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I suck - story of humility(29 posts)

I suck - story of humilityDougSloan
Jul 8, 2002 7:26 AM
Having ridden only about 20-30 miles per week the last 2 months, I decided to "kick start" my training again by riding a 140 mile, 13,000 foot climbing route into the mountains and back yesterday (for the most part, the Climb to Kaiser route, 300 feet to 9,300 feet and back).

Not a good idea.

I put the triple back on my Colnago, knowing that the 20% grades would eat me alive. While I've actually done these hills in a 39x21, my cycling maturity has taught me the fine line difference between punishment and training. At this point, anything more difficult than the 30x25 would be pure punishment.

What started to concern me was in the first 20 miles, climbs I once might have taken in the big ring, I was now in the 30 up front and almost at threshold. Damn. This might be a tough day.

The first major climb is Tollhouse, with 2,500 feet climbing in 6 miles (from 1,800 feet to 4,300 feet), plus it continues to climb after this segment up to 5,500 feet at Shaver Lake. Except for some very short flat areas, it was 30x25 all the way up, and breathing hard at that.

After rounding Shaver Lake, you drop down a nice descent before reaching Big Creek, and little bitty town built around a hydro power station. Then, it's a 2,000 foot climb up a wall to Huntington Lake at 7,000 feet, and most of the elevation change occurs in the first 2 miles. Very steep. I've been riding this hill for 4 years now, and know exactly what to expect, I thought. Last year at this time, I did a PR of 33 minutes for the 3.5 mile, 2,000 foot climb. This time, it was close to 1 hour. I had to stop half way up and relieve my aching back and legs. I've never stopped before, even my first year of road biking. I was winded. I was having to stand in the 30x25, down to around 30 rpms in places, doing the ditch-to-ditch traverse. I thought, "This sucks! How can I possible have gotten this out of shape?"

I was dying to get to the top. It hurt really bad. There was no relief available, though. I was embarrassed to be seen by the few Jeeps crawling up and down the hill.

At lunch at Huntington Lake and met up with a couple riders. They had come up the hill too, but having started near Shaver instead of Fresno. They said I looked sick. I ate my Pringles and drank 2 Red Bulls, filled my water, and decided to give the next climb up to 9,300 foot Kaiser Pass a try with them. I got 1/2 mile up that road and bailed. I had to admit, "I'm just too tired."

At least on this ride 90% of the climbing is on the way up the mountains, meaning that there are some great, very long and fast, descents back down. What a relief. It's fun to get out in the middle of the road and go right along with car traffic. The clip-on mirror helps a lot with this. Going down a 4 lane highway section about 10 miles long, I even passed a pickup pulling a big 5th wheel camper, apparently afraid to burn up his brakes. I spun it up to 51 miles per hour in the fast lane and zoomed by. I wish I could have seen the looks on their faces.

Descending past 2,500 feet it got hot, as it usually does here. It was 104 degrees for the 25 miles home from that point. A slow ride turned to a crawl. Getting bloated up full of water didn't seem to help. Heat seems to be much more of a problem when you are tired and out of shape.

Dragged my butt home in just over 9 hours for 126 miles. That may be a personal record for slowness. I thought I was going to die. I averaged faster in the 508 last fall, and that included 35,000 feet of climbing and temps over 100 degrees both days.

How can we get out of shape so badly so quickly? I don't get it. How long does it take to get it back? This really sucks!

re: I suck - story of humilityDave Hickey
Jul 8, 2002 7:40 AM
I've been there many of times, although I was never in the shape you were in last year. Just remember one thing, all the suffering you did yesterday is going to pay dividends on your next ride.
well, maybe not his next one, but sometime.(nm)rufus
Jul 8, 2002 8:34 AM
I feel your pain but where are the pix?MB1
Jul 8, 2002 7:41 AM
When I quit racing (back in the stone age) I sucked for years. My mind knew how to ride hard but my body needed to take it easy. The problem is your expectations.

