Ups and Downs

Life has been a mixed bag recently. I started putting some focus on endurance/distance in preparation for 10 Under the Ben. My ~50 mile loop around Kincardine was followed the next weekend with a ~65 mile ride back up from Ayrshire against a strengthening headwind. But following that, I got a bit of a chest infection which I didn’t shift for two weeks, plus a stomach bug, plus toothache. Arg! So, two weeks passed as I waited to get healthy again, only managing an easy trip around Glentress during that time, and it knocked me out of doing the Contin SXC race last weekend. Boo. 🙁

Still, this week has been better. I cycled to work on Wednesday for the first time in ages, and took the afternoon off today to blast round the red at Glentress at nearish race pace. Leaving from the hub cafe, I reached Buzzards Nest after 19 mins, top of Spooky Woods after 47 mins, and was back at the Hub in under 1h 20m. The matrix/lombard st trails are still closed sadly. The only real trouble was a sore lower back coming down Spooky Woods. I often get this – I think it’s maybe the change from “climbing muscles” to “standing on pedals” muscles. Maybe some “core strength” work required? I dunno really.

I had my heart rate monitor with me, mostly to cajoule me into riding at something like race pace. Average rate from the hub to spooky woods was 153. I experimented with different levels of exertion on the long climb. Mostly, I stayed between 150-155 but at time I moved up to 160 and it seemed fairly sustainable. Anything above 165 feels like I’ve started a countdown timer – okay for short bursts, but not for a sustained climb.

Post race 1 training

After SXC race 1, I decided I needed to up my training somewhat. It became clear during the race that a) the basic pace was higher and b) there’s a big need to tolerate short bursts of higher output.

So, training-wise over the last 2 weeks I’ve done:

– four days commuting to work (about 80 miles total). Two of those days, I used the ride into work to do intervals (ie. going flat out for a short time, then recovering then repeating). I intended the ride back home to be a gentle recovery, but both times I got suckered into racing other cyclists. *grin*

– last weekend, a 30 miles jaunt over the Pentlands. Super muddy, rutty, technical and windy. But I enjoyed it and definitely felt it improved my technique.

– this weekend, a 55 mile road trip via Kincardine. Pretty pleasant, and it felt a lot easier than the last time I did it (last year) which suggests that my training is going pretty well. This is in preparation for 10 Under The Ben in May – aiming to do ~50 miles offroad then.

I definitely feel improvement in terms of being able to sprint for longer, recover more quickly and push bigger gears when I have to (my tendency has always been to spin all the time, but that’s not always possible in MTB races). But the increased training is also taking its toll as my body adjusts – I need to be careful not to step it up too quickly too soon.

There’s still 3 weeks until SXC round 2 at Contin. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up with the intervals midweek and longer rides at weekend, and be able to see an improvement during the next race 🙂