On February 2 our local groundhog, like the famous Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow. So far, our groundhog's forecast has been way off the mark for the most part.
The weather went berserk on Tuesday, February 7. We had been under tornado watch since 8:00 am. Tornadoes are rare in New Orleans, but that day, when I was at work, there were TWO tornado WARNINGS, about two hours apart. The first warning was at about 10:30 am. Something must have come very close, because at around 11:00 the order came for everybody to head for the basement level. Then, about 12:30 pm, the second tornado warning came. I was thinking, is this Oklahoma??
I’m glad those twisters didn’t crop up when I was out riding. One of them touched down maybe 1/4 or 1/2 mile from the bike path I use! I might not have been able to see it, because it was still dark while I was riding. The wind probably would have been impossible to fight. With tornadoes there are always flying debris, which can be deadly. Fortunately no fatalaties resulted from those storms.
On Wednesday, February 8, I worked on 45/15 intervals. I got through five sets! I pedaled as fast as I could for 45 seconds, shifting to progressively smaller cogs. I stayed on the small ring, though. While it made my legs ache and burn, it was as much a cardio workout as a leg-muscle one. There were some patches of thick fog, and I’m glad there were enough areas that were un-foggy so that I could do this exercise and see where I was going. I must say, though, the 15-second rest part of a 45/15 seems awfully short. The 45-second part of course seems very long!
The next day I meant to do an easy, zone 1 ride. Unfortunately there was a 23 mph wind, and half the time I was in zone 2. It took that much effort just to keep moving, and I was not going fast. I averaged barely over 8 mph.
Friday, February 10, I worked on force intervals. Maybe not a good idea? I was tired and sleepy, and had a hard time just getting out of bed. My legs felt sluggish, and I had great trouble getting the cadence up to 70. Maybe the gear I was using was too hard. It got rather chilly in my apartment overnight, which meant that my heart rate sensor got chillled, too. I forgot to put it on until just before I got dressed, and it took several miles of riding for it to warm up. As a result, the HR data I got for the ride was inaccurate. Next time, don’t be too lazy to dampen my skin at the contact point.
The next day, my legs still felt tired and a bit stiff from the force workout. Riding less than 5 miles to get groceries seemed difficult. Coming home was even harder, because there was a good headwind.
I’ve started working at 60-mile weekly long rides. The first was on February 5, and I averaged just over 13 mph. That’s fast enough speed-wise for the 100-mile Tour de Cure, but before factoring in the hills. The route has something like 2000 total feet of climbing, if I remember correctly.
This past Saturday I didn't feel like doing a long ride the next day, but I finally decided to take a crack at it. I didn't get to 60 miles -- just 57.4 -- but all of a sudden I felt stronger! I averaged just over 14 mph. I could tell that I was working harder than usual. When I checked my ride data afterwards, I saw that my heart rate never got into the maximum range. The trick now will be to build upon today’s achievement without burning myself out before Tour de Cure. The big day is still 16 weeks away, and a lot can happen in that time.
Monday, February 13: off bikes day. The upcoming week is to be an easy one. No interval work, shorter rides. But, really, aside from that, what does an “easy” (or “recovery”) week mean?? From what I’ve read, the definition varies according to a cyclist’s level of fitness, experience, etc. It doesn’t mean, no riding at all. For me personally, I don’t believe I need to spend an entire week riding only in heart rate zone 1. I think zones 2-3, maybe a short stints of zone 4, especially later in the week. Yesterday spent a little over 2-1/2 hours out of 4:02:59 in zone 4. It was a little uncomfortable at times, but certainly not agonizing. However, easing up the efforts every third or fourth week (older riders are advised to make every third week a recovery week) is, according to the literature, what lets an athlete’s body benefit from the prior two or three weeks of hard work.