Today I bicycled the Portola Loop again, and turned in my slowest time ever – about 95 minutes over 20-odd miles. (80-85 minutes is par for the course.) And that was about the best I could do; I tried speeding up on one of the hills, and it just wasn’t happening. Wasn’t out of breath – my thighs were burning! So I backed off a bit. It’s smart to start slowly after a long time off the bike.
Nonetheless I am fairly happy with the day, because I rode an hour and a half yesterday as well. Two 90-minute rides on consecutive days is not bad considering I’ve been a couch potato for the last seven months. And I felt plenty strong on yesterday’s ride, so this is more about recovery than anything else.
Tomorrow, if I’m not too sore from this ride, I’ll go to the gym. I just got a new book, Strength Training Anatomy for Women, which shows not only a bunch of good exercises but includes anatomical diagrams of which muscles they work. Hell of a lot easier than trying to remember where the latissimus dorsae are.
Getting ready for the Ride is always more of a mental discipline than a physical one. Physically it’s not that difficult to train for – put in the hours on the bike, move up gradually, and you’re golden. The mental part of it, on the other hand, can be difficult. Getting myself up off the couch and out there exercising, when there are other things I’d rather be doing, requires discipline, something at which I am not generally very good. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty productive – but mostly I’m productive by doing exactly what I’m interested in and nothing more.) Every time I get out and ride, I have to discipline myself to do it, because of the strong temptation to call it a day, turn around, and go home. This is a problem for me on all my rides.
Nonetheless, I did persevere, and completed the Portola Loop despite the poor time. That’s a pretty good mental achievement. If I can just keep myself going (to the gym, on the trainer, etc.) this week I’ll feel good about the week regardless of what my physical performance is. Right now it’s all about getting back in the habit of training.