|Newsletter - 2006 Archive|
It has taken me a few years to figure this out, but I now know what binds randonneur ride organizers together: they are all sadists. I mean, they seem nice and all, but behind their smiles and shining faces, evil lurks. To make matters worse, there is also a not-so-subtle form of competition among the organizers. This became readily apparent to me two weeks ago at the "Hills are Alive" Vancouver Island 300km. I was riding with Ray Parker and Graham Fishlock, and Ray kept stopping to check and recalibrate his altimeter. This was fortunate for Graham and me, since Ray never got too far ahead of us. At the end of the ride, his altimeter read just over 3300 meters of climbing (or roughly 11,000 feet). My legs felt it was more like 23,000 feet, so I'm not sure I believe Ray. But I did remember why I only ride Gillespie and Rocky Point Road one time per year. And it ain't no fun in the dark, neither. As I was standing on my pedals to get up these hilly roads, the front end of my bike was wobbling like it was having an epileptic fit. Which means my light, rather than being focused on the pavement in front of me, was spastically flashing back and forth in a very wide arc.
So back to Ray and his altimeter. I realized that he was not just checking to see if the device was working or to keep track of the total elevation gain; he wanted to make sure that his "Tsunami 300km" ride in June has more climbing than the "Hills are Alive" one that we were presently riding (and that Don Munro organized). Once while he was checking the altimeter I heard him mumble, "I'll send the buggers up to the Dominion Observatory a couple of times and then I'll make sure there is more climbing in my route." I don't know about everyone else, but I find this very scary. Given my wonderful experience in the 200km two weeks previously, I brought along 12 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 24 packs of Gu and enough Power Bars to last three weeks - assuming, of course, that one could actually eat those delicious "treats" for more than a day. There was no way I was going to bonk this time. And I didn't. Our stop at the Sooke Harbour House for a couple of beers and a snooze by the fire definitely helped as preparation for climbing Gillespie Road. In the end, the three of us rode (well, two of us staggered; Ray looked fresh as a daisy) to the finish at 11:30 pm.
The next day, I encountered another problem; I couldn't walk down stairs without a lot of pain. My quadriceps felt a bit like spaghetti that has been cooked too long. The only way I got through the 300 km in the first place was the thought how I was going to pick Don Munro up and deposit him into the Gorge Waterway when I finished the ride. But I was just too exhausted and he was smiling and telling me congratulations and all as I finished. However, if I had known the pain that was to visit me over the next couple of days, I would have been less cordial to Don. Various coaches have told me that the best way to approach a long ride is to break it up into a bunch of small rides. So the 300km is simply twelve 25km rides. Graham divided it into 10km rides, but that was too many for me to think about. Another way is to divide it by time. If I expect to get in at the 16 hour mark, then give myself a treat every hour. Sometimes that works as well. But this is the only ride I have ever done where I set my progress by the hills that had been climbed. West Saanich Road; Prospect Lake; Munn; the Malahat; Lakes; Shawnigan Lake; Humpback; Otter Point; Gillespie; and Rocky Point. There were others, of course, but these are the ones that I mentally tick off. My secret for getting up the hills? Well, I make up little rhymes or songs as I huff and puff and sweat and The wording is very complex and the message sometimes quite subtle, but feel free to use them if you find they help (I haven't copyrighted any of them):
Here is a road called Munn,
I sure wish I'd had a joint,
(To be sung loud!)
If I can just get up Lakes,
The Malahat is quite a hill,
Sometimes I sing "filk" songs. These are folk songs that I have filched from others (and changed the wording). Maybe some of you remember this song from Arlo Guthrie. I adapted it during the ride.
I don't want a pickle;
Late last night, the other day,
I don't want a pickle;
Now we're riding up these damn hills,
Oh, I don't want a pickle;
And so on. If some of you would slow down a bit (or a lot), you could hear me singing these. Much better than an iPod.
Happy riding! Steve L.
May 8, 2006