Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Training and Gino Bartali

Not a lot of rides to write about.   Abnormally dry December-January so chances for lots of good hilly rides.  For various reasons they have just wound up a few miles more than a metric--so not self supported century rides.   Usually Dr. Dave and I are riding solo after the Diablo Cyclist club ride and our bonus miles are to go half way up Mt. Diablo--which seems like a good idea until we start up.
Dr. Dave dreams of starting a zorbing program on Mt. Diablo next month

The "team" is still scattered to all points of the witness protection program.   Ward is still on the Injured Reserve list from something undetermined. CA Mike and Christine had bad winter colds. Cisco is fixing up a house.  Only good thing is that I ran into Jerry, a friendly Mountain bike racer who who helped me get through the Sierra Century Double Metric in 2003, and now he's gone on a few rides with our Club.

The only constant on winter rides is newly retired Dr. Dave kicking my and everyone else's butt.    A few times we'd come back "on the Boulevard" which seems to bring out the sprinters (and recumbent that look like silver roaches")   and some young big guvs would squeeze ahead of our group.   I always thought of Dr. Dave as more of a climber than a sprinter but in retirement he must be on the Cipollini training program.  A few weeks in a row Dave judged the hi-jinx perfectly and he zipped in front of the young guys and stayed there.    He is now on vacation and threatens to lose all bits of fitness when he returns after setting a Strava best on the zorbing course.

I've been having a real good training winter.   I'm back to my weight pre Winter bloat of 2012-13, and have not strained anything where I can do weight and cardio training.   I'm not eyeing any doubles this year (I'm retired from them !!!--shit, the double metrics were hard enough last year), but look forward to the great Sierra (the best ride!!) Double Metric Century, the Mt Shasta Summit Double Metric (Maybe I'll finish it this year), the 5! pass Alta Alpina which is on the Death Ride course,  and the climbing Motherload Century which will be new for me but Dr. Dave has raved about in past years.

Suddenly, during the end of January into February weekend rides have been few and far between.  First visited family in Florida--of course I picked the WARMEST week in the Bay Area to go to the coldest week in Florida.  (I took cycling gear to hit the velodrome but it was closed to the public for the full week)  When I returned it started raining here which made me miserable but everyone else happy as we were in the midst of a drought.   This weekend going to off to Hollyweird to visit my daughter. Starting next week I should get back to long Saturday Self Supported Century rides and Sunday recovery rides on the fixed gear.

(top) My nieces at a crafts fair in Boca del Vista and  (bottom) my mom and I at "THE Pastrami CLUB" where I ate almost every night.    No Hammar products allowed.   

I've gone back to my wintertime "Alta Alpina" training loop.   A brief explanation--before doing the Alta Alpina 8 I knew I'd be riding downhill at night, and I dislike downhill and riding and night and cold and.......So the two winters before last I'd go out to a mile and a quarter neighborhood climb on my fixed gear a few nights a week.   The climb averages 3% though it is about 4-5% at the beginning, flattens out towards 1% in the middle, and goes back to 5-8% at the end.   The good thing about the Judsonville loop (now the Mur de Judsonvilleburg) is that there are NO cross streets on the loop, and on the 5-8% downhill there are no houses on the right so no worries about a car pulling out of a driveway.    At night there is a closed road leading to a popular mountain bike park, so if one drank to much beer.....
The Mur de Judsonville loop.   Yellow arrows indicates climbs, green is kinda flat, blue is downhill.  Luckily its open space on the right side of the downhill.

Arizona Bill says this elevation profile (about 1,800' in 25 miles) looks like waves.

There quite a few homes with Lion of Flanders statuary outside their home--a good sign.  They need to repave the climb with cobblestones--at least the end.
Where I start the Mur de Judsonville, a .3 mile uphill stretch on the main road (with a bike lane) until...

.....a right turn across ornamental cobblestones where there are alternating fairly flat to 3-5% sections
The last .3 miles the road kicks up to 5-8%.    Lion of Flanders statues appear .

Road kicks up even more for the final push.  More Lion of Flanders statues.
On downhill luckily open space on the right--especially at night.


