Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hour of Power

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning a bicycling group called Hour of Power assembles in east Phoenix about a twenty minute ride from where I live. The group departs at 5:30 year-round, and the route winds around the Camelback and Mummy Mountain areas for a brief, high-intensity workout.

I found about Hour of Power a while ago, but the early start time managed to nix any would-be plans of mine to try it out. Waking up early on a weekend morning may not be too bad because the busyness of the night ere can be controlled and a nap is an option after the ride, but waking up early on a weekday is more intrusive: the workweek abounds with nocturnal-leaning social influences, and naps at work are generally frowned upon by management. Besides, I already ride to work every morning. Is a group ride before my commute such a good idea?

With the days becoming noticeably shorter as we near the end of summer, I decided that there was little time to lose if I was to try Hour of Power in daylight. Monday night I committed and set my alarm for a 4:30 wakeup. Getting out of bed was the predictably terrible experience I expected, but I managed, and I was soon out the door. Along the way I met up with another rider, Dan, who often rides with Weezers and Geezers on Saturday mornings. Dan told me that last week's Geezers ride was just him and one other and that I was missed. That may me feel good; I had worried that my trouble-making antics with the Geezers on the last few rides had earned me an unfavorable reputation.

We arrived just before the Hour of Power group set out, which it did at a casual warm-up pace for a few km before picking it up around Mummy Mountain. There the route traverses the same rolling hills and zigzags through residential areas that are crowded with cyclists every Saturday morning. And there the pace became quite fast -- my speedometer showed us doing more than 50kph a few times on flattish parts -- and some of those sharp turns are nerve-wracking at those speeds when sandwiched between other cyclists. The group broke apart and regrouped twice after the more intensive climbs. And then it was over. The group turned around and headed back to the starting point, winding slowly and happily through the maze of streets and boulevards, and riders peeled off one by one to go home and start their day. I surmise that Hour of Power would be more aptly named Thirty Minutes Or So of Power With an Hour Or So of Casual Pedaling.

It's a great ride. I rode it with the unique delirium of a guy who woke up hours too early and was riding with an unfamiliar group along a maze of winding back roads. I had bicycled every part of the route at some point in the previous two years, so I knew the terrain in general, but I had no idea which turns the group would make and thus when it would climb and when it would descend or where the group would sprint and where it would regroup, and I rode with a berserk frenzy befitting a panicked rider who refused to drop. And for the most part I didn't.

It was great fun, and the remainder of my day was much better because of it. I don't foresee the 5:30 start time ever becoming easy, but Hour of Power should make it worthwhile. Sometimes.


Emily said...

Craig- any prognostications regarding Lance’s recent announcement?

cmbrandenburg said...

Emily: yes, I do have one. Media coverage in the United States for bicycle racing will be better in 2009 than in 2008.