My wife took the video below of the Mitchell start. Now that is a lot of riders!
This has been a crazy and exciting week. After I returned from Mitchell, I received an overwhelming reaction. Many people congratulated by calling, emailing, or Facebooking. Many were impressed with my time. The website also blew up a little bit. I had the top two days of traffic ever on the website, approximately 2,500 views combined (including pictures). Thanks to everyone who contacted me.
I was pleased to congratulate a lot of friends and blog readers who also conquered the mountain, many of them for the first time. Some of them did amazingly well. Others barely managed to make their way up. A couple bailed out on the climbs due to cramps. Hopefully they learned what went wrong and will give it another try. All who participated should be proud. Most people would not even be able to conceive of such an event, much less get off the couch and give it a try.
Even though I am extremely pleased with my results, especially given how much I improved over last year, I cannot help but think that I left a little on the table. I could have done better. The (obsessed) competitor in me has thought about this over the last few days. I have a good idea what mistakes I made and what can be done to correct them.
Get in the right group: This was something I was very conscious of when beginning the race. I tried to get as close to the front as possible. I was probably about 4-5 rider rows back, which apparently was not enough. The front group hammered early and I could see them get further and further away. With many riders in the way, there was no way I could catch them. Next time I will get closer to the front and try to hang on.
Ride with my group: This was a major mistake. I felt pretty good on the way to Marion and had a tendency to outpace my group on hills. After the hills, I found myself on the front, continuing to work hard. When I was just riding in the pack, my heart rate would be low. Surprisingly, I found out on Strava that I was in Zone 4 for 61% of the entire ride. A lot of that was on the way to Marion. After I burnt a few matches during the rolling hills, I fell back from my back and couldn’t hang on. That probably only cost me a few minutes, if that, but it might have added up and tired me out on the climbs.
Drink, drink, and drink more: I had two bottles in my cages and one in my jersey. I didn’t touch the one in the jersey, then ditched in Marion when I needed it most. Next time I will make it a point to drink more. I may even bring along a couple supplements.
Watch the heart: Once I got into my groove on the Parkway, I was able to control my heart rate. I think this is part of the reason I was able to finish strong. When it went above 170, I would slow my pedaling and breath deep. There was one stretch where I made myself recover, watching the heart rate drop slowly to the 160-162 range. Once I caught my breath, I could go a little harder and make up time.
And that’s it. Now that Mitchell is over, I will slow down on the intense training and enjoy riding. There are still some big events on the summer calendar, and I will ramp up my training as I get closer, but I’m not concerned with time. Mitchell is the only ride that I’ll use as a personal benchmark.
May 25th, 2012 at 6:21 pm
Hey Aaron, Love the posts and love even more your cycling this season! Some relaxed, enjoyable cycling is well-deserved. I’ll look forward to a cruise up Evans. Again, great job with training and Mitchell. And, I’ll second, drink, drink, drink.:) Kelli, RD
May 25th, 2012 at 8:42 pm
Thanks, Kelli. It has been a good year and I appreciate all your help. Looking forward to Evans.
May 25th, 2012 at 10:12 pm
Nice summary & congrats on completing such a tough ride in an impressive time. My friend from South Carolina was right around you. I look forward to climbing it with y’all next year.
May 28th, 2012 at 8:53 am
Thanks, Kevin! Hope to see you out there next year.
May 28th, 2012 at 3:38 am
Over 60% of a long race like that in zone 4 is very impressive, Aaron. I simply can’t do that. John, the guy I ride with the most, is like you, and can somehow inexplicably hold a zone 4 for hours. Nice work!
May 28th, 2012 at 8:54 am
Thanks, Gerry. Even though I can hold that heart rate, doesn’t mean that I necessarily should. Next year I’ll have to find times to let my heart and body recover before pushing them again.