Wednesday, November 26, 2008
With the first day of hillclimb repeats under our belt I'd say that Keith and I have officially begun our training. We set off at 7:30 (that in itself is a feat worth recording) for Eastern Ave. just up the road in Arlington. This is regular training ground for hill repeats. The ~1 mile, 300' climb in three pitches is about as much as you can find in the Boston area. Falling somewhere in the ballpark of 7 minutes to the top, the effort is something like an interval--not quite long enough to fully tax the aerobic engine it falls short of serious training for any extended climb, and is short enough to lure one into seriously over-zoned training. For FreeBase (TM) over-zoned training is acceptable, we're getting the game wired, if you will. First the energy, then the direction.
Now I've always fancied myself a decent climber, perhaps more for my fantasies of devestatingly explosive attacks leaving my competition in an existential crisis kind of way, and Keith and I usually throw down on road rides with fairly balanced results. So it came as some surprise to me this morning when try as I might, pushing the discomfort/agony threshold, I could not match Keith on the climbs. I got him once near the top, laying it all out on the flatter section in an effort more like a time trial than a climb. Losing 4 out of 5 hurts. Losing 4 out of 5 with no chance in hell hurts more than just the legs.
During the climbs, while the possibility of matching Keith drifted ever further away, I had a few moments to collect my thoughts, consider the mechanics of the situation, and compose a decent excuse for myself. Climbing on a road bike is an inherently different task than climbing on a mountain bike. Specifically, the angle between the back and legs is signficantly smaller (or larger depending on how you measure it, but different for sure) on a road bike. Perhaps it is a matter of my history, but I certainly felt that the down-stroke was emphasized much more on the mountian bike, leaving certain muscles taxed and others hardly strained. I think I have a pretty solid power cycle on the road, so I'm going with the hypothesis that some physiological adjustments are needed. We'll definitely follow up on this with a more refined study of the muslce mechanics of road vs mtb climbing. But for now, the lesson is simple: I need to transform myself.
The development of an athelte is one of metamorphosis - the sculpting of raw movement into grace and art. It's humbling and healthy to be reminded of how much work lies ahead. It is easy to imagine oneself complete, another thing altogether to feel it. It is as true in sports and it is in science, we stand on the shoulders of giants. This is not to say that it is with ease that we inherit truth and strength, but that should we so desire it, there is a way. We should be thankful for our friends and competitors who show us what is possible, and for the Flying Spaghetti Monster that makes it so.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Rest well, play hard.