Week 28, 2014: Cycling madness.

TL; DR It is a looong post, as this was a week with looots of cycling ;)

(I currently have a 3 week delay in posting, so this actually took place a while back)

So, finally the bet with my friend was on. My quad injury was still making it impossible for me to run, but I could cycle all right, so I decided no point in waiting any longer. The rules were roughly as follows:

  • 1 point for 1 kilometer of running,
  • 1 point for 3 kilometers of cycling,
  • 1 point for 200m of elevation gain (either running or cycling).

Plus to make it all more interesting we kept the workouts secret so as not to know what the other person is doing and to essentially make it a race against a ghost.

I did not have much fiddling room strategy-wise as I could not run and it was a no-brainer that with those rules it was best to stay the hell away from the hills; they would tire you quickly and were totally not worth the points.

After some deliberation I decided to do most of my rides on a trail next to work. It had a lot of advantages, most importantly being completely flat and being just next to my office so I could easily do multiple rides per day. The main disadvantage was it's length: 12km, which meant I'd be doing lots of laps on it, which would quickly become a bore.

I knew that, apart from the obvious problem of spending many hours in the saddle, I'd have two main challenges this week:

  • First, time. The great thing about doing this contest last week was that I had a long, 4-day weekend to pack all the craziness in. Not so this week. So one of the main challenges was going to be to somehow juggle between work and all that cycling. I was planning to try to squeeze in three workouts per day: morning (before work), afternoon (work break) and evening (after work),
  • Second challenge was obviously going to be fatigue. One week of very intense cycling meant that trying to speed up and help recovery was going to be a major issue. I was positive that this was to be a week of making good friends with my foam roller :).

Monday

I did not take notes so I don't remember much from those Monday rides. Just as planned I managed to get up around 7, hopped on my bike, had breakfast at work and then did my morning ride. I was totally rested so I felt fast and furious and did close to 50k in 1:45. Then some work, lunch and time for an afternoon ride. This time I was tired from the morning and it was visibly more difficult to cycle. That was when I realized that the respectable pace from the morning was not sustainable and I'd need to tone it down. I did similar distance to the morning ride, but now it took me just over 2 hours. In the final evening ride that day I decided not to overdo it and just did 20k in less than an hour. All in all that made 120k total for Monday and I was quite happy with that. At the same time I hoped to be able to do more in the coming days; I just did not want to overdo it right at the start.

Tuesday

Morning. I hop on the scale and see that my weight dropped quite a bit. Nothing drastic but enough to make me realize that if I didn't want to turn into a skeleton by the end of the week I'd need to change something. I was quite careful with pre and post workout nutrition but it looked like I'd also have to start fueling my body during the workouts. Which means horrid energy bars or gels... bleh.

Then it was a mirror copy of Monday: short ride to work, breakfast and morning ride. I was hoping to increase the distance of that second day, mostly by extending the evening ride. During the morning ride I could feel that I was tired from Monday, which made me wonder what will happen by the end of the week?

Afternoon. Fortunately after the ride I talked with my opponent. It looked like by this time we both realized that this week was going to be a nightmare and he was quite open to my suggestion of changing the rules. After some negotiations we agreed that only 4 best days of the week would count towards the competition plus we had to keep some minimum average for the remaining days (60km/day in my case).

That was a huge relief. I quickly figured out new strategy. I was going to use Monday rides towards easy days average and ride hard Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, which left Wednesday and Saturday as much needed days off. But those new rules meant that on the hard days I had to step up my game. I extended the afternoon ride to 3h and covered 65km. I wasn't sure whether it was the fatigue or weather conditions but the wind was really getting to me and I decided to shorten my loop to avoid a segment that was most exposed to the wind.

Also I was starting to hurt but the funny thing is that almost everything hurt but my legs. My hands hurt (from hanging on to the handlebars). My bottom hurt (I guess that's self explanatory). My neck hurt (I guess I'll need to learn to ride in the aero-position without constantly looking up). Also while on Monday morning I was overtaking pretty much everyone now there were more and more people overtaking me (it's a popular trail). I bit my teeth and thought that they probably were not planning on riding 1000km in a week ;).

Evening. Short break after dinner and back in the saddle for the evening ride. I felts cold so I went back home, put on a long sleeve jersey; much better. It was my first experience with my bike light and it took me by surprise when it died after less than 3 hours. My first instinct ws to head back home but then I realized that cycling with the weak LED light that I had was not too bad. I started cautiously but before long was back at my regular speed. In fact by that time I could have probably ridden this route with my eyes closed ;). I finished feeling strong. It was midnight but according to the rules I could continue as we set the day boundaries at 5am. I actually felt pretty strong and could probably go on for a while but with 66km in this ride and a daily total of 182km I decided that perhaps it was enough. And boy, oh boy, am I glad that a day off was ahead! :D

Wednesday

Day off! My plan was to rest and sleep in in the morning but for some reason I slept really bad; I didn't know that it was a pattern that would continue until the end of the week...

Thursday

Morning. On Wednesday, as part of the recovery plan, I went to bed super early, but had another sleepless night and on waking up did not feel rested at all. I was still pretty sore too, but once I started my morning ride it got better. There seemed to be some organized group of elderly people on the trail. Now, I'm always happy to see such folks get out and be active, but the fact that they took over the trail completely oblivious to cyclists and were hard of hearing on top of that, turned it into a challenge to my patience.

Afternoon. In the afternoon I met with my physical therapist. I dreaded this moment, as I was afraid of what he'd think of this cycling madness and so shortly after my injury. If he were to complain I was ready to remind him that the previous week he told me that some exercise would be good for my quad recovery. Although I suspect by "some" he had something slightly different in mind ;). To my surprise he is fine with what I'm doing... I like him even more now :D

During the afternoon ride I felt absolutely drained of energy. My knees hurt, I was starting to lose motivation and I didn't believe I could do 200km that I planned for the day. Riding was so incredibly difficult that I even started thinking that perhaps there was something wrong with my bike... yeah, right.

