Monday, 7 April 2008

Back on the Trek

I went out for a ride on Saturday on my newly repaired Trek bike. I went out in the late afternoon, mainly because I knew the traffic would be very quiet. I headed to my usual haunt, the flat land between Larbert and Airth. Now, as I have mentioned before, I’m talking flat, as in pancake. There is a hill, not a big one, but a hill none the less, and there is also a handy little circuit that you can do, about 3 miles, that incorporates this hill, over pretty much the quietest, bike friendly roads you are ever likely to find.

So I went looking for my hill. As well as the hill, there was a strong wind gusting in from the north, which meant it was cold. I was expecting quite a workout. I only had about 2 hours before it got dark, so I was fine with that. I used the few miles on the way to the circuit to warm up my legs, keeping a steady cadence of about 90 rpm, not worrying about speed, but keeping the resistance on my legs fairly light. Where would be plenty of time for pain later.

Where I start my circuit just so happens to be pretty much where the hill is, so the way it works out, I do a big effort followed by a couple of miles recovery, which is pretty good. The hill itself is fairly gradual, but before it there is a bridge which goes over nothing. I kid you not, it’s got grass under it and everything. I think there used to be a railway track there, but today there is nothing, other than the bridge. Not wanting to waste such an opportunity, I decided to use this steep little bridge for practicing getting out of the saddle and standing on the peddles, so I picked a tree, and as I passed it, clicked down a few gears and stood up, concentrating on keeping my pace and effort steady, and just as importantly, keeping the bike going in a straight line. Once over the bridge, I had a couple of hundred metres to get myself together before the hill. The idea is to ascend steadily, keeping my legs spinning. After topping the hill, it’s pretty easy going back round to the start.

I decided to go round 4 times. I was happy with my effort and performance, and finished off the 4 without incident. I was mildly aware that anyone looking out from the few cottages along the way, especially the two that line the hill, may have wondered about the sanity of the overweight guy decked out in a bright yellow top and black lycra that seemed to be perpetually passing by, always climbing the hill, but never coming back down. Oh well, I never claimed to be sane.

Once I had finished my four laps I still felt quite fresh. I contemplated doing a couple more, but decided instead to go home the long way, via Airth. I’m glad I did, because on the way back I realised that my bike had an incredibly irritating squeak. Like all squeaks, it sounded like it came from everywhere and nowhere. My backside was hurting a little too, and after only an hour. That would also need to be addressed before May. On the way back, I determined that I needed to sort these things out.

Anyway, when I got home I felt pretty pleased with myself. The training is going well, I thought. I plugged my Garmin 305 into the computer and downloaded my data to have a look at it. This was the first time in over a year that I’ve managed to get the 305 to record my heart rate for more that 5 minutes before packing in. It seemed to have worked fine, except it was saying my average heart rate over the session was 167 bpm. That was a surprise, and a shock; I never thought I was pushing particularly hard, and I was never really out of breath. Also, on the exercise bike, that heart rate would be almost impossible to sustain. More worryingly though is the fact that I can’t imagine sustaining that for 5 hours or more. I wasn’t feeling so good any more. I had just done 21 miles over fairly flat terrain, averaging 15.4 mph and my heart rate was too high. Then my knee started hurting. Great.

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