Sunday, January 29, 2012

Some things are better not knowing

I went into the office to work several hours on Saturday, giving the ice on roads some time to burn off. Feeling somewhat rested, having taken it easy the previous two days, I felt the need for some hills. In the afternoon, I headed up to the Uncanoonucs by Manchester, NH for some hill play. There are several great climbs there, ranging from 500-800ft, including Chestnut Hill, Mountain Rd and Summit Rd. I hit all of them, Summit twice. I have some decent history on Summit Rd, which rises some 500ft in about a mile. It was time for a fitness check.
After a solid 45 minute warmup getting there, I gave Summit Rd a go. My PR is 5:40, an estimated 430-440 Watts average effort. I did a 6:03 climb with a PowerTap once and recorded 417W. I had the same bike used in those efforts.

I went out like usual from the bottom. About 90 seconds into it, I found myself in a spot of trouble. I hit deflection. Ugh. The steep 15-20% grade sections pushed my speed down to 6mph. I normally hold at least 8mph on these bits in a good climb.

I reached the end of the pavement, and thus the summit, in 6:45. Major disappointment.  Now some will say it's only January, so why worry? Well, you don't make up a 19% deficit in two months. Or even four. It just doesn't work like that. Time to invest in a PowerTap, me thinks. I haven't trained with one in a few years now. I need to recalibrate perceived effort to reality. A power meter is the best tool for this. Plus, the newer PowerTap models barely have a weight penalty, don't needed any messy wires or sensors, and work with both GPS's I own.

I went on to pummel myself up Mountain Rd (12 minutes), Summit Rd a second time (7:30min) and back side of Chestnut Hill (6min). A gorgeous afternoon to be on the road and a solid workout despite disappointing feedback.

After turning my legs into minced meat on the bike, the pummelling continued in the mountains on skis. Dave and I headed up to Waterville Valley on Sunday. Conditions were suspect after the warm temps and rain earlier in the week. But trail passes were being offered at nearly half price (to astute Director's Diary readers), so you can't turn that down.

What we found was additional opened terrain, moderate temps and magical sugar granular that you might get only once a season. It was FAST with good control. We did the usual warmup with a couple laps around Moose Run, then climbed Upper Osceola, then hit the 800ft Tripoli climb. No intervals today, and at a non-strenuous pace, we climbed Tripoli two minutes faster than last week when we hammered. The descent was ridiculously scary fast. Having taken a serious header on this descent in the past, my brakes came on big time. Still got down in record time. That was so much fun, Dave and I did Tripoli a second time.

We crossed over to the Livermore side. Cascade was now open as an out and back to nearly the summit. Awesome. Only problem, having skied two hours with a slow-twitch freak like Dave, who was just getting warmed up, meant bonk time. I hadn't eaten or drank much. I bonked spectacularly on Cascade. Hallucinogenic bonk. Trembling legs bonk. Blurry vision bonk. It was awful. Dave was probably getting cold by the time I made it to the top. I wolfed down a granola bar and inhaled about half a Camelbak's worth of Gatorade. I was hoping in the next 15 minutes of descending, some of that sugar would hit my blood stream and turn my brain back on.

The descent make the bonk worth it. We cruised 15-20mph much of the way down on the slight grade Livermore Rd is. Made you feel like a superhero. I was somewhat rejuvenated upon reaching the bottom. Good thing. We still had one more climb to go, to the top of Upper Snows, which also just opened this weekend. The bonk was gone, but now general fatigue was setting in. I'll take fatigue over bonk any day. There were a few rocks poking through near the top, but no big deal. Other than that, everything else we skied was fully covered.

A little loop at the bottom insured we broke 50km for the day.  Saw many familiar faces on the trails. All smiles and amazement at how good the conditions were. And I almost abandoned skiing this weekend.  We finished with 50.5km, 3600ft of climbing, in 3:05 on the Garmin. That was a record distance ski for me at WV, but not record fastest or vertical. It is interesting to note how similar hilly MTB rides and skate skiing in the mountains are. This ski had similar vertical, bit more miles and time, but almost identical average speed to hammer MTB ride I did on the Cape a couple weeks ago. Both take similar amount out of you too. Wonder if I can take a rest day on Monday? Last Sunday I asked the same question here. My addiction to endorphin was too great. I caved and ran 5 miles last Monday.

1 comment:

CB2 said...

You need to consider all the environmental as well as physiological factors when you are testing your performance. Were conditions ideal for your test? Do you think you are going to be able to post the same time wearing Winter layers?
Have you been training for this test?
Sometimes people just have a bad day.

That being said, if I could afford one, I'd get a powertap in an instant. Great way to quantify and test your fitness.