Unlike last week, this century was planned. I say planned, I mean scheduled. I downloaded the route from a website, gave the map quick glance and made the mistake of not looking at the profile… it turned out to be a lot lumpier than imagined.
The tone for the ride was set by my first time on a WattBike the previous Wednesday. I did one of the machine’s sadistic tests (although it’s not advertised quite that way). The test I chose was three minutes long, where I needed to hold a certain level of power for the duration… “sounds easy” I thought, blissfully unaware of it’s sadistic tendencies.
The first minute was tough, but I was just about meeting the target. The second minute though “I’m struggling here and I’m not even half way yet” I thought to myself, by the third minute I was sweating profusely and gasping for breath, but somehow I hung on to complete the test. I immediately got off the bike and slumped to the floor… and I thought I was fit.
Anyway the outcome of the test was my MMP (Maximum Minute Power) and a new max heart rate. The former will be useful for when I come back for further sessions of torture, but latter I can use on my bike.
So, fast forward to Saturday and my Garmin is set up with my new heart rate data, including my new zones from one to five. My plan for the ride was to keep it easy and stay in zones two to three (these are described in Strava as Moderate and Tempo).
I planned to set off quite early, knowing I had in the region of six hours ahead of me. After getting everything set up and ready, I sat on my bike and… the course wouldn’t load on my Garmin, it just froze… “no problem” I thought “I’ll just reboot it”… still frozen… a few more reboots and I still can’t get the course up. “Urrrgh!” Frustrating… so much for keeping my heart rate low, I was already in zone two and I hadn’t even turned the pedals yet.
I couldn’t hang around any longer, so I set off… without the course. I was overwhelmed with negative thoughts, but I had to get over it “look, I’ll just ride the bit I know and just make the rest up” I thought “that’ll keep me going for a couple of hours.”
Feeling a bit more positive know (although still slightly frustrated) my heart rate was back to normal and I was bouncing between zones two and three as planned.
I’ve recently been trying to improve my descending, experimenting with shifting my body rather than using the brakes so I can descend quicker. On one particular bend, I was a bit annoyed with myself for feathering the brakes went I didn’t need to… but around the corner a squirrel darted out in front of me and just missed my front wheel “if I hadn’t braked… I would have hit it” I thought to myself… that could have resulted in one squished rodent and one rider on the tarmac… “ouch” good job I braked.
After a couple of hours I was getting to the point where I needed navigational assistance, my knowledge of these roads was running out. Now, the dilemma was do I reboot my Garmin and risk losing what I’d already done (if its not on Strava it didn’t happen) or just ride around the roads I knew for another four hours. There’s something about riding new roads, a sense of adventure and escaping the tedium of the same old scenery. I decided on a reboot (taking a photo of my data beforehand just in case) “Phew, what a relief” I thought to myself, it worked. I was in business, I could now enjoy (or is that endure?) the rest of the ride.
It was about this point that the hills started, I occasionally went into zone four, “Ok, no problem” I thought “it’ll come back down.” It didn’t. The hills continued, back to back one after the other. That’ll teach me not looking at the profile. I usually like hills, but my plan for the day was to keep my heart rate down, so I needed flat roads. I seemed to spend to next couple of hours completely in zone four.
Somewhere south of Burwash (I had to look this up afterwards as I didn’t have a clue where I was at the time) there was a two mile descent that I particularly enjoyed. Most descents in this part of the world are either short, full of tight corners or, especially this time of year, covered in winter debris. This one however was smooth, long with enjoyable sweeping bends. My delightful reward for all that climbing.
My enjoyment was short lived however, with the sudden realisation that a thin blue line was approaching. This is the thin blue line on my Garmin’s map, a stream, which signifies the base of a hill but also lets me know that it’s payback time as nature has another climb to throw my way.
I love modern technology, the way that my Garmin navigates the route for me, it’s a delight. Over the years it has accompanied me on many an adventure, but its not much help when there’s a road closure. “Oh dear” I thought to myself “I’m in the middle of I don’t know where and they’ve gone and closed the road”. I whipped my phone out of back pocket, opened the Maps App and memorised a detour… as I said I love modern technology.
An hour or so from home and my Garmin battery was starting die, the navigation/heart rate combination was obviously too much for it. Did I say I love modern technology? The consequences of a dead battery don’t bear thinking about, I think I mentioned it earlier… if it’s no on Strava!… you know the rest. I decided to pull over, memorise the remainder of the route and turn the sat-nav feature off… I’d rather get lost than the alternative!
With no further mishaps, I arrived home with the battery on its last legs but with all my glorious statistics still intact. And what about those heart rate statistics?… 28% of the ride in zone four… that’s hills for you!