Monday, July 23, 2012

Another week, this time a good one

S - 10,200 yards
B - 240.9 miles
R - 44.7 miles
Time - 21.82 hours

At first glance it would appear as though yours truly got in some good training this week! The first glance would be correct as it seems for the first time in quite some time I've managed to have a week of good volume.  It's been a while since I've been over 20 hours, due in no small part to the fact that I've raced a good bit this month.  So far one good (NC TT) and one not so good (Triangle); I'm hoping next Sunday adds one to the "good" side (Giant Eagle). 

The highlight of this week has to be our big ride in the mountains on Saturday, but seeing the ripple effect of my last post on swimmers is a close second.  I'll dive into the latter first.

First of all, please let me say that my last blog was in NO WAY meant to be demeaning, arrogant, or anything else negative.  It was simply an observation.  It was also my own observation.  Many out there who read this (so, like 3 of you) couldn't care less about my opinion on triathlons and/or swimming (and maybe everything else, who knows; it's your prerogative).  It wasn't meant for you.  It WAS meant for those out there that WANT to be better yet do nothing about it.  That's different than wanting to be better but not being capable of fulfilling that desire.  Injuries, time constraints, responsibilities, etc all get in the way of what is essentially a hobby (although I see it more as a part time job that pays nothing and takes everything...) and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Having those extenuating circumstances, however, removes your right to whine.  There is no whining, no pre-whining, and no excuse-making.  Either do it, or don't do it. 

I was very, very happy last week to see some new faces at SwimMAC Carolina Masters.  I'm hoping more will show up in the upcoming weeks and months.  Those who do will reap the benefits over time.  They will take control of their own athletic destiny as opposed to leaving it to chance and stagnation.  For that, I salute you.

On Saturday a good group vanned up to Morganton, NC to do a loop of awesome in the mountains.  Myself, Scott "the Pro Destroyer" Woodbury, Andrew "Fletch Wound'' Fletcher, Jonathan "Profile Design" Story, Jenny "Butt-lifter" Leiser and Ashley "Honey Badger" Ackerman. 

Fog = chance of epic
The forecast all week had called for the chance of thunderstorms so we were all hoping they'd stay away.  On the drive up it looked like it could be epic with some good fog but once we got to Morganton the skies were blue and partly cloudy.  It was gorgeous. 
The Destroyer uses his muscles for something other than intimidation

MMmmm, Cervelo
The climb up Hwy 181 began in earnest and started the ride with a bang.  The Destroyer and the Honey Badger pressed the pace early with everyone else falling off their torrid effort level.  For a couple of miles the gap opened up slowly but surely before at the beginning of the steep middle section Tall Socks (me) bridged the gap with a hard effort.  The Badger and Destroyer set the pace the rest of the way up to the top of the 13mi, HC climb.  In my opinion the hardest of the day.  The next segment was the long, net uphill trek along the BRP before hopping on 221 and going by Grandfather Mountain.  The result of all that climbing meant that the descent into Linville was, as always, very rewarding, very fast, and very fun (except for the dumb Prius driver that underestimated our speed then gave us the double finger for our expressions of displeasure). 

Grandfather Mountain ahead!
Next up was the first store stop of the day where two good things happened.  Firstly, we were complimented on our riding abilities by a young smoker on our riding abilities with the addition "I couldn't do what y'all do man."  No shi*.  Quit smoking.  The other was the Honey Badger's purchase of an 18" frozen popsicle and the attempt to unfreeze it by sticking it in his bibs.  The resulting facial expression was...priceless.  This store stop is also where the Butt-Lifter received her nickname.

Too soon it was time to head on and Hickory Nut Gap awaited.  At the beginning of the climb the Destroyer took off like a destroyer from hell, while the rest started a little more slowly.  Soon though, the Badger opened up a slight gap on the others in his quest to chase down the cobra.  Before too long, Tall-Socks felt the need to roadie it up and chase down the attackers.  After catching the Badger and both catching the Destroyer, Tall-Socks kicked it into the big chainring in an attempt to see what he was made of but by the top of the climb had still only managed a top 10 on Strava.  Oh well. 

They don't look particularly happy...

The Badger contemplates his next attack

The Badger contemplates the Destroyer off in the distance
 The descent off Hickory Nut was a little gravelly so nobody really pushed the pace (plus the big German wasn't there to flog the downhills...and uphills for that matter).  Shortly after turning left and passing Lees Mcrae the team climbed up 194 and descended shortly thereafter into Valle Crucis.  The skies were looking slightly more ominous than pleasant at this point so when the Badger suffered a cobra puncture wound right before the Shulls Mill Rd climb, the talk turned to things like vulgar stuff.  Nothing at all related to the skies. 

At the beginning of Shulls Mill the Destroyer once again attacked and all everyone saw were his huge calves flexing before he created a gap.  The Badger, fresh off his cobra wound, pushed the pace to catch while everyone fell behind.  Tall-Socks, as is his (my?) M.O. slowly increased the pace before reeling in the Destroyer, who had been passed by the Honey Badger.  After letting a slight gap open up in front of him to Tall-Socks, the Destroyer reached deep into his suitcase of courage, danced on the pedals and tip-toed his way back up to the leading pair.  The Badger set the pace the rest of the way to the top where Tall-Socks unmercifully attacked him just because he set such a fast pace. 

Once everyone re-grouped at the top, rain started on the descent into Blowing Rock, where the rain stopped.  The roads were soaked, however, so everyone had nice wet socks while crunching on their tasty treats.  Before too long, it was time to finish the ride.  The group headed back up the short but annoyingly difficult climb to get onto the BRP.  From Blowing Rock, the Parkway basically climbs all the way to 221.  It is an annoyingly long, hard slog and was made all the more difficult due to the sections of pouring rain.  The Destroyer, Badger and Fletch-Wound set a tough tempo that the other three were unable to match, due in no small part to the Profile-Design's insistence on sipping from his aero-drink.  Not shortly, the group re-grouped and made their way (post 221 intersection) on the mostly downhill stretch back to 181.  On this section, the Heavens quite literally opened.  It was POURING.  It was almost funny, but it was also not.  As they descended, however, the group got warmer.  This was fortunate, as being cold and wet is a bad one-two punch. 

At the intersection of BRP and 181, however, the skies cleared and the humidity oppressed.  Soon, the group climbed back up to the top of 181, with Tall-Socks lagging slightly due to cramps and the HB due to a crack in the armor.  Once at the top, however, the Destroyer and Profile-Design attacked immediately, getting a large gap on Tall-Socks and the Butt-Lifter.  Tall-Socks wanted none of this and subsequently put his chin on his bars and shot downhill at a high rate of speed, leaving the Lifter in his wake.  All too soon, the descent ended and everyone made their way (with time gaps) on the always-surprisingly-long flat section back to the brief climb up to Mt Zion church.  The HB had suffered another puncture, with only Fletch-Wound kind enough to stay back and help him so they were the last to arrive back at the vehicles. 

All in all, a great ride with a great group.  Hopefully many more mountain trips to come this year!!

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