Wednesday, May 19, 2004

It's Giro rest day

It's Giro rest day and that is a good thing. It's always fairly manic getting through the first 10 days, especially with all the other races on in May. Why does every man and his dog hold races now? Something to do with the sun I guess.

Speaking of sun, it has been ridiculously good weather in Belgiƫ for the last couple of days. Yesterday was 27 and today was 23-24 degrees, sunny and almost zero wind. Of course I went out for rides both days, although I took it very easy on Monday after the weekend's exertions. Today (Tuesday) I'd normally do 150-160 km, but cut it down to 135 km as I didn't want to go completely overboard, despite the fact that I'm feeling a lot more over the weather. Still a slight sore throat, but the dry cough has all but disappeared and my heart rate has dropped another 10 beats and is getting down into normal territory.

Extremely tedious description of a training ride follows

Today I thought I'd cruise out with the bunch along the Schelde to Oudenaarde and back, then do a bit extra in the hills. I didn't plan on doing much at the front though! We normally take it a bit easy going out, but today there were three guys who decided to take off before halfway, and that led to a slight increase in pace. They had about a minute at the turnaround, and there was a Palmans U23 rider in the bunch who saw that two of his mates were in the break, so he took it upon himself to chase them down. Verily, a noble fellow.

If you look closely at the HRM graph (I'll try to get these sharper), you'll note that the speed suddenly increased at the 17 km mark. This Palmans guy was on the front for 5 km, doing between 45 and 50 km/h with a very, very light tailwind. Jeez. Needless to say, the break was brought back. Then he proceeded to continually attack us all the way back to Gent. Attacking is normal, as this part of the ride is considered a race. I was - from a distance - impressed by his persistence.

Click for larger version
HRM/speed/altitude graph for May 18

He was toying with us, but it kept the speed quite high and we averaged 44.2 km/h coming back, which is not bad. Towards the end, he had a bit of a gap with a couple of other guys, so I broke my pledge of not doing any work and pulled what was left of the bunch up to him at 50 km/h. My turn was pretty short :-) You see, you can't let these young 'uns beat you.

That was about 1.5 km from the "sprint", so I dropped back to try and recover, found a wheel and stuck to it. It's always a long leadout with no real aim but to go fast, and we slowly edged it up from 50 to 55 km/h with a few hundred metres to go. Most of the riders in front of me had spent their bikkies doing this, so I ended up in about fourth wheel. And there I stayed, because when I got out of the saddle to try and produce more power/speed, I went nowhere.

If I could extract another 9 km/h and a ridculously large number of watts, then I could beat Petacchi, who has so far won 4 Giro stages and was clocked at 64 km/h coming across the line the other day. What a dude.

As always, this is good training for bunch sprints, and I think I should be back to where I was before by next week. Want to race on Thursday on Hemelvaart (Ascension Day) in Destelbergen, so didn't want to overcook it today. I did three more hills afterwards and cruised back along the Schelde at 36-37 km/h, feeling like I was doing a normal training ride.

Well, that's my ride for the day in detail. This posting is for my benefit more than anyone else's, so I make no apologies for being mind-numbingly boring. I will post some more interesting, non-bike related stuff, but not now.

Tot volgende keer.

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