Yet, when I took the much needed break I decided to take a look and... indeed. My brakes got out of their position and were slightly engaged the whole time, slowing me down. Wow. When I hop back on my bike it felt so much better; even riding against the wind was a walk in the park and riding with the wind simply felt like flying. Law of relatives at play, huh.

Evening. Dinner and back in the saddle for the evening ride. I did 75km in 3 segments of 25km with short breaks in between. I finished just before midnight feeling quite OK, which was remarkable given that I did 200km in a day and just finished my longest single ride yet.

Friday

Morning. Breakfast, gym (yes, I forgot to mention that this week I also went four times to the gym, for which I also got some points) and then off for my morning ride. It was really, really hard. The fatigue of this week was really setting in and after 2 hours, with a break in the middle, I've had enough. For the first time I was seriously questioning sanity of this bet and was entertaining thoughts of giving up.

Afternoon. I'm really not sure whether the wind was stronger or I was weaker but the afternoon ride was a drag. I was also getting more annoyed with breaches of trail etiquette; when at some point a pair entering trail cut me off and forced me stop, I was this close to snapping.

After 2 hours I've had enough of riding and went for an afternoon run instead. At first my quad hurt pretty badly and I didn't think I could do more than 5k, but once warmed up it got somewhat better and I ended up doing 10k and thinking of doing more after dinner.

Evening. I decided to continue with running and went for an evening jog. This seemed like a good idea as: a) my bottom could totally use a break, b) running was more efficient in terms of points per hour (and I wanted to be done with it) and c) running is what I should be focusing on in my training given the 100 miler later in the year. The only downside of this decision was that by this point I was so tired that all my body mechanisms supposed to decrease impact were shut down, making running very tough on my knees, which were already battered from all the cycling. Oh well...

Still I did 20K and finished around 11pm. It was early enough and I could do some more cycling but it was one of those rare times when my common sense prevailed over my craziness :D. I was tired, I wanted to get home, take a shower and go to bed. And so I did... jumping on my bike and pedaling home :).

Saturday

Off! Thank God. I went with my friends to see musical version of Once in San Francisco; great stuff, highly recommended, especially to movie fans!

Sunday

I had very ambitious plans for Sunday. I was totally fed up with going in circles on my loop and decided it's time for some proper cycling adventure to finish this week. I made a 170km long route. It involved lots of climbing, which was going to work against me (if only I knew how much...), but I had a full day and so hoped I can pull it off.

At first a friend, Yohann, was supposed to join me but the in the end I was on my own. My initial plan was to get started around 9am but since I was lone I slept in, took my time getting ready and effectively only started riding after noon. But I still hoped I could make it

I started in the scorching sun and the first climb to the Lick observatory was just devastating. I've never done it before and I quickly realized that a 1200m climb in scorching sun is not a joking matter. It took me three hours to do little more than 30km. But finally I reached the top, took a break and refilled my water bottles.

Then it was time to get down on the other side of the mountain. It's very steep and the road is bumpy and curvy so in exchange for all my efforts I didn't even get a sweet downhill that I was hoping for. Soon I realized that my plan was not realistic. Maybe I could finish but I'd be cycling long into the night, instead of the planned finish around midnight. A more pressing problem was water. I had less than 2l with me and, given the weather, it was totally inadequate and started disappearing really fast.

Eventually I decided it was time to take drastic measures and abandon my original plan. At first I aimed to scale it down to a Gran Fondo (130km) but in the end decided that 100km would do just fine. Strangely enough, I didn't feel too bad about this decision. This week was pretty crazy. At first I was enjoying this craziness but at some point it simply hijacked my life. It was Sunday and I wanted to enjoy my evening, or at least part of it. I wanted to have a proper dinner and was seriously sick at the mere sight of power bars. I was also, quite frankly, fed up with cycling. So I was OK with this decision... even though deep down I suspected that it could cost me the victory in the bet (if only I knew...).

So instead of continuing with the planned loop I turned around and... that meant that I now had to do the climb, which was even steeper than the one I started with. I really struggled to the top. (In the end I did 2500m of total elevation gain). I was doing my best to conserve water but still ran out of it. At the top the Visitor's Center was already closed and for a moment I had fear in my eyes: without water I was screwed. There was another cyclist there and I asked him whether there was any water around but my throat was so dry from thirst that I had to repeat it three times before he understood what I was saying. Luckily for me there was water and I gulped at least one liter and poured another one on my body to cool down.

Then it was just smooth sailing down the mountain. Once finished I went for Mexican food and was back home well before midnight. However with only this single ride this was by far my worst day of the 4 that would count towards the bet. was I pay to pay for that "laziness"?

Results

So few numbers about this week:

DayTimeDistance
(cycling)
Distance
(running)
Monday4:50120km
Tuesday8:49182km
Wednesday
Thursday9:32204km
Friday7:2287km30km
Saturday
Sunday6:49106km
Total37:23700km30km

Funnily enough I wasn't planning it or counting as I was going along but I ended up riding almost exactly 700km, averaging 100km/day... only I wasn't riding every day. I have to say I am quite proud, especially of over 200km on Thursday.

So what about the bet? Well... I lost :). And by a tiny margin, no less. If I did my original plan on Sunday, or even if I only made the 130km for Grand Fondo, that'd have been enough. Life :). Anyhow, congrats Karol!... next time I'll get you :D

Oh, and in the coming few weeks I'm not planning to so much as glance at my bike! :DDD

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