After my chasing the light ride I was feeling pretty bullish and enthusiastic about getting my mileage back on track – so I sat down at the PC this morning and started mapping out a ride – the first one I came up with was about 60kms and I thought "too short" so I did another one at 80kms – "perfect" – if I could do that I'd be back at my 20km per day target.
A quick check of the bike, some oil on the chain and two bottles of hot weather energy drink and I hit the road in the inaugural ride for my new Fathers day present – a Liquigas 2010 team jersey (to celebrate the Giro win). As I'd ridden fairly hard the night before I decided that today was going to be more about getting around the course, which included 1000m of climbing rather than flat out pace.
However from pretty early on it was apparent that my legs hadn't really turned up today. Perhaps the combination of a few nights of poor sleeping and getting used to my new improved bike position were contributing factors but I just didn't really have it today. In fairness on the flat and the descents my speed was reasonable – but anything more than a slight incline had me quickly changing down through the gears to keep some sort of cadence going.
The second quarter of the ride hurt with 4 short sharp climbs of around 10% gradient each. Once I got to Hartfield I was half way and turned to climb up into the Ashdown forest through Colemans Hatch and up to Chelwood Gate. To be honest – it's not that tough a climb but today if felt a bit more challenging. By the time I got back down towards Groombridge and hit another climb I was really starting to suffer. No more food left (I hadn't brought much to begin with) and energy drink fast running out.
On the last 10km it has started to rain and I was definitely suffering. I ended up on the last 5km with my head down, just concentrating on the little bit of road in front of me. Today was my hardest ride for months and it felt pretty darn ugly at the end. Not even my funky new cycling top could spur me on.
As soon as I got in the door – I sat down to a meal of pasta leftovers, a recovery drink, a banana and a cup of tea and I started to feel a bit better. Tonight I can feel my legs ache walking up and down the stairs and that's not something that happens everyday. I obviously didn't eat enough both before I left and on my bike – never a smart move, so I need to make sure I learn this lesson.
Fortunately it wasn't all bad. I was only 1.2kmh slower over the longer distance and with signifcantly more climbing than last night – but I felt so much slower. During the ride I'd been mentally working out what time I was hoping to beat and initially decided 3hours 20minutes. However in the Ashdown forest doing a time check I realised that I had been faster than that and I was more likely to go between 3 hours and 3 hours 10 minutes. In the end I round 82.33km in 3 hours 3 minutes and 34 seconds for an average speed of 26.91 kmh whilst climbing 997m, which is a good result given the circumstances.
Total mileage for the month now stands at 438.85km and I am hoping to ride another 181km to take the total for July to 620km. Time will tell but I'm on track for the 20km per day now thanks to the last two days catch up.
I'm not riding again until Saturday though – my legs have made it clear they need a break.