So I has big plans to take it easy yesterday, say a 17 mph average over my normal 16 miles for a nice recovery ride after Saturday’s bonk. I did manage to do that for about a tenth of a mile. After about 15 seconds I grew a little uptight about the fact that I gave up on Saturday. It just wasn’t sitting well even if it was an epic bonk that had me panting “no mas”. All at once all of the mileage that I put in this season didn’t matter – because I quit. I didn’t fight it very hard, I just got on my horse.
My first mile was my slowest, excluding stops by lights and even a train. I’ve resigned to the fact that Endomondo’s auto-pause is just going to suck. In any event, the important part was that I gave myself an attitude adjustment that was sorely needed. I’ve grown to like the easy days just a little too much lately so I decided it was about time I fell back in love with the hard work.
I also learned something today about how I ride when I’m pushing. The reason for paying attention is an incredibly bad kink in my neck. I’ve got an appointment set up for Thursday afternoon with my doctor to get a handle on it. I have an idea about what’s up, but I’m waiting for the professional opinion before I write about it… The important thing that I can comment on ahead of time, is that I squeeze the hood with my right hand, specifically my middle finger, when I’m pushing hard to wind my cadence up. I do this subconsciously to keep from favoring my dominant left leg in my pedal stroke. Over time, say 45 miles of a 90+ mile ride the tension really builds up… The idea, of course, is to be loose on the bars and because I’m tight, that tightness travels all the way up my arm, to my shoulder and into my neck. When I started out yesterday my neck had been tight much of the day but felt quite a bit better than on Saturday. By the 9th mile consistently above 20 mph, I noticed that stabbing pain in my right shoulder fire up again, so I tried to trace that down…to that middle finger that was locked on that hood so I could get just a little bit more out of my right leg. I went back to that well three more times over the next four miles, and sure enough, the pain flared back to life. The looser I was, the better I felt. I can tell you, that’s going to be a hard habit to break, but I’ll obviously have to. I don’t think that’s all of the problem, but it’s a big piece.
After a smattering of stop signs, red lights and a train I ended up with a 19.2 mph average. Actual would have been a shade over 20, maybe 20.2. In the end, the push was more important than the final figure, it was getting out of that comfortable zone where I’m moving, but not really working as hard as I could. I really needed that.
Now, for me there’s a trick to this… I’ve been putting in some huge miles and I’ve been using that to justify relaxing on the shorter rides. I suppose in the end there should be some kind of balance, but I change from month to month (and sometimes week to week) with what I want to do with cycling… Most times I like the speed, but up until Saturday I’d been better at the endurance so I tended to favor that to the detriment of speed workouts – I’m beginning to think the two are connected – in other words, I was good at the endurance because I worked hard on speed. Time will tell.
As for the kink in my neck, that’s really got me nervous. It could be from gripping the bars too tight, but it could also be from putting in so many miles and craning my neck to see down the road. If it’s the latter, that’s where I’ve got a problem… And there is that distinct possibility. When I was fitted for my new pedals, Matt raised my saddle to accommodate the higher rise on the cleat. If it was too much, that could be causing the pain. The problem is that I like it where it is right now, in relation to the bars – I can ride comfortably in the drops, and even on the hoods my head and back are quite low which presents a decent aerodynamic posture for someone of my age and flexibility. The only fix would be to raise the stem and bar and I’m just not willing to do that – yet.