Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New PR on Old Farm

(*from the wood kiosk to the Jeep road (taking the left fork at the very top)
Sometimes fitness just totally sneaks up and surprises you. Today was one of those days, just out of the blue and on fire. Even more surprising was that it came just a few days after some difficult efforts from a recent race and a hard interval workout in the basement.

I've actually been struggling with my riding the last few 3-4 months. Riding has just felt slow for several months. There has been a lot on my mind with work and family and all so the focus for riding hard has been real low. Though through it all though I've been getting in a few trainer rides here/there and a good outdoor ride here/there. There have been a some flashes of good legs but nothing consistent.

The last 2 weeks I'd gotten in a time trial up Mountain lake, a tough climb up Poor Mountain and an low intensity road ride that included some 20min and 50 mins climbs. Just this past Sunday was a short high intensity race and yesterday was a tough interval session in the basement that I didn't even finish. Today called for 1hr on the mountain bike with high intensity on the climbs, easy elsewhere. It's surprising looking at my workout schedule sometimes, because it seems so easy when you compare it to what others are doing. But I guess the key is quality riding and lots of rest so that when you do ride it can be hard.

Went to Pandapas Pond and climbed out of the parking lot. Feeling decent just trying to burn it and go redline. Then headed out to Old Farm and rode down to the very bottom then started to come up it.

Sometimes, some days I can tell when it's going to be a good Old Farm Climb. I call it the Tick. When the legs are ticking over in a high gear at the very bottom on the way to where I start the clock it is usually a sign that the legs are good. Each pedal stroke feeds in to the next and forward momentum is conserved and I just can maintain a solid average speed with little additional effort. Sort of like being in a draft. You are going fast but it isn't taking a lot of energy. Get outside the draft and your energy expenditure surges while still going the same speed or even slower.

This the essence of breaking speed barriers in mountain biking. When you break a speed barrier you can maintain an average speed that is significantly faster but with only a small additional energy expenditure.

Today was that day. Instead of going for the all out blow up like I should when training, I opted for timing the run. From the very beginning I stayed in the middle ring. Usually this feels really hard and it's a grind. But today the legs were ticking over well. The slower cadence required for middle ring had a positive affect on heart rate: it kept it from skyrocketing. And the new found power in the legs allowed me to tick over the pedals rather than grinding them.

This combination makes for a higher average speed that is the key to a good timetrial. I just couldn't believe it, middle ring all the way up. The drive train felt smooth, like it feels after totally soaking the chain in degreaser and putting back on with fresh lube.

The course was very very dry and loose and I slid out at the one really hard long switchback. Had the rear not slipped it might have even been a full clean. Only towards the very end when I was saw that a PR was in sight did I start to really go over the edge. I tried, I really did to not think about a PR as that usually leads to washing out the front on a dumb root or something. But even with visions of glory there were no dumb mistakes at the end.

When I'd set the last PR in June (16:02) I'd thought it was going to take another year to get even close. And the sub 16 mark was a top goal. Races are fun and all but results are poor indicators of how you are doing. You just never know who is going to show up. Timed runs are much better as they don't lie and are not skewed by things out of your control.

Still having a hard time digesting a PR run completely in the middle ring. I've done middle the whole way before but that has always been grinding for strength building purposes, which is never the fastest way.

I think the key has been getting my ass handed to me at Poor Mountain the other day and climbing the front side of mountain lake a few times. These hard extended climbs seems to really be getting the climbing legs into shape.

They are changing the trail a little so I'll need to benchmark some new times I guess. But I guess I'll be coming back for more. This is the ticket. Just a little second faster...keeps you coming back for more.


At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awsome ride! Good read, I might have to do some spinerval training on the hot days.
You really blew away your best time. Which bike were you riding?

I recently went to Douthat and took the hardtail. Man the downhills are so rough. I was wishing for the Azure.



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