Fitness: "Give me a wheel to hide behind..."
It happens every year. December rolls around and any late year fitness disappears. It happened last year, the year before that, and it's happening this year. I ride less and less until Christmas and then I take two weeks off to gorge on food and beer. The smart money is on me being around 205 with legs of lead come January 1. d@mmit!
So I rode three times this week. 30 pathetic minutes on the trainer on Wednesday, 30ish SLOWWWW miles on Saturday morning on my own (did a modified Bethesda shop ride route from Capitol hill), and logged about 56 miles including the Bicycle Place 8:30 ride on Sunday.
Sunday's ride was actually legit and actually made me feel a little better about my fitness. I rode up to Silver Spring (about 10 miles) and met up with the small group that showed up due to the rain (where were you RAYMAN!!!???). Cliff showed, so I had someone to ride with...the group rolled out with talk about "this is going to be a C ride.." and "..it's cold, wet, and December so we're going slow...".
This always bugs me. Just because you're training plan says to keep the heart rate below 100 beats and not break a sweat, don't hijack the group ride. Also, what does "..it's only December" mean?? I don't get it. Does it mean, "I plan to suck in April, but I'll be awesome come August." Or does it mean, "I plan to race every weekend between March and November, and I don't want to burn out too early" ?? Just in case I drop that line, if I say it it means, "I had too many bud lights last night so please slow down before I throw up all over you." Next time someone says that, I'm attacking the group...although, I won't be attacking sh!t in December or January if I keep following my current training plan.
Anyway, back to Sunday's ride. Little Bax showed up and sped up ahead of everyone going up Mass ave. Cliff, myself and some other dudes chased a while until it split up heading onto MacArthur. By the time we got to the parkway, it was just Cliff and I together chasing Bax who was up the road. I pulled through after Cliff made an effort chasing and kept the pressure on as we closed the gap to Bax (who was probably just cruising along...kid is strong). As we got closer, I look over my shoulder for Cliff and noticed that he had dropped back. I was pretty close to Bax so I kept on pushing to grab his wheel. Once on, we traded pulls, with him doing about 60 to 70% more of the effort for the duration of the parkway and kept it around 24 to 27 mph depending on the incline. It felt good, but I could tell that the lack of riding really was taking a toll on the legs. I felt stiff and without a lot spring. Once we came off the parkway and headed up Mountain Gate, Bax dropped me like a bad habit....which was bad, because I got lost trying to find my way back to Democracy. I think the combination of lack of air, freezing fingers, and blurry sight didn't help....not to mention that I had my @ss handed to me (word on the street is he's pretty good though...)
Anyway, lessons learned:
1) Somehow I need to train the body to be able to go from constant pressure on the flats to explosive uphill efforts. I've had problems with this for years and have always chalked it up to lack of fitness...maybe it is, but maybe more hill repeats might do the trick.
2) Cliff has a really REALLY pretty bike. I want one of them frames bad.
3) The bicycle place ride in bad weather is okay, but I need to remind myself that it's not all fireworks up there all the time. Summer and Spring in Silver Spring is great since everyone shows up, but when it's cold and dreary in the winter, I might as well stay back home and do the shop ride from CHB...which I should have done.
4) Riding in the cold rain sucks. I love riding my bike, but around mile 40 to 50 I was asking myself why I do this and is it worth it...I'm looking forward to the projected 50+ degree days coming this week.