Even though I should have been out scouting and training for the Death March, I kept it close to home and put in a nice road ride. At least my teammate was out double checking some check points and letting me know that my plan of attack was a stupid idea. I guess better him to find out than me. That just means that we no longer have a plan of attack, but to just pick something and run with it. I still have options rolling around in my head, but before a true final decision can be made, it will have to wait until we here what the final two check points will be.
I did think about joining him for another good gravel ride, but my bike was still a mess from last weekends gravel fun. I could have (I actually did) cleaned the mtb on Saturday and had it ready for Sunday. That would have worked, but I also have some changes I would like to make to the bike. After the last ride I was already not happy with my gears. So, I am replacing the 3 rings up front with a double ring and a bash guard. I will be running 36, 24 up front with the 9 in the back that I had. I hope this selection will still give me the options that I am looking for, but with a shorter chain for less slap.
I am still tossing the idea around about using my rigid fork, but I really would hate to take off the King headset just because it is not playing well with my aluminum steer tube on the fork. I will just have to deal with it and go on.
I did get a new toy since my last ride. I am looking forward to seeing if it can make a difference for me or not. I rode well yesterday, but I don’t know if the toy had anything to do with it. What I picked up was a heart rate strap to use with the Garmin Edge 500. I normally have not messed with using a heart rate monitor much at all. I did years ago, but then I was less serious and didn’t want to mess with putting on the strap. I do understand training in different zones, but the main reason I got one is to see where I am while riding. I know if my heart rate gets too high for too long, I really tank it and it takes way too long to recover. The plan is to keep an eye out on the numbers and adjust my effort accordingly.
Sunday’s weather changed by the morning. It was no longer going to get up in to the 50′s. It looks like 45 degree was the high. This was still alright with me since the sun was going to be out, but not was warm as I had hoped it would be. I made some last minute changes in my wardrobe and off I was to the meeting place. When I got there the Garmin still needed set up to accept the heart rate signal. That did not take too long, but what I didn’t expect was my warm long sleeve jersey to have a wardrobe malfunction and refuse to zip up. Not wanting the front to be unzipped all day, I made another change in the planned gear choice and tried to get ready as fast as possible. I was ready, but still setting the Garmin. It was noticed that everyone was waiting on me, so I stopped messing with it and off we were.
There was a good group of riders as 7 of use started the ride. I was happy to see a fixie join the group. I was wondering how this would work with the group, but if he was who I thought. I had heard he could ride well enough to not be a problem and he was not at all. There was a little yo-yo ing for him when we had the hills, but he could jump right back in and roll with everyone.
The pace was a little slower than I expected from this group, but it was not what I would call slow. I figured after a little warm up, the speed would increase. I think it actually did, but it was not as noticeable as I thought. A few gaps were created on some hills that required some rejoining, but the group still rolled together nicely.
At a decision intersection, 3 of the guys decided to head back toward the cars and the other 4 decided to tackle some more hills and go longer. I was on the fence for what way I wanted to go and who was going, but asking one rider if we would wait for me on the hills, we both decided to go the long route. I tried to climb as fast as I could. At times not nearly as fast as I want, but other times not too bad. A little after the Duff hills, one rider decided to drop back and told us to go on. This lasted for a few miles and a second rider said he was going to do the same.
So, it cam down to Kurt, the guy I asked to wait for me and myself. I was feeling tired and we were heading in to a head wind, but after everyone else was gone, I could not back off. I had to see what was left. We both were pulling slower, but still moving at a good pace for this late in the day. With the group that started, I never imagined being in the last group with that many other riders backing off. If anything, I figure I would have been one of the guys holding everyone up.
I have been trying to figure out why I was riding as good as I was. I can not really put a finger on it and may never be able to. I think was was better rested than my last ride. We also did not go as hard as some of the previous rides even if it was not that much slower. Maybe the training is starting to pay off and the legs are actually a little stronger. I also had my heart rate that I monitored for the ride. I would like to think it had some effect on the ride, but I am not sure how much.
If I take the old rule of thumb and do the 220 math, It says my max heart rate should be 179. I really don’t know if this is true or not, but it does make sense with what I was seeing. I determined that once I hit 168 or higher, I could not stay there long and had to back off. The longer I was there, the slower I would pull and the worse I felt. Once the heart rate settled back down to the lower 160′s or even in the 150′s, I was back to feeling strong. I really don’t know if those are good numbers to have or not, but right now they are the only numbers I have to work with. I am going to continue monitoring that and see how the rides go. Hopefully I can either go harder with a lesser heart rate or increase my number that I have to worry about before backing off.
Two weeks till the Death March and then a few weeks till the next race after that. I hope to keep getting stronger and lighter as the time goes.