I do the Wednesday night and Saturday morning rides at North Central Cyclery in DeKalb. (Not this Saturday, though. I’m saving up for the Gravel Metric, which is on Sunday. You should be, too.) NCC just got in their new kits, with bibs and jerseys from BioRacer. They are amazingly comfortable…the bibs have now accepted a podium spot next to my favorite Pearl Izumi knickers in terms of saddle comfort. Anyhow, while the kits were just made available Tuesday, it seems as if a lot of riders got the memo before the Wednesday night ride.
(Note: pics shamelessly stolen from NCC’s Facebook post).
I felt strong on last night’s ride–stronger than normal, and I attribute it to three factors:
1. Wheelsucking. Sure, when the group was doing a rotating pace line, I did my part and pulled through the rotation. But when a group would sprint off the front, I would swallow my pride and try to just hook onto a wheel. I didn’t worry about sprinting off the front of the sprint, nor about starting my own sprints. My goal was to survive in the lead group. And I did. This isn’t the prototypical definition of wheelsucking, but it’s close. I’m acknowledging that I have a lot more miles to get into my legs before I’m in the same class as many of the guys I ride with. I’m ok with that. (Kind of.) And I’ve decided that it is better to do my best to hang with the leaders than to lead a few valiant charges of the light brigade that end in my slaughter.
2. Nutrition. I read a number of posts from an exercise physiologist, and even exchanged a couple emails with her, regarding sports nutrition and those with compromised digestive systems. She was writing about a host of conditions, including Celiac’s disease. She spends pages describing something that I’m going to greatly over-simplify. In short, those who are recovering from acute bouts of certain digestive or auto-immune issues can have difficulty accessing energy stores, and difficulty changing the form of energy use that the body is undertaking at any given time. As I understand it, if my body is doing intense efforts and utilizing short term energy stores, it can be hard for my body to replenish those rapidly, or to transfer to using medium or longer term stores. This difficulty is complicated further by my significant weight loss, and the gradual loss of long-term energy (fat) stores. I’m probably totally butchering her theory, and accordingly, I’m not going to cite to her at this time, until I have her clearance to do so. Anyhow, the change that I made for the Wednesday night ride was to shotgun a can of regular soda before the ride (liquid sugar), and to down a gel at around the 17-20 mile mark, when I would normally start fading. On previous group rides, I would get to that point and my legs would just start slowing down. I still had plenty of cardio in me, but my quads felt like tofu. Last night, I felt much, much stronger and my legs stayed with me the whole ride. I did go through one brief cramping moment with my left calf, but it resolved and I rode on. I’m going to keep trying this for a few weeks and see if the results are consistently good. Apparently, the big dose of easily absorbable sugar helps keep muscles fueled when you’re having difficulty adapting to other energy stores. We’ll see.
3. The kindness of friends. I’ve mentioned that I ride with some awesome guys. At one point in the ride, a breakaway sprint occurred and I was in a position behind another rider that prevented me from getting out and onto the sprint fast enough. The strongest rider in the group saw my predicament, and dulled his pace long enough for me to catch his wheel, and then ride hard onto the breakaway. There was no way I would have caught them by myself. I’m going to leave it at that, before I start getting all gushy.
It was a great, great ride. Today or tomorrow, I’m going to do a very short, very easy spin. Tomorrow, I will also spend some quality time with the Vaytanium, cleaning, lubing, adjusting and otherwise pampering before Sunday’s Gravel Metric. I’m really looking forward to this year’s ride. Last year, the question was whether or not I’d survive. This year, I know I can do the distance without a problem…no matter what happens, I can at least finish. So I’m focusing a bit more on time and speed. I need to take advantage of faster groups and wind conditions…try to finish before the sun gets too hot…and yet not go out so hard that I’m burned up by mile 20. It’ll be a challenge, and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t decided if I’m going to run 3 bottle cages, or just do a water refill somewhere along the way.
End of the ride, last night, talking with some great guys.