Saturday, July 09, 2011
Nothing in particular happened, but after 220+ miles of bike riding this week my Achilles is really hurting. In fact, it's hard to even walk around. I didn't feel this after my ride, but last night i went for a walk with my wife and a good friend of ours, and later that night it really started to ache. By this morning I could hardly walk around and even now it's still pretty stiff.
I did a little research and plan to (1) put Ben Gay on it 2-3 times per day, (2) ice it 2-3 times per day, (3) gently stretch, (4) do gentle calf lifts, and (5) rest it as much as possible.
This is serious as my big cycling event comes in two weeks, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Blessings on your day!
Friday, July 08, 2011
Well, that does it--5 rides in a row, 224.13 miles, 13:06:33, average speed of 17.09. I'll say more about the final results of the week and how I'm feeling about it tomorrow or Sunday, for now I'll share a bit about today's ride.
I felt pretty good on the bike today but decided, like yesterday, to take it easy and only push when it felt good, being sure to enjoy myself along the way. I chose a route that's 44 miles and includes several long climbs, 3 or 4 of which are pretty steep. The route goes through two small towns which always suppresses my average speed because of stop signs, stop lights and traffic issues, but that's okay, the route is beautiful and a lot of fun.
The first half of the ride went very well, as I said I felt very good on the bike, and I so enjoyed the countryside as I rode along. I stopped at a Dunn Bros Coffee shop at the halfway point, 21.99 miles to be exact, and enjoyed a smoothie and a couple dark chocolate treats--my favorite! I then headed back along the exact same route and rendezvoused with my wife who was also out riding with a friend. That was fun. I then headed back home, giving all I had left to give, leaving it all on the field, and ended up coming in at 16.8 mph today. Slower than yesterday but given all the climbs and towns that was to be expected.
I had hoped to come in at an average of 18.0 mph for the whole week but I fell quite short of that. As I said, my final average was 17.09 mph which though short of my goal is still good.
Now, it's recovery for the next two weeks! I'll say more about my plan another time but for now I will say that the plan is (1) to ride about 100 miles total, mostly recovery rides, (2) walk most days at a moderate pace, (3) complete several core work outs, (4) hyper-focus on nutrition to ensure that my body, mind, and soul is ready for the 300-mile challenge in three weeks, and (5) sleep, sleep, sleep!!!
Thanks so much for reading, hope you have a great day!
Friday, July 08, 2011
Due to circumstances I wasn't able to take my fourth training ride in the morning, and as the day went on I thought I wouldn't be able to ride at all. I was actually happy about this because I could use a rest day and though I'd rather push through for the sake of training--the best coaches say that all the gains are found in pushing beyond present limits--I was willing to let this ride go and set my sights on tomorrow.
However, the Lord was very gracious to me and I was able to ride at 2:00 p.m. or so. I didn't feel great and knew for sure that I couldn't push hard for 42 miles--the length of my pre-selected route--and so I determined to make today a recovery ride and just enjoy the Lord, the bike, and the beautiful day it turned out to be.
The route was very simple--21 miles out, 21 back with stops at 10, 21, and 35 miles. As I went out, I set a pace of a little over 16.0 mph, average that is, and just let my body warm up. It didn't take long to notice that I would have a cross-head wind all the way out which, though slight, was there. it wasn't too strong though and I was glad for it because I knew it meant a slight cross-tail wind all the home.
So I reached the halfway point at 16.2 mph and enjoyed a mango-something smoothie at a locally owned coffee shop. It was a really nice stop, actually, and I'm thankful to the Lord for it. Soon enough I set out again and felt good so I set a bit higher pace, which increased even more as I felt that wind at my back. When I had about 16 miles left to go, I felt good and decided to do some 3/2 intervals, that is, lift the pace for 3 minutes, recover for 2, lift for 3, recover for 2, etc. The more of these I completed, the better I felt and the faster I went.
Bottom line, I hit home at 17.0 mph which means that I averaged 17.8 on the way back, and over 18.0 over those last 16 miles. I actually didn't care about my average speed at all today, but it sure felt good to produce that kind of average speed when I was riding at a recovery pace for 26 out of 42 miles.
The word for today: my pace was lower but my joy in the Lord was high! I feel so grateful to him for the gift of riding, and I'm eager to take my final longer training ride before the TRAM.
Thanks for reading, hope you have a great evening or morning or whatever it is for you!
Wednesday, July 06, 2011
The first half of my 40 mile journey started out well. The course was great, the weather was perfect, I was riding well and feeling better than I have all week, and I came in to the 17.5 mile rest stop at a decent average speed given that I had some long and challenging climbs and a slight bit of head wind. I was really looking forward to hammering on the way back and seeing if I could hit 18.0 for the day but when I made the turn so that the wind was at my back I felt dragged down, like no matter how hard I pushed I just couldn't make the bike go. I was bummed, very bummed.
But what could I do? I've worked hard all year and I just am where I am, so I decided to set my goal for the day aside and just enjoy the ride. Right about that time I started catching up to a U.S. Postal truck which is always fun out in the country but just as I was about to make the catch I noticed the prominent signs: "No Thru Traffic." And I noticed the dirt road where once there was asphalt.
If I were to turn around, it would mean many extra miles trying to get around the construction (because I was in the country) so I just rode onto the road and asked one of the construction guys if I could go through and he graciously said yes. I ended up riding, and sometimes walking, on that road for 2-3 miles which was actually kind of fun but I was glad when it was over. In order to make up for the lost miles, I rode up a side road for a mile or so and then turned around and tried to hit the gas again.
But immediately I could feel that I just didn't have it in me so I settled back into the "just enjoy the ride" thing. Not long after I settled in I realized that the road construction had distracted me and I missed a key turn. So I tried to make another way but not knowing the roads that well I got turned around a time or two. At one point I actually said out loud, "Can this get any worse?" and then immediately thought, "Don't think that!"
