Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Playing With the Big Blocks

I'm not really certain how it happened. I guess that everything just lined up perfectly, if unexpectedly. I'm talking about the ride statistics from last week. Over the past few weeks I have been increasing ride volume over that which I'd done for most of the fall during the cyclocross race season. For most of that stretch, I'd been down between 10 and 12 hours per week on the bike.

The week before Christmas, which was the week after my final CX race of the season, the Ice Weasels Cometh (which I still haven't done a race report for but fully intend to do), was snowy so we skied and snowshoes a lot. It was also cold as sin. I still rode though and got in a reasonable amount of bike time. The following week we were in Maine and did a ton of good, bad and indifferent fat biking. Volume increased a little. The next week was a mix and we lost most of the snow so we took to the roads. Volume increased a little more and was now between a 30 and 50% over CX season increase based on time on the bike. More snow and some great skiing as well as big riding up north on the fat bikes.

Then we got huge rain at the start of last week. This trashed the snow so we took to the roads.Last week in fact was almost completely road riding in fact. I started the week on Sunday a little tired from some big miles climbing on the fat bikes in snowy Maine. A 65 mile team BSBL Racing training road ride out through Stow and Harvard did just enough to keep me on the well done side rather than help with recovery.

By Monday I needed an easier spin so Cathy and I got in a nice little hour and a half evening road ride, what with the mild temperatures and all. Tuesday was a mess though. It started out rainy and got steadily worse as the day wore on, despite the forecast implying that it should subside. By Oh-dark-thirty I'd given up. It was still pouring, the roads were beyond puddled and into the flooded zone and there was a thick fog. I dressed like a cross between a lobsterman in December and a Christmas tree and headed out on the road. At least it was mild, which was nice. I found that once I was out there, it wasn't all that bad and I actually had a good ride, riding much longer than I expected. More fuel for the rollercoaster ride that the week of riding would be.

Then came Wednesday and I got out for a big old road ride with the Ferret. We knocked off just short of 60 with some rolling terrain at a reasonably good clip and was a complete death march for me the final hour. To punctuate the ride, the Ferret crushed it at over 23mph average for the last six miles. Not bad in the summer or even spring but hurt a bunch on that particular date. This left me a quivering mess on Thursday. I ventured out in the afternoon for a solo ride on some new, or at least different, roads. This took me south through Lincoln and Weston primarily. All that I could manage would be a bit more than couple hours and 37 miles at a crawl. Half way through I started dreaming of what I was going to eat when I got home, which usually signifies a good solid bonk ride and meant I had two days in a row finishing, barely able to stand. I ate a big bowl of warm Grapenuts and milk with banana and maple syrup (a concoction I came up with in a bonk vision on the ride) and a bit later, Cathy and I rode the bikeway in to meet up with the Ferret on his commute home. Oddly, I felt pretty good. Strange.

Come Friday morning Cathy left very early to go visit her folks in Florida for the weekend. I awoke very very early, feeling not so fresh, having had a few too many Harpoon White IPA's the night before. By 5AM we were both up and by 6PM Cathy was gone. I did some chores and projects and later, jumped on the bike and started meandering. I went south and then west and then south and west again, then north. I hit a ton of towns and was working pretty hard, trying to get some respectable miles and push through whatever had taken hold of me the day before. By 5PM it was dark and I was almost home. The suds were wearing thin but I managed to get home with 3.5 hours and without a complete collapse, tired but not fully broken.

Saturday came and the plan was for a big team training ride. The weather called for near freezing and a chance of rain. We met for the ride start at Fern's in Carlisle and a couple miles out, the snow started. We figured that what with the intensity the snow was falling, it would be a short squall and hit the roads, opting to stay fairly local just in case. The snow continued and in fact, intensified. The ride went from lots of fun to cold, wet and dangerous. At one point on a descent there was so much snow on the road that I couldn't see the edge of the pavement. My front tire got off the side and started plowing. I tripoded for a while then hit the deck, sliding for an eternity down the snow covered pavement. Traction with the bald 25c road slicks was non existent. Wet and cold, we called it a day finishing out with about 37 miles in well over two hours. It snowed much of the day and we picked up a totally unexpected 5" of heavy, wet snow. I joked with the Ferret later on the book of face, that we should go for a fat bike ride. He took the bait and that evening we hit the woods for a short by fun ride, capping off an epic week on the bike.

I didn't realize though quite how epic it was until I looked at the total this morning. Historically, I have tracked my weeks based on the traditional Biblical week (Sunday - Saturday). Most tracking programs like Strava use the International standard week (Monday - Sunday). Anyhow, when I looked I was surprised to see that my training week of 2014.01.12 - 2014.01.18 was 334 miles and 20:31 hours long. That by the way was the longest distance week and biggest training block that I have put in in over two years. I don't necessarily think January is the right time for that.

I now understand precisely what I am currently tired. Hopefully though, after an easier week this week, I will be in much better shape the following week. We also have a fat bike race this coming Sunday. Who knows what that is going to be like. I'm coming to find that fat bike miles are exponentially harder than other miles on the bike. Will see.

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