Sunday, 10 November 2013

A Weekend of Two Halves

Ever had one of those days when every turn of the crank seemed like a really big effort? Most cyclists have.  I had one of those days yesterday. Coming off of a really poor mileage October, I know the first big ride of November was going to be tough.

Form is hard won and easily lost, I'd not ridden less than 300 miles per month for the previous six months and did half that in October, so yesterdays 65 miler (100km) delivered everything that I thought it would, I felt miserable.  Heading over to meet a friend, things felt tougher than normal.  The 16 mile ride over to the meet point I averaged 16.3mph and every pedal stroke felt tough, normally I'd hit 17.5mph-18mph and my heart rate was at 145bpm (top of zone 3).

Heading out on a flat 30 mile Cheshire loop, I wasn't particularly looking at speeds or heart rates as we were busy nattering and the time passed quickly.  As we parted outside of Hale, with around 19 miles to home, I felt OK, but as I tipped over 50 miles I just faded and the drop in fitness just showed.  The rest of the miles home were just a battle and I crawled home at 16.3mph, feeling pretty empty.


One thing I have learned though is that when I have a day like that in the saddle, the best thing to do is get up the next day and go out for a few hours.  The body has this magical ability to adapt and setting out from home on a 40 mile loop it was like Saturday had never happened.  The cranks felt easy and my speed had jumped up, it was a weekend of two halves.

Arriving in the exact same place as I had set off for yesterday, speed had gone up 7% and my heart rate was the same.  The wind wasn't blowing quite so much today, but in terms of fitness and feeling of form, it felt completely different.

For me, if I consistently do 100 miles over a weekend, it keeps my fitness in good shape.  When I don't do that some of distance, things tail off, 100 miles is my magic number.  As we head into the winter, the weather means that - at times - you can't get out due to icy roads or other conditions.  It's important to take every opportunity to get some good base miles in, building for the Spring.


  1. Phil thanks for your blog, enjoyable and informative. Thinking of taking up cycling as running is getting much harder on the joints as I get into my mid fifties. Hope I'm not too old to start!

  2. I know what you mean, Phil. I've gone from a 100 miles a month rider to doing c800 a month since May, but last weekend I did a flat (well, flat for the Dales) 40 miler that was absolute hell, hanging on for grim death to my mate's wheel when normally I'd be towing him home - then the day after it was if it had never happened. Food? Sleep? Who knows...