Saturday, April 17, 2010

Change of Plans: Motor Pacing and Tortilla!

Yes the plan changed again today. I had lined up for a fat 6 hour loop in the mountains to the west, but my ride partner woke up this morning sick from his altitude tent (stupid technology), so he bailed. I changed my plans and was able to get a hold of a local guy who does motor pacing for a number of the pros here in town. This guy was really good, super steady and it just wore my legs out.
For those who don't know, motor pacing is when the cyclist uses an automobile, preferably a motorcycle, to pace him/her at a pace similar to race pace. It is really the best simulation of a race you can get besides actually being in one. The motorbike is the best because it doesn't provide a giant draft, but is very similar to a real bike. This is the first time I have gone on the moto this year and it was a pleasant change to everyday training, but not easy!
There is a definite art to motor pacing and with this guy's experience he gave me a real solid workout. Really the pace and terrain will take care of the workout itself, as long as the moto is not drilling it and killing you. Usually, the point is not to make you die, but just be steady and let the work come, although different workouts can be done. We went on a loop many guys go on. It starts out fairly flat, but gently climbs and rolls for the first hour-ish to a town where you turn left and take a welcome descent on a bigger highway (not easy though at high speeds trying to stay on!) Enter the next town and then begins another section of road with big rollers. I believe there were three or four of them. This particular section of road is one I have never been on until today so I did not know what I was in for. By the third or fourth roller, I was totally going into the red zone and had to have David (the driver) back off just a bit, which allowed me to stay on, but still work really hard.
Over the top of the hill and into the next town. Then the sirens came. What?!?! Yes, we got pulled over. Evidently they didn't like that I was riding behind him because of the some discrepancy in motor size. They said his 900CC motor has to be on the left side of the solid white (shoulder) line, while my bike has to be on the right side in the shoulder. We tried to tell them that there was no discrepancy in motor size, but they failed to believe that I had a 900CC motor inside! Actually kidding about that part, but let it go figure that this is the first time David has been pulled over in who knows how many motor pacing sessions he has done. Whatever. We rolled through this town with some distance between us and then outside the limits we regathered and finished the session. Overall, a solid session of work.
Let me describe briefly some of the thought process during today's workout. As usual the workout starts out with me feeling pretty good and feeling like, man this pace is too easy. But I know that eventually the road goes up and the pace does get hard either way after some time, so I sit and focus on keeping a high cadence and getting into a rhythm. Over the first climbs all is pretty well and I am like, "ok, this is going to be good." We hit the base of a 3km climb (never gone this direction on this road, not sure how hard this is) and I get focused. About half way the pain begins to set in, "ouch this is beginning to burn. You can make it! This is good. Relax, just ride." Ok, over the top and recover a bit.
Then a flatter, section with higher speeds, but not the intense burn. Then we hit the section I have never been on before and I think "uh oh, this doesn't look easy." I was not wrong. First roller: "ouch this hurts, hang on." Second roller: "holy crap this is stinging just a bit." Third roller: "come on legs! Go!" BAM! Legs begin to say no more and that is the point where you get separated from the rest of the peleton.
This is the exact idea of the motor bike: it helps push you to the limit more than you can do yourself and pushes that limit upward toward the best. Once the pain begins to set in the legs and the lactic is pulsing through the veins it is not easy to carry on, but when you are chasing the motor bike you try just a bit harder.
If you have not experienced this slow onset of lactic, you are missing quite an experience. I thought for a while at the end of my ride how to explain it, but there is nothing that came to mind in everyday life that explained it. Perhaps you could liken it to putting your hand on or over a low intensity pan or fire. At first the heat/pain is tolerable, but it begins to build on itself and eventually the heat is just too much and either you burn or you pull away. With lactic acid, the burn keeps getting more intense until the inevitable shut down of the muscles. The lactic acid blocks the uptake of oxygen in the blood, limiting the delivery to the muscles, meaning no/less ability to function. I love lactic acid! It is such a good feeling.
Anyway, that is just a glimpse of my day today on the bike. Post bike, I came home and attempted, pretty successfully, to make the spanish version of the tortilla. Generally this delight is just potatoes and eggs, perhaps some spices. I added onions and garlic, too. First you cook/fry the potatoes (onions and garlic added part way through if you like). Then you add the egg and let it cook until almost done all the way through. Then the flip trying to keep it whole. A plate is a useful device at this point to help in the flip. Then the finishing touches on the other side. Put on plate, add some avocado and your favorite salsa. Sweet Tortilla! I enjoyed mine today. Cheers :)


strieges said...

Very cool post. Thanks for sharing!

Hip said...

Um, ONE of those only? I'm guessing about 10 of those would be needed after the effort you put in today!

Thanks for writing about how the brain tells you your legs are slowly dying.

Did the dude have to pay a ticket?

--Hip in Tosa