With the Solvang Sprint Double Century only 2 weeks away, and fitness and power hitting new highs, I figured it was now or never to test myself, to prove out that my legs and feet and hands could handle it, knowing full well that risk of injury was non-zero given less than complete adaptation to my slightly modified cycling position. Still, there was no realistic alternative because jumping to a double century from ~2 hours training rides is a Bad Idea without at least one more strenuous effort to flush out issues.
So I took a day off to let my legs fully recover, and that felt great going out the next day, with what I term “high and effortless power”.
While it was only 3.5 hours, this ride was my longest and hardest of the year, and the climbs were at relatively hard efforts sufficient to force out any serious issues.
I learned a few things:
- Though peak power and anaerobic power need improvement (that’s a summer thing), cardiovascular fitness is already excellent and far superior to last year, to the tune of 20 bpm on the smaller climbs (10:22 and 11:01 efforts at beginning/end). It is also approaching 2012 levels, which was my best-ever year.
- Taking total riding weight into account, ascent times are far in advance of last year and approaching my best year, 2012.
- Leg muscles showed fatigue over the course of the ride, but in spite of this I was able to carry consistently high power even to the end of the ride. The feeling can be recognized as one that responds well to a few punishing rides over the course of the season, which forces adaptive gains.
- Some right leg musculature discomfort. It’s hard to be sure, but this might simply be weak muscles trying to adapt to a relatively new riding position. But it also seems that foot support is lacking and that has to be addressed with an orthotic perhaps (right foot shoe fit and support a longstanding challenge).
- Just a bit of “hot foot” in right shoe, which is perhaps most concerning for a double century. This occurred in 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and so is not new; it is probably related to need for better foot support (orthotic).
Click for larger graph.
I used the Marc Pro muscle stimulator for about an hour after the workout discussed above. The benefits were obvious when done; rather than very stiff legs they felt limber after the treatment, and next-day feel was surprisingly limber.
Normally my legs become very uncomfortable after a hard ride, because I sit down for some hours of computer work. But I’ve figured out how to sit and use the Marc Pro while I work (feet on the foam roller allows the quads to relax while sitting). But with the Marc Pro, no stiffness after these hours of work. A HUGE improvement over the alternative of achy legs I have been used to.
The foam roller after the Marc Pro is a great combination; the muscles are much more pliable and relaxed after the electro stimulation. Great combination.