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A Whisker Away from a Personal All-Time Best on Old La Honda Road

I’d like to share a personal achievement from today, so important to me after months of hard training to see progress.

I use a local climb Old La Honda Road as a benchmark of sorts— it’s about 1270 feet of elevation gain from the small bridge to Skyline Blvd.

Five years ago, I set a personal best of 19:09, which is considered very good for someone in their mid-40’s. Today, 5 years later and after training for 8 months, I did a 19:20, only 11 seconds off that best. Had I removed 2 pounds of extras from my bike (light and pack), I calculate a time of 19:08, which would have bettered my previous best by one second, though perhaps it’s a wash, since my bike+shoes now are about 2 pounds lighter than back then.

Not only that, I was definitely not fresh today, having done a 2400 kilojoule ride on top of weeks of strenuous riding after an epic ride, and this best ascent was my 4th ascent of Old La Honda, as seen below. So I feel confident that when I am well rested that I should be able to break the 19-minute mark this year, which few riders my age can claim, or even many at any age. So I am quite proud of myself, and the discipline it has taken to get to this point. Now if I can just drop 3-5 more pounds of fat, then my time will come down on its own, by simple power to weight. Lactate threshold training helps a lot too, and I’ve been working that also.

Minor problem: a 13-year-old boy tailed me for 3/4 of the ascent, and was only 30 seconds behind at the top. Uh oh... he’s going to be an even more impressive rider in a few years.

Keep reading below. Click for a larger image. This is the visually confusing graph that the SRM software provides.

Visually confusing graph from SRM software showing 4 Old La Honda ascents

Observations for the best of 4 ascents

The SRM recording seems to have lagged reality a bit in terms of elevation and ascent, but the time and power and cadence and distance are accurate and consistent in sum, as always, far superior to the error-prone Garmin Edge 500 (junk).

  • Almost perfectly linear rate of ascent, (gray area), a sign of a disciplined effort level.
  • The power in the first 1/4 of the ascent is on the lower side of the total effort; at that time I was not shooting for a personal best. I am sure that I can up the ante in that section by 5-10% without impairing the rest of the ascent.
  • For the 2nd half of the ascent, heart rate was pegged at max (171 bpm). Nothing more I can do there, but I am pretty sure that I am oxygen limited (lungs)— that might improve perhaps by opening the small airways (possible slight asthmatic impairment).
diglloyd: visually confusing graph from SRM software showing best of 4 Old La Honda ascents


Recovery — legs

After a maximal effort like this, my legs can be somewhat tight and achy. I find that using a foam roller on muscles is very helpful in calming all that down, and producing a relaxing feel in the afflicted muscles, while also forcing out latent by-products of hard exertion. Use it right after the workout, then again an hour or two later, then again before bed. It helps— big time.

Recovery — food

I also have found that Hammer Nutrition Recoverite is working very well for me and I do believe it is helping my recovery better than any other product I’ve tried. It has a mild flavor, is only slightly sweet, and has no artificial colorings or useless ingredients as in some other sports drinks. Try it.

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