We, my friends and I, typically ease into the new cycling season after a winter on the trainers.
Not this year, we dove right in because we had a few days of stellar weather, virtually unheard of in February. Fear not, we’re right back into the cold later this week. I rode 110-ish miles over Friday, Saturday and Sunday (more than 50 on Sunday alone) in about seven hours total. Not fast either, except that 20 were done on the mountain bikes and more than 37 were cranked out at 21 mph, which is pretty good considering my max is 22 unless I’m in a large group (40+), in which case I’m good up to 24 mph (all on open roads, not closed).
When I woke up Monday morning, I was feeling pretty old. My back was sore (from the effort, it was a good pain), my legs were tight and my shoulders and neck felt like they needed some work.
After years of trying different combinations of rest and nutrition, I know what the best thing is for me, and it isn’t a day off: Slow and easy, either on the road or on the trainer.
The issue is my Tuesday night club ride. That is my fastest day of the week. A few years ago I would ride all weekend long, as many as 150 miles over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’d take Monday off to rest and hit it again on Tuesday.
The warmup before the ride, always easy between 15 & 16 mph, would feel a little rough. The start of the actual club ride was rough too, but that starts out at 20 and gets ramped up to 25 pretty quick and it still takes a few miles before I can carry on comfortably.
Last year I did things differently. I rode with my wife on Monday evenings, just 16 miles in a little less than an hour. Nice and easy, spinning the whole way. Tuesday nights were much more enjoyable, to the extent that everything from the warmup to those first few miles were no longer uncomfortable.
To put a bow on this post, there is a flip side. Those slow days after several intense days in a row have to be slow. If I try to maintain too intense a pace, I’ll do more damage than good. I have to maintain a balance, of hard efforts and easy, to keep my body injury free – as I have been for four years now.
You read that right, four years there hasn’t been a pain that amounted to a need for time off the bike and as long as I keep a good balance, I don’t have a need for a day off unless it’s raining.
I do this for a reason; Stressors don’t take a day off either.