My husband is a former bicycle racer who competed in Northern Nevada and California races. He still rides almost daily and he rides at a much higher pace than me. On Saturday, July 16, our 10-year-old son left for a week at a mountain lake cabin with his best friend’s family. I asked Stan if he wanted to go for a ride with me. He said yes but also said he would want to go for a workout ride later. I said, maybe we could find a ride where we could both get a workout, like a ride with a good long climb. He suggested Geiger Grade. The last time I climbed Geiger Grade leaving from home was 2 years ago when I was training for my first Ride to Defeat ALS and it nearly killed me! It’s about 40 miles round trip, with about 3000 feet of climbing. But I’m in better shape this year so I was game.
As we rode through the valley toward Geiger Grade (the road to Virginia City), Stan worked with me to try to get me to draft behind him. I have not learned drafting techniques before and I don’t really like riding right behind someone so I can’t see the road in front of me. When we started the climb, Stan worked with me on shifting up and down according to how I can sustain my pace as the gradient changes and as the wind shifted to and from a tail wind. I always used to just grind up hills in the easiest gear. He was still much faster than me and he would zoom ahead doing speed intervals and then he’d ride back down to meet me. When we got up to the false summit at the Virginia City Highlands turnoff, Stan decided to head back. I had never gone beyond this point but I felt great and for once I didn’t have to get back to pick up my son so I continued on to the summit.
It was a very windy descent and I had to stop to rest both at the Highlands turnoff and at the Scenic Overlook. When I got back down to the valley, I had to think of a way home with minimal climbing, since I was pretty beat. I ended up going over the Double R hill to AirCenter Parkway. I had to climb that hill but then got a nice high-speed descent as a reward. From AirCenter I turned on Meadowood Mall Way to Neil, thinking I would ride home on McCarran. But McCarran was all torn up for repaving so I continued on to Peckham. Then I only had to climb the hill to my house. After 3.5 hours of riding I was really glad to be done!
I used some of my speed coach’s tips when I did my hill repeats the following Thursday. Using MyTracks on my Droid phone, I was able to compare my speed and time to the week before. For the same distance each Thursday, the new techniques let me finish 7 minutes sooner and my average moving speed increased from 9.66 mph to 10.55 mph! Oh yeah! Anything that can help me finish century rides sooner is a good thing!
My speed coach rode with me again last Saturday in the Ride for RAVE. RAVE provides respite babysitting for parents of special needs kids, as well as volunteer experience for high school kids who provide the babysitting. We had used RAVE babysitting when our son was a baby. He was a preemie and had special feeding needs. The ride left from Sports West Athletic Club (where I work out) and the route was our tried and true favorite Verdi Loop. We rode at a high pace for me (our average moving speed was 16 mph). Stan kept urging me to ride closer to him. The pace was slow for him but since he pulled the whole time mostly into a head wind, he was happy with his workout. We ended up being the first to finish – a new experience for me! The ride had a great rest stop on Bridge Street in Verdi, and a really great buffet brunch after the ride.
After the ride we went home and watched the Tour de France Time Trial which we had recorded. Then there was just enough time to shower before going to pick up our son, home from the mountain cabin.