After a month off, it was time to get back on the bike. We have a Mitchell Training Group that will be riding occasionally over the winter. What better time to dust off the cobwebs and get my climbing legs back?
It was a cool morning, although not nearly as cold as the forecast led me to believe. I started the ride with too many layers. Fortunately, at the last minute I had the opportunity to drop a layer, which resulted in a far more comfortable ride. The temperature rose soon enough and peaked at around 65 degrees, perfect riding weather.
The turnout exceeded my hopes and expectations. We had about 20 riders, and I knew that a number of people weren’t able to participate. This bodes well for future training. In fact, we were thinking of hosting a ride every other week. We may now move that to every week, weather permitting.
Today’s route was good old Fort Jackson, the ‘Four Corners’ route, which I have blogged about before. A couple weeks ago this would have been a cakewalk for me. Today, to my surprise, it gave me some trouble. I was fine in the early going. I could tell things weren’t right when I pushed up the first big hill on Washington Road early, as I used to do. This time I ran out of gas around halfway up. From there it got even harder. I was fine in flats, but all of a sudden once I hit a hill, even a small one, my quads would start burning and I would have to lay off. We were in two groups by that point, and I started fading from my pack early on.
One thing that I’ve learned is that it is best to keep going even when not 100%. I soldiered through and completed the course, even going over ‘The Wall.’
The reason for my under-performance is clear. The time off the bike didn’t help, but I have been working out in other ways, so that was probably not the primary issue. I had a tough strength workout on Thursday evening, so was probably still recovering from that. The big kicker was probably my low carb diet. Even though I added some extra carbs yesterday, I wasn’t anywhere close to the amount that I fueled with before. Plus, there is a distinctive feeling when you are not fueled properly — the burning, aching feeling when lactic acid is built up. I could have bonked, and was worried on a couple occasions that might happen, but fortunately I made it without issue. I can handle being slower than usual as long as I can still turn the pedals.
Lesson learned. Since we’ll be doing these occasional rides going forward, I’ll start piling on some carbs later in the week and have lighter strength workouts in the days before a ride. What’s important is that I am building a strong fitness base that will make the tough rides easier.