Figuring it out

Andy and I headed up Kearsarge first thing Sunday morning. A little breezy, but temperature-wise, things were perfect. This was going to be a benchmark effort for me; I ripped off a 27:21 last year with my Mt. Wash gearing, and was hoping to rival that time.

I had a solid leg workout on Thursday, and after two days of hobbling around things were back to normal. I left the 50×34 + 11×34 setup from Okemo on the Trek, as my past experience on Kearsarge has been that a 1:1 ratio is more than enough to put a good dent in the 3.5 mile effort. I’ve gone well inside 30 minutes with less. I had a good breakfast, slept ok, felt ok, fueled well, didn’t cook, and had a solid TT from the booth. Good energy. Really wailed on the flat sections of the climb. But the cadence just wasn’t there. When I hit my lap timer at the end of the pavement, 30:42. Not the worst trip up the mountain I’ve ever had, but I figured it would be much much better than this.

It’s gotta be weight. It can’t be strength; I feel much stronger this year by a long shot. I’ve never worked out off the bike like I have this year. We’re talking a 15 pound difference between this year and last.

Doug Jansen wrote that climbers surrender up to 30 seconds per extra pound on a climb like Mt. Wash, which is slightly more than twice the length of Kearsarge. That comparison is only loosely appropriate here, but go with me. On Wash I would give up about seven minutes; on something half that long, about three and a half. Interesting coincidence, but on Sunday morning, in spite of feeling like I had a superb effort, I gave up almost three and a half minutes to my personal best time up Kearsarge. Hmmm. That formula seems to work ok.

Climbing is all about power to weight; watts per kilogram. If I get stronger, hey that’s terrific. More watts; more power. But guess what. If I’m heavier, all I’m doing is leveling the measurement off again and making no improvement in power to weight. If I can drop the pounds, my performance will surge, no doubt about it. But now we’re almost mid-season and Wash is only a month away. The time for dropping serious weight is long gone. The only hope now, at least I think, is to pile on strength, take a lot of gears, and hope for a good day.

Seems like a good time for a Wash race prediction I guess. I certainly won’t have a PR in two weeks at the practice ride, which is the morning after Ascutney. My best time so far is 1:35. I’d say this year if I do 1:40 it will be amazing. Which is exactly what I did last year. That’s pretty frustrating in a way; you’d think all of this training would produce an improvement.

So what’s the deal? Why do I weigh so much more than last year?

Honestly, I’m really not sure. I don’t think I’m eating worse; in fact, I think I’m eating better. A number of people have told me that last year I looked too thin. This year I may in fact be at a normal weight. That seems very possible, and maybe I just need some time to get used to it. I do a lot of strength training now, so maybe that’s where it is coming from. Eh, some of it anyway.

Last year I did a lot of mountain biking, which performed a lot of fat burning. Doctor’s orders have kept me off the mountain bike all year. Could be something to that.

Also last year I was pretty intestinally messed up early in the year, and was forced on a high-fiber diet, where I shed a lot of weight. That wrapped up when riding season began, and voila – you’re lighter. Didn’t have that kind of diet this year. I guess I could, if I felt like riding a toilet three times a day again. Pass.

Prouty this weekend on the singlespeed, then next weekend is Ascutney & the Mt. Wash practice ride back-to-back.

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