Friday, April 4, 2014

Pharma-assisted, Wind-impeded, NHL Ride

The three week hiatus in my posting here has been caused by a combination of abject laziness, weather, and a ski trip. This is the twelfth year that a small core group from New Orleans, sometimes joined by a widely diverse mix of less committed skiers, has headed to Alta, Utah, at the end of March for five days of intense, nearly non-stop, skiing.

Apparently suffering from some form of cognitive deficiency, I have miserably failed during these twelve years to alter in any fashion my obviously inadvisable conditioning strategy to prepare for the trip, i.e., doing absolutely nothing.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Being swim fit or cycling fit (okay, relatively cycling fit) is good for cardiovascular and general health, but almost every athletic endeavor employs a unique set of muscles, stresses a different combination of joints, tendons, and ligaments. And so it is from a position of some considerable experience that I tell you not to engage in physical exercise, any physical exercise, for six or seven hours a day for five days in a row, once a year, without any targeted conditioning. You can do it. Hell, I've stupidly done it for twelve years. But you'll pay for it. Think about riding a bike only once a year for five days, six hours a day. Exactly. Also please remember that skiing, for me at least, almost always includes a few high-speed, out-of-control tumbles on hard, icy, packed snow, disguised as a steep but soft and fluffy playground by a light dusting of newly fallen snow.

I have been cognizant for several years now that a few of my parts are aging faster than others, and this fact is brought freshly to the forefront of my consciousness every year at the end of my trip to Alta. My neck, with its anterior osteophytic bridge across the collapsed C5/C6 disc space, is immobile and aching, my right shoulder, subjected for years to intermittent cortisone injections, screams when I lift my arm, the iliotibial band in my left knee is sore, and god knows what's going on with my right hip. These disabling impairments went amazingly unnoticed while frolicking on the slopes of Alta, but loudly announced themselves while disembarking from the three-hour flight home late Sunday night.

All of this is a long way of admitting that I didn't swim on Monday or Wednesday and didn't ride on Tuesday, until finally, driven by guilt and aided by a steady, copious consumption of NSAIDs, I dragged out the bike for the Thursday levee ride.

First I should note the ride was NHL. It was reported to me yesterday that HL, like me, has largely absented himself from the levee these past three weeks only after announcing that he was giving up surging for lent. For HL, giving up surging may well be the same as giving up riding. You've got to love HL. I do. And I love riding with him, except when I'm riding with him.

After the Turn
Without HL present, the major threat to my survival on the ride was a rather stiff and freshening SSE wind, which was reported at 13, but felt like 20. We started with a dozen riders, most of whom I never saw after the start. I soon ended up on the wheel of Vega, who did an admirable job of shortcutting the line behind the five or six guys doing the work. Vega stood his ground and ignored the sneers and emphatic beckoning gestures asking for help by someone, Keith McD. or Judd, I think. It wasn't long before those working just sat up, one after another, demanding to be allowed to drift back for some relief from the wind. Then several times, when only Ray and Max remained in the rotation, Woody would slowly work his way up through the echelon of riders to torture the group with a sustained pull at HL-surge speed (see Rich's profile below). I was pleased to make it to the bitter end, hanging with only Woody, Max and Ray, of those who began at the playground.

We had been joined west of the Big Dip by the trio from Destrehan, whose fresh legs pressured all
Butterweed on Batture
but Ray on the way in (Woody was already gone, having turned and immediately sprinted for home alone). So it was only the River Parish Gang, along with Ray, Max, Rich, Vega and I as we approached the Old End and came upon the familiar trio of riders led by the Big Dude, who literally dwarfs Big Rich. They integrated into the group and I foolishly allowed myself to lose my favored spot of comfort on Rich's wheel. Then I saw Graffagnini, fresh from River Ridge, turning to join us. The group began spreading out and fracturing, and I became unhitched.  Eventually, Vega caught me and graciously pulled me at a comfortable pace the half-mile to Williams Blvd., where he got off. I limped home alone against the wind, struggling to maintain 18 mph.

All day yesterday I was constantly reminded of the limitations of modern pharmaceuticals by a renewed intensity of the twinges and aches which are this year's souvenirs from northern Utah.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

No comments:

Post a Comment