One issue with this upcoming July ride is the back-to-back nature of it. I know from past experience that I can handle up to 250 miles in one go, so from that perspective, 150 miles a day is nothing. But can I sustain that attitude and the physical strain on my body in the same way for five days in a row?
The goal this weekend was to begin back-to-back training. From here on out, each weekend will consist of a long ride Saturday and a shorter ride Sunday (usually half the distance). Each week, I will increase the mileage of each trip until I build up to doing back-to-back century rides. Whether I go beyond that for training remains to be seen.
This first weekend, I wanted to keep it simple, so I started out with the same route on Saturday that I had done the previous Saturday. Something that I should point out now is that I am terrible with maps. I can study a route and it will not even matter. It takes up to three attempts before I feel even slightly comfortable doing the ride without guidance. So I took the same route as last Saturday with some much needed improvements, meaning I found a more efficient way to do it this time by staying on more bike-friendly roads and reducing the number of turns required for a similar total mileage of 40.
For that first ride, I woke up around 5:40 and had a small bowl of cereal finished by 6. I left just after 7 (again, I would like to be able to stretch out the time between eating and leaving when I get to longer rides, but that does not always fit into the schedule very well). On the ride, I ate two Appalachian Trail Cookies at the 15 and 30 mile mark. Although temperatures would rise to nearly 70 degrees, the ride was a comfortably chilly 30 for most of the early morning.
Of all my body parts that are not used to racking up miles yet, my bum is the worst off. It just takes so long to get used to sitting on a saddle for an extended period of time. After last weekend’s 40-mile ride, I had two days off (unavoidably). In an effort to make that up, I actually did more miles in fewer days (just over 100 in 4 days) than I have at any point this year. Those extra miles during the commute to work and back added up and my bum was not happy for parts of this ride and was even worse on Sunday with just a persistent soreness.
I finished Saturday’s ride in 3 hours, which seems very good for a hybrid ride in colder temperatures after a 100-mile week.
All the while I was riding, however, I was worried about the following day’s ride. My standard fare following these training rides thus far has been a chocolate banana peanut butter smoothie and something granola-y immediately after getting off the bike. This time, thinking about the next day’s ride (instead of having a day off like I have had the previous weekend rides), I ate a big breakfast upon getting home at 10:00 am that consisted of coconut flour pancakes, eggs, and bacon. My wife and I would then walk 8.5 miles in the epic weather and I had a dinner consisting of the aforementioned smoothie, a chicken drumstick, an unsettling amount of broccoli, and a bit of homemade butternut squash soup.
Given the unseasonably high temperatures on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday this week (60+ degrees in February…yes thank you), I decided to leave in the afternoon for Sunday’s ride instead of in the morning. I rolled my bike out of the garage just after noon wearing my new Tour de France windbreaker jacket my mommy got me and Rossignol windbreaker pants. I immediately leaned the bike against a post, went back in the house, and took off the pants. I would remove the jacket five miles in.
Seriously, this is like April, not February.
The purpose of this ride was to take it nice and slow. I was just pedaling to get miles in, get used to getting on the bike the day after a long ride. I did feel some significant leg fatigue right out of the gate climbing the slight hill coming out of our small community and onto the main street. I kept track of my heart rate more than usual, trying not to overexert myself at all.
For this trip, I had two Appalachian Trail Cookies with milk and a tiny bowl of cereal (less than ½ cup) around 9 am and then had a mango at 11:30 just before leaving. The plan was to not eat anything during the ride because I was not planning on being longer than 2 hours out with very minimal exertion, all things considered.
Heading straight South, I had an easy ride planned but plans changed as I turned up Sand Road to head back North and realized I had the wind at my back. I cruised down that five mile stretch at 18 mph without much effort. As I pedaled, I realized the day was too nice, this flat stretch of road with the wind too perfect, so when I reached the end of Sand Road, I instead turned around and went back the way I came. For this stretch, I moved much slower, heading against the wind. But once I reached the five mile mark, I turned around again and decided to turn this leisure ride into a five mile sprint interval training ride. Knowing this, I ate a granola bar while traversing back South on Sand Road leading up to that return sprint. I powered through those fives miles as fast I could and that little detour added eight miles to my 20 mile trip. This was not at all the plan, but it was a great time.
My five mile splits for those 15 miles were 17:12 for the first time with the wind, 22:49 against the wind to get back to the starting point, and 14:28 was the sprint time.
I may want to have one of these weekend training rides just be doing that stretch of road over and over again as a form of interval training to improve my sprint time and get used to that level of exertion.
I followed up that ride with the standard smoothie and pile of cashews and then immediately set out on a walk to the store. All in all, I biked 68 miles over the two days and walked another 16 miles. After the walk, I made a dinner with New York strip steak and another inordinate pile of broccoli. I also made energy bars to try in place of the Appalachian Trail Cookies for this week. The binding agent is maple syrup and peanut butter melted and poured over oats, cereal, chocolate chips, cashews, raisins, and almonds. We’ll see if these are as appealing as the cookies turned out to be.