I’m starting to see first hand, only 5 weeks into the Cyclocross season and maybe 10 weeks since most racers began training, riders burning out. Riders that 5 weeks ago I thought would be doing better, down in the root cellar. Maybe it’s some chemical leaching from the Styrofoam helmet shell, but most cyclists would agree that if you have a case of the sucks, the only cure is an immediate self inflicted on the bike ass whopping. Sure enough, racers were back drilling away at intervals and Cyclocross practice on Tuesday and Wednesday after racing triple races over the weekend. My gut tells me they’re bumping their bruises into the corner of the table.
My mom is a retired RN. Doctor Mom I call her. (Pictured left in her "slacker" t-shirt prior to her retirement party) If I called her more often and asked, I’m sure she would attest, in Latin terms of course, a bruise is a bunch of busted blood vessels and ripped tissue bleeding and clotting under the skin. She would also remind me that I haven’t called my grandmother in two months. Then as I pressed the issue, I’m sure Doctor Mom would agree that muscle fatigue and stress aren’t quite the same caliber of injury as a nasty purple nurple. Then I would reason, certainly, given the 2-3 weeks it generally takes for a bruise to go from black & blue to green& yellow and finally to skin tone, it has to take the body more than 36-48 hours to even remotely recover from a double or triple race weekend. “I suppose that would be true,” Doctor Mom would say. “Now make sure you call grandma after we hang up.”
The weekend of October 9-11th, I along with every cyclocrosser in the Ohio Valley did three back to back Cyclocross races. I knew I’d need a break from the bike. Monday, I went for an easy 2 ½ mile walk. I took Tuesday completely off and instead concentrated on laundry basket intervals and dishwashing repeats. Wednesday I went for an hour and a half pretty much granny gear ride. Finally, Thursday I felt good enough to do a set of 10 hill repeats during an hour and a half ride. I took Friday off. Saturday my wife and I did a steady moderate 40 miles. In a week I rode a total of 5-6 hours. Yesterday, since I wasn’t racing and missed the fast Saturday group ride, I thought I’d better do some intervals. So we rolled out 7 miles to do my regular program of 5-8 minute hill repeats.
Showing a bit of machismo and confidence that I had built up some serious Cyclocross fitness, I said something bull headed like, “We’ll go up together and when I get to the top I’ll turn around…” You can see where this is going. I might even have said it in a Belgian accent. My wife matched my speed & power and held my wheel for every single one of the five intervals. Killer. She’s a strong rider and knows how to hold a wheel, but moreover is probably more competitive than myself. She might be half Belgian. I thought being an in-shape and fit cyclocrosser, I’d drop her on the very first hill for sure. Not the case. I patted her on the back. “Good job honey. Wow. That was impressive.” While I didn’t try to drop her, if I was ever going to drop her it’d be doing hill repeats when I felt relatively fresh. We headed back for the flat ride home.
“How fast do you think you’re going,” asked my wife as we pushed the last five flat miles of our ride yesterday. I wasn’t totally hammering, but felt like I was giving a solid effort for the end of a ride. I said, “18 or so.” “14.8,” she replied. As the road dipped into a slight downhill, I looked back and questioned, “20-21?” “18.6,” the answer came back. My perceived effort was way higher than the actual result. A week removed from the races, with what most would think would be a light training week, my brain was telling me I was “strong-like Ox,” however the speedometer suggested the strength of the Snuggle laundry detergent bear. Obviously, I’m not still fully recovered from the races even with a lighter week of training. The Spouse-o-meter was dead on.