My Garmin watch only shows 12 hours and 27 minutes of actual training this week, but I don't care. This week was about quality, not quantity. Like today, for instance. I struck out on my own this morning for a long day on the bike and in the pool. All my teammates were at the Desert Tri event, which I mentioned was difficult for me not to attend. I badly wanted to race, but I know I need to be disciplined right now both with my schedule and with wedding planning. Today's ride called for 4.5 hours in the saddle and 2,400 yards in the pool with 10 x 100s at an all-out pace. For the latter, I knew I'd need to pace myself to even finish the workout, so I went "all-out" with "no cramps, no bonks" as my mantra. I pulled through with an average pace of 1:44 on the 100s, ironically close to my T-pace. That's not bad considering my Garmin data transferred to Training Peaks conveyed I climbed 5,500 feet in my 64-mile ride. (By the way, what's the deal with Training Peaks adding elevation to each upload when the Garmin data is usually less?)
I rode a new road today, Yerba Buena, near Neptune's Net (famous biker hangout) off Pacific Coast Highway. A cyclist I met and rode with for about 10 miles in Hidden Valley said I should give it a go if I needed a steady, long climb. Which I did (Coach Gerardo's workout called for an hour climb or two 30-minute high-energy bursts).
Cycling companions made my ride enjoyable today. It was all about meeting random people along the way. The cyclist who recommended Yerba Buena has two kids and tries to juggle riding about 200 miles a week, five days a week. He's been riding for 25 years, evidenced by an effortless climb up the hill leading to Lake Sherwood that left me panting just a bit. We joined two other cyclists and formed a pace line before heading up the hill near Sly Stallone's house off Portrero Road. I gassed myself up front when it was my turn to lead, trying to keep the momentum of the ride going. I hate being the guy that slows down the pack but I think I overdid it. This cost me as I my new group of friends quickly became my old group of friends. They sped away and I blew off the back.
I was on my own for the next 20-25 miles until mid-way up Yerba Buena -- which let me tell you is a steady, long climb that lasted about an hour and was pretty un-relenting. (But you get great views, like the one to my left!) At least Mulholland Drive and even Latigo Canyon have some downhills or flats interspersed. This was practically all uphill. And just when you think you're done, you reach Decker Canyon Road and have more climbing to do before a monster drop back down into the Valley. But, once again, my ride became interesting when I met a cyclist from Morocco who rides more than a 100 miles a day several days a week. Cycling is this guy's life. He cycles to clients as a computer repair consultant. He used to be a pro in his country years ago. And he constantly tries to find new paths for each ride to keep things interesting -- the more mountains, the better. I kept up with this guy for two miles of the uphill slog before he grew tired of me, took my picture for his blog (which I never caught the name of), and never saw him again. He stayed behind on the hill as I passed him and I think he may have dropped back to the bottom and then done a repeat. This guy was hard core!
Here's my Garmin watch data of the ride:
All this made me realize that we triathletes are truly like the "jack of all trades, master of none." We're solid at any of the disciplines, if not good or maybe even great. But there are specialists in each sport where cycling, swimming or running is all they do. Andy they do it very well. I realized this as I got passed all over the place today by many road cyclists, calves bulging, shiny bikes shimmering. I'm proud of how I got through the day, but I know I've got a lot of work left to do if I ever want to be great at any one tri-sport.
107 days and counting.