About half way down one of the detours I took, I began to hear a funny noise in my front wheel or so I thought. It went away so I figured it was a twig or something, but then I heard some other strange noise followed by a kind of shrieking which was loud enough that I heard it over my iPod.
I stopped and as soon as I looked down at my back tire I saw why I was having such a hard time producing speed today: I had left my saddle bag open and my extra tube had fallen out and actually wrapped itself around my back tire, and what is more, somehow got in between my tire and my brake pad. Wow, that was really weird--eleven years of road cycling and I've never seen anything like that! I laughed so hard i thought I was going to pee my pants. I couldn't believe it.
So I unwrapped the tube and went on my way, noticing immediately that I was able to ride a bit faster without it wrapped around my back tire! This was very encouraging to me and made the rest of the ride a lot more enjoyable.
However, I still had some issues finding my way back home. I wasn't lost, rather, I was trying to figure out how to get where I needed to go without riding on Highway 169, a road on which it's legal to ride but not safe--the speed limit is 65 so you know what that means. I did eventually figure it out and make my way back to familiar roads but by this time my average speed for the day was trashed so I pulled up completely and just enjoyed a recovery pace ride the rest of the way home.
My final average speed was 16.8 mph which is acceptable given the massive weirdness of this day! I look forward to another adventure tomorrow but hopefully a bit more predictable.
Hope you have a great day!
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Getting ready for The Ride Across Minnesota, 5 days, 300 miles, lots of hills this year. It takes place at the end of this month so this week is my last week of intense training: I plan to put in about 216 miles at race pace and see what I can do. On the last two intense training weeks (which took place 5 weeks ago and 3 weeks ago, respectively) I completed roughly 100 miles at an average speed of 18.4 mph and roughly 150 miles at an average speed of 18.0 mph.
Since I've been riding at this kind of pace for the majority of the year, I expected to ride at a similar pace this week as well but it hasn't turned out that way. I have been very sleepy and probably haven't fueled well enough, but whatever the case I just can't push at the same pace I've been pushing all year. This is a bit frustrating because I've worked so hard to produce speed right now rather than earlier in the year, but it is what it is.
Today's ride was about 40 miles. For 8 of those miles I had a 5-10 mph cross wind, for 20 I had a 5-10 mph head wind, and for 12 I had a tail wind. I came in to the 28 mile rest stop at 16.5 mph and then picked up 0.7 over the next 12 miles for an overall average speed of 17.28. This means that over those last 12 miles I averaged somewhere around 20 mph with a 5-10 mph wind at my back. That level of wind certainly helps but it's not massive which means I probably didn't ride as bad as I felt I did today, however, I know I wasn't pushing with the same vigor and endurance as earlier in the year but again it just is what it is.
I want to close this blog by reflecting for a moment on why I've been unable to produce higher average speeds over the last two days. I see five reasons.
1. Lack of Rest: due to life circumstances, I started this week out being very tired. It's hard to do anything when you're sleepy and this is definitely affecting my performance on the bike. I'm trying to rest as well as I can during this week but it's hard to rest on a week like this given the fact that I do have a life--and a job--outside of cycling.
2. Nutrition: I did try to eat as well I could over the last couple of weeks, but I didn't do a good job of filling up my glycogen stores to the max and I think I've been running out of internal fuel. I've also struggled to find the right balance of eating and drinking on the bike when I'm riding this fast for this long and it's been hard to figure out. I don't think I'm drinking enough but the problem is that my mouth and stomach are getting quite tired of the amount of sugar I need to stay fueled. So it's a catch-22--I need to replenish my glycogen fuels while I'm riding but my body is simultaneously tiring of the sugar.
3. Training: I may have inadvertently over-trained or I may have peaked too early in the season. Although I've taken it very easy over the last two weeks, it could be that training so hard for so long has taken its toll. On the other hand, since cycling season really took off I've cut out all cross training and I've wondered if I've actually lost a bit of my overall physical fitness. Honestly, I don't know but I'm sure that my training regimen is somehow playing a part in all this.
4. The Winds: On yesterday's route I had to deal with 45 miles of true cross winds which means that sometimes they turn toward your face, sometimes toward your butt, but almost always serve to hinder you to some degree. I also had 6 miles of head winds and 6 miles of tail winds and bottom line, that's a lot of wind to have to deal with. I still came in at 17.5 mph yesterday which is not that bad. Then on today's route I had to deal with 8 miles of cross winds, 20 miles of head winds, and 12 miles of tail winds. It was not brutal, to be sure, but it was steady. Add to this the rolling course I rode today and it probably makes some sense that my time would be suppressed.
5. Heat: For us Minnesota people it's been pretty hot this week. Yesterday it was not very humid but it was about 85 degrees while I was riding (it ended up getting over 90 by the end of the day). Today it was closer to 80 degrees but it was quite humid. I've been training in 65-75 degree weather all year and so this is actually a bit of a shock to the system. This probably has implication for fueling on the bike as well which is, in part, why I'm struggling to find the right balance when that hasn't been a problem all year.
Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do another 40 miles on a rolling course. It's supposed to be about 70 degrees while I'm riding with a 5 mph NNW wind--not much but as it's been the last two days, this is the worst possible wind direction for the particular course I'm riding. Oh well, par for the course this week! The humidity is slated to be a little over 50% which isn't bad at all. So given all that, I'm going to try to fuel and sleep as well as I can tonight and hope to come in around 18.0. Last time I rode this course I came in at 18.6 but I don't think I have that in me right now. We'll see.
Wow, this turned out to be a very long blog! Thanks for reading, if anyone did! Hope you have a great day.
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