Monday, July 04, 2005

Making the Grade
"No breaks, no shade, no fun" -- that's what earned Oakville Grade the top spot on one man's list of the toughest Napa climbs. After tackling the hill today for the first time this year, I concur. Six-hundred and fifty feet in a mile in the afternoon sun. Man. But I made it, and continued on up to the Veeder summit. (One of the fascinating aspects of riding Mt. Veeder Road is the microclimates you pass through. I'm talking micro, tight 20- or 30-yard redwood-shrouded stretches that get no sun ever and the temperature drops 20 degrees, only to rise 30 when you pop into a perpetually sunny spot around the bend. Just one more thing you notice on the bike.)

Today's ride marked the beginning of a big week as I try to pull things together for Half Vineman on July 31. This is my fourth year in a row doing the race and I've improved my time each of the past two years. Despite the sketchy nature of this season's workouts, I have it in my head that I can take last year's 5:38:23.4 down to 5:30. Here's the recipe, with last year's times and this year's goals:

Swim…….42:58.7 / 41
T1…………4:48:6 / 4:15
Bike……2:54:58.0 / 2:52:30
T2…………3:25.7 / 3
T2……...1:52:12.2 / 1:48:15
Total…...5:38:23.4 / 5:30

Yeah, I've got myself saving a minute in the transitions. I've done no special training or practicing in order to make that happen; I just know that in the past, I've made no effort to be quick in the transitions. This year I will.

Anyway, the key to preparing myself for a good race-day effort: Getting in three rides of 50+ miles in the next two and a half weeks.