For the past two weeks i have being taking a rest from training for a little bit and concentrating on doing big rides instead. The idea is that the base training is done and now is the time to extend upon that base fitness. Problem with that is anything over 1hrs on a trainer feels like certain death. So my preference for 1+hr rides are usually outside rides. With the recent weather though it has definitely thrown a spanner into the works. Basically I have only ridden once per week for the past two weeks and that to me isn’t enough. In fact i got so restless and frustrated i twittered something along the lines of “i don’t care if it rains on sunday or not i am going riding”.
Because i was the only person to turn up at the loftus car park i knew that this was finally the day for the 1500m climb. I have being meaning to do it previously but due to time and other factors it has not being possible. Today however, i knew there was no excuses. So down i go into audley and straight into the cat 4 climb. Retarded way to start a ride but i’ve done this a couple of times to no real adverse effects. Straight away on this cat 4 climb which climbs for around 125m with a average gradient of 9% i noticed that i was feeling weak. The kind of weak where you have sat too complacent in front of your computer monitor for too long. Oh boy. I knew then and there that today was the wrong day to go for a milestone but logical thoughts and ideas fall to deaf ears when i am riding.
So i get to the Bundeena turn off and make a left. I ride all the way down to Bundeena and then loop back and then keep continuing onwards to stanwell park. The first half of the ride was uneventful. Apart from the stunning views i was just mostly riding. After a little while i actually felt okish. I knew i wasn’t in tip top condition but it was ok enough to reinforce my goals of climbing 1500m. The clouds also shifted at an alarming pace. I knew at this point that i was at the mercy of pure luck as to whether or not i was going to get drenched.
I got to the look out near stanwell feeling quite good but hungry. Now my usual morning routine includes half a bowl of cereal and milk and that’s it. It is usually enough for any morning ride but i was to soon learn that it would not be enough for what i am doing today. I downed my GU gel and chased it with some water to dilute it as to not impact my stomach too much. From my experience energy gels can play havoc with my sensitive stomach especially when i am on an empty stomach. Once i finished everything i turned my bike around and set off in the reverse direction. As soon as i started pedalling i knew i was in trouble. Straight away the twitch and pull of a stomach cramp/ache was apparent to me. The kind that tells you that
1. You should have dropped your kids off at home that morning
2. You should always feed me more
I changed my body positioning in awkward positions but the waves of pain kept coming and coming. Have you ever ridden up a steep gradient heaving and pushing out of the saddle whilst having the feeling that you need to poo? It was at that point that i realised the connection between climbing a 10% gradient and sitting on a toilet seat. They both induce the feeling of wanting to “empty” yourself. Anyways. This feeling went on for …. the rest of the day and at certain points it was just plain annoying. I would be riding up a steep part but then id feel the waves of pain setting in so id have to sit down as to not poo myself but also had to push an extra hard gear because the gradient is too steep for sitting down on. Still, humans are great creatures and we adapt quickly. After 20-30 minutes of this i had it down pat but another feeling crept in. The feeling of a ravishing hunger.
As i kept riding i started noticing banana peels on the side of the road. Now, bananas ain’t my fave fruit but damn it was enticing. Every banana peel i rode past had me envision some rider munching down on that banana and then chucking it to the side of the road. I imagined how nice a banana would taste and how good it would be at this moment in time and i knew that i was way under eating. Actually, under eating would be a euphemism. I didn’t eat would be the more accurate description. The audley climb out to loftus oval told me everything i needed to know. My heart rate was alright, my breathing was alright but damn i just had no power at all. I felt super weak and i knew at this point that i had learnt my lesson.
1. Drop the kids off at home
2. Maybe try some other gels that does not effect my stomach
3. Bring some solid foods for a ride of this length, half a sandwich, bananas, lollies, anything
4. i love riding
At the end of the day the ride was still alright. I was riding super cautiously from the start because i knew 1500m isn’t something to be trifled with. I took most climbs nice and slow and extra slow on the way back ahem *cough*. I also reached i think a new high speed of 67.5km/h. It felt pretty fast. Great ride for me on so many levels.
PS :: i am so glad i am going to be on a right sized bike soon. On the way back whilst dealing with hunger/stomach pains my knees started hurting again. The kind of hurting that suggests that there is something wrong with the position of myself on the bike. I am hoping that once i change bikes i will be riding this sort of distance without any of these pains.
PPS :: Jarod put me onto this site called Strava. It is like garmin connect but better in terms of usable functions. It can detect climbs that you do and then compare you to other riders that has done the same climbs. It tracks your friends rides and notifies you and ranks you in terms of who got up that climb the fastest. The biggest problem with this is seeing every climb turn into a sprint fest from now on. Forget about saving yourself for the rest of the day.
PPPS :: Just to address the blog title. 1500m is 1100m + 400m and on paper/text/web it doesn’t sound that bad but it is so much more than that. I think with my current abilities i can do 1100m at my pace without too much worry. I feel that it is within my safety net. 1500m however is definitely out of that safety net zone. I need to do more of 1500m rides to improve and that is what i will do from now on!