Camp PedalWORKS – a recap … 🤔

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I said previously, I am a slave to numbers. Here are some of the stats I have accumulated while at Camp PedalWORKS. The RED highlights indicate new lows. My goals for the past 2 1/2 months while at the cottage were:

  1. Cycle more frequently getting my weekly average up to 250 km;
  2. Get down to 160 pounds, an optimal cycling weight for me;
  3. Adopt a “polarized” training schedule, spending ~ 80% of the time in Zone 1, and ~ 20% in Zones 3&4; and,
  4. Complete the Horseshoe Valley Century ride in reasonable time.

Well, I accomplished all 4 of these items, and in so doing, also increased my daily average speeds, and morning resting heart rate. I’m leaner and fitter. And, I feel more confident on the bike, frequently positioned on the drops, even while climbing, and effortlessly switching between chainrings maintaining consistent power to the pedals. I even got in several fast-paced groups rides, working on my pace-line and drafting skills.

Average speed doesn’t mean much. On every ride the conditions are different. Hills. Flat terrain. Headwinds. Helping winds. But I noticed my average speeds were increasing to ~ 25 kph. That’s an average. Often I was doing 25-35 kph. Sometimes faster, particularly on descents.

I have 6 weeks to prepare for the Whistler GranFondo, a 122 ride with 1,900 meters of climbing. This week I am heading to the West Coast to cycle the mountains in preparation.

So, what have I learned from these past 10 weeks at the cottage, at Camp PedalWORKS?

  1. I have been without TV and regular internet all of this time. And do you know what? I don’t miss them at all. I’m behind with the news, but does it matter? I have missed a few yearly sporting events like Wimbledon, the Tour de France, and the Open, but does it matter? Not really. I get the headlines on the radio news, if I choose. What did I get in return? I read a lot. I have finished 10 books so far – biographies, mysteries, and historical novels. I trained a lot. More than I would otherwise. And, I had time to prepare better, simpler foods, and as a consequence, lost 10 pounds.
  2. I have not ridden in traffic. No stop lights. No stop signs. Just quiet, scenic, rural roads connecting the farms and nearby lakes. It was continuous cycling out the back door. I had 3 routes. West to the big lake. East to the small lake. And, north to another small lake. Each route is a 35-50 km loop. And, on the weekends, I might connect the loops together for a longer ride. Cycling in the city can’t compare. Although we have well developed dedicated cycle paths, traffic calm streets, separate bike lanes, some with dividers, it is not the same. It’s not continuous cycling. It’s not as safe. And, it’s not as enjoyable.
  3. I learned I don’t have to always work hard. Rest is good. You need to recover. Particularly when you get to be my age. I gradually increased my training load by riding longer distances, and increasing the intensity (i.e. hill repeats, sprints) but made certain to take rest days, and alternate hard and easy rides.
  4. I learned I was not the best house keeper. I vacuumed the pine floors for the first time in 50 years, and was devastated by the amount of dirt and dust dislodged from between the boards. I cleaned the oven for the first time in 25 years. I am (was) a stove top chef. Now I bake and roast! And, I cleaned the eaves for the first time in at least 25 years, maybe longer. They had things growing in them. The cottage has never looked, or felt, so good.
  5. And, I learned that time alone is cleansing, empowering, and cathartic. I need it more often than I am accustomed. Or, maybe it’s the company I keep. Anyway, it’s always an adjustment at first, but once settled in, everything opens up. I have more energy. I sleep better. The creative juices flow. I write. Poems even. I cook, and enjoy it immensely. I am more sensitive to the the world around me, particularly the wildlife. The osprey, loons, herons, blue jays, chickadees, wood peckers, robins, geese, ducks, beaver, pike, bass, and deer. And, time flies. I’m never bored, and there never seems to be enough time in the day.

So, Camp PedalWORKS has been good. The cottage and I are better for it. Cleaner. Fitter. Slimmer. Faster. Stronger. More confident. And, more relaxed.

I return to the city in a few days. Back to city traffic. Congestion. TV. The internet. And, people. I’m not used to having people around. Not used to making idle conversation. Any conversation. Back to hills. And mountains. The cycling will be different. Harder. More climbing. And the weather will be different too. No humidity. But warm.

I return with mixed emotions. It will be as big an adjustment as coming here.

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Remember me … 🤔

Remember me?

I have been remiss. For the past few weeks I have had family visiting at the cottage, and little time to post. They left at the beginning of the week, so I’m back 😂

A lot has happened in the past 3 weeks. We caught a lot of fish. Northern Pike and Smallmouth bass mostly. We paddled and explored the water in the canoe and kayak. We enjoyed shoreline fires in the evening watching the sunset glisten off the water. I read several murder mysteries. The perfect cottage read. And, we swam continually. Summer finally arrived in these parts.

