I don’t think I have been on my road bike since October (10 October to be precise); however I climbed back in the saddle on Saturday to go for a post Christmas wobble around the Peak District. Now, I am not at peak fitness right now, and most of my friends go out and do amazing things like fell races, endurance races and are generally super fit. To say that I was slightly apprehensive of how crap I was going to be was an understatement.
It was also quite cold out. The roads still had a coating of frost on them, and because of the rains that we have had, there was a lot of detritus on some bends and at the bottom of hills. Did I say that it was cold? I think I had 2 base layers on, a gilet and a windproof on my top half and bibshorts plus windproof leggings and overshoes on my bottom half. Before I got to the top of the first hill I was cold.
I took it quite steady when we first set off. I hadn’t been on a bike for a long time, the roads were pretty greasy and slippy still and I was nervous. I have been on two wheels a lot recently, but there is a difference between motorised two wheels and the really skinny tires of a road bike! After the first descent, I felt much better, and like I could predict where the bike was going to go. It stopped feeling quite so wobbly and scary.
However, my legs were taking a while to warm up and they really didn’t appreciate the first couple of hills – especially the one up towards Abney. By that point we were out of the valley and going straight into a head wind. I honestly thought I was going to have to get off and push. My knee (which I had tweaked doing a stupid rockover in the Climbing Works on Friday), started to resent the force going through it and began to hurt. I knew how long the hill was, so I took it easy and tried to keep my heartrate low (to very little effect).
Eventually we got to the top of Abney and started to coast down the hill into Foolow and onwards to Eyam. The final hill of the day was Frogatt and as we started up the hill, I watched my friends disappear up around the corner. I kept my heart rate under 175 for most of it and felt my legs start to work.
In conclusion: I am not bike fit. Running and cycling use different muscles and I am not surprised that I was slow – or that my friends were so much faster. They have been out on bikes much more than me and have a much higher baseline of fitness. If I want to keep up with them I’d have to try and integrate more cardio into my training and I’m not sure that I have the time.
- Total distance – 31.5 km
- Average speed – 19.1 km/h
- Max speed – 49.7 km/h
- Average power – 99 w
- Average HR – 158
- Cadence – 78 RPM
- Average temp – 5 C (yeah – it was cold!)