I’m upping my exercise times, in five minute intervals, from 45 minutes to one hour over the next week or ten days.  When I can never get out on the bike I can’t maintain form, especially stamina and power, at 45 minutes of indoor time.  Today is my first day of doing this with my most frequent e-bike routine, in which I ride at varying resistances while keeping my heart rate at even at 122-125 beats per minute.  That’s slightly more than double my resting pulse, and about 80% of my lactate threshold, the rate at which i am working so hard that lactic acid starts to build up in my muscles.  My maximum is still about 160-162, somewhat higher than average for my age (a good thing).  So today I’m on a very controlled and understated pace, designed to maintain conditioning without too much strain.

As I am roll along I watch the 2003 Tour de France.  It’s stage 5, the Team Time Trial.  In this type of race the entire team rides together, keeping a high pace by rotating through a line to shield one another from the wind.  Rules are that at least five of nine team riders must finish together, with the team time taken from the fifth rider.  Lance’s team, U. S. Postal, has never won the TTT, but is designed this year to contain the riders necessary to win it.  One of his main rivals (Josebo Beloki) is on a strong Spanish team (ONCE) that won the previous year.   The other (Jan Ullrich) is on a weaker team (Bianchi), though he himself is a strong rider.  But a stong rider on a weak team loses in a TTT, because he get the same time as his weaker mates.

U. S. Postal rides last since it has been the strongest team in the earlier stages.  Drama.  They flash around the curves and past the intermediate time checks, gaining on all the others with every kilometer.  I know how it’s going to finish, but it’s still exciting.  The Postal guys are decked out in blue, with white and red highlights.  They’re riding Trek bikes, and they are hammering it.  All nine are together as they cross the line; Victor Hugo Peña is first, and will be leading the race and thus the first Colombian to wear the yellow jersey.  Ace rouleur George Hincapie knows they’ve won and raises a fist in triumph.  Lance is grinning, now only one second behind, having put big time into his rivals.   The first eight places in the race belong to U. S. Postal riders.  My heart rate is 130.  By the end of the post-race interviews, it’s back to 123.  After seven years, still a fan.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.

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