I cycled most days, 35-75 kilometres, visited the gym at least once a week to do squats, and lunges, in preparation for the Horseshoe Valley Century ride. I completed the century ride last weekend, and was pleased with my result, but was surprised with all of the climbing, 1,200 metres of it throughout the entire course. I finished in 4 hours, averaging just under 25 kph, and felt good afterward. My goal this summer was to complete the century in good time (I was happy with it), and get down to 160 pounds. I tipped 161 on the scales today, so not far off, with a week left. My optimum cycling weight is 155-160 pounds. All of this is in preparation for the Whistler GranFondo in September. It is a 122 km course with 1,900 metres of climbing. Longer, and more climbing.

And, I buzzed my beard off, the day after saying how much I liked it. I was by myself, got the buzzer out, and decided I needed a change. I liked it but have to admit it was a food magnet. I no longer have any grey 😂 and am told I look younger. That’s a good thing. Right? I thought I might lose all my strength, but completed this morning’s ride in record time with less effort. Maybe the beard was slowing me down.

I track a lot of numbers. I’m a slave to them. But they keep my training focused. Among other things, I record my resting heart rate (RHR) first thing every morning. I use it to determine if I am adequately recovered for another workout. 2 months ago when I first arrived at the cottage to train (Camp PedalWORKS), I was pleased if I recorded a RHR in the mid forties. 42 was unusual. After 2 months of “polarized” training and regular gym visits, my RHR is often in the 30’s. I have seen it as low as 34 bpm. This morning it was 37. The new normal. This tells me that regular cycling, cottage life, and being alone more frequently agrees with me.

It has been a good visit this year.

 

A 4-week training schedule … 🤔

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I am on a 4 week training schedule. I begin the month with a week with more rest, and less intensity. As the weeks progress, I gradually increase the duration, and intensity of the workouts, building on the previous month’s efforts.

I have just completed week 4. This week will see more rest, and less intensity. I will still cycle, but will reduce the mileage, ride 4 days instead of 5 or 6. And, I’ll still visit the gym, but do fewer reps. This is a recovery week.  A week enabling the body to fully recover from the stresses of the past four weeks.

This is also a time to reflect on the past 4 week cycle. I track a lot of numbers. Too many numbers some think. I track my weekly sleep patterns, RHRs, average speed, and time spent in each heart rate training zone. I do this to see if my fitness is improving, or not. This way I can adjust my workout schedule accordingly.

This is what I discovered.

  1. I lost 6 pounds. One of my objectives was to get to my optimum weight by the end of July which means I need to lose 4 more pounds.
  2. My average resting heart rate (RHR) went down by 6 beats, from 47 to 41. I use my RHR to monitor recovery. I know when it is lower, I am fully recovered. And, when it is higher, I need to schedule a rest day, or lower the intensity of workouts. Last week, my RHR was a low as 34 beats / minute, the lowest I have ever recorded.
  3. Despite the unusually wet weather, I averaged 200 km / week on the bike. When it rains, I normally do not ride. And, these 800 km are training km, not recreational rides.
  4. I spent 72% of ride time in Heart Rate Training Zone 1, and 15% in the higher, more intense zones. The goal with Polarized training is to spend 80% in Zone 1, and 20% in higher zones.
  5. I averaged over 5 hours of “deep” sleep every night. This is the sleep needed to fully recover.
  6. My average cycling speed was 24 kph. Given the high winds throughout the month, this is relatively fast. Every ride I battled a westerly headwind that would reduce my speed to 15-20 kph. Otherwise, I recorded 25-35 kph speeds, sometimes higher.
  7. My average cadence was 86 rpm. I spent most of the 800 km on the small chainring, trying to maintain a cadence of 90-100. Apart from the headwinds and a few climbs, I was able to do that.
  8. And, I learned that high repetition body weight exercises has strengthened my legs and core. I wasn’t sure. I am accustomed to lifting weights in the gym. High rep squats, lunges, hamstring curls using an exercise ball, windshield wipers, sit-ups, and leg lifts have strengthened my legs and core.

So, what is next? More of the same. More distance. Higher intensity. And, more reps.

I have a century ride schedule in 3 weeks. I plan a 75-80 km this weekend to get used to the distance. And, the week before the century, I’ll taper by reducing the volume, but keeping the intensity high.

And, I’ll maintain the same low fat, vegetarian diet of cereal with unsweetened almond milk, stir fry vegetables, vegetable and tofu wraps, vegetable frittatas, veggie burgers, homemade energy gels made with dates, raisins, lemon and lime juice, and peanut butter, and homemade post-ride smoothies made with berries, banana, peanut butter, and almond milk.