Just two days ago (one day for recovery with a 1400 calorie 35-mile ride), I did 85 miles averaging 215 watts (excluding stop signs and other short stops) for five hours. For perspective, I won the Central Coast Double in May 2015 averaging 210 watts—5 watts less. And this is early February.
Today, I had the most incredible ride, the kind of ride one hopes to have once or twice a year. So fluid so free-revving that even high power output just felt natural and easy (even as I could feel the legs being worked, hard).
I started out relatively slowly because my quads and even glutes were still slightly sore from the 85 mile effort two days prior—and that was coming off a massive effort for the prior week. I figured that if I kept it aerobic, my muscles would comply and I could do a long ride and burn off another 2/3 pound or so of body fat.
For the first 2 hours or so my muscles did the job but not particularly powerfully. And yet, it seemed easy and kept feeling easier with each of the 7 ascents that I started the ride with.
As the ride went on, I kept producing more and more steady-state power (watts), as the green lines on the graph show: power rises linearly for 2+ hours start about 2.5 hours into the ride (last 25 minutes are a cool-down).
My left patella was having some pain, and my glutes and quads felt so strong that I worried that I could damage the tendon near the patella, so I backed off the power, not wanting an injury. This power is a major increase in muscle strength I can clearly feel now in every ride has outraced my tendon/ligament strength—bad idea to overdo it. I notice simply things like standing on one leg and putting on a sock that I am now rock-solid—not so even 3 weeks ago. So there has been a very large gain in strength in just a few weeks.
Towards the end, I stood up on the bike (patella OK with that) and stomped it, producing about 430 watts for about 1.5 minutes, which 4.5 hours or so into the ride was pretty amazing. And yet I felt like I could have done it again (and again). But I felt the prudence was in order, so I that following that effort to steadily reduce wattage and make the rest of it a cool-down until home.
Morning weight before any food/drink: 175.9 pounds
Weight after ride: 175.5
Total Riding Weight (TRW) before: 209.6 (3L water and gels to start)
Total Riding weight (TRW) after: 200.9 pounds (1.2L water remaining, about 500 cal of gel eaten)
Loss of mass: 8.7 pounds. Not thirsty or dehydrated afterwards (glycogen releases water 3:1)
Workout is shown below; more thoughts continue below the graph.
The prior day’s 36.5 mile recovery ride:
The 85 mile workout two days prior: