Saturday, April 11, 2015

Still a weak feeble reed going uphill

Back in the day when I used to ride my bike a lot, like in 2009 and 2010, going for a 150 K ride was a  routine thing. Leave in the morning, come back early afternoon. There were even a few rides that were more than 200 K and that would take an entire day. Even then I knew I was far weaker going uphill than I really should be. Weaker on the flats too. I got dropped a lot, which is why I got it done riding alone most of the time.

Part of the problem is that I'm a big guy when it comes to triathlon. Even after losing a ton of weight, I'm still a big guy by triathlon standards. I have to push every kilo of me up every hill, and overcome wind resistance created by every cm of my bigness. When you consider that the top athletes get excited about taking 100 grams off their bikes, you can see the handicap I'm working under. Which is also why I laugh at them a bit. I'm sure my weight can fluctuate several hundred grams just going to the bathroom. TMI, my bad.

It is what it is. I've floated up a few pounds since doing Ironman, much of it around my middle, which isn't good, so this is the summer I'm going to try to work it back off again. The bike love is back, so I'm hoping to get out for some longer bike rides and runs this year.

When you're training for Ironman you are ravenous all the time. It's easy to get into the habit of eating, and then when you aren't training at that level anymore, it's obvious what happens. And it has.

I was so pleased Michelle invited me along on her bike ride today. It was a good first step for me to get out and see what happens. What I didn't tell her is that I was glad someone was with me, just in case. I'm getting old, you know...

The weather forecast said it would get gusty and overcast with a chance of rain early in the afternoon, so we wanted to get an early start. I am a weenie when it comes to riding, and normally I don't go out unless it's going to be at least 10C for most of the ride. I dithered a little bit dressing. It was just on the cusp of wearing tights or not, and I decided to. Just in case. Am I ever glad I did.

Michelle gave me a pair of booties and that really helped my feet stay warm. We had a lovely ride down to 22X, out to 22, and south a bit. One of my neighbours passed us and chatted briefly then carried on, trying to navigate his deep dish wheels in a stiff cross wind.

It was windy. Really windy. Not my windiest ride, but getting up there. It was taking 10 to 15 Kph off my normal speeds. (Weak feeble legs have something to do with it to, but let's blame the wind, shall we.) We spent lots of time head down, grinding along, and that's downhill. Uphills were slow slow slow till we turned around and the trip back was all kinds of awesome.

My legs felt pretty good, but I was a bit worried about going the distance. My plan was to spin easy, and not work too hard up the hills. I think this qualifies.
I made up my energy drink, and sucked back two bottles of it, minus a few sips. I keep getting asked for the recipe, so here it is, stolen from Impact magazine many years ago. This is to fill up 2 standard water bottles. Make lemon zinger tea in a 1 litre measuring cup, with the water up to the 1 litre mark. Steep to taste, but make it strong. Add in and melt a big dollop of honey. Bigger. Lots. You are pedaling your ass off, be generous. Add in a pinch of sea salt. Add orange juice to taste once it cools a bit. I fill it up right to the brim and stir gently. This will top up 2 bottles of refreshing, energizing tastiness.

Here's a better view of my pace, and the elevation changes. As you can see, my speed is all over the place


I was paying lots of attention to my right quad and knee, but it was all ok. I think having the tights on and being warm helped. I'm not sure how to describe how it felt. It didn't feel strong, but I didn't think it was going to collapse on me either. It was complaining a bit, but not cranky. Neither did I tempt fate on this. I could have gone further, I'm pretty sure, but the brief thought of turning right and doing the first hill on Road to Nepal was just that, a very brief thought. Later.

My bike legs are nowhere near what they were, but then I haven't been on the bike much. Running and biking use different muscles in different ways. Even with all the swimming my cardio isn't what it should be. Lots to work on this summer!

Here's Michelle's take on the ride.
This morning was a great adventure and nice escape.  I was very happy to get in a long ride today and was grateful for some company. After some route planning over email and gear getting together, I rode over to Keith’s house and we headed out toward Highway 22x and headed west, then south and back again.  We kept an eye on some menacing clouds that didn’t materialize into anything at all.

The weather app lied.  It said the temperature would be around 11 and the wind around 11 km/hr but I swear it gusted to around 50km/hr. There were times I was being shoved from side to side and was afraid of being blown too far into the car lane to the left of the shoulder we were attempting to stick to.  There were times I concentrated so hard on staying upright I  gripped my handlebars until my shoulders, neck and back were stiff. It was much better/faster on the way back with the wind mostly behind us although it was off to the side and the shoulder along 37th street is non-existent.  Most of the cars gave us a half-lane clearance.  I am much more comfortable riding on the road than this time last year.  Experience I guess.  Cycling is like running… only FASTER!  It’s fun.

I’m happy with my light bike and granny gear (third chainring) going up hills but I had to pedal flat out to keep up with Keith coasting down the hills.  I swear the cows watched us pass and I’m sure they see my fluorescent yellow cycling jacket.  Baby cows scattered in fear.  There weren’t a lot of cyclists out but one rode up behind us, chatted for a bit and it turns out he lives in the SW close to us and was taking his new road bike out for an inaugural spin today.  It was nice to have company and follow behind Keith for the most part although we traded the lead a couple of times.  As a directionally challenged person, this is truly appreciated.

Once back at Keith’s we had time for a snack and chat on his sunny front step, then it was time to head home and help out with our kitchen reno.


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