means no swimming allowed.  Great!  So onto the bike it is.

Weather was perfect temperature wise at around 72 degrees, however there was a serious crosswind coming in off the ocean at a steady 15-20mph.  Fun!  Especially with a deep rim front wheel.  Good practice right?  So off I went.  A lot of A1A is sheltered enough that the crosswinds were milder in some places.  I don't think they ever went away.  My plan was to ride thirty miles back the way I'd just driven, turn around and come back.  Turns out the crosswind on the way out felt more like a cross/slight tailwind, and on the way back was very much a cross/headwind.  There were several times I'd notice on the way out when I was effortlessly cruising at 22mph at 100-120watts.  Definite tailwind action there!

The way out went by nice and quickly.  I was having a blast out there, the weather was perfect, traffic was light and I was grooving a nice pace.  The crosswind made it fun and kept me on my toes too.  Once I hit the turnaround point the way back was a lot more interesting.  The way back had the headwind to deal with so I was working alot harder to maintain the same speed.  I pushed myself to go hard and not let up and try and maintain a 20mph average for the ride.  Interestingly if you compare the way out to the way back my average wattage on the way back was 40 watts higher than on the way out for the same distance.  But thats what it took to hold the average speed I wanted.

Now the interesting thing about rides like this is that now I have to think about power strategies in this situation.  If I was faced with this course as race...   would I ride it like I did focusing on speed?  or rather use the data from this ride to interpolate an average wattage as a goal and work harder on the way out, and less hard on the way back into the wind ending up at the same average power.  I'm guessing thats the better strategy... but I'm still reading and learning about power and figuring it out as I go.  I am enjoying having that data to look at though.

So on the way back the other interesting thing that happened is that I almost went right over the top of a convertible.  Some beach goers in a volvo convertible pulled out of a parking lot without looking and then when they saw me crusing right at them promptly stopped.  So I jammed on my brakes and prayed.  Couldn't swing into traffic as there was a car there....  so I just started braking and cursing.  Pretty sure the kids in the back seat learned some new words that day.  Mom look FREAKED that I was going to crash right into the side of her car.  Hec I was freaked too!  Luckily enough I stopped just a few inches shy of their door despite losing traction and my wheels sliding.  I even managed to clip out.  Definitely a little scary!

So here's a pic taken along the route.  Note the crosswinds in the palm trees.

So after my ride (which I did 60 miles right at 3 hours which was perfect) I thought I would go for a quick dip in the ocean to cool off.  Hmmm...   still the red flag saying no swimming.  Damn.  So I packed up the bike in the car and got changed into shorts.  In the time it took me to do that they went back to the yellow/purple flags again.  Sweet!  At least I can go for a quick dip to cool off / clean off before starting the long drive north.

Apparently here's what all the fuss was about.
The dreaded Man-O-War jellyfish!  So despite their presence swimming is allowed at your own risk.  So I decided rather than sit in the car for hours driving covered in sweat, I'd go for a quick dip despite the flags.  I did however decide not to do my open water swim in those conditions.  Plus at this beach you apparently can't go far when the lifeguards are around.

After a quick dip I called the girl and stood across the street from my car which was parked at a meter figuring I would stand in the sun and dry off for a minute.  In that amount of time a meter maid started to write me a ticket.  I ran across the street yelling I'm right here!  I'm leaving!  But that didn't stop them.  So my ride cost me the 20 dollars I already fed into the meter for 4 hours of parking, plus a 35 dollar ticket.  UGH!  that sucked.

So at that point I started the long drive north.  To make a long story short I drove for 8 hours on Friday and 16 on Saturday so I could get home to be with the girl.  Sunday we swam together and I had an awesome 2250 yard swim workout, spent the afternoon with the girl painting and prepping her appartment for me to move in shortly, and then passed out exhausted.  Monday ended up being a chaotic, but much needed off day.

Next up...   could it be?  A Tri Tuesday?  at Home!  NO WAY! 

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