I listened to my body after the Wednesday criterium. My calf muscle and quads were both sore after that race. The calf muscle was particularly sore — in that way that tells me to ‘Back off!” and spend more time pampering it with gentle stretching and light workouts. Another factor that I needed to work into my riding was training for my upcoming participation in the Bicycle Tour of Colorado.
The criterium racing is fast, fun and intense — but it is probably not the best activity to prepare me to spend 4-6 hours in the saddle or to climb 4,000+ ft for 6 days straight. So, I passed on racing this week and focused on improving my training base and getting some longer rides in. I considered joining in on the Wednesday evening Ideal Market/Whole Foods/Primal criterium but my calf muscle was a constant reminder that I needed to avoid that level of intensity for a bit longer.
I took my bike to work on Monday and rode the Candelas Circuit course. The course is basically a 2 mile climb up from Indiana Street to Hwy 72 and then a 2 mile screaming descent back to the starting point. There is about 400 ft of elevation gain per lap. The only thing that made this less intense than the criterium race was that I was the one setting the pace! There is an official race that was postponed recently because of a winter storm (that didn’t materialize!). The SW 55+ do three laps for the race, so I decided to ride it 4 times to see how I did. It is a fun, tough climb. There are a few steep (7-9%) grades and some extended grades too. It took me 58 minutes to complete my laps. I saw 50 mph on my computer as I flew down the hill one time. There was a stiff breeze out of the west — so I had a headwind climbing — but it also helped me get up to that 50 mph mark. I probably could’ve even gone even faster except there was some clods of dirt in the road about half way down from construction vehicles that were building neighborhoods along this new road.
On Wednesday, I skipped the criterium, but put in an hour long ride up to Carter Lake. I’ve done this ride a bunch and know that I can get in an awesome workout in a short amount of time. I can get about 1,100’ of climbing over a 16 mile course and the switchbacks up to the dam really get your attention. Again, I was in control of my pace and there was no chance in me getting caught up in the moment and doing something stupid (as far as my calf muscle was concerned anyway) as there would have been had I raced.
On Thursday, I took the opportunity to use Pogo to run to the credit union at lunch and get some cash. Using Google’s ‘bike’ option on their mapping page, I found a relatively safe route to/from the credit union. There were a few dark clouds when I started out, but I honestly didn’t even give them a thought. By the time I got there, did my ATM thing and headed back, the whole sky to the north was very dark and I could see streaks that were obviously rain. It was still dry where I was, but the storm front had brought with it nasty, swirling winds. I fought the winds the whole way back.
Then, on Friday, I was able to ride into work since Beth and my Dad were going to drive down in the evening (and could pick me up!) for a Mammoth lacrosse game. It was a tad nippy to start but it was a gorgeous morning and I was very content to be riding my bicycle! The trip took a little over 2 hours and I was showered and sitting at my desk about the time I normally do when I drive. Of course, by the end of the evening at the Mammoth games, I was a very tired puppy! Hard to get up early and stay up late anymore. I’m such a wimp!
Then today, I was back up bright and early. With a goal of getting a longer ride in and including a fair amount of climbing, I headed towards Estes Park. I don’t know why, but I didn’t ride up that canyon once last year. Not even part way. It is a beautiful ride and has plenty of climbing, but on the stretch I did to Drake, there is nothing steep or sustained. Again, I could tell that my track work and early racing have made me stronger. I rode up the canyon (albiet, with a tail wind) strong and if I’d been asked to ride all the way to Estes Park, I know I could have done it without any problem. Not today, I had plans to meet my Dad early afternoon to spread manure. Didn’t want to be late for that!
I do plan to ride tomorrow — but even if I didn’t, my goal of starting to build up my mileage base and add in some climbing has been met this week. I need to stay focused on this for the next several weeks so that I will be prepared for the BTC on June 17th.