It Was The Best Of Rides, It was the Worst Of Rides

When I do something particularly well I imagine the next time will be as good or better. Assuming an upward trajectory is a common mistake. Reality more often is a series of hills. If you are good, over time the overall elevation gets higher but there is always some up and down. (Not sure if that analogy worked as well as it did in side my head. What do you think?)

Two weeks ago I rode better than I had in years. I woke up sluggish and the first few miles on the bike were nothing special. The conditions were good but not great (3.5-4.0 on a 5.0 scale). Temps were in the mid 60s and a modest wind from the east which had little effect on my mostly north-south ride. But soon something magical began to happen. I decided to push the pace and my body actually responded. I felt strong the entire first half of the ride. Instead of merely pedaling I was pedaling hard.

OK. This was the first half. This has happened before. More often than not when I feel like a hero I discover that the wind has been at my back. I turned after 27 miles. Waiting for the wind or for my legs to begin to beg me to slow. Never happened. I felt great. I forced the action for the next 28 miles. I rode 55 (it was my birthday and I rode one mile for each year on the planet.) I averaged a hair under 16 mph while riding which was more than .5 mph faster than my best time so far this year. I cannot remember averaging that speed for that long in several years. The difference between my total time and my ride time was only 8 minutes. That was one 3 minute break at 30 miles and lots of stop lights. I have been semi-seriously riding for 6 years and my speed had plateaued. Riding faster has been a desire for several years. On that day I did feel like a hero.

Fast forward to yesterday. Yes I completed 52 miles. But I can’t really count this as a 50 mile ride. I struggled from the beginning. Barely able to move for ward. The signs were there at 17 miles that I should not make this a 50 miler. (Visualize in cartoon fashion a big sign saying “Rick Turn Back NOW!!!) I had to stop, I was breathing hard and my legs ached. But I am stubborn. Or stupid. On I went.I ended up making several stops along the way. Towards the end I stopped every few miles. I only can hope that the effort I put in burned a whole bunch of calories. If not the 4+ hours I spent were for naught.

So how did I fall from my best ride ever to hell on wheels? Certainly part can be explained by the weather. Yesterday was 85 with high humidity. It was my first ride in the heat. And yet the delta was too great for the heat  to be the only factor.

I can think of several possibilities. I had not gotten enough sleep that night or for the past week. After many weeks of relatively healthy eating I had given into candy on several occasions recently. I do consider sugar to be a poison. Just a particularly tasty one.  Lastly I had not gone swimming for two weeks. Swimming adds to my aerobic capacity and overall feeling of goodness.

Whatever the reasons, I have until tomorrow to contemplate what this means for the future. Was my birthday ride an anomaly and destined to be the pinnacle of my riding success? Will i be able to adjust to the summer heat? Can I ride enough to complete a century ride by the end of the summer? That is my ultimate goal. As of yesterday the answer is no way in hell.

But tomorrow thanks to the extended holiday weekend I will ride again. The intrigue of the unknown consumes my thoughts. And I hope for the best.