Took it easy on the training schedule this week after the tiring 250km of the previous week. Tuesday off, feeling only a little guilty. Fifteen kms on the rollers on Wednesday, dripping by the end. That’s the new home modified motion rollers by the way, which are much more fun to use largely due to the realism of the ride. Thursday was another day off, and feeling very guilty by this stage. Oh dear, if only feelings of guilt could build muscle. Friday another 15km.on the rollers but I had the floor fan on full speed, so was riding into headwind…hardly any guilt. Saturday the usual community ride of 37km with the traditional sprint for your life along the last couple of kilometres. Sunday 40km with the road group and then a quick trip out to meet up with the social group for some hills. By the time I caught up with them, they were on their way back so it was only a 10km ride through the hille. I had learned my latest lesson from the week before and avoided any strenuous rides on Monday, because Monday is race day.
I have been wondering why after 4 months on the road bike I am still not riding like a pro. So this week I decided to research the fascinating world of supplements. Surely it was this lack of additives that was holding me back. You would think at 55yo I would know everything, especially after learning so much about cycling in the recent months, but no, here was another whole subject in which to become expert.
I had little time before my next race to do my research, only a few hours in fact, so busied myself reading the labels on the products on the supermarket shelves. ‘Crikey, isn’t the printing small’, I muttered, as I quickly reminded myself to avoid talking to myself in the supermarket aisle. Energy %, Protein %, Fat - total/saturated, Carbohydrate - total/dextrose, Sodium, Potassium. Magnesium…and each product using a different serving size. The only thing saturated was my poor brain. This supplement research was going to be more than a thirty minute lesson, this was going to require a government research grant.
What I had learned though, was that I needed electrolytes to replace the ones lost from perspiring (ladies don’t sweat, we perspire), carbohydrates for energy, and protein to build and repair muscle. The previous week a cycling accomplice had given me some Gu sachets, and another had kindly given me a product called EM-PACT. With a name starting with EM it must be good, so I thought this must be a sign from the cycling gods. I decided to employ both for the race that afternoon. Armed with Gu in my jersey pocket, and sloshing with Em-Pact in my stomach and water bottle I hit the track. I sucked a vanilla bean flavoured Gu…mmmm…had another swig of EmPact, and completed the obligatory warm up laps.
Being my fourth race day, I was feeling a lot more comfortable with the people and atmosphere, with many faces now familiar ones as I took my place on the start line,. This time I remembered to reset the computer which was already an improvement from the previous week. Hopefully that won’t be my only improvement I thought, as I mentally ran through my list of lessons supposedly learned. The command to go was given and we did. Don’t you just love the ‘chorus of clicking cleats’ as it reaches a crescendo and then fades as each one finds its rightful place on the pedal. Hey, maybe there’s a new song in there somewhere…
Click goes the cleats boys, click, click, click
We like to use the cleats because they make us go quick
Just remember to uncleat before you pull up on the grass
Or else you’ll find yourself landing flat on your arse…
Now, where was I…oh yea…critting of course…
The initial pace this week is much more to my liking. A bit like the social rides with time to have a quick dig at the rider nearest you…’You take the lead’…’No, you take it’. A few laps like this with me firmly ensconced in the middle of the pack. I eventually find myself near the front with the front most rider expecting me to take a turn. I do so, but in my own good time. The words from my advisors reminding me ‘to not go hard on the front unless you can hurt the others’. I do take my turn but at my pace. If the pace is too slow then ‘come on by’ is my thought.
The bunch wait until I make an effort up the rise and I hear a quick ‘lets go; from a couple behind me. With this signal, three riders sprint past and take a thirty metre lead. ‘Let them go’ is the yelled message from those behind me as I contemplate making the effort to catch the break away. It doesn’t take much to convince me to concede and I settle back into the seat. I continue with the bunch managing to stay mid pack, and getting some valuable experience riding in close quarters and responding to changes in pace.
At the halfway point, the break away is still maintaining a sixty metre or so lead and another rider from the bunch tests his mettle by trying to bridge the gap. A rider or two have dropped off the back leaving the bunch depleted. I find myself on the front more and more, and pushing in an effort to maintain or improve my weekly average. Two riders sprint past me but I soon catch them as I keep pushing hard. They decide to let me do the work as we countdown the minutes to the bell. Within 200 metres of the finish line these same two sprint past as I am just about all used up. I manage to get out of the saddle for a final push up the hill and keep ahead of the rest.
I managed to equal my best average speed of 33.3kph even though the early stages of the race were slow. Cadence was also improved to an average of 93. As usual, at the end I was puffing, panting and gasping for breath while my heart was trying to escape from my chest. But I was smiling because I had stayed on the lead lap. We had the usual post race banter with me sarcastically exclaiming to the leaders…‘oh, thanks for waiting!’.
Am feeling sure the Gu and EmPact helped me maintain my effort, and I did feel I completed the event in less distress than previously, and will be exploring the supplement avenue further.
Next time I am eating/drinking with the race winner I will say ‘I want what he’s having’.