I feel a little silly admitting this, but I'm more worried about riding 90 miles in the Hill Country to support the LAF than I was about the double century ride to San Antonio. The reason is that the ride to San Antonio was flat and with a light tailwind. I can ride forever in those conditions. But when you throw a hill at me, I lose confidence. As I've progressed in my cycling training, I just haven't done enough climbing or hill training, and I can feel it when I ride hills. I know I can finish the 90 mile ride, but will I feel good doing it?
So I've started trying to ramp up my training to give me better hill performance. Last Tuesday, I rode Granjeno Loops, injected with some intervals. I hate intervals, so after I did a couple I latched on with some riders and just kept a nice strong heart rate and a 20+ mph pace.
But on Saturday, I met up with some local riders and did the same ride as last Saturday. Only unlike last week, I vowed I wouldn't get dropped. For me, this meant being prepared for surges up to 30 MPH, and riding at 80% of my capacity for about 70 miles. Other than intervals, I rationalized that this kind of intensity would be a flatland approximation of a hilly ride. So here's how the ride went:
- I still need to replace my cassette. I adjusted the shifting Friday night, and no matter what it jumps in the looser chain positions. This meant I rode almost the entire ride in the big ring. This really isn't a huge thing on a flat ride, so don't give me too much credit, but it was a source of frustration.
- On the way out, the ride was very disorganized towards the rear of the peloton. We were trying to ride in a 2 wide paceline, but when I rotated off the front there was a large group of non-rotating wheelsuckers in the back (no disrespect, we've all been there). But this meant trying to find a place to squeeze in, and when you're riding with amateurs like me, sometimes this can get a little tricky and stressful.
- As we turned south on FM 2221, we hit the gentle rolling hills, but that's all it took to split up the group. I hung with the fast group, taking pulls and feeling very good. I made sure I took very reasonably short pulls so that I could make sure I wouldn't blow up and get dropped. It worked. I was never dropped.
- On the biggest downhill, the group broke the 30 MPH mark. No big deal at all. I wasn't with the group last week, so when I heard they were riding at 30 MPH, I assumed it was flatland speed. But that wasn't the case. It was more like 25 MPH on the hard surges, and 22 MPH otherwise.
- We didn't stop as a group at the turnaround. I was depending on stopping for water refills, so I ran out of water about 3/4 of the way through the 70 mile ride. I decided to push through and challenge myself, and it worked out for me. I was really thirsty thoug, as I SWEAT LIKE CRAZY ON THIS RIDE. My entire kit was soaked, including my shoes and socks. I could squeeze sweat out of my gloves. It was 81F when we started, and drizzling, so I assume we were at high 90% humidity. It was probably 93F by the finish.
And here's the data on the ride. No exaggeration: I think this was my best performance on a ride of this length. That doesn't mean I'm getting ready to start racing, but I'm happy! Important note -- data includes my ride from my house to the ride start, and back. This had the effect of being a personal warm up. Additionally, when the ride started, we warmed up as a group. And then we warmed down at the end. So I'm even better than the data indicates!
- Ride Duration: 3 hr 21 min
- Distance: 68.5 miles
- Speed: 20.4 avg (21.9 from shop and back, according to a fellow rider)
- Peak Speed: 32.5 MPH
- Average Cadence: 90
- Heart Rate: Strap Broken for 6 Months
- Calories: See Heart Rate (Polar doesn't Calculate Without HR)
- Power: Who Knows
I'm very pleased with the outcome of the ride. If I can keep this up, I'll feel really strong heading into the LIVESTRONG Challenge.