Thursday, November 19, 2009

Embrocation: The experiment goes awry

Following the success of my embrocation experiments on the road, I decided to try out the stuff on one of my roller workouts in the morning chill on my balcony. I squirted out a blob and rubbed it into my legs, and the wonderful warm feeling kicked in right away. I was riding bare legged when I usually have to wear tights. It felt great.

But 10 minutes into the workout, I discovered a problem. When I'm riding on the roads, I don't really smell the embrocation all that much because the wind whips it off my body. But when I'm riding in place on the rollers, the scent rises up from my legs and goes straight up into my nose. For the first few minutes of the workout, the sinus-clearing sensation was enjoyable. But after 10 minutes, I began feeling like I was riding in a cloud of embrocation. I got lightheaded and a bit dizzy. I couldn't focus on my workout. All I was doing was thinking about how overwhelming the smell was. I felt like I had rolls of wintergreen Lifesavers jammed up each nostril.

Note to self: Get unscented embrocation for the rollers.

It turned out to be the roller workout from hell. Apart from the embrocation overdose, there were a few other annoying things. As usual, I was on a tight schedule. I had just enough time to do a one-hour workout before showering, shoveling some oatmeal down my gullet, checking e-mails, cycling to school with my little daughter and then hopping the shuttle bus to work.

When I got on the rollers and started pedaling, I noticed my Trek bike computer wasn't working. I got off the bike and jiggled the sensor on the fork, but that didn't work. I didn't have time to mess with it, and there was no way I was going to spend an hour on the rollers without feedback. So I had to do a bike change and go back into the apartment to get my trusty steel Colossi.

I got on the bike again and tried to zone out while pedaling and listening to my iPod. Then I started to wonder, "Hmmm, since when has 'Kissing the Lipless' become an eight-minute song?" For some reason, my iPod was continuously repeating songs. The Shins were stuck in some kind of weird loop. I had to stop again and try to debug the iPod. I tried an Arcade Fire song and it started repeating, too. Resetting the device didn't work, and I couldn't waste time fussing with it. I went to a Podcast of a "Shout Out Louds" concert, downloaded from All Songs Considered, and that took care of the problem.

Once I passed the 10-minute warm-up mark, I tried to pick up the tempo and do intervals of three minutes hard followed by two minutes of recovery. But for some reason, my legs had no power. I was struggling to spin at a pathetic 30 kph, when I can usually easily ramp it up to 36-40 kph. I tried to shift up to my big ring, but my 8-year-old geriatric Dura Ace front derailleur just couldn't complete the task. It usually works fine on the road but falls short on the rollers. I'd greatly appreciate an explanation from all the mechanical engineers out there.

That's when I decided that some workouts just aren't meant to be and this was one of them. All the delays had eaten into my hectic morning timetable. To complete all the other essential tasks, I had to cut the ride short to 30 minutes.

As always, with lessons learned, I'll try again tomorrow.

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