Since I have returned from Europe, I have felt absolutely fantastic on the bike. Following a week of low mileage rides to recover, I endeavored to enter one of my favorite phases of my cycling “season”. After all of the winter base building, and then the spring focus on climbing to get ready for my big trip of the year, I always try to make summer the time when I ride for just pure fun. No agenda…no big focus…no real strategy or plan. Just go out and get on the bike.
On last Sunday’s Hills of the West Coast ride, I felt great, and was both physically and mentally ready to ride hard, and all of us did. I actually felt really strong climbing at a high pace, and I’m not totally sure I understand why, but I like it!
While in Europe, day to day sustainability was my primary goal, in order to successfully complete a really aggressive plan that Tim and I had laid out. In other words, I had to survive today in order to ride tomorrow. I never rode harder than an endurance pace, except when the climbs were so steep that I had no choice. I really couldn’t have ridden any harder even if I wanted to—the day to day buildup of fatigue would not have permitted it.
I’m not a physiologist, so it’s hard for me to understand how endurance type riding, albeit a huge volume of this kind of riding, translates into more strength at the “upper end”, i.e., the Vo2 max system that needs to be developed in order to maintain a hard effort for 3-10 minutes.
Feeling the need to quantify if for myself, I headed out to Cougar Mountain yesterday to put in a few hard efforts on some climbs I am very familiar with. First off, I headed up Horizon View/Summit, the steep road just to the east of Eastgate Elementary school. We use this climb frequently on the HOWC, and I think my best time has been 10:18. That pace normally puts me in pretty decent standing with the rest of the Sunday crew. Much to my shock, I went 9:15 today! I then proceeded to take 11 seconds off of my PR on the shorter climb up to Newcastle Golf Club.
I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming or fantasizing, and then I started to think about the obvious. How can I keep this fitness and form as long as possible?
The bicycle can be a great fountain of youth, and I know we all strive to maintain, or even improve our fitness as we age. Forget about racing and competition, it’s simply very satisfying to feel better than when you were younger.
So I welcome comments, suggestions, and advice, and if you ARE a Physiologist, an explanation!