A new rider in the shape you are in right now would be thrilled to do the ride you just did. You know better-WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Relax and enjoy what you can do. Find some new cyclists to ride with. Be social instead of competitive. Enjoy life and don't be so hard on your poor old out of shape body (that by any resonable standard is in real good shape).

What the heck, slow down and shorten up. Have fun.

Who knows what you might be doing in a few years so enjoy the trip.


BTW a good way to slow down and enjoy the scenery is to carry a camera. You could even post a few pix here.
LOL. I want pics too :-)kenyee
Jul 8, 2002 5:15 PM
The mountain landscape sounds intriguing.

Besides, Doug, I thought you had higher priorities now...something involving waking up in the middle of the night to change diapers? ;-)
you have a lot to learn about sucking and humilityET
Jul 8, 2002 7:41 AM
The whole story is macho. Don't worry; you'll get it back soon.

And, oh yes: I wish I sucked too. :-)
Just keep repeating..."never get off the bike " ; )GreenFan
Jul 8, 2002 7:41 AM
That's why I always have mixed feelings about "family vacations" I know full well that as soon as I get back on the bike, it's gonna hurt like hell for the next week. Good luck with your rebound.
Whoa, take it easy, Doug...rwbadley
Jul 8, 2002 7:48 AM
Your time for that distance and elevation gain wasn't so bad.

You had a new family addition recently, right? Don't underestimate the power sleepless late night noises and up and downs to suck the life out of more than just your legs.

I agree with you on just how quick we lose it. Early springtime rides seem to be always depressing for me, comparing the before and after on the hills.

Fuhgeddaboutit, take it slow working back into the groove.

Jul 8, 2002 7:51 AM
I'm going to be doing Kaiser in two weeks. I don't need to hear anymore how painful it will be!

Maybe it was just a bad day. I've had more than a few. You push through and try again tomorrow. Watching a few minutes of the Tour this morning (Not really a spoiler), there was a Credit Agricole guy who went out on a break and had clearly hit the wall. He was just waiting to be picked up by the peloton, or maybe waiting for death, I don't know. My guess is that he'll finish the race and be back tomorrow.
Dougies new training regimenAllisonHayes
Jul 8, 2002 8:12 AM
Pulling your progeny up those hills will get you back in shape but pronto.

Besides, you don't want to let him know that the old man sucks...:)
take it easy on yourselfStarliner
Jul 8, 2002 8:29 AM
This winter I was in race-honed condition primed for this season and then my work pulled me out of daily cycling and into 14 hour workdays with a pressure of a deadline to meet. Podium dreams were temporarily shelved, but in the last two weeks I've recommitted myself to returning to competitive form and enter some late-season races.

Humble pie is part of the menu right now; a few riders I have previously pulled away from I now chase; but I know that things will change if I want it bad enough.

At a time like this when a little inspiration can help soften the anxieties of the present moment, I will remember a Lance Armstrong story of when he was beginning to ride again after his bout with cancer. On the road he came across a middle aged woman cyclist, and while riding along, he found he couldn't keep up with her. The humbling nature of that experience helped kick-start him on a path to fame and fortune.
doesn't take long to get out of shapeColnagoFE
Jul 8, 2002 8:31 AM
takes a long time to get back IN shape. no hard and fast rule, but you now see how you can't just do 20 mile rides and expect to do 140 all of a sudden.
Superman didn't have any childrenMe Dot Org
Jul 8, 2002 8:41 AM
...and I doubt Lance would take as much time off prior to the TDF to change diapers.

Something had to give in the equation between cycling fitness and family responsibility. Don't kill yourself by pretending that you can make up for 3 months of light training with a single day's ride.

When you say "how can we get out shape so quickly?", I don't think anyone could do the light training you've done in the last few months and polish off that climb in that kind of heat.
You don't suck...your expectations do!Len J
Jul 8, 2002 8:45 AM
Man, after basically 2 months off the bike, sleepless nights, and a little bit of Life stress, you think your going to go out for a 140 mile ride with 13,000 ft of climbing in sweltering heat and the only change is putting atriple on & it will be fine? Talk about living in the past. (Just bustin' um Doug)

Reality check. If I took 2 months off, I'd be lucky to be able to do a slow, flat 50 miler. Your life has changed, your priorities have changed, ratchet down your expectations, decide how many hours a week you can ride, and make the most of it. Give yourself a chance to get back into whatever shape is possible.

