Friday, June 22, 2007

The Thursday Night Ride: 'Semi' Hard Ride

For most Thursday nights of the last 10 years between the spring time change and the Thursday before Ironman Hawaii I have gone to the Village CycleSport bike intervals workout. Basically, it is a flat, no-drop ride (mainly because it is a loop) which has hard efforts (~1.25 miles) followed by social recovery efforts of the same length where the super fast encourage the not-so-super fast to keep trying. All this is followed by a short (or long) group transition run of varying pace. This one workout will tell you how fit you are.

Last night, I was riding easy (read: keeping my effort below 78% heart rate and low wattage.) I was talking to a newer person, encouraging them to try to stay with the group when the guys in front took off in an aggressive bunch sprint right from the first pedal turn. In no time at all they had .25 miles on me and there was almost no chance I could catch them as I am riding PowerCranks on my time trial bike.

Just as I was about to sit up and ride easy to the turn a gentle edged up beside me slowly. A UPS semi-trailer with my uncle's friend Paul behind the wheel! He yelled out the window, "Hey you want to catch those guys?" I nodded yes. "Get behind me and I'll gradually bring you up there. We're going 25 right now!" I sat up for a quick second and then tucked in behind his left wheel back just far enough in order for him 1) to see where I was 2) to still ride the draft 3) to leave me an escape should he need to hit the brakes for any reason.

I heard the huge engine roar and a belch of smoke came out of the stacks. We were picking up the pace. 30 mph now (72% on my Polar RS400), and we are starting to catch the first athletes to crack in the 1.25 mile sprint. At 33 mph we caught the main peleton and at 35 (75%), we dropped them all except for a few brave souls who jumped and tried to catch on, everyone of them failing. At 38 mph, we caught the leaders where looks of disbelief at me (on the PowerCranks) made smile ear to ear wishing my friend Tony Kowalczyk who introduced me to this ride could be here right now.

Finally at 40 mph (and 78% on the HRM) I put some distance between myself and the last of the leaders of the peleton "winning" the sprint.

I pulled next to Larry as he tapped his breaks and gave him the thumbs up and a wave goodbye. (I owe you a beer buddy!) Larry began to declerate and signal his turn towards Chicago O'Hare airport's cargo area as we turned for the Thursday night version of a old corner tavern and a whole lot of trash talk. See you at the Big Foot Triathlon Sunday morning!

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