September 20, 2015
I wish I was referring to turning 18 years of age, unfortunatly I’m not. I’m referring to breaking 18mph average speed on a bike ride.
I mentioned previously how I’m not concentrating on speeds and averages as such, I’m just aiming to complete the distances feeling good. However this weekend I broke 18mph average, something I have’t done previously over any distance (except a 5mile sprint).
If I had to calculate my cycling effort as a percentage I would say I generally ride at around 60-70%. If I’m on a steady spin I will ride at around 40-50% and a real effort would push me up to 80-90%, I can reach 100% but I would blow up shortly after.
I’ve been purposely cycling lots of hilly routes to help build my legs. On my weekend rides I have generally been riding 3000-4000ft elevation over 3-4 hours.
Initially these rides were killers, I was reaching 90% effort levels in the last 1000ft and I was very, very close to blowing up – and needing to stop – a few times. My legs felt like lead and I had barely had any strength or energy left.
Since I’ve become a little bit stronger I’ve noticed I’m able to sit on my saddle for longer periods, especially uphill. This has resulted in a noticeable difference in my effort levels. I’m able to cycle further and faster with a lower % effort. Off course I’m a long long way off reaching the desired levels, but I’ve only been training properly for three weeks and this week, for the first time, I have felt a small (my first) reward of training hard.
I’ve been having issues with my lower back (more on that in a future post) so on Saturday I decided to do a flatish (1200ft elevation) 40 miler. The weather was good, the wind was gentle and my legs felt great after a day of rest. Because of my back I was riding lower than usual – so my back was almost vertical – as it was relieving the pressure on it. Being in this position meant I was much more aerodynamic and although I wasn’t paying much attention to my computer, I knew I was riding pretty fast.
I checked my average speed at around 25-20 miles and it was 18.5mph. I knew I had a few slight climbs to get back into my hometown (Macclesfield) but I also knew I was feeling much stronger than any previous outing over this distance. I decided to dig deep and try achieve an 18mph average, something I hadn’t done before.
I pushed hard over the last ten miles, moving up and over my normal effort levels to around 80%. I was riding slightly uphill, into a light headwind and I could feel my energy levels dropping much faster with the increased effort.
It’s a really weird feeling, my legs start turning slower and mentally they’re screaming at my brain to slow down. My gear changes become more erratic, constantly dropping gears and turning faster, building my speed back over the 18+ mark and when my legs get a bit of rest from the lower gears I change to a higher one and repeat the process. I must admit I really love the feeling of my legs muscles crying for a rest and pushing myself to limits I haven’t experienced before.
I reached the top of my street and it’s all downhill for around half a mile. I checked my speedo (which read 18.2mph average), punched the air in delight and then descended home at speed to make it 18.3mph average. When I got off the bike I felt more wobbly than normal, I still had something in the tank but I could feel I had pushed hard.
This week I signed up with a trainer, so hopefully my training methods are going to improve as I’m feeling a bit confused about the best way to approach my training for the ride. As I get better I’m sure my average will improve but this weekend has taught me I shouldn’t look to exceed those 60-70% effort levels on the ride as, with so many miles to do, it could leave me in a precarious situation.
Oh and I’m 29 years old if you wondered!