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Puncheur

September 10, 2011

Today’s Ride: 55km—Burlington, home up King Rd.

Weather: Sunny

Fall is a tricky time to ride. It was brisk when I woke up, so I elected to don arm and leg warmers. Which seemed like overkill when I was out, but by then I was committed. The temperature climbed fairly quickly, but what do you do with all the extra gear once you don’t need it? Rolling down the warmers looks a little strange, and stuffing pockets reeks of poor preparation. So I just wore it out. Probably not the end of the world, but I was a little warm. To boot, my shoes were still a little damp from Thursday.

Lazy Saturday morning rides have become a staple of my week of late. It’s nice to head out for a couple of hours and enjoy the ride. That’s not to say that I don’t typically enjoy riding, but in terms of pace and distance, the Saturday ride feels like a weekend spin compared with the longer and harder rides during the week. I like taking a little more time at Domestique and rolling casually through town before taking to the hills.

I actually felt fairly strong once I got started, and was pushing a fairly high cadence and gear through Burlington, which felt good. King Rd. is a bit of a sustained climb, starting fairly easily just after the 403, but it’s enough to slow you right down. This is the kind of climbing I still struggle with. By the time it ramps up to its steepest point, I’m already near my limit, but I found enough reserves to climb out of the saddle and do the 200m at >15%. It was touch and go for a moment as to whether I was going to blow up, but I found myself able to hang on until it leveled out for 20m before ramping up for the final 50m stretch. This is all more psychological than physical, I suspect:

Body: This is getting tough. My lungs are breaking through the ribcage and there’s no room for my heart to pump 370bpm. I need to sit down. My legs are getting tired, too.

Mind: We’re almost there. Just a bit further.

Body: Seriously: we can’t do this.

Mind: Just a few more turns of the crank.

Body: Fine, but if this turns pear-shaped, it’s on you.

Mind: Just. A. Few. More. Turns.

Or something like that. I actually recovered very quickly at the top. Earlier in the spring, I was gasping for breath for quite some time by the time I got to the top; today, even as I crested the final hump, I was able to control my breathing. Good feeling, although I seem to climb the shorter, steeper stuff better than the longer, more steady climbs. That is to say, I was better on the final portion of King Rd. than on the more gradual ascent at the bottom. Maybe not a surprise given my size that I’m more of a puncheur than a grimpeur.

Hamilton's industrial skyline. Steeltown.

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