Monday, December 15, 2008

Training @ home

The trip to Panama was awesome, with great weather and 8 days of good riding in rolling to high mountain terrain. My girlfriend also enjoyed the people, scenery and weather.

Upon on arriving in Panama City (with all the bags, bike included), my parents picked us up and we headed for lunch in the city before heading to Santiago, the town where I grew up. Early on Friday was the first scheduled ride with my dad. It was pretty cool getting to ride, just the two of us, on roads where he taught me how to ride a bike. On Saturday was the big ride with all the locals and my welcoming committe included the pro national champ, the U23 champ and the Masters champ, so it was time to step up. And like they say, "when in Rome do as the Romans", I didn't hesitate to get the festivities started. It was better to shoot the first round than to wait for the battery of attacks from the locals. The legs responded well and soon it was the U23 and the pro champ with me sandwiched in between. The younger of the trio turned the screws on the last climb and I had to let him go, with the pro champ smiling from ear to ear, since he was on a "recovery" ride.

After the ride we packed and headed to Boquete, up in the mountains of western Panama. It's about 4,400 feet high, with mild temperatures and some gusty winds, land of coffee, flowers and some really nasty climbs. Dad wasted no time to introduce me to his favorite loop and I was soon in a world of trouble, wondering if the 39/26 ratio was going to be enough.

Monday was a fun ride, with the Firefly Club from David. This is where the heavy climbing was done and I was feeling good going hard on the long, gradual and at times steep climbs until a 26 year old local joined me at the head of the pack. The guy had an older model Diamond Back road frame, with a 7 speed cassette and soak and wet I calculated he weighed about 125 lbs. and at 5'4 inches, it was going to be a struggle trying to draft behind him. After a quick pit stop at a store, the now local climber and I headed for battle on the 14 mile ascend up to Caldera. The first 11 miles can be done on the big ring, but you are climbing all the way up to the Chiriqui Dam and after a few short walls that zap your legs, you still have another 9 miles of nice paved road in front, although the last 4 are not as smooth and they get steeper.

The climbing sensation half way through told me he actually was 110 lbs. and I remember what Kyle says about having to climb with a fat ass. My 151 lbs. carcass was hurting me up the ascend. The heat was also taking a toll and the pace was hard but not brutal, until we exited the smooth paved section and headed still higher up on what I dubbed "Highway to Hell", a bumpy stretch where the sun just cooks you slowly. And with two miles to go, I dropped anchor and the bike refused to move forward, it was just mental strength that got me to the end of the ride where mom was waiting with the car, thank goodness.

The rest of the week included more climbing, great food, good company and overall a really great time with our friends and family. We enjoyed it so much that I'm planning on going back hopefully before June and then in late August when the local racing season will be in full swing. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Picture Perfect

Let me tell you, jet lag is a biacth!. I arrived from India last Saturday and the plan was to grab a late breakfast por early lunch, take a nap, go for short spin, get a haircut and watch some college football. Well, I got as far as the nap part and after that, it was lights out. With the weather turning on Sunday and having to work early both Monday and Tuesday, the bike wasn't going to get out and my struggle to recover from the trip just continued. Sleeping was good, but I never seemed to get enough of it and on Monday at work, I kinda of zoned out during one of the live newscasts. Not a good thing to do.

Yesterday, one of my supervisors thought that I could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Alright, things in Mumbai were quite hairy at best, but I was never in "real" danger, so I found it interesting that she came to that conclusion.

And today my month long vacation began and it couldn't have started in a better way than with a morning ride with Jose. We parked at the bottom of Great Falls and did part of the 10AM loop, all of it in the small ring, riding side by side and just talking and enjoying the cool, sunny day. After 10 days of no riding, I didn't feel too bad, but we never put the hammer down. I'm convinced the hommies in Panama will bring their A game when I show up on Saturday, but I have a good list of excuses prepared. I spent the 15 hour trip back from India working on them.

The bike is packed (broke my pedal wrench and one cassette decided it wasn't going to come off) and everything is ready for us to leave tomorrow morning. First ride is scheduled for Saturday and the weather is in the mid 80s, with the humidity in the mid 90s (love it!). Looking forward to ride the roads where I learned how to ride a bike.