Monday, March 28, 2011

Put me in coach!!

Is what I might say if I was on a cycling team with a coach...
and the upcoming event was a flip cup tournament, not a bike race. (as a side - I just did a quick flip cup search on the old googler and it appears any sort of "organized" flip cup tournament last saw the light of day in 2009.)
But let's say the upcoming event was an actual mountain bike race... maybe not.

Came across this on Saturday up at Willowdale.
Trail flooded by nearby pond.

With Mother Nature just bitch slapping us with the reality that Spring never just comes to New England, we have to relapse into crappy winter weather before the beauty that is Spring shines her face on us, I haven't logged any solid miles on the trails.  Wait... Spring shining her face on us, who am I kidding??  What we have to look forward to is about a month straight of rain - great for logging solid trail time!!!  not riding at all.  Although rain hasn't been the serious problem thus far, we've seen some flooding surrounding pounds and streams with all the snow melting off.

Remember last year??  When it literally rained every day in June??  Yeah, that sucked.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
So last week I decided I should do something more than lifting weights and mixing up the modes on the gym's exercise bikes in order to work on my riding "shape."  3 weeks out from my first race I jumped in on a spin class.  After During that first class I was about as confident in being race ready as I am in Ocochino's soccer skills.

BUT, I made it through.  30 minutes into it and I had serious doubts I could make it the entire class.  But I pushed through (dropped "levels" and stayed in the seat more than I should have) and "spun" the whole time.  Feeling beaten, and drenched in sweat - what a freakin workout!! - I didn't give up and vowed to be back Thursday for round two.

And return I did.  Had the same instructor as I did on Tuesday, which was probably good since I had a sense for how things would transpire, and a little better understanding of the whole "up a half turn, down a quarter, up a full turn" etc.  The lack of precision in the whole "level" deal is probably the most difficult part for me.  
On Tuesday I let her know it was my first time, so as we are doing our warm up she tells us to be in "1" so I'm pedaling away and she indicated to me I need to turn it up.  No problem, I turn it up and continue spinning, she indicates for me to turn it up more, ok sure thing.  So by this time I've turned it up more than a full turn and she indicates one more turn up for me.  Seriously??  I dunno but I figured "1" was supposed to be an easy spin, and I don't think the fact that I'm spinning faster than someone else in the class means my "1" isn't MY "1"... so I dunno.  I did my best to follow her lead - cause she's the instructor and whatnot - but as we were turning it up and "climbing hills" it felt like I was just mashing away and my legs started to cramp so I had to just stay in the saddle and work on recovering for a bit.

So what is killing me is the whole mysteriousness of the levels.... I get that at a 2.5 you should barely be able to get up out of the saddle, and at a 3 we should be able to stand.  That is a better indication of level than the mystery turning up and down by degrees of rotations.  I mean, at least give me notches on the damn knob so I know that this here notch is my "3."  That way I can use notches to equally rotate up and down my "levels."  
I'm just a very "even" person.  If I'm enjoying... let's say skittles, I eat an even number at a time with equal amounts on the right and left side of my mouth.  If I ever end up with an odd amount that last one is either halved and shared across my mouth or chewed with the front teeth.  Weird I know... but it's where I'm at.  So this ambiguity of knob turning on the spin bike is a bit "uncomfortable" for me.  I'd like to see that I can't handle an actual 4 and not that my magical mystery "4" is destroying me.  I'd like to know if I'm just a weakling or if my "4" is a 6.... blarg.

Anyway.  I returned Thursday and I was able to stay on pace a bit better.  Still struggling with the whole levels idea, but I was up and out of the saddle along with the class more than I was in the first class.  My legs felt a little better as well (although afterwards they felt like jello as I was going up and down stairs) but they weren't as tight on the bike and no cramps to speak of.  I'm wondering now if I pushed my legs a bit too hard with the weights with no actual opportunity to readjust to pedaling (30 minutes on an exercise bike just doesn't do it)... so I'm in the midst of deciding how my leg workouts will shape up going forward.  

Last season I pretty much laid off any leg exercises while I was riding - figuring riding was enough to keep them up while still building strength.  But we shall see.  I'll likely keep some form of leg work going while I'm at the gym, but it will be paired down in some way.  As always, any suggestions are certainly welcome.  

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