Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crest of a Wave

For most of this week I felt like I was riding the crest of a wave. Yesterday I thought the wave had collapsed on itself. Today I think I'm still hanging in there, though I'm not quite sure where my emotions are at.

I was on a total high afer Sunday's ride. I got up on Monday and completed my new leg workout, then swapped out the scheduled run for a bonus RPM with Jocko. The man himself lorded over his class in an alarming pair of turquoise blue bike pants and a slightly too tight RPM top. I was happy to be on a bike, and I was happy to be in Jocko's class again. I went hard and I grinned myself senseless.

The momentum continued into Tuesday with Duck's RPM, followed by Gearshifters RPM. I was having a huge problem getting my heartrate up, and it was only halfway through the second class that I started to feel happy with my exertion levels. Up to that point I could only laugh as I found myself turning up the dial, then turning it up some more, then turning it up even more, to no visible effect.

So it was with curiosity that I decided to check my heartrate that night just before going to sleep. A couple of weeks before starting Gearshifters my heartrate was at 58, which was itself down from 62 mid-way through last year. On Tuesday night my heartrate was 55, and it's been 55 each time I've checked it since. I've dropped another three beats a minute in the few weeks of riding with the squad. Obviously my body likes this cycling business!

Wednesday was a half hour trail run. Short on time I walked up to the Botanical Gardens and ran concentric circles around the rose gardens, before heading up the Serpentine Trail then back down and around a few more trails back to work. My ankle hurt, but it didn't get any worse and I didn't have any inflammation the next day. I think as long as I stay off the pavement as much as possible I will be ok to start running once or twice a week. Running through the rose gardens was wonderful, with their gorgeous scent wafting through the air. My sense of smell is always accentuated when I run.

Still on a high I got up early on Thursday morning and did 35 minutes on an exercycle before Duck. We went hard on my upper body with an old-school workout of chest-press, upright row, shoulder raises and core work. I lifted heavier than I've ever lifted before, exercising to the point of muscle failure. It's not often Duck lets me do that these days, so I had fun.

I should have swum after work on Thursday, but ended up enjoying the beautiful evening on a friend's boat instead. I slept in on Friday morning, then slipped out at lunchtime to do Clare's Balance class. We did the latest release, which is absolutely gorgeous. The music is fabulous and the moves all very simple and not gimicky the way some of the last few releases have been. My poor body was starting to complain about my week, particularly my quads and glutes. My whole body was not impressed with my lack of yoga of late, and my hips were soooo tight. It was good to be back.

Saturday turned out to be once of those Wellington-on-a-good-day days, a perfect late-summer morning. I ducked into town for a couple of tyre tubes and some Co2 cannisters. I'd already picked up a flash pair of sunglasses in the Crankworks sale. Before long I was out on my bike aiming for a leisurely recovery ride around the Bays. My quads were dead, so I'd ruled out any major hill work. I wanted to relax, not worry about pace, and just enjoy the beautiful day. In theory it should have been easy, but I never found my groove. Riding around the Southern Coast was lovely, but I did find myself keeping an eye on my cycle computer and feeling dissatisfied with my pace. I cruised up the pass of Brenda with ease, remembering how much harder it felt a few months ago. I cruised down into Seatoun and found a little more of a head wind than I'd been expecting. There was some kind of dj event going on at Scorching Bay, and I wondered whether I should stop for a while but kept going.

I was drifting along away with the fairies when I got overtaken by another woman cruising over a judder bar at the old naval base. Waking up I put the pedal down a bit and sat a short distance behind her the whole way around to Miramar, when I felt my back tyre deflate - again. I gave Hamish a call, leaving a message on his mobile, then proceeded to wrestle with the darn thing, getting grease all over myself, but finally succeeding.

The flat took the fun out of the ride. I rode fairly slowly down Cobham Drive, cut through Kilbirnie, then climbed back up Happy Valley to home. At least Mornington Rd felt a huge amount easier than the last time I rode that way, so I guess my leg strength really is improving. Unfortunately, as I hit the top of Mornington Rd, there was a familiar sensation from the back of the bike. Yet another tube gone. A closer inspection this morning revealed a small stone in the tyre, almost too small to even see. However at the time I was too disgusted to even contemplate switching over to my last tube. I walked the last 100 metres home in a mood that was wayyyy too foul for the beautiful day.

Which left this morning and another Gearshifters ride. I woke to a morning as grey and windy as yesterday was perfect. The weather did not improve my mood, and neither did realising ten minutes into the ride that I'd forgotten both my gloves and my sunglasses.

Today we rode to Eastbourne, and I should be pleased because it's the furthest I've ever ridden before. We rode in a pack along Old Hutt Rd and then down the motorway, and we flew. I didn't think I'd be able to keep up, but somehow I hung in there. Without a doubt, that section of the ride was very fast by my standards. At Petone we hit a nasty crosswind, and I started to seriously regret forgetting my sunglasses as the wind blew sand into my face.

We stopped at the start of the coast road, then the idea was that we were to ride as fast as we could to the end of the road. This is where the ride went a bit downhill for me. The wind owned me today, and one by one the other riders all overtook me. I ended up at the very back of the pack with one woman, watching everyone else disappear off into the distance.

Julia and I stuck together the rest of the way, stopping in the village so that she could take a work-related call, then again at the turnaround point to grab a bite to eat and so she could take another call. Knowing the rest of the pack were a long way ahead by now I felt little motivation to try to ride hard, and the wind kept owning me. Petone was just nasty, and I had to ride the whole distance with my eyes almost closed to avoid a painful sand-in-eye moment. My face ended up coated in sand, and it was embedded deep in my left ear drum. The wind kept shoving me into the middle of the road.

I haven't ridden on the motorway before, so poor Julia led most of the way back into that insane Southerly. At one point we were overtaken by another pack (I know who they were but will keep them nameless). Everyone was friendly, suggesting we should hang off the back of them, until the guy at the back pretty much told us to get out of their way. They were riding so much faster than us that there was no need for the guy at the end to tell us to slow down and let them through, and we were keeping well left so they had plenty of room. I hate to sound like I'm complaining, but I've never struck that kind of attitude amongst runners!

The wind on the Old Hutt Rd nearly sent me into a power pole, so I was really relieved to be back in town, even if the Sunday Market traffic past Te Papa was distinctly non-cyclist friendly. I sprinted the last 100 to 200 metres, so obviously still had some life in my legs.

I wonder whether I would have pushed harder if I'd been riding with the rest of our pack. I get the sense that I'm capable of riding much faster than I actually do. Perhaps I'm just a lazy cyclist. It seems odd to me that I have so much less power into the wind. I have to remind myself that I'm still a total cycle newb, and that I'm riding with much more experienced women. I WILL get there. I feel like slapping myself for being so pathetic, but I also feel like getting out there and just riding HARD, just to prove to myself that I can.

Hey wait, there's the Mad Dog attitude that led to me improving my running pace so markedly. What I really need to do is just keep riding, and since there's no question of that not happening, I guess the rest will just sort itself out.

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