Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cold Weather Cycling on the Tamagawa

It doesn't really get cold in Tokyo, about 45 during the day is pretty extreme in a average winter, so cycling can be a year-round sport.

I have taken the last few months easy---just under 300 miles per month and most rides have been at a somewhat leisurely pace averaging less than 17 mph for a 17-34 mile ride. This month I have started to step up into more serious training and am beginning the "base building" period in which a solid foundation of miles are laid at moderate (or less) intensity to build endurance for the more severe training ahead. My first race will hopefully be the Mt. Fuji Hill Climb in June. I couldn't go last year due to having to work that the Sunday after the race which would have made going there and returning a logistical nightmare.

I have only had 5 rides in Feb, one of 16 miles, 5 of 50, one of 34, and today's 38 mile ride. One of the tough things in the base period is to keep my intensity down. My heart rate should ideally stay under 157 bpm. Lower than that is better.

Unfortunately, I keep racing others when there is absolutely no need or benefit for it. Today, I was doing a rather relaxed ride, when I noticed some guy coming up behind me gradually. I accelerated just a bit and he dropped back. Over the next several miles, I would slow back down, and soon he would be there again.

I decided to drop him so accelerated the pace to 23-25 mph, and he disappeared again. However, if I slowed, he'd be back. When I dropped the speed way down to go through a crowded area, he was on my wheel. He couldn't hold it well, but would accelerate enough to hang right on me for the next 3-4 miles. If I sped up, so did he. If I slowed, he would catch up and then he would slow. He would not pass and pull a little.

So finally, I slowed to about 10 miles and hour. He got on my wheel (to draft?), but it took a while for him to decide to pass. I thought I might have to stop. After he passed, I got on his wheel to let him take the lead for a while. Time for him to do a little work and not just sit back and enjoy the benefits of me pulling him half the time.

Well, once in front, he started going at about 15 mph. After 200 yards, this pace was apparently too much and he signaled and pulled off and went back the other way! I wasn't pissed, merely disgusted again. This always happens here.

I went another 4 miles or so and turned around. About 30 minutes and 9-10 miles later, I saw him again. I decided to take revenge so I caught him to ride his ass for a while. He was going at about 16-17 mph. When he noticed me behind him, he slowed to about 15 and drifted to the side of the road.

I passed, and as soon as I did, I watched him start to try to catch me again. To hell with that, I sat up and stopped pedaling. First, he got right on my wheel when I was sitting up and not pedalling at about 7-8 mph! I kept the same pace, even took a hand off the bars and put it on my hip to hint to him that I was finished playing the sucker.

He slowly passed, muttered "sumimasen" or something and put on his glasses to roll. Roll he did. At about 20 mph. For about 3 miles. I was on his wheel relaxing and enjoying the ride in his draft. How nice to let another set the pace, especially when I can enjoy the benefits of him blocking the wind.

I watched as his pedal stroke began to deteriorate. It sort of became a side to side wobble. I remained behind. By 3.5 miles, he was about done for, but still game. I was about fully recovered. I kept waiting for him to go for the water bottle---the signal here that one has given up. (It sort of means, "Yea, I would have stomped your weak ass, but I have to get a drink. Go on this time, but don't test me agin'").

I passed again and stayed at about 18 mph. This time, I would have pulled him had he wanted since he had done a little work. However, he never even tried to keep up with me again.

He was a younger guy, maybe 30. Had he been one of those tough old birds of 50-55 or so, I might have gotten my ass kicked again.

Unfortunately, my effort and heart rate average in this ride was way above the zone I wanted and needed. So tomorrow, I will probably pay for it. I had planned a 50 mile ride, but I may reduce that now.

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