Are You Listening
Back in 2013 I did something crazy. Okay, I’m sure I did more than just ONE crazy thing that year, but one thing in particular stands out. I biked my first century ride (100+ miles).
Training for that ride introduced me to something called The Sufferfest. The Sufferfest is a company that has put together some of the best, and most grueling, bike training videos out there. On top of that, it’s its own mythical land and culture. Sufferlandria. Anyone not part of Sufferlandria is in Couchlandria, and consequently a Couchlandrian.
Couchlandrians sit around all day eating donuts and watching Dr. Phil. And while I love Dr. Phil (I really really do!), I would implore you to not be a Couchlandrian. But I digress. . .
Each February, in the dark and cold depths of winter, there is the Tour of Sufferlandria, the Greatest Grand Tour of a mythical nation. It’s nine days of intense indoor cycling, and I decided to take on that challenge again this year.
The Tour of Sufferlandria is like any other stage race where each day holds new challenges for the rider. It always starts out with hope. And almost always ends in devastating pain and suffering. But of course, for a good cause, as it does raise money for The Davis Phinney Foundation.
I started out all hopeful, and the first few days I felt pretty good, but I have to admit I was questioning the numbers that were showing up on my computer. Something just wasn’t quite right.
I use a powermeter when training on the bike. And I won’t get technical about what that means or how it works, but the bottom line is that it puts a wattage output number to what would otherwise be the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), or how hard I’m working.
Now, I know that I push myself in training. Work hard play hard, as they say. But if there’s one thing I embrace totally and completely, it’s rest days. You have to rest. Period. That’s when all the good stuff happens!
So going into this I definitely had a rest week of stretching and just recovery rides - rides of 30-45 minutes at a very low intensity. My legs were feeling pretty good. So there was definitely more to this “not quite right” feeling.
By the fourth day, when even with the intensity backed down from 100% to 65%, I was still struggling, I was positive something was off. And it turns out that the indoor trainer I was using (which is what my bike is hooked up to so that I can ride it stationary) was throwing my numbers off.
Okay, so I MAY have contributed to the reason those numbers are off. A few months back when I was moving it, I tripped while I was carrying it and then dropped it. Since then it’s been kinda weird, but except for a slight wobble it was fine.
That wobble may have gotten worse. My first clue should have been when the nut that holds the resistance unit in place fell off. But I just kept putting it back on. So my numbers may have been off for awhile.
For the last few rides, I switched to my little travel trainer, which is how I figured out that the numbers were off. Because using that felt much more doable.
In the end, I was exerting far too much effort for what was being asked of me, and my legs and body just couldn’t recover enough in between.