Saturday, 12 May 2012

Wake up call!

Just had a huge wake-up call!

I've been taking it fairly easy since the Ultimate, focusing mainly on building up weekly k's rather than going for any long rides. My weekends have involved (1) the 100k Aka block on Saturday and (2) 70-80k with the 60/40 group on Sunday. Great fun! But I decided to lift things up a bit today, and did Aka block (around 1000 metres climbing) plus Otaki Beach circuit (flat) - 160 km all up.

Bloody oath! Suddenly all those memories came back and I remembered just what endurance riding was all about! It's amazing how, after only a few weeks off, you quickly forget the downside and see everything with rose-tinted glasses! It's not really something that I would describe as fun! I seem to have lost a lot of fitness since the Ultimate, so it was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of that "dark side" again for a few hours and do a bit of practice on the mental front.

My lesson from that ride is that, every month, I'm going to have to fit in a long ride where I take myself well beyond my comfort levels.  I might even work up to about 20 hours or so, but have to balance this against the training time lost in recovering from such rides.

By the way, my limited experience with group training rides shows that they also have their share of pain, as we race each other up hills or try to stay at the front of the peloton as long as we can. But it's a piece of cake by comparison! You have the help of that powerful drug (adrenalin), that powerful motivation (beating your mates), that great distraction (there's always something happening), it's fun, and it's not sustained for long, as the hill soon ends or you can soon shelter in the pack to recuperate. Endurance cycling has none of this.  It relies totally on yourself and it's all about mental toughness.  No wonder not many people do it!

And as I pathetically grappled with this for 2-3 hours at the end of my ride today, I thought of people like Nick Dunne and Ron Skelton who, next month, will be doing this non-stop, day after day. Tough bastards! All the best for RAAM guys!!!!

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