Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bicycle bicycle bicycle.

It's about time I had another endorphin-high-I-love-my-bicycle post.

When the weather climbed to 35 this afternoon, I jumped at the chance to ride with some teammates. It was the first time I had ridden with a group since November, and needless to say, it took me a few miles to adjust to outside conditions and bike handling.

Today was a test run of the results of my winter training. I've spent the last couple of months on the trainer or in the gym four to five times a week, working mainly on muscle strength and core stability. A weekly long run on the treadmill constituted my endurance workout.

The lack of endurance training showed today on the ride. For the first half of our 25 miles, I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest, had trouble maintaining the draft of the rider in front, and felt a really strong push to take a spin break despite only a moderate speed.

I could blame this on a strange physiological idiosyncracy of mine. Last fall, I had my max heartrate tested, which involved strapping a heart-rate monitor on me and recording my heartrate as I exercised. For most people, their heartrates will gradually increase and then plateau off as they exercise at increasing intensities. My heartrate spiked up in the first half of the exercise session, then came down, went back up, and then plateaued off.

That directly translates to how I feel on rides. I feel like dying during the first part, but if I can make myself get through that period, the rest is a breeze (relatively speaking).

This heartrate quirk would also explain the successful second half of today's ride. We kept the pace between 20-24mph, and not only was this speed sustainable, I felt incredible. We assumed a paceline position -- one rider directly behind another, locking into each other's drafts and never letting go -- and booked it all the way home.

Moral of the story: provided I can will myself through the first portion of the ride, I feel stronger than I was in the fall, and I think I will be ready to try racing next month. Between now and then, I will need to think about how I can work with my heartrate problem, and align my body so I hit my cruising heartrate right when I need it.

But that is just my heartrate. My legs, though, my legs feel good. Thank you, plyometrics, and stairmaster, and Chris Charmichael's Train Right DVD.

Also, team kits came in, and they look snazzy! Two bib shorts, a short-sleeve and long-sleeve jersey, and a cycling cap. I can't wait to finally don school colors on the next ride.


Cara said...

It was 60 here today! Sounds like a wonderful time and I can't wait till you race!

Jon said...

Hope you got the chance to get out today (Friday). It was ridiculously warm! =D