In the (Feed)Zone - Pre-Season Season

By: Mark Swartzendruber
Posted: Mar 12, 2013

In the Feed(Zone)

As I write this I am in San Diego, CA at the end of my second trip to the Left Coast riding my bike and escaping the misery known as winter in Chicago.

photoPhoto ABC News

 Yeah, try training in that.

 So, instead, I’m here...

I made my first trip out in February and rode for the first time up North in the Santa Cruz area.  My brother as many of you know is at Easton Bell Sports – product development for Giro’s shoes and apparel in Scotts Valley.  First time riding in that part of CA and I must say it’s quite nice - Beautiful scenery, quiet roads and a good variety of terrain.  I didn’t load up heavily on miles because

a) it was early February


b) it was early February. 

Why load up on fitness just to come home facing a month of being of the damn trainer indoors?  I did ride really hard one day with the Saturday group ride with Ben Jacques Maines crushing it at the front of the group and me hanging on for dear life at the back after the group ride split up.  Just trying to stay in the draft of the group was as hard of an effort as I’ve endured in some time and it was a reminder of the gulf between Midwestern Pre Season and West Coast early race season.  My chest and lungs hurt for two days just from that experience.  Other than that hard effort, I did a few turns at trying to put myself on various Strava Leader Boards around Sant Cruz Country and tootled about exploring the new roads.

In the mean time I’ve done a couple of what a number of us Chicago area cyclists do in the misery of winter, and that is to add to the misery doing pretend bike races with our bikes strapped to Computrainer machines.  UGH.  Well, it’s a way to gauge fitness and progress toward when real racing begins I tell myself as a means to justify the madness.

Having lost patience with the weather and having some airline miles in the bank, I decided on another winter trip, this time to San Diego.  My good friend The Rhino as he’s known here in the pixels of Truesport and I generally do log some much longer miles and this short trip has been no exception.

I’m beginning to fear that the ravages of old age are encroaching upon me.  I booked my flight to San Diego and told The Rhino to pick me up at the airport at 11:15 on Monday 03/04.  This was back in February.  He asked me to refresh his memory, so I emailed the flight itinerary to him.  This is what he responded:

“Dude, that says 11:15 pm”

Damn…Yeah, I’d completely overlooked the a.m. / p.m. thing and had not noticed it for over a month.  Instead of arriving shortly before noon and getting a ride in Monday afternoon, it was a late arrival, leaving 4 ride days available instead of 5. 

The next signal of encroaching age and forgetfulness happened the next morning when I was assembling my bike.  No chain.  I knew this.  I’d removed the old chain after the Santa Cruz trip because it was old and needed to be discarded, which I did prior to packing the bike for shipment.  I’d spent time reminding myself that I needed to pack a new chain in my luggage when I left for San Diego.  Probably should have put a sticky note on the door so I’d see it when I left.  So, further delay of game and questioning of my sanity.  I’ve got 6 SRAM 1091 chains sitting in my tool chest at home.  There will be 6 SRAM 1091 chains in the chest when I get home.  It costs $90 to get the new chain in San Diego.  $70 for the chain and $13 to install.  Tell you what – that bike shop saw a man in need and took full advantage.  I could have done the install myself, but The Rhino doesn’t keep a chain tool in his bike locker.

Finally able to get on the road, he and I did a nice easy 92 in the inland hills.  If you’ve never ridden in San Diego County, it’s some of the best riding anywhere in the country.  Low to moderate traffic on well paved roads greet you once you get out of the San Diego sprawl – which is not at all difficult riding – and the terrain is fantastic.

Day two was an eye opener.  Literally…Like at 5:45 a.m. The Rhino kicks the door to the bedroom I’d stolen from his son Michael and says “Dude, you awake?”  Me:  “Huh?  Shit, thought you were gonna wake me up.”

You see – 5:45 was the pre designated departure time.  I rolled out of bed, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and the drool off my cheeks and walked out to hit the head.  The Rhino was already kitted up in the Lime and Black of the MRI Monster Media squad – Digression – 90% of the teams in SoCal wear Lime Green and Black these days, I don’t know how they can keep things straight in races but clearly they’ve gotten the same kit design memo.

So – no breakfast, no coffee I’m on the road 15 minutes out of REM cycle sleep.  It was not an easy day.  35 miles of riding hard tempo to make it to the world famous Wednesday Ride out of Carlsbad, CA.  The ride rolls out with several MRI guys, Eblowz and US Procrit Champ Ken Hansen and cycling legend John Howard among others in attendance.

We rolled easy up to Camp Pendleton and once on the base, the pace picked up.  I rode on the front with The Rhino for a couple of miles then shuffled back to the end of the pack. I noticed as I was rolling back that The Rhino tucked back in up the line.  As the pace quickened, I learned why he’d done that.  The group was stretching out, riders began to get peeled off the back of the group and when we exited the base, we had to file though a set of gates which riders at the front rolled though while the riders toward the back - in front of me, bunched up and came to a complete stop before going though.

At this point I had two options, roll with the back of the group or chase the front pack hard.  I’m training, so I did the latter.  It was a good 10 mile effort, soloing behind the surging front group and the first time I’d really turned the pedals with sustained effort since the end of the race season last October.  I saw the group reach the end of the ride and flip at the turn around point up the road so I turned around and waited for the group to catch me.

Rather than the whole group, an MRI team mate The Midget had solo’d off the front and I jumped in with him and we did a TTT effort for about 5 miles onto the Pendleton Base and were joined by a couple of strong Tri-Geeks, John Howard and a really strong female bike racer.  This was a good group and we hammered along though the end of the base and back onto the PCH.  All in all by this time, I’d done about 75 miles of pretty hard riding and we still had over 40 miles to home.  It was at this point I achieved a hard bonk.  The 2 cereal bars I’d eaten weren’t enough to fuel the riding I’d just done.  Go figure. I detached off the back of the group I was riding with and limped back South down the PCH alone.

Eventually I made it to the Java Depot in Solana Beach where The Rhino and one of his team mates were waiting.  This is what I ate.  An egg burrito, a chocolate chip scone and a peanut butter and banana smoothie made with coffee ice cream.  I figure it was about 800 calories or more.  The last 30 miles of the ride were much more tolerable.

The next day I rode mostly on my own since The Rhino was taking an easy day in to rest up for the Tour of Murrieta Stage Race.  Friday, it actually rained all day but I had lunch with the President and National Sales Mgr for Leader Bikes. 

This week, I go on vacation with TLK.  I won’t ride; I won’t exercise to speak of between Tuesday and Sunday and in fact, I won’t actually move much at all.  It will be a good break to let my legs and back rest and recover. 

I’m still on the fence about racing down in Hillsboro for the famous Hillsboro-Roubaix road race, which is the official kick off to the Midwestern season.  We’ll see.  I won’t register until I get back from vacation and decide how motivated I am to race.  Curtis Tolson is going to win the Masters 50+ anyway and I have a couple of time trials scheduled the very next day and I want to be fresh for those.

In the mean time – this is all I’m thinking about for now.

Next time:  There may or may not be a race report.