Friday, April 29, 2011

Breaking the barrier

This was the group ride I was expecting the first time I went out.

From the start, I was feeling the pressure. My legs were not feeling strong all week so I made the decision before the ride to not do a pull and just practice sitting in the peleton. That turned out to be a very good decision. Everytime I looked down at the cyclometer (different from Wednesday's and actually worked), we seemed to be travelling at 35+ kph. On the way to the regrouping point we crossed the Yadkin river and headed up the other side. The last time this hill was easy. Not last night. I was under pressure. Not enough to cause me to drop back or standup but I definitely felt the effort.

The route was very similar to last time, but a little shorter (55K vs 62K) so the route was more familiar and I had a sense of how much effort I was acually putting in. While I kept the cadence high and had no difficulty keeping anyone's wheel, my HR felt higher than I would have liked. 

When we returned to the Yadkin river and started up what riders call "turbohill" the "racing" began. It started ok but the pressure never letup. I got closer and closer to the redline but was holding my own. As the hill continued, it became more difficult holding the wheel. Then the pace picked up again. I simply could not lift mine.

Suddenly I was off the back. We were about 5-7 K from the end and I knew my way back so there was a very brief thought of just sitting up and cruising in. But then I thought, "Why not try what I did last night and settle into a sustainable steady rhythm"? The group was going faster than me but they also contantly changed speed so it was not unrealistic to think I could maybe get back on. As the meters passed beneath my wheels I saw more and more riders fall off the back in front of me. Now I had some rabbits. These riders were not sitting up, so I really had to keeping working, focusing on my form, a steady cadence, and regular breathing. I slowly reeled one back and closed within a few meters of another before the finish and everyone sat up and soft pedalled back the final 1 K.

This is what I was expecting to happen last time so I wasn't disappointed. However, satisfaction with my performance quickly turn to joy when I checked the cyclometer. My average speed was 33+ kph! In old school money, I crossed that psychological 20 mph barrier. This was my fastest ride ever and on a 55K ride!

So, while I was on the rivet from the moment I started turbohill, the fact that I kept up as long as I did was damn impressive for me.

Distance: 55.81 km
Speed:  33.15 kmh (20.6 mph!)
Cadence: 79 rpm
AVG HR:  ?? bpm
Weight:  202.6 lbs

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