First and foremost: I am sorry. I have been away from writing and from cycling all together. The writing more than the cycling, but as the two go hand in hand for this blog, a lack of one meant a lack of the other. My apologies all around for not writing sooner. Now that is out of the way, let’s move on…
A few weeks ago I was helping to bring some ‘new’ cyclists in to the sport. We were riding easy, only 30 miles or so, and at a slower than normal pace. We were throwing out tips along the way regarding both ascending hills and descending. At the end of a 30 mile ride one morning, I was talking with my friend B and we both concluded that we don’t remember the last time we went out for a ride and weren’t “pushing it in to the red” for the entire ride. The following week, we did the same with the same group and then I rode a 62 mile group ride with the neophyte cyclists in our group. We rolled slow for the day, and it was a great accomplishment for them to have ridden this. I then spent a week off the bike. Here’s the issue:
That makes four (4) weeks of not really riding much, and never pushing very hard. When I was on the bike I had a false sense of ease. The devil on my shoulder was suddenly very active. “Eat more, you can burn it off!” he said, along with “Go ahead, have another glass of wine, your riding will be fine.” Coupled with a few stressful weeks at work, the cycling came to a slow churn and my weight went up, and the fitness level dropped dramatically.
Here’s the rub; this past weekend I rode in the Golden Apple. It is a group ride put on by a local bike club. I figured “100 miles, no problem, I can ride that. How many other centuries have I done this year? It will be a cake walk.” -said by the arrogant devil on my shoulder. I couldn’t have been less prepared if I tried.
After the first ten (10) miles, there was an optional 1 mile uphill time trial. I imploded on the hill. Not even 200 meters in, my heart rate spiked to 185 and I was forced to slow down. The rest of the TT was spent at a measly pace. Several people released 30 seconds after me passed me before I reached the end. After the TT, the ride had unrelenting rolling hills. (7,500+ ft of climbing). We were making good time, but at mile 50 something terrible happened. I bonked. I felt the power drain from me, and I was scrambling to eat as much as fast as I could just to stay on the bike. After a miserable 7 miles in steep, short hills, we made it to the rest stop. I was eating and drinking enough to want to vomit, but I felt recovered so we pressed on. Less than 10 miles later, I went back in to the bonk. Small hills were killing me, my max speed was 11 mph, and I was wobbly on the bike. At one point I was climbing next to a drainage ditch and thought that falling off the bike in to the ditch would be sweet release from the torture I was in.
I wasn’t prepared. I hadn’t eaten right the week before, I hadn’t trained ride the month before and being 15 lbs heavier than I should have been (25 heavier than I was at the start of the season) was a testament to the idea that my own arrogance was at fault. I believed for the short time leading up to the ride that I was more or less invincible on the bike. I could do whatever I wanted and I would get through it. Having to cut the 100 mile ride short at 81 miles is a rude enough awakening for me.
So now what?
- Commute to work via bike as much as humanly possible.
- Drink only water. No soda, no wine, no more junk.
- Eat like I did during the winter. No sugars, low/complex carbs.
- Work on core exercises and stretching daily.
The Gran Fondo Niagara Falls is in two weeks. I know that I can’t be in my top form, but I can be FAR from my worst, and far better than where I was on Sunday.