Monday, July 05, 2010

Death Ride Training Update

This next Saturday, I'm planning on at least starting the Death Ride - 130 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing. A couple of days ago, on waking, I was in some serious pain, almost over-the-top pain. An early-morning bike ride down 12 miles to the Pacific Ocean and back home didn't help.

By 9:30 a.m. my family and I were on the road (with my bike in the trunk) to visit my 95-year old Aunt Belle, in Palm Springs. While the weather in Los Angeles had been overcast, here in the desert skies were sunny. The temperature was hovering around 100 degrees. Mt. San Jacinto, which rises out of the desert adjacent to Palm Springs, towers more than 10,000 feet above sea level, and its upper slopes still sported patches of snow, proof that it had been a long winter in California.

After a wonderful lunch with my aunt, I climbed back on my bike. While I rode, I was fairly comfortable, as the air flowing over me on my mostly flat ride cooled me. At the end of 20 miles, as I stopped at my aunt's home, I quickly realized that my internal engine was super-heated. I did an immediate dive into the too-warm swimming pool, floated around for a while, and followed that with a cool shower.

Happily for me, whether it was the ride itself loosening me up, or the heat, or some combination of the two, my back, while it still hurt, felt so much better than it had in the morning.

The relief from pain granted me by my bike ride was over by the time I woke in my own bed yesterday. Yet the pain was low-grade, as it's been for weeks, nothing like the previous morning, when every bump in the road sent a jolt of pain through me.

So I climbed on my bike in the afternoon and, in a couple of rides split by a 30 minute break at home, I managed 47 miles and 4,600 feet of climbing. I'd made a couple of changes to my bike. First, I put on a Brooks saddle, which I pulled off of my 1962 road bike. The Brooks, made in much the way it has been for more than a century, is a leather saddle, and it's absurdly heavy. I also lowered my seat post a few centimeters.

When I was finished riding, in the early evening, my back good. By the time I went to bed, chronic pain had returned, but it wasn't serious pain. When I woke this morning, the pain was about the same: annoyingly low-grade pain.

Cycling is apparently either going to cure me or kill me, something I'm just beginning to realize. At least cycling doesn't seem, as I first thought it did, increase my pain. It would be nice if, to rid myself of pain, I wouldn't have to ride 40 miles a day; short rides, though, don't seem to help much.

For now, it's time to see what happens on a 30 mile ride.

No comments: