Too Much Of A Good Thing?

New York Route 97, along the Delaware River near the Hawks Nest overlook during the PA Hawks Nest 200k brevet, originally uploaded by Shane Beake.

This week began as a rest week. I was supposed to go easy during the week, except for a one-hour test on the spinner Thursday or Friday. Then Saturday and Sunday I was going to Massachusetts for a family trip. The bike wasn’t going to play a big role, if used at all. On Thursday morning I did the one-hour spinner workout and exceeded my goal of 800 kcal for the hour.

A few hours later, the plans for Massachusetts fell through due to an ill family member. So suddenly I had a free weekend. It just so happened there was a PA brevet on Saturday, the Hawks Nest 200k. Even though this was my rest week, I signed up for two reasons: (1) Due to the hot weather, I had cut down my riding the previous weekend by about 40 percent; and (2) I wanted to do a 200k two weeks before Quadzilla. Without this ride, I would have done nothing longer than a metric century (62 miles) within four weeks of the 400-mile event.

Balancing work and rest is the toughest part of training.  I decided I could handle the extra stress.  The weather Saturday turned out to be near perfect.  The temperature only got as high as about 80 degrees with low humidity and bright sunshine.  I started out a little fast, perhaps from enthusiasm over the cooler weather, averaging 222 watts for the first 30 minutes, an unsustainable pace.  But I soon settled down to a more manageable 160-180 watts.  The course has about 7,000 feet of climbing, less than the 8,000 to 10,000 you’d expect on a Tom Rosenbauer 200k.  I felt good, so I decided to keep my stops to a minimum and aim for a good time.

I was doing all right on the hills, but where I really noticed improvement was on the flat and rolling sections, where I could pound out a more powerful pedal stroke.  I credit that to the weekly one-hour time trialing sessions on the spinner.  I ended up averaging 16.1 mph for the entire 125-mile ride, despite virtually no drafting at all.  I’m usually in the 14’s for a course like that.  I saw Don and Jon, the first two finishers, during the first 20 miles, then the only person I saw was Walter, the third fastest finisher.  The four of us stayed within 15-20 minutes of each other most of the ride, though I saw only Walter, and only briefly at controles.  I ended up fourth among the 14 finishers, which was a quite respectable result, especially given the quality of riders.

As the ride went on and I continued to feel strong, I began shooting for two personal bests, both achieved on a 2006 PA 200k in May 2006.  On that ride I achieved my best power and speed numbers over the 200k distance: 171 watts straight power and 205 normalized power, and an 8:29 finish time.  That ride was substantially more hilly, but I also did a lot of drafting as well.   When I stopped at each controle, I was looking at my time elapsed  and my average watts.  I stayed near my goal through the last intermediate control.  I tired a little at the end, but finished at 168w and 192 normalized power, my second best showing ever for that distance.  My time was 8:31, just two minutes off my best.  I spent just 38 minutes off the bike, despite four intermediate controle stops, averaging 5-10 minutes at each.

The power meter doesn’t lie.  My numbers have improved significantly in the last several weeks.  My conditioning appears to be good.  That doesn’t guarantee I won’t have a bad day on Quadzilla in two weeks.  There are other factors like mechanical issues, weather, sleep deprivation, navigation errors, and overtraining.  I’m really concerned about overtraining.  I’ve got to toe a fine line the next 12 days, between losing fitness on the one hand and not getting enough rest on the other.  I got it right last year on the EM 1200k.  I hope I can do it again.


WEEK 16 hours 12 minutes

GOAL 7 hours

I did cut down my riding about 40 percent over a 7-day period, so I sort of had a rest week.  But I would have liked to have cut down on my volume this weekend a little more.  I decided to do the 200k, however, as a final tuneup.  I think I’ll be rested enough in 12 days.  I’ll find out soon.

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