I was keeping a mileage log starting last November, but I gave it up in January because the numbers are so stupid. I’m averaging 55 miles a day.
Like I said, stupid.
When I quit driving I figured my recreational cycling would suffer because I’d be so tired from commuting everywhere. It doesn’t take more than a couple of client meetings in San Diego or Yucaipa before you start scowling at your bike.
I got crazy tired at first but then not so much. It took couple of months, and in December I reverted to my old recreational ways, that is, Donut Ride, with maybe an hour of motor pacing behind Boozy P. every now and again. In January the Flog started up, so that’s a solid 2, sometimes 3, hard rides on top of all the easy riding.
The result has been surprising. I’m riding better than I have since I was in my 20s. My endurance is sky high. Used to be, on Saturdays I suffered from a Donut coma, where I’d eat, shower, then lie immobile on the couch the rest of the day.
Now I take a quick nap and am fine. More often than not I’ll hop back on my bike to run an errand or two, and in my neighborhood an errand can easily involve 900+ feet of climbing. What matters even more from the standpoint of a delusional former masters #profamateur is that when the hammer drops on the group rides, I do okay, and more importantly, it doesn’t kill me.
A buddy was talking to me about my training, and he then sent me a link to something called polarized training, which is apparently what I do. Ride easy a bunch, and hard a little. I read the article and it really understates my polarization, both in time and intensity. A properly slow ride should be 50-60% of FTP, for 2-3 hours.
My slow ride yesterday after going full gas on Saturday’s Donut was eight hours and we covered maybe 80 miles. I don’t know my heart rate or FTP, but when I’m commuting or slow riding, I go so slow that it is literally effortless. I’ll get home and not even feel like I’ve ridden even after clocking six hours in the saddle.
Is this good for you? Does it make you faster? Is it a way to gain performance even as you age?
I don’t know. What I do know is that I spend so much time on my bike now that if I tried to ride with any vigor AT ALL on these slow rides, I’d be unable to make it through the week. And by “unable to make it through the week” I mean “unable to get out of bed.”
Here are some honest-to-goodness non-data results:
- I used to be able to barely hang onto the leaders during the Donut climbs, with maybe a single attack that was never taken seriously and always brought back. Typically I’d get dropped on the first climb, often as early as before the first turn. Now I can sit with the lead group, attack, and then counter. And then counter again.
- The Donut has four hard efforts, Domes #1, Domes #2, Hawthorne Sprunt, and Via Zumaya climb. I’ve been doing this ride since 2006 and have had a total of five days when I’ve felt good at each hard section. The last FOUR DONUTS IN A ROW I’ve felt good on every single hard section.
- The Donut has two traditionally neutral sections, from Western in San Pedro to Via Colinita, and the section after Hawthorne until Via Zumaya. For the last four weeks I’ve ridden each of the neutral sections full gas, in addition to having good legs on the climbs.
- My Flog times don’t appear to have changed much judging by who’s ahead of me, but I’m not tired the rest of the day. In fact, there is no more KDS on Thursday (Keyboard Drool Syndrome).
- I can ride 100-150 miles one day and motor pace, do the Donut or the Flog or another hard ride the following day and feel fine. Then follow the hard day with another big volume day … as long as it’s really slow.
None of this means much in terms of racing, obviously, because group riding ain’t racing or even close, but it’s something to feel this good and have this much endurance in the face of so much volume. Fox Training Systems insists that the modern emphasis on rest and recovery is way overblown, and that cyclists should focus on riding more, and Facebooking less.
Not sure she’s wrong.
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