What a Difference a Day Makes
Titanium Man is a wimp. He doesn’t work hard enough. So I’ve stopped riding with him. Instead I am riding against myself.
I have settled into a groove of three different routes. They all suit my morning schedule. I try to get in two rides a week before heading to The Firm (good intentions and all that). In principle I should be improving with each ride, and I usually manage to leave my former self behind, but not always.
I attribute this variability to a number of factors: the hours of sleep I had (more is better); pre-ride nourishment (smoothies are great, bacon and eggs are deliciously leaden); frequency (regular training helps); heat dissipation (shirtless is more effective – sorry, no photos); and that great indefinable: psychological state of mind. All of which makes me realize how much performance testing must be an art as much as a science.
My routes are all on our cottage drive; each one has stories from 20 years of weekend travel that I won’t bore you with here. I will not point out where I rolled the van after hitting a deer, or where I hitchhiked with my daughter, two dogs and three cats after a breakdown.
Patrick noted in an earlier blog that not all “centuries” are equal, with terrain having a major influence on effort. My rides bear this out.
Hardwood Lake-to-Denbigh is only 17 kms but it takes almost exactly the same time as Tory Hill-to-Hardwood Lake at 24 kms (44 minutes). The long hill at the start of the ride tops out at 12%. It will beat you up if you’re not careful. Two years ago I burned up the pavement getting to the top of that hill where I simply stopped and got off the bike – smartaleck.
Bancroft-to-MacArthur Mills looks benign but the little spike at the end peaks at 13% and is followed by a 15% drop – the downhill is harder than the climb. This ride is almost the same distance as Tory Hill but takes 10 minutes longer.
Finally I have a weekend route from Griffith-to-Black Donald Road. This is a beautiful, beautiful piece of road. It follows the Madawaska River before turning cross country over rolling hills that thread past cottages nestled on lake shores. Traffic is non-existent and the cottages are hidden from view – you could ride this road and not see a single soul.
It also has a lot of hills. After 50 minutes I found myself asking whether I wanted to finish the ride. I guess this is my current psychological endurance threshold. However I kept with it – Titanium Man was pacing at 130 watts (weakling!) and I almost managed to stay with him to the end. But halfway up the last of three hills (6% climb) I had to drop off. It took 90 minutes to finish.
Temperatures rose to plus-10 degrees yesterday and then dropped overnight to minus-8. Any streets that aren’t clear are a skating rink. Cycling isn’t safe yet – there’s no point in taking a fall and breaking a hip (or worse).
She may be a-comin’, but she ain’t here yet.