Friday, May 25, 2007

Ahhh yes, The Pack

Pronunciation: "pe-l&-'tän, 'pe-l&-"tän
Function: noun
Etymology: French, literally, ball -- more at PLATOON
: the main body of riders in a bicycle race

This is the definition of Peloton from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. In reality, the short nine word definition does little to describe the drama that occurs in "The main body of riders in a bicycle race". Anyone who has ridden The Pack ride on Tuesday or Thursday knows this. The pack is a L.A. cycling phenomenon that takes over the Rose Bowl every Tuesday and Thursday at 6p.m. The scourge of city planners and infrastructure consultants the pack ranges from 150 to 300 people and circles the Rose Bowl 10 times for a 31.1 mile ride that takes about an hour and 10 minutes. At times it appears as though a spandex factory exploded in 1996 and its remnants circle the hippodrome, it's soundtrack a ghostly whir of rubber on asphalt, littered by occasional shouts from the peanut gallery. The Pack is like a soap opera at 30 miles an hour. There are friends laughing and discussing past rides and races. there are arguments, like lovers quarrels as shouts notify riders of various faux-Paux's they didn't know they committed. There are outstanding crashes, often caused by pedestrians or their dogs. All of this is to be expected. Everyone from beginning racers to seasoned veteran Pro's show up for the pack ride. You have a mix of every category of racer, from the lowly CAT 5 to the European Professional. It is this diverse and volatile brew of ego and ambition that makes the pack what it is.

What ensues when we roll out is controlled chaos. the strongest riders will jockey for position at the front setting the pace. weaker riders will sit on their wheel, while even weaker riders will form an elastic slingshot a quarter mile long that stretches and contracts as it rounds the circular course. Guys check each others pace, their peddle stroke, and how well they hold a line. Heckling begins as one rider can't ride a straight line, and threatens the last 30 riders. His drunken style infuriates riders as they expend high levels of energy to get around him, so as to not end up in what could be disaster. He wobbles off the back, no longer able to hold pace. He continues to slam on the pedals, though his efforts are in vain. the pack has left him for the wind, the destroyer of men. More will feel the Packs cold uncaring grip throw them off the back. In the turn of a corner one can go from protected rider, drafting off the efforts of so many others, to dropped lacky.

I myself have been on both sides. The first couple times I rode with the Pack I hung in fine. I was at peak fitness and the 30 mile effort wasn't too difficult. However, after an 8 month Hiatus from the road and a lackluster start to a training regiment with no immediate goal, my time with the Pack last night was short lived. I was able to hang on for almost 6 laps, getting dropped in the last corner of the 5th. I can blame no one but myself for being fat and out of shape. Although I sure would like to point the finger at the guy in the Orbea jersey who kept bobbing around like a drunken field mouse, sprinting, then resting, sprinting then resting; for my demise. All in All it was a great ride, because now I know where I sit. I know what I have to do to get to where I want to be. I'll be there next Thursday, to do 6 laps. Maybe 7. Read more!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Holy Crap

Saturday was by far one of the most difficult rides I have been on since the new year. Up to this point Most of my riding has been sub 50 miles. The short rides during the week have been fairly intense quick rides in zone 4 while the longer rides are zone 2-3 rides ranging between 40-50 miles. This ride, THIS ride, ended up being 60 miles. I consulted (greatest website ever) before my ride, but of course didn't write my route down. Anyone who knows me knows that I get lost easily, and after turning left onto Tujunga Canyon Rd. after descending La Tuna it was like any day on new roads for me. I took a fast descent heading east on Foothill Dr. then a right onto Oro Vista and another right onto Whiteworth rd. I should have known from the speed of the descent on Foothill that the ascent back up Whiteworth was going to be difficult, but of course the the jubilation caused by the descent wiped my memory once I turned onto Oro Vista. Climbing straight 12% grade roads with stop signs every block is a blast. I recommend it for anyone. I guess this lost up and down through Tujunga was ok. I missed the first climb of the day because of the fire in Griffith Park. So this climbing made up for it. Plus some. By the time I got to Pennsylvania I thought I had popped. I had set a quick pace for the first 30 miles of the ride because I got a trademark late start (12:00p.m.) I could feel my legs starting to cramp on Berkshire as I was heading to the Rosebowl. I took a quick break at the base of Lida and then took a slow pace up and over Lida, keeping my cadence between 60 and 65 rpm's while in my 36-19. (I like to muscle short climbs like that, it hurts less right?) Anyway... after grinding it out over shit hill I coasted home, cracked a beer and passed out on the floor in the air conditioning of my condo. Greatest ride this year. Here's the map. This is what I intended to do. Again, I somehow added 6 miles. Read more!