A friend of mine, on our 22-mph avg group ride, said that he’d been noticing on Strava that I’m riding every day without a break. He added that we older folk need our days off, that here I was riding 100 miles Saturday, 52 Sunday, another 52 Monday (over the 4th of July weekend), then playing tennis with my daughter in the afternoon… and I made it out for the Tuesday Night In Lennon ride.
Now, he wasn’t wrong. My legs were a little smoked by the time I was hitting with my daughter Monday night. In fact, I had to refrain from going after several balls to keep from wrecking my legs enough I’d have to skip Tuesday night.
Then, a week after, my family and I went on a two-week vacation during which I only rode twice. While we were exceedingly active over our vacation (hours of swimming daily, hikes, stair climbing, etc.), coming back to cycling was interesting. My first day back, we rolled into town at 9:30 pm and we were shoes on, ready to roll at 8 the following morning, I did a 19.2-mph 100-mile ride with several friends. I felt like Frankie Fresh Legs. I had a blast the whole ride, all the way home – including a decent sprint at the end for the final City Limits sign. I was tired, but I was in great shape considering.
Monday evening I rode easy. Tuesday night was hard (and I felt like I was constantly ready to bonk). Wednesday was easy… and that’s when the saddle sores started. Thursday hurt, but I rode easy anyway. Friday was a little faster but more painful. I started fighting the sores with Cortizone 10 cream. I was feeling it in the legs, too. Saturday, the sores started to subside and the ride was fairly quick at just a hair under 20-mph for the average. Then, Sunday morning rolled around. My legs were pretty shot but we had the A-100k pre-ride. We pounded the 65-miles out at a 19.9-mph average, we were at 19.2 for the full 75 (I rode with a couple friends out and back from our houses). And I was out riding again Monday – 22 miles and we didn’t crack 17 for the average (16.8).
One saddle sore in particular was screaming by this point. It was hard to find a comfortable place on the saddle, but I managed. Now, at this point it’s important to interject, riding on screaming saddle sores without proper treatment is a risky proposition I’ll save for another post. Let’s just say they can lead to surgery if one is not careful. I switched to Aquaphor and I was riding comfortably two days later.
I haven’t missed a day since I got back from vacation and just in my second week back turned in my fastest ride of the summer (30 miles at 23.2-mph, with friends) this past Tuesday.
The first key for me is to take it absolutely as easy as I can stand on easy days so I’ve got my legs for when things get hectic (fast).
The second is to manage the saddle sores that invariably pop up when I go from hardly riding to 250 miles a week. Things get ugly in a hurry. I’ve ignored them in the past, but there are two problems with that strategy. 1) They freaking hurt. 2) They can turn into a serious problem that could lead to surgery if they’re ignored long enough. No, either Cortizone 10 or Aquaphor are much faster and less painful options.
Some people believe they lose fitness after taking a couple of weeks off (I have a friend who thinks you lose 3% a day if you take time off) and I can see why – it’s a lot easier to keep the train rolling than it is to start it back up. However, after two weeks with only two easy rides, I was able to come back with a vengeance and knock out 100 miles at better than a 19-mph average. If I’d have lost anything, that would have been impossible.
Ride hard, my friends.