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Author Archive: Manny

Wanna race?

And it starts like most races do with a little hesitation, some trepidation, and a lot of anticipation. I roll out and set a steady tempo. I know my fitness is not where it used to be so I decide that a long range attack allá Contador is the way to go. I’m receiving information and it’s telling me I have a 30 second gap. I’m holding steady pushing about 20 miles per hour. I have some luck on my side and I have not had too many reasons to slow down. As I’m approaching the first climb, my first true test, my breakaway has gained me 2 minutes.

The climb shines light on the cracks in my foundation. I’m coming undone and I’m starting to Pedal in squares. The 2 mile climb is pushing my heart rate to 190 beats per minute, I’m bleeding time and fading fast. This climb that tops out at 7% and has taken my two-minute lead down to one minute. In the last mile of climbing I’ve fallen apart and this climb has taken its toll and although the major climb is over there is still more climbing to be done.

I’m feeling confident that I can get some of the time back on the upcoming rolling section. The problem is that this section is much less rolling then I remembered it. The next half mile has not a single negative grade and an average grade of 3%. I begin to lose more time and when I reach the two-thirds marker I’m only 20 seconds ahead. Those 20 seconds dissolve into zero, zero grows to a negative. My second best effort on this section is still about 1mph too slow.  I’m now 20 seconds behind, I’ve been caught, and I don’t have much left in the tank.

My strategy might seem to have failed me but I’m exactly where I want to be. I limp up the rest of the climb and utilize one of my best skills. The descent is my playground. I slowly see my deficit disappear and I even make up a few seconds. In my aerodynamic tuck I’m able to gain one minute and 30 seconds as I turn right, right into the last real climb. From here Colima is only 0.3 miles but with an average grade of over 6%, it can do some damage.  This climb is no test, this climb is a deal-breaker, make or break, win or lose.

My 1 minute and 30 second Advantage disappears yet again I get out of saddle I give it everything I have left to no avail. I’m riding like a man possessed but I’m two minutes behind. In 2 minutes I’ve lost 2 minutes. My lungs feel like raisins, I can feel the burn down my esophagus, my legs are begging me to stop, I consider sitting up. But for every climb there is a descent, so I hold my pace steady and continue up the climb. 2 minutes and 15 seconds is what I have to make up on a 2 mile descent.

I rearranged myself about 3 times trying to find an aerodynamic position I can hold for the entirety of the Hill. Colima Road flattens out and it’s now up to my legs pushing at times 28 miles per hour, holding my threshold as long as I can. I look down and realize I’m 3 minutes ahead. All that is left is to maintain my lead. I want to do more than maintain though, so I push each pedal as hard as I can for the remaining 2 miles. Little by little I’m gaining time, three minutes turns into four, four minutes balloons to 5, and by the time I’m at the finish my lead would tell a different story than my body. I’m a wreck but I’m feeling like an accomplished wreck.

My first race in sometime was not against a Peloton or a friend, it was against myself via my virtual partner on my Garmin 520. I had no idea that this is going to be so much fun, so competitive, and so inspiring. At the time I didn’t think twice I just thought “oh look what I can do” with my Garmin. It seems like my commute has found yet another way to keep my interest.

Watch the video

How time distorts things.

Not too long ago it seems, I was young, had a full set of hair, and above all else, I had time. Now with 3 boys, a wife, and less time than ever I have to get creative with when I ride. My commute route began the same way most do, with the easiest way to get to work. Now its transformed into about 90% of all my riding and I love it that way.

I was a 200-300 mile a week road racer who did 3 weekly group rides and wouldn’t get on my bike if it was for less than an hour ride. Now I ride to work about 3-4 times a week for a commute that is about 12 miles each way. Not that my commute is not without its challenges, there are a few healthy inclines on the way to my work, traffic is fairly rough all the time, and the road makes 28s almost a must. Still it’s my commute and I own it.

From the tough climbs to wheel untruing potholes it became my commute. I found ways to extend it and created a few strava segments to challenge myself. I realized that my bike was horribly inadequate (read: I wanted an upgrade) so I got a nice all terrain road/cross bike. That opened the door to even more routes and made the rough patches more livable.

I demoed a mountain bike at a work event and really enjoyed riding dirt so I dusted off the old hard tail mountain bike and now I mix in a mountain bike ride as part of my weekly commute.

I haven’t really grown tired of my commute because I don’t treat it as one. It’s my time to ride, a time to myself, a small part of my day where I can test my legs and my spirit that has not changed even if time has changed everything else.

-Mannuel, KOM Bike Talk