Tapping the well

I’ve finally bagged the first long ride of the year and feel like things are slowly coming back on track. Motivation, or rather motivation to actually get on the bike, is still a challenge, but fortunately I have friends just as mad as I am, who enjoy pushing and challenging me.

Ben ‘thoughtfully’ let me know he was planning to ride up to Cambridge to visit his in-laws and, knowing my Dad’s in Cambridge, wondered if I’d like to join him for some company. A quick check with Dad that he was around and happy to provide lunch and I let Ben know I was in. Of course, having already talked me into a 250km return trip (compared to his 100km one way journey), Ben then suggested we take in Swains Lane on the way out, which led to me finding Cum Cum hill and stringing together the hilliest route out of London that I could find.

Ben also has a wonderful knack for pushing hard at the start of rides and tricking me into settling into full on time trial mode. He got us to the river in a time any London commuter would be proud of and left me feeling the need to return the favour when we hit Highgate and through the outskirts of London. My pacing strategy for longer rides doesn’t usually include matching my best 2 minute power and I was rather surprised to find my Normalised Power sitting above 300 watts by the time we reached Ben’s stop in Melbourn. Seeing as the wind would be (sort of) behind me for the return, I decided to dig deep and keep the power up for the remaining 20 miles into Cambridge and hope that an hour of relaxing and eating would see me recharged for a steadier ride back.

The return leg seemed to offer more cross wind than tail winds, so I ended up pushing harder than hoped and found myself really grovelling by the time I reached the lumpy route back into London. I found myself slipping into very low cadences on the inclines, with my legs not really registering the change and refusing to put out the same power in lower gearing and higher cadence. Not something I’ve ever experienced before, but it felt oddly liberating – as if my body was simply willing itself back home and didn’t want to be inconvenienced by gear changes and faffing.

By the time I’d made it back to Epsom, my Normalised Power was still 264w – a new best for 250k. Even better, the sense of satisfaction was back and I found myself signing up to a slew of audaxes to cash in on the burst of motivation. Hopefully the external motivation of being signed up to an audax and riders to pace against will help me push it back up to regular 300km+ rides.

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The first one will be Steam Ride: London-Oxford-London on the 13th and it looks like there’ll be some other TCR entrants on the start sheet, so should be a great day out. There aren’t enough audaxes that start nearby for me to fit one per weekend, but a few ‘key’ rides to look forward to over the coming months should see me motivated to get the training back on track and escape the rut I’ve been in recently.

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