Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekend on the S2 and the Dirty Dozen Race

It was a good cycling weekend. And in my terms, even a bit of training was achieved.

There were good intentions to race the Saturday morning crit as well but the early downpour suppressed them fast. I didn't put up a fight, just slept in.

At lunch time, Sandra managed to get us on our bikes and ride 2h 30min without getting rained on. She took me on this great loop. It was one of those fun rides with little traffic for most of it, ondulating smooth roads for a good part of it and through some beautiful lush areas. Of course, we did a bit of urban riding by heading into the city for a bite to eat before heading home.

Average and max:
Speed - 22.5/70.6 km/h
Power - 117/621W
HR - 110/162 bpm
Cad. - 60/131 rpm

The Sunday Team ride was different. To begin, it was a very early start. Up at 1:30 am first because I couldn't sleep (too excited about the ride, I suppose), another snooze and up again before 4:00 am... I drove to the starting point knowing I wasn't going to be in a good shape after the planned 120 km ride, to Mt Tambourine (540m) and back.

On these rides, we can basically do anything we want, as long as the group stays together. So, a bit of training or a lot of training can be done. I am not sure what everyone else had in mind because little got said before the ride but I set off to do my strengthening work - my big ring workout.

I managed just over three hours of it during the 4h 15min out-and-back ride, including a 6.5 km climb, with a 5.7% average gradient. I wasn't able to go as fast as the guys, they just spun out of sight but I was happy to just enjoy the climb as I slowly made my way up.

Average and max:
Speed - 17.2/25 km/h
Power - 251/406W
HR - 140/175 bpm
Cad. - 45/67 rpm

Heading home wasn't too bad, we even entertained ouselves with a couple of sprints. Still, we took it ease for most of it, we were all tired. In fact, I was feeling very ordinary by the end of it and was glad to see Sandra (with her iPhone) as she rode with us for the last few kilometers and see my car parked across the road from the cafe.

Average and max:
Speed - 28.4/66.2 km/h
Power - 153/923W
HR - 135/175 bpm
Cad. - 67/138 rpm

I wrote about my next event (here) and mentioned cobbles. A bit of research has been going on, obviously, and during a google search, I found the Dirty Dozen Race in Pittsburgh, USA.

This is a crazy race with a bit of cobbles and a bit of climbing to go with it. It is not for pro riders or look-alikes. Here is part of a piece published by a newspaper a few years back. It described the race and competitor Stephen Cummings, who has won the race numeral times since...

"Stephen Cummings has no good reason for riding his bicycle 50 miles up and down the 13 steepest hills in Pittsburgh, turning his legs into angel hair pasta and his lungs into deflated balloons. Racing up cobblestoned slopes, catching what he calls a winter cough - what normal people refer to as bronchitis or pneumonia - and challenging his heart to race up a hill in Beechview with a grade that is 37 feet per 100 feet of run is an exercise in humility. Or the first signs of dementia for the 25-year-old bike messenger from Bloomfield.

But despite the obvious pitfalls of testing the body's limits in a sustained bout up and down the city's steepest grades, Mr. Cummings and an expected 40 riders with a disregard for pain, and perhaps a disdain for Bengay, are going to participate in 23rd annual Dirty Dozen bike race today up and over 13 of Pittsburgh's confounding inclines.

"Why go ride 150 miles? I guess you could say that's too far," said Mr. Cummings, who beat out 30 odd riders last year to win the race on his second attempt. "People know the race isn't sanctioned by the racing body, so it doesn't count toward anything except bragging rights."

The race, which was started by brothers Danny and Tom Chew in 1983, has evolved into a litmus test for athletes and a urban challenge among avid bikers across the country and the region.

The 50-mile gauntlet of gears challenges bikers through a baker's dozen of hills - the steepest being that 37 percent grade on Canton Avenue in Beechview - and is strictly a race up and down the slopes not in between them. The winner receives points for completing each hill according to how he or she places on that particular leg. The first five climbers of each hill receive points - first place climbers receive five points - and the closest to a perfect score of 65 by the end of the race wins.

No one has ever received a perfect score."

The Canton Avenue climb:

Full story here.

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