Of course, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. I have to say it is nice to know you are human ;-)

It doesn't have to suck...biknben
Jul 8, 2002 9:02 AM
Try to turn the bad experience into a positve.

Family can kill you or inspire you. Don't let family become an excuse. When my first was born, everyone joked about how I'd have to curb my riding. I laughed it off but in the back of my mind it bugged me.

In the 2.5 years since, I've dropped over 50 pounds, started racing, and got in the best shape of my life. I use all the expectations of others as fuel for my passion.

This doesn't have to suck. Take the time you need to handle new family responsibilities. Then, as time allows, SLOWLY return to your training and reestablish some goals. Before you know it everything will get back to normal.
re: I suck - story of humilityGlory Hole
Jul 8, 2002 9:23 AM
I'm suprised that someone who has been training as long as you would be suprised at a loss of fitness. Is this the first break you've ever taken from cycling? Would you recommmend a 140 mile ride as a way to start over? Take this as a learning experience. Lots of us start to think we're superman only to be knocked back down to earth. Perhaps you didn't take long enough off the bike. If you were really ready to begin training again, you would be enjoying your time on the bike instead of bitching and moaning about it. Take another couple months off and see if you can refind your motivation.
...and then?...JS Haiku Shop
Jul 8, 2002 9:56 AM
no "and then"!

dude, (where's my car? where's your car dude?) get over it!

unnecessary to reiterate what everyone is saying in the thread.

necessary to say: enjoy whatever rides you DO get between now and six months from now. priorities change. it's all relative. with the right time invested and proper regimen, some of us might be able to ride stronger and attain our higher goals. otoh, others have kids, families, home responsibilities and other "anchors" that come first. it's good that you're obviously the latter, considering the recent addition.

be glad you had 9+ hours to do what YOU wanted, bike or otherwise. think of it this way: that "scales of justice" babe that you lawyers always have in one side of the scale, doug jr. in the other. each is merely symbolic of that "side" of your self. seems jr.'s side is a little heavy. and so should it be.

dude! sweet! dude! sweet! dude! sweet! dude! sweet! dude! sweet! dude! sweet!

ps. haven't seen the movie? it's certainly the pinnacle of the last 100 years of film-making.

pps. couple of the strongest guys i ride with have 3 or more kids at home. (the horror!)
I dream of sucking so much somedayKristin
Jul 8, 2002 10:14 AM
Just kidding... I can identify in a pathetically less qualified kind of way. I've only been averaging 30 miles a week since April and decided to do 40 mile ride on the 4th. Thanks to my mathmatical prowess and a computer problem, I ended up completing 50 miles. Plus heat exhaustion set in on the trip home. There were no mountains and still I only managed 13MPH. UGH! My legs threatened to strike and I doubted that I'd sleep for days. Despirate, I tried some Tums. Its amazing, they really work. My non-riding friends are hailing me a hero; but at this time last year, I was riding 40-50 miles twice a week.

Someone said that your next ride would show marked improvement...I believe it. I rode both Friday and Sunday and was notably stronger. Its funny how that works.
re: You've got to be kidding...Akirasho
Jul 8, 2002 11:46 AM
The average 'Merican schmoo, who knows Lance Armstrong more from seeing him on David Letterman than actually viewing that race thingy somewhere in Europe, Paris I think, and who thinks that $150 FS Wally Mart is a "real" bike who takes it out with the kids on weekends, (don't forget to grab your smokes... it's gonna be a long afternoon) who would take 126 minutes to ride 9 miles on as flat a surface as the top of Drew Carey's head, before calling it quits for the rest of the "season" has you beat on the suck o meter (and said shmoo doesn't even know how bad they "suck").

