Regular readers - those I haven't driven off with rest week pauses - know that I can't stand knuckleheads who want to race while I'm doing slow, low speed cruising on my commute. They're the guys that Kosta calls The Bike Trail Guys. If they were in cars they'd have Camaros, wear tank tops, and do a lot of dumbell curls with their left arm - so it looks really buff when they hang it out the car. Thing is if you want to race, join a hard group ride, or better yet, pay USCF your $85 and go race. Bike trail commuter racing is like the high school street drags of the bicycle world - it's a bit dangerous, it's not real racing, and it sometimes reveals character more than it reveals engines.
And the real reason I hate it, is because my competitive side wants to go, even though my rational side knows it would be the stupidest thing in the world to do. I used to be that guy. Yikes.
So normally I just chug along, 200 watts, recovery pace... blah blah blah. Meanwhile, guys are passing me doing the head bob, trying to hold their heavy breathing "I'm just on a recovery ride today... " Yeah, okay Fred. You bet.
Tonight was a bit different though. The morning Hell of the North (Arlington) Coppi hill ride was rained out, at least from my perspective. I was going to do Greenbelt but got crushed at work and knew I'd have to work late. I was in a grim mood. The, a ray of light. Kurt K was looking around on the listserve for somebody to do a ride with, for the same reasons. So I chirped up, and he decided we would go do a couple hard intervals up the Capital Crescent. Man, I haven't gone hard on that trail in maybe 8 months... this would be good.
So we met up at the bottom of the trail and cruised up slow. Some commuters and rec riders even passed us. When we passed the dip in the pavement just past Fletcher's Boathouse, Kurt said "let's go," and we put the hammer down. For the first five minutes going uphill, until we got over the little bridge before the tunnel (yeah, that's right, I said five minutes) we were going about 22 MPH. I was sucking black latex as if my life depended on it - never ridden uphill in the drops before, that was a unique experience. Even going along in the drops, an inch off his wheel, I still averaged 385 watts. Yeah, a 5 minute VO2Max interval. But wait, it doesn't end there. When we got over the bridge he had gapped me by about 15 yards. So I tried to sprint and catch up, while he tried to get hit by some French girl cruising through the rail tunnel. I didn't catch up, he didn't get hit, and we kept going like that. I was completely blown up by this point and just dropped down to a high threshold level effort, around 310 - 320 watts. (That was all I could maintain, my lungs were exploding at that point). We rode like this up to Bethesda.
Did I mention that we passed the bejeezus out of everybody on the trail, including this one wannabe who tried to sprint and catch a wheel? Well, we did. No doubt the cognitive dissonance from seeing a small climbing guy and a big fat non-climbing guy hammering uphill at a speed that isn't terribly comfortable to maintain seared the image of the Coppi logo spread across my generous backside into his tiny walnut-sized lizard brain.
Then, when we got to the top, we turned around and did it again. Same result. This time, however, Kurt didn't gap me. We passed some people more smoothly the second time - we didn't have to come to a stop two or three times on the hill before the small bridge, so we never needed to go from 0 to 22. This tiny difference - three little surges - was all I needed to hold Kurt's wheel the entire way up the hill. I averaged 354 watts and 21 MPH for 14 minutes. Yeah, it was kind of a burner. My lungs are still a little irritated, and mid-ride, it felt like they would come out of my nose.
So we basically had two 15 minute VO2Max intervals (okay, fine, I got dropped into threshold level for 10 minutes of the first one) which isn't a terrible workout on an intensity day.
Most importantly, we crushed the bejeezus out of The Biketrail Guys, especially the guys who tried to race with us.
Wait a minute, does glorying in the destruction of a Fred commuter while I'm training on the bike trail make me a Biketrail Guy, like some pod person in Invasion of the Body Snatchers?
Maybe it's not to late to buy a Camaro.