I Needed Tonight

Tuesday was my return to the bike. This afternoon (yes, this afternoon in Phoenix in July!) I wanted to get some hill repeats in on the road bike. The weather was perfect. Upper-80s, low-90s, perfect. A little muggy, but it was 110+, so I’ll take it.

As I head out, my legs feel like crap. I have a 15 minute warm up with a few steep climbs thrown in before I hit the Kingstree/Palomino climb. This is my benchmark climb that I use for all testing to figure out how I’m progressing. It’s roughly 4 miles long and covers 650’. At the base there’s a 100 yard climb that touches 16%. Then it levels off for for about a half mile at 2%, followed just a touch under 3 miles at 4%, with a final half mile or so that’s got a few short 10% grades and probably averages around 7%.

I start at the bottom, my legs feel sluggish. I’m already starting the think about my post this evening. “Well, my top end power has really tappered off after Nationals.”, “I’m sure it’ll be back by the end of August in time for the New Mexico State Championship” etc., etc. I hit the first steep climb, known around here as the Kingstree. My HR spikes. A month or so ago I was hitting the top of that climb and barely getting over 185. Tonight I hit 199! Ok, ouch. Pull back just a bit, focus on your breating, bring your HR down. I got it down a bit, but just under 190.

My PR up this climb is 15:41. I start thinking how this time is going to suck. It’ll be 17+. I blow through my first time check and don’t even look at the lap time. I start up the second leg of the climb where it picks up a bit. I’m still in my little ring about mid way through the cassette. Normally I’m rocking the big ring through this second, but I’m off of it. There’s a long straight section with right hander at the end. I hit that and decide to look at my lap time. 9 minutes and changes. Man, I’d have to be flying to hit the second check around 12:20 - 12:30 I think to myself.

The way I ride this climb, I push up the first steep climb. Recover, then get a good tempo on the second leg, then push hard for the last section. Normally I’m trying to keep it in the big ring on the last section and keep a good spin going. I never even got into my big ring tonight. I’m rolling along and hit the second timecheck, 12 minutes and umpteen seconds! Wow, I’ve only been under 12:20 once before!

Now I hit the final section. Still in the little ring, but now I realize I might just have a shot at a descent time. I’m keeping a good sping on the climb, but my legs are way over LT and my HR is over 200 now. I think I’m going to crack any minute, but I didn’t. I rolled to the top of the climb at the turn around, hit my lap timer, and rolled at 15 minute, low 20 something time! Sweet!

My HR topped out at 205 BPM, which is what I’ve registered as my max before. My HR is high, but the few times I’ve taken time off of the bike this year, I’ve noticed my HR spikes after the time off. My perceived effort stays the same, but my heart works a bit harder.

So, I was expecting a big drop off on my power after a week and a half off of the bike. Looks like that’s not the case. Now I just need to focus on getting some distance miles in on the bike so my HR isn’t through the roof while I’m riding.

I’m planning on a road ride Saturday morning, followed by some singletrack adventures in Flagstaff on Sunday. I’m thinking Weatherford this time. I don’t know how far up you can take a bike, but I know the trail tops out well over 10k.