Monday, February 16, 2009

Covering Your Bases

When heavy base training and mild sleep deprivation tune in to the party sound control bound to turn up, things will get messy and eventually the party will be broken up by disgruntled night shift police. In the morning you will be left to truffle through your flat to find most things broken or discredited in some way.

Life between training rides becomes a hazy blur mostly filtered away in an insipid hopeless organisation of pre and post rides. Your brain packs up its things and vacates to somewhere in Latin America and leaves you with a dull ache and difficulty with syntax.

Social situations become a little bit hard to take and all you really want is to sleep. The kind of night's kip that leaves you realising how truly horrific you have been feeling. Only this much awaited sleep doesn’t come as you are too tired to sleep well and end up stuck in the semi-conscious state where you can’t read but don’t sleep.

Thankfully these effects soon disappear after a few days of easy training. Thus the training cycle is completed and it’s time to dive yet again into the hazy monotony.

The interesting thing about this state is that when you are out riding, you feel great. Just as if it was a normal poodle about on a summer’s day. The thing is that after 5 or 6 hours this wears off and you are left a glazed over idiot, greasy and out of water, food, money, patience, energy and strength (this is on top of you being 100km from the solution to all these problems).

In one of the small windows of time that I was not riding I purchased a wall planner. After which the realisation that I may have less than two months before I set off on the ride that could kill me dawned on me. There is a somewhat limited window in which I can complete the ride. It is also likely that there will be one shot, all or nothing, gosh.

But before all this, it's easy to forget, I have to complete the now traditional 24 hours of N-Duro in Rotorua. Having competed in it every year since it started, the only soloist person to do so. Last year I failed to defend my title for a second time when Andy Fellows (from across the ditch) put in a solid performance and had a bit of bad day at the office.

Recent rides have seen me face epic road time. Last weekend I attempted the triple summit ride on Mt Taranaki. This involves riding around the mountain and completing the three climbing roads to around and above 1000 meters. Totalling around 200km, it is not a spin around the park. After things going well apart from a couple of small wasp stings on the back it looked as though I would crack out the ride nicely. But as I neared the final assault on the mountain a front crept around it. Being a hot summer day I had not counted on this, so a riding shirt and shorts is all I had and wore.

In a mildly delusional state I stopped for food in Inglewood. With an ice block, cold can of fizz and a packet of chips I merrily peeled on the pouring rain. Fortunately I managed to work out that doing the last climb was not wise with the temperature falling with the rain.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hardship on the Hard Stuff

Recent times have seen my training rides begin at different locations. Now operating from a surprisingly homely garage spitting distance from the jugular of New Plymouth’s walkway/bikeway system it is hard to say that things have turned for the worst.

The summer months bring to the fore one of my banes. The increased plant growth and general flowering etc bring with it an equal response from the insect kingdom. Most of which evolution has ruled intelligence to be somewhat of a low priority. So when confronted with an oncoming object with their ultra-violet or otherwise complicated/incompetent vision system they fail to comprehend the significance of the impending situation.

It must happen once every couple of minutes that I am happily (it does happen occasionally) riding in my box with drum and bass lulling the hours by, and out of nowhere - insect to the face. Often though it is insect to helmet. Then I am left wondering if it will unleash the affliction of a sting to my brain.

This does not come unjustified seeing as in the not so distant past I have taken a bee sting to the forehead. After which I had to perform a bee, helmet and glove removal procedure with vigour all while riding at over 30km/h.

Despite all fears I have been spending much time pounding, and being pounded by, the tarmac around the Taranaki region. This in part has been to do with my various mountain steeds temporarily out of play (punctures do get old). Also seeing as I have a dauntingly large ride of exactly 99% road riding freighting soon ahead it seems wise.

And with large quantities of k’s on any bike some problems arise. Although road bikes vastly out last mountain bikes in both k’s and hours things still go wrong. A particularly delightful quirk of my shifters is to once every year or so break the gear cable inside the shifter. Being branded wire cable it splinters out to about 40 times its original size upon being cut. So it is stuck inside the shifter housing and it is easier to feed a cat a worming tablet on Thursdays.

So far I have found it easier to ride with two gears than extract the remains of the cable. Admittedly I have been avoiding steep prolonged climbs as my low ratios are not in reach, but on the whole it is not as bad as I thought it might have been. The long time idea of adding a fixy road bike to my collection is gaining merit.