Sunday, June 24, 2012

Livestrong Challenge: Davis 2012

The Livestrong Challenge has become a bit of a tradition for Kristine and I; the '10 edition served as the spark for the beginning of our relationship! Typically held in mid-July, we were bummed that we weren't going to be able to participate this year... until we found out that it'd been moved up three weeks to late June!

Naturally, we signed up! And yesterday, we loaded the bikes onto the back of my jalopy and set off for Davis, California. We wined and dined with fellow members of our fundraising team, Team Fat Cyclist, at the appreciation dinner on Saturday night and then tucked into bed for an early start on Sunday morning.

This year's course could be described with one word: flat. And because it was so flat, I don't really have a whole lot of fun or interesting bits to report on. I suppose I could the words "flat" and "boring" interchangeably here. There were no climbs, no descents, no pretty vistas or views... just a whole lot of straight, flat/boring road and a moderate dose of wind.

Somewhere in the first ten miles, I broke away with two members of Team Beat the Clock. Both were incredibly strong riders. Peter, a kindly-looking man clad in an NCNCA '11 State Champion kit, had a monster engine and probably dominates every field he races against. Carola complained about missing fitness after recovering from two broken toes - but as I told her at the end of the ride, "If that was you out-of-shape, I'd hate to ride with you in it!"

So yeah, the three of us broke away at mile four or six... and that's all, folks. The three of us were at-or-above threshold for the next four hours, taking pulls into the wind and chatting breathlessly whenever we could. We skipped most aid stations, stopping only twice and only to refill our bottles before shoving off again.

I felt very strong at the beginning of the ride, but my I began to pay for pushing myself a bit too hard toward the end. Peter never seemed to flag - it seemed he could have maintained that pace for another four hours if he needed to.

We pulled back into Davis and crossed the finish line (96 miles) in 4 hours, 17 minutes and 10 seconds.  Fast! Our 22.4 mile-per-hour average made quick work of the course, but that final hour felt like it was never going to end! Anyway, we were the first finishers of the longest route by several miles.

Anyway, 96 miles it too close to 100 to stop there, so I turned around and set back out onto the course, found Elden "Fatty" Nelson and some members of the Fat Cyclist crew, and rode back across the finish line with them. All-in-all, it was a 103.5-mile day. Good stuff!

Kristine had a good ride as well - she hasn't been on her bike much this year, but never the less finished a 68-miler and felt pretty comfortable doing so. Go Kristine!

I learned a little bit during this ride. First and foremost, my 200-watt average across over four hours is the highest average wattage I've ever posted on a road ride and my legs are not happy about it. Today's effort is the kind I would need to replicate to break the five-hour barrier on the bike leg of an Ironman triathlon... and I don't see that happening any time soon! But something close to 5:10 might be in the cards, depending on wind and hills. We'll see.

Also, my hamstring did not bother me today - at least, it did not bother me on the bike. I'll take that as a good sign. More to come on the hamstring later and/or tomorrow. For now, I must locate food.