I started doing the loop on the fixie, but my leg strength is good--I have to work on building up my aerobics so I switched to my race bike with heavy wheels.   I need to ride longer at a higher heart rate than I do "fixed gear weight lifting," so the switch has been good.  My breathing when it is cool and damp have always been a problem, but I am riding well now so I'm excited for when it gets hot and dry.   Then of course there is........Strava motivation..

The last .9 of the uphill is a popular local time trial course.   The climb, however, starts .3 miles before.  The climb grade is already a little too light so I liked the thought of adding the .3 mile.    My training routine is to do the 1.3 mile climb over and over--looping around back to the start is about 2.5 miles--and on select climbs I'd give a good effort.  Go easy on climbs 1, 3, 5 and hard on 2, 4, 6, and then do 7, 8 as cool down climbs.  When it warms up I hope to put in a good effort 6 times in a row.    

Oh yeah-Strava motivation on the hard efforts.    The first time I did the loop I was surprised to see I was in 2nd place.   The next time out I crept into 1st.   As I've said, if you don't like someone create a Strava segment in front of their house.  Once created their once quiet street will be filled with cyclists going back and forth trying to win the "Joe's Cul De Sac Hydrant to Driveway Sprint." 

On the Mur de Judsonvilleburg, within a week 2 guys riding together were up +18, +10 seconds faster than me (I got to get my Club out here so we can paceline some segments.)  I'd be lying if I said this wasn't a little extra motivation on my hard loops.  So the next time I went out--my best effort improved by 6 seconds leaving me +12, +4 seconds behind.  

The next night was a rest night where I am slowly converting my CD collection into tracks for a USB stick.  So two nights later I was ready for another 25 mile nighttime training ride.  I thought my three efforts were good but I have no clue until I plug in the Garmin for results.  My best improved by 16 seconds on run #2 (hell, I would have sworn that run #4 was better) and I took over 1st.  Yippie.

I'm sure I'll be knocked out from the leader board within a month--which is fine as it is nice motivation apart from my usual outlook that training should be hard so the Double Metrics will be become easier.  It is also additional motivation to keep me off the indoor trainer which I've grown to hate.


Another cycling local blogger took stock of cycling books during the damp weather.   Focusing on Lancy books, blogger Curtis writes "I'm keeping them to remind myself that having heroes is a childish fantasy and I need to be grown up."  I tipped him off to a book I just finished reading about a pro cyclist--Gino Bartolli--who might have been the MOST heroic of all 20th century athletes.

"Road to Valor--A True Story of WWII Italy, The Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired A Nation."   My friend John enthusiastically tipped me off about the book and loaned me his copy.  Now John is the most interesting man I know (he should be in those beer commercials), loves cycling, but usually isn't enthused about pro athletes.   Every time I ran into him he was raving about this book on Gino Bartali.  Gino who?  Gino won the Tour de France twice, holding the record of longest time span between victories.  Of course a little thing like WWII wiped out the peak of his career.  So did sage training/ medical advice from the middle of the 20th century.

"In 1946 Gino began to notice a change in how his heart was behaving at the beginning of races.  Specifically, he felt it was beating more regularly but less frequently that it had before the war.  "I was slow to get into gear, my body was numb," Gino explained, like a "racing car" with a cold motor. ...he visited a doctor.  Amazingly the doctor shared his concern and encouraged him to have a couple of cups of coffee and a few cigarettes before every race to speed up his heart." (p172-173)

The book is great as well written, and it puts everything into a historic context.   Living under Italian Fascists and then occupied by German Nazis made everything worse in Italy as time went on.  Gino actively worked for a few local church cells  that were manufacturing forged identity papers to help protect Jews and other enemies of the Fascist state--he'd transport the forged papers from the printer hidden in his bike tubes while going on long training rides, while trying to avoid Nazi checkpoints.

After the war, while a shell of his former self and entered in the Tour de France,  there was almost a civil war in Italy when there was an assassination attempt on the Italian opposition leader.   Unrest was swelling.  The leader of Italy phoned Gino--in the middle of a Tour de France where he was considered a has been and out of contention, and Gino was told that his winning a stage would help pacify the growing unrest.   Gino then went out and won the next mountain stage, and the next mountain stage, and emerged as the Tour de France leader.   Most of Italy joined together to celebrate his triumph.

Gino Bartali--a real  hero.

No comments: