Friday 22 August 2008

Time Trial Night in Ottawa: I blowed up real good!

Energized by my riding in Europe and the Cheat Mountain Challenge, I decided to go out for the Ottawa Bicycle Club 15 km time trial once more, with the plan that I will go every week now instead of biweekly. I really want to break the 40 km/h average that has so far eluded me. I managed to get out of work early, pack up the Dreadnought and the wind-trainer, and got early to the parking lot at the Aviation Museum.

I had a very good 40 minute warm-up, and although I was a bit thirsty (it was a sunny day) at the start line I felt good. Out of the gate I felt like a turbine and after a km or so I looked down and saw that I was going 44 km/h, with a HR of 178. I very gently eased off and although my HR came down to my usual 165-9 the speed stayed pretty well the same. I also realized that I was riding into a very slight headwind/sidewind, which is unusual for this course. My cadence was high and I felt lots of power. I felt that I would easily beat my previous best time of 23:01, and I could once again be ahead of 71 year-old Hermann, who during my holidays had improved his time to 22:51 and was starting one minute behind me. Conditions were ideal.

Going up the little hill to the turnaround I did not lose much speed and the turn went well, as did the brief downhill where I was back up to 43 km/h or so. Following the gentle left curve it was apparent that I actually had a slight following wind and I was hammering along very nicely, with my 30-second man in sight, when at 10.6 km I was seized with a horrific cramp in my right calf, so bad I almost lost control of the bike for a moment. I had been on the road for exactly 15 minutes so I was figuring that with the following wind I had an excellent chance of coming in under 22 minutes but the cramp ended that. I had to back right off to keep from locking up and I was passed by the next two riders starting behind me. The cramp kept coming back and my speed was dropping way down but I kept on going. Of course I had begun to use the left side more so at around 13.5 km those muscles started to cramp as well. I crossed the line in a lot of pain at 24:32, but I was so focussed on keeping going I forgot to call out my number. As soon as I could walk again, I went back to the timekeeper who told me that I had crossed the line so slowly they did not think I had been racing and didn't take my time. Just as well, I guess, since it did not feel much like racing for the last third but some kind of ugly survival ride.

So this was a bust, but you always learn things on a ride. I have discussed what could cause the cramps with my coach and I think I may have a hydration or fuel issue since I seem to be doing everything else right. And for 2/3 of the course I enjoyed the excitment that comes from going really, really, really fast. Better luck maybe next week--this racing thing is hard! I will got a signed postcard of Fabian Cancellara to cheer me up.


Judi said...

Sorry about the cramps!!! Heard you and Donald had a good ride, very cool you guys hooked up!

Sprocketboy said...

Judi: it was odd to think that Donald and I had never met, or even talked on the telephone, before we did this trip weekend in West Virginia. But such is the world of blogging!

The cramps thing is one of the big mysterious of sports. My coach has had them too and when he went for advice he received so much, and so much of it was conflicting, he felt that he was back at the beginning of the search. Causes can range from deficiencies of vitamins or minerals (calcium, magnesium seem to be the chief culprits), overworked muscles, dehydration, lack of food to fuel the muscles and so forth. I am going to stop consuming caffeine this weekend (I drink a lot of tea) and increase my fluid consumption both on and off the bike and see how that goes. I was really annoyed last night since I was probably going faster than I ever have in my time trial life.

Groover said...

What a disappointment. I just hope it won't play in your mind next week. AMR seems to be having less problems with cramps since he started using Celtic Salt. Maybe worth a try? Good luck. I'm sure you'll beat the 40 km/h mark before the season ends.

Sprocketboy said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Sandra. There are so many variables that can cause cramps that I am going with the obvious one first: hydration. But I am also stopping my caffeine intake for the week to see if that might help as well. Of course, mentally, this setback just makes me want to scream and go faster next Thursday!