After finishing Mitchell, I took it a little easy. I mostly abandoned the nutrition plan, and aside from the Double Century in Hartwell, I stopped riding as much. My performance has dropped a little bit as a result. I think my peak for this year’s training was at Mitchell, which is exactly what I wanted, but I’ll need to get my legs back with a couple other challenges around the corner.
This week I participated in three weekday evening rides and had a long ride on Sunday. My performance seemed fine on the weekday rides from a speed perspective, but I noticed that I didn’t quite have the punch on tougher sections that require a lot of cardio — namely the big hills. In fact, I noticed my heart rate would jump a lot higher on climbs than it usually would. Sometimes it would hover in the 180s, which pretty much never happens, not even on Mitchell. On the flip side, I’ve been strong on the flats and downhills and found myself pulling the groups a little bit during those stretches. That is probably why my speed is staying fine, even though I can tell that my performance is not where it should be.
In just about every big group ride, there will be a couple attack sections. Usually I’ll be able to kick it into gear and stay near or at the front. Not this week. On a couple of occasions I have stood up on the bike and started to sprint during an attack, only to give up shortly after as the other riders pass me. Primarily I have been in a comfort zone, spinning at the cadence that keeps the heart rate consistently at a mid-range.
There could be a lot of reasons for this. Diet certainly has an impact. Part of it might be laziness or plain being tired. I have not had a long period of recovery beyond 2-3 days. This week I had a little bit of a cold, which certainly will slow me down. Another factor is probably the heat. It is often in 90+ temperatures when we begin our group rides, and it is only going to get hotter. I am not alarmed since I am still in great shape and can climb mountains, but this is a mystery I want to solve before my next big ride in three weeks.
Today was my first long ride in a number of weeks. We did the ‘Five Corners’ route in Fort Jackson, which is where we hit all the off-the-beaten path roads, most of which have challenging hills. We also get a lot of miles this way. I was worried about my performance because of the cold I was shaking, but that turned out to be a non-issue. I felt great early and was able to climb easily. My heart rate rarely got above 175. After the miles took their toll and the weather warmed up, I found it a little more difficult. The wind was surprisingly strong today and it was one of those days where you have a headwind in every direction. That also took a toll and I did not fight through the headwinds like I normally would. We still had a solid 60 miles in challenging conditions, which will only make me stronger.
This week I will try the same three weekday rides as last week and look for improvement.