Having battled a variety of injury and illness over the past year or so, I understand a bit... just a bit of what you're saying... then I get out and ride anyway...

We abide.

Remain In Light.
The wind blows and I suckAllisonHayes
Jul 8, 2002 12:18 PM
And then we have Mr. Doug Superman Icarus Sloan who has had his first encounter with kryptonite and melting wings. Aah, nothing like a wee bit o humility to make him human once again.

(Yes, we love to see our gods and superheroes brought down to our pitiful level.)
I just knew that Doug Sloan's story of humility would leave mebill
Jul 8, 2002 11:50 AM
once again marveling at . . . at that stuff you do to yourself. I wouldn't be humble if I was climbing in the ten thousand feet range on a double metric after doing 20/mi per WEEK because we just had a BABY. What the f*, man, are you thinking?
You, my old friend (I can say that, right?) are such a glutton for punishment that I can't stand it.
Relax. For the first long day back on the bike, you really should have just gone and had a little fun, like a fifty-miler. Of course it hurt. Fifty would have hurt, but it would have been fun. You had to go and cream yourself.
ok, okDougSloan
Jul 8, 2002 12:25 PM
I guess my grandfather would have given me the "I thought I was bad off when I had no shoes..." speech.

Yes, I hate getting out of shape. But, I do value the time it gave me with my wife and baby. Now if he'd only let me sleep more than 3 hours a night.

What we really need are 36 hour days.

Thanks for reality check.

sleep at lunch...JS Haiku Shop
Jul 8, 2002 12:32 PM
and while the wife is awake, and let her sleep through the night, at least until jr. sleeps through the night!
Doug, welcome to middle age.MrCelloBoy
Jul 8, 2002 1:01 PM
I learned, starting about age 30, that I could no longer just go out and ride whatever I wanted.
Don't beat yourself up. It just takes longer to build up endurance and strength (two separate goals I'll add) as we get older. I figure 3-4 months now (age 46) to work up to a DC. 2-3 months for the endurance and a month of speed/strength training. I averaged about 150 miles a week this season working up to the Triple Crown and I barely made it in at 10PM at this years Terrible Two. I walked up stretches of both the Rancheria and Ft. Ross.
Jul 8, 2002 1:16 PM
I was wondering how your Terrible Two went. That's one tough course, isn't it? You had a triple? Don't feel bad about walking. One guy who was among the top 30 was walking in his socks up one of the hill between lunch and the coast -- and I wasn't going hardly any faster riding beside him. How about a ride report?

Been there.look271
Jul 8, 2002 2:47 PM
It'll come back. Just give it a week or 2 of good riding.
re: I suck - story of humilityDINOSAUR
Jul 8, 2002 3:11 PM
Hey this sounds like one of my daily rides...ball park figure for getting back in shape is around 3 or 4 months I've found....but you will probably cut that time..sounds like too much, too soon. I've been guilty of that...I've died so many times I'm on a first name basis with St. Peter..
One Awesome first ride backchar
Jul 8, 2002 8:31 PM

After that "warmup" ride you are ready to tackle the TT route for your next ride!! I haven't ridden the course complete yet but if I ride it from home may be able to make it a terrible 3. hmmm... calling mrCelloBoy.

Great job, but you know you are "supposed" to add just 10% to your weekly mileage.

Wish I could have done the same, been 5 weeks off the bike due to crashing JRA from work. First ride last Sat 2 hours OUCH.

U d man,
you guys were rightDougSloan
Jul 21, 2002 7:42 PM
Follow up: I rode the upper part of this ride both Saturdays since. I cut off 10 minutes from the Big Creek hill each time, and it felt much easier. Still not fast, but 20 minutes faster over 3.5 miles in 2 weeks is significant. Riding is fun again.

Started riding at 5 a.m. every morning for an hour. Seems to work well. Also, had wife's mother over Saturday while I rode. She enjoyed it; wife was free for a day; and I got to ride. A win-win-win.

C2K is Saturday, so we'll see just how bad it gets. Anyone else doing it?