Today I ate a lot of food. I am still writing about today, the 17th. Here is a list of the food I ate:
3 bowls of oats
about 6 pieces of bread with jam
1 chicken leg (I caught that rooster)
3 bowls of chicken/potato soup
1 bowl of salad
3 plates of pasta
2 plates of rice
4 pieces of birthday bread cake (one of the guy’s birthday today)
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 large baked potato
maltodextrin on the bike
odds and ends
Looks like I’ll be doing 25 hour weeks, which means a lot of food.
I did another 3 or 4 hours today. Except this time we were supposed to go on a medium paced “tempo” ride. Basically, if we go on an “easy” ride, it is a medium ride. If we go on a “medium” ride, it is a hard ride. We haven’t yet gone on a “hard” ride.
The ride consisted of Gal (the head coach who is still a racer), Niazan, and Iliad-both on the national team. We started with two more guys, but they got dropped about 20 minutes into it. I was also there.
We were to do 1 hour easy/warm up, 30 minutes of temp, break, 30 minutes of tempo, then finish off with an extra hour or so. After Niazan attacked on a climb 15 minutes into the ride, it was hammer time. I countered, and drilled it the rest of the way up. 10 minutes later we got to the next climb, which was much less steep, but a lot longer. About 20 minutes to the very top. I set a hard tempo up it, and later got scolded by Gal after he caught back on at the top. “If that’s your tempo speed, then you should join the guys on the TV!” But he basically went against his own words about 30 minutes later when we started the first tempo interval. Before that though, we climbed up a long 4% grade section. “This is tempo speed,” he said. My power tap read 330 watts. “You should be able to hold your tempo speed for all day.” He means3 hours, not a 7-hour ride. That pace felt fine, definitely like tempo and within reason of holding “all day.” But after a fast descent, Gal began to hammer on the flats/rollers. Niazan and Iliad and I pulled through, all four of us slowly but surely increasing the “tempo.” 450 watts didn’t seem like tempo, but of course I wasn’t going to complain!
With 10 minutes to go, Niazan and Iliad stopped pulling through, which left most of the work to me. I could tell they were cracking. Eeeeeexcelent.
We finished on the top of a small climb, took 6 minutes of rest, and started the next interval. The rain had completely soaked the road by now, so spray was flying everywhere on the descent into a small village. But it isn’t cold here, just wet. The rain and spray felt good.
Oh, and by the way—even in these small villages, the drivers race down the roads like orangutans high on bananas injected with banana extract. We entered the village and zoomed in and out of traffic, bumping bumping bumping over the cobbles and dodging oncoming cars and potholes. We exited the dangers of the village, but there were still 25 minutes of pain left to be dealt out.
There is one instance in which one word can be understood in all languages. That instance is riding, hard. And that one word is “slow.” It is gasped, not said, by a pleading rider in the back of the paceline. The gasp and groan of the word are the same in every language. The desperation of how it’s said is unmistakable. And of course, the more desperate it sounds, the harder you will pull. We were only half way through the interval, and Gal was beginning to tire. The other two guys grimaced in the back, sucking our wheels. There was only one option for me to do when I heard the word for “slow,” stuttered in Hebrew from behind. I slowed down and sat up for a second or two, making it look like I had the intention of slowing down. Then I steadily ramped up the pace again, only this time harder.
Don’t get me wrong, the ride was NOT easy for me. I was suffering just as much as everyone else. I was just suffering at the front, which is always a better place to suffer. My legs were full of acid after the first 30 minutes, plus all the ego climbing during our 1 hour warm up. But God damn it!! I didn’t travel all the way to Belgium to take a stroll through the daisy fields! *note,* there are no daisy fields. I was just making a point.
We finished the interval in a pool of acid, and began the easy part of the ride. Not.
We rode into a village and immediately headed for another Belgian Wall. These Belgian Walls are everywhere here. It’s as if Belgian construction crews roamed the country looking for places to build roads. And they would come upon a cliff and say to each other, “hey, that looks like a swell spot for a road.” “Wait wait wait, Hold on now, let’s not be rash,” one of them would say. “Lets first make sure it’s steep enough so that a bicyclist might tip over backwards if they attempted ride up it.” “Ahh, good point. I almost forgot the bike tip test. Release the hounds!!!” The hounds have nothing to do with what I was just talking about. Nor do they have anything to do with anything. I just wanted to write it. So I’ll do it again. Release the hounds!!! That was satisfying.
Anyways, the Belgian Walls: they aren’t as pleasant as Belgian Waffles, which I assume are just “waffles” here.
They’re all 3 to 6 minute climbs (going hard) and they always have a gradient of 20% or more at one point or another. And we always race up them. We may start out nice and slow at the bottom section, but 1 minute up and the talking stops, and the pain begins. Each time up one of these, I secretly thank Gilad for finding Nectar Way. We did a couple wall climbs during the ride today, including that Liege-Bastogne-Liege climb again. There is bold white writing covering the climb, with names of famous riders. Someone named “Phil” has a giant fan club because his name is slathered all the way up the wall. And I stand corrected; the climb maxes out at 21% not 18%.
After the wall climbs, we each got a mini Belgian Coke back in a village and rode home. Then feasted.