Lessons learned in the past weeks

So, today I rode my 3rd 100 mile TT in five weeks, with a little 258 mile 12 h race sprinkled in for variety and only one weekend off. Guess what: the legs and the mind are still exhausted. So I learned a lesson about the necessity of proper recovery …

Saying that: I still managed a sub 4:10 ride today (OK, just, with 4:09:55), and kept together better than last week during the National 100. But a constant drop in power for each of the four laps of the Breckland B100/4 showed that the legs have not yet fully recovered from the 12 h race three weeks ago. Or is it the mind? Which of them is more important?

Admittedly, my recovery from the 12 was hindered by important work deadlines and the general catching up necessary, and by fighting a cold hindered my recovery from the 12. So I felt utterly not ready for the National 100, but wanted to do my bit for the team. Still, this was one of the first times I could not really push on any longer. Yes, I finished the National 100, and ‘pushed’ as much as I could to help us winning Team Gold, but it was not the fighting spirit I usually have when having a number on my bum.

Today the legs felt better, and I could not at all believe that until 85 miles I was still on for a PB. My legs did not feel like being on for a PB, and the power was so much lower than during the PB ride. But all fell apart with an ever-increasing headwind for 10 of the final 15 miles, and very very exhausted legs. Luckily the same was true for many other riders, who also complained about how hard this last leg was. I was utterly chuffed when a guy told me that he was impressed how I held him off for the final 20 miles – I think a lot of us were suffering at that stage.

But seeing that I was still on for a PB at 85 miles, I am certain that four weeks ago, before the 12, I would have pushed harder for those final miles. I used to not care about head winds, and certainly not drop the power going into one – so this was another important lesson in how important the mind is for succeeding in races. Yes, I did not give up, but I did not push as hard as I usually do in a race. It shows again how perfectly all came together for the superb PB on the E2/100 with 4:04:26, and the 12 h with 258.04 miles. It was planned and executed ‘to perfection’, and now I am looking forward to a break in racing after next weeks E2/50. I do honestly hope to find the proper mental capacity for racing by then. It’s a distance I still want to get on ‘the list’, so that should help me to keep pushing.

So now I understand about ‘A races’ and how you get mentally and physically ready for them – and that you cannot keep that state going forever, even of you want to and think you have recovered. I am still chuffed about today’s performance and the win. Even if things don’t go well, I don’t completely fall apart, and have been ahead of two riders who have faster 100 PB’s than me. But I have learned an important lesson about recovery, and that a 12 takes it out of you way more than I would have ever imagined.

I guess I need to thank my amazing team to get me out even when I felt exhausted, and for making my racing season a lot of fun. Definitely Dave Green for getting me into this amazing shape – and despite me cursing him on a regular basis he is still willing to get his picture taken with me 😉 Also OTE for allowing me to eat an ever-increasing amount of gels to keep me going whilst still liking their taste and not upsetting my stomach, and Nopinz for my comfortable skinsuit. And everybody whom I continue to bore with my stories about cycling, and who despite that encourages me to keep going.

So one more race, and then a well earned break. And then who knows …

Today’s provisional results:

Women:

Katja Rietdorf               4:09:55

Jill Wilkinson     4:12:23

Emma Taylor   4:15:50

Men:

Mark Turnbull 3:36:59

Daniel Bloy       3:38:11

Dave Green       3:40:42 – I worked hard to not let him come past me, maybe that’s what really kept me going 😉

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