Rock Creek Park is a wonderful place to train, especially on the weekends with Beach Drive closed to car traffic. I'm told it is also a wonderful place to buy and sell drugs, kill people and solicit sex. Sort of a heaven and hell.
Yesterday I rode for an hour and a half in the hills, riding up one side of the creek valley, back into the ravine, up the other side again. It was cold and windy, but the sun warmed things up. After the misery of West Virginia, I hardly notice the cold.
I notice the cars idling sitting in the turnoffs, the men on phones sitting or leaning against them. It's 10:30am on a Monday, and these men are sitting in cars in a park, waiting.
I avoid eye contact.
I do my hill loop twice. The first time I try to moderate my effort, especially on the downhills and level parts. It takes me 34 minutes. I rest and wait for my heart to slow, watching a woman get out of her hybrid and look at me, as if expecting me. All I am doing is waiting for my heart to return to 135 bpm. She turns away, my heart slows, I start my clock. This time I want to ride all-out.
Walkersville, my first race, is five days away, then Tyson's Corner is Sunday. My legs feel dead, especially when I stand up. I don't have the crispness from last year, the feeling of dancing on the pedals.
On the third hill, a steady grade where on my best days on can average 11 mph, I lower my head and try a more forward position. The power comes from the quad muscles just above my knees instead of my upper thighs or glutes. It feels better, and I mash my way to the top.
The next, and last, hill is an easier grade. I can sustain 15 mph, which feels like flying after the previous, steeper hills. That relative sensation is always bliss, a sensation of travelling uphill at speed. It makes the legs want to go faster.
Results from Jefferson Cup were disappointing. Our best guy finished 7th. I'm worried, since all of these guys have been riding and are in better shape than me. How much fitness can I establish in three weeks of haphazard training?
It feels immoral to come in so untrained.
I complete the second loop in 32:30.