Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bad Ideas

I started with a plan for last week. The plan was simple. The weather was going to be rainy so use the week to give the legs a rest in prep for the mountain bike race this past weekend. Seems simple right? It sure did to me. Simple in all but one detail, the meaning of rest. Somehow, one thing led to another and before I knew it it was Thursday and I'd forgotten to rest, opting instead to do 8 hours of SS mountain bike rides on the local trails since Monday. By the end of the ride Thursday my legs felt worse than they had at the start of the week. Sure, I'd had almost zero intensity by I'd basically spent the week doing leg presses. Somehow, I didn't think, in hindsight, that this was going to scale well.

Frantically I spent Friday cramming for my rest week, staying away from the bike all together and instead blowing through uncountable amounts of ammunition at the range with Chris. As an aside, I learned that I'm probably better off throwing rocks at a target than I am at trying to hit said target using a pistol. This would also be much more cost effective as .9mm ammunition, while inexpensive when compared to larger caliber ammunition, is still pretty pricey when you run through 4 or 5 boxes of it. Back home, Cathy's folks had arrived and were visiting for the weekend so we grilled some steak tips and had a big salad and bread for dinner. Had a great time and managed to spend the day completely off the bike.

Saturday morning came and I had some chores to do and also wanted to get a ride in to spin the legs out. The chores consisted primarily of mowing the lawn, a laborious task that takes about an hour and a half with my push mower. I use a push mower intentionally, because this is one of the few excuses I have to actually walk. I'm typically either chained to a desk or riding a bicycle. This is problematic, I realize, but is something that just seems to happen. The lawn mower is the bridge to some limited variety. The simple things. Cathy weeded the flower beds as I mowed and then she and her parents went to the mall to get some, stuff. I finished up the lawn and then went for a ride on my good road bike, a 2010 Cannondale SuperSix HiMod with full DuraAce mechanical. This is a bike that sees far too little usage. That needs to change. It really is a very, very nice, stiff and insanely light bike. My buddy Chris hooked me up big time with it last summer when both of my Kestrel Evokes broke within weeks of each other. The only reason I don't ride it more is that it is so nice I want to take care of it and also my beater bike (the bolted back together Kestrel) has a Powertap wheel that I've been trying to train with more.

Significantly more bike than I need, or can handle effectively

Speaking of bad ideas, another bad idea was to register for the Weeping Willow MTB race in the Elite class. I did the race in 2010 and it was really, really hard, but I got a great result. For some reason that led me to believe that I should give it a try again. Of course this year more people, fast people, showed up. In order to avoid a litany of excuses and a boring non-race report, I'll cut to the chase. I sucked. My legs just wouldn't shut-up and I couldn't ride to save my life. Bike setup was key in this race due to the terrain and conditions and I chose to setup poorly, with lots of tire pressure, and an overly stiff suspension based on what I remembered from 2010. The course was very different in flavor. I also had a couple of mechanicals that compounded the situation, the first being a front derailleur cable slip that dropped me to the granny and stayed there until I tensioned it back out and more importantly, shattered/cracked ball bearings in the SRAM PF-30 BB that literally disintegrated during the race. In reality, the drag caused by grinding ball bearings to dust probably wasn't really that much. maybe 20 watts, but when the legs were already toast, it meant I could barely move. The bike went in for service and the great folks at CycleLoft are fixing her right up. The rear shifting was perfect during the race and the big wheels rolled really, really well. I think with some more time on the bike and some better setup, it's going to be great. Wow, in looking back at that paragraph, it was a litany of excuses and a stellar example of a non-race report.

I opted for some active recovery on Monday so pulled the rollers into the garage and rode for an hour. It's hard to ride really easy on the rollers as I find myself looking at the power or the speed and inevitably end up doing to much. I also got it stuck in my head that I have some weird pedaling discrepancy from right to left leg, so spent some time trying to test that by pedaling one legged and watching the power. Basically all this accomplished was to make my right leg, the one that hadn't been super sore, really sore.

Tuesday night has become the night where we do a good solid group road ride. Reluctantly, I sent a message out Monday night saying that a milder version of the ride was on. Yesterday the weather was a mixed bag. There was some rain during the day but it was mostly dry, sunny and warm. On the way home from work at 4PM, the sky grew dark and it started to rain. This was great as I rode the motorcycle in to work. Within a few miles the rain had stopped and it was fine. At ride time the weather was great, the sun was bright and it was hot, at least by this year's standards thus far. The group was smaller than in the past but good and tight. I'd planned a big loop taking us way out, but considered looping locally if the weather looked threatening. Given that the sun was out we hammered on. As expected my legs were junk but we had a good ride on some great roads and all stayed together. Well, that is except for on Oak Hill where some of us weren't feeling the love as others were and then again when one of the group attacked off the front on a slight downhill into a stop sign as a car was trying to get by, for no logical reason. After the intersection he looked to pull off the front, tired from the taking the sprint to the stop sign, but I suggested we were all on and that he could take him time on the front on the ~2% rise we were on. Shortly it bumped to like 3% and he rotated off at which point I drilled it and maintained a good clip up the rise, around the corner and through a roller. From there we rotated through and poor Tim was nowhere to be seen. We waited for him later and all rolled in together, legs totally fried. The longest Tuesday night ride of the year, so far.

So, today I'm sitting here with sore legs trying to decide what it going to get me out of this fatigue funk. Tonight is the CBTT and I'd really like to go hit it. The reality is that it's only going to put me further in the hole and I'm going to do terribly anyhow, but darn it, it's already paid for and I've got all the gear that has been dormant since last year. We have a big break coming as well, starting tomorrow in fact. Typically this coming Friday is an annual Notchfest ride. I really want to do it but it may not be the best idea. Cathy and I plan to take it as it comes and see what we get on Friday. I'm looking forward to the vacation though. Hopefully it will be an opportunity to break the cycle of bad ideas.


rosey said...

you're a riding junky (like most of us). the only cure for your fatigue at this point though, is true rest and easy miles. my legs felt like crap coming in to last week after a couple of big training weeks. i spent last week commuting, keeping it below 15 mph and below 200 watts. nothing hard on the weekend either. on monday my body was so fresh and my legs felt the best they've felt all season. make your brain tell your body no. rest will get you fresh again

mkr said...

Agreed. This is why I don't use a coach; I can't stop riding my bike and I deviate from the plan. I'm always battling my mind, which is saying stuff like "get on that bike or you'll get fatter" or "you don't have the minimum weekly miles necessary for the yearly goal". Crazy stuff. I find myself constantly saying I'll rest next week, which of course never comes.

rosey said...

do you write down the hours and miles each day? looking at in excel, and adding comments about how you felt after each ride can be a good way to support your brain's pleas for rest.

oh, and i used to think about a yearly goal, but the truth is, your goal should be improving (your speed, your bike handling, etc), not just riding more for the sake of riding more. this past week sounds like you put in 'junk' miles. those just serve to set you back in your goal of getting faster/fitter.