Time Trial

It wasn't the plan, exactly, but I ended up doing a time trial today, as part of a longer ride. After a 15-minute warm-up the ride was two hours, but the big effort was the first hour. I had constructed a course that featured about 20 miles in which the grade went up in one-tenth increments approximately each mile. The pacer was set to crank at 195 watts. I went out ahead of him and settled in around 205 watts, feeling quite comfortable. I had music playing, Helio Sequence, old Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, TV on the Radio… What an aid that is; it's so easy to sink into the tunes and just go, go, go. About 20 minutes into the ride I picked up the effort to around 220 watts and felt good there. So then I jacked it up a little more and, well, before you know it, I had decided that I'd like to average 230 watts for the climb, which looked like it would take around an hour. To reach 230, I knew I'd need to average around 250 for the last half hour of the ride. I did it by staying above 230 pretty much constantly, and by throwing in some big-gear, out-of-the-saddle hammering, where the wattage would inch toward 300 and sometimes above. It was interesting to watch my heart rate climb along with my effort—but slowly, ticking up from 125 to 140, spiking above 150 when I got out of the saddle, and then settling back toward 140 when I sat back down for some good hard pedaling in the aero position. Yeah, I was aero for 95 percent of the ride. When the hour was up I was right at 230 watts average output. For the second hour, I had a mild descent for a few miles, a perfect recovery, then another climb like the previous one, but a little shorter. This time, I worked hard but stayed comfortable. I didn't care what kind of watts I was putting out.

After the workout, I washed up a little and still in my cycling shorts Niko and I made lunch—ham sandwiches, leftover hummus with veggies, and tangelos for dessert. Then a quick shower and we were off to Ethos for Niko's Saturday afternoon clarinet lesson. I really like this half hour. Niko goes upstairs for his lesson and I sit in the cafe below. It's closing down, with a little cleaning going on here and there, and mostly empty and quiet. I sit by a window looking out onto Killingsworth, watching the cars and bikes pass by. I read a few pages. I listen to a tune on my Nano. Mostly, though, I bask in the glow of a fine workout, one that showed me something about my fitness while also pushing it forward.

Pictured: "Time Trial" by Daren Greenhow.

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