I switched out my tires and decided my bike needed a tune, so I cleaned and re-lubed my drive train and repacked my bearings as well. Unfortunately, it took quite a bit of fine tuning to get things back to normal, and I actually put about 4k on the bike just going back and forth in front of my house trying to get it just right. Finally though the bike was ready for the road again and come Saturday, I decided to go for a little shake-out ride in prep for Sunday. It was relatively warm and sunny and I looked forward to a solid ride. Now if you read my post-ride twitter tweets, you already know that didn’t work out so well. I managed to do 70k, but I have to say of the now 900+ km this year, those 70 may have been my toughest. For some reason, the bike just didn’t seem to want to go. I did a full 40k before I started to feel good, and that only lasted for 20k. For the last 10, I was back to feeling like crap and I struggled home as best I could. I felt like I was carrying a gorilla on my back. At first I thought maybe the new tires, with new tread, were causing increased road friction, forcing me to work harder but that was really just grasping at straws. Whatever the reason, it just seemed like I was rolling through mud. Worst of all, it didn’t make me feel great about what was to come on Sunday.
With a scheduled 6:45 a.m. start time for the Ride for Heart, I dragged myself out of bed at 5:00 and had my pre-ride breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, OJ and coffee. It wasn’t raining yet, but the sky was pretty gray, so it looked as if the forecast was dead-on. I gathered up all my gear and headed off to the start line in downtown Toronto. The 6:45 start was for riders doing the 75k route and quite a few had gathered. Right on time, off we went. Of course, a lot of riders look at events like these as informal races, so they shot off right from the get-go. I was a bit surprised though that the rest of the pack didn’t immediately form into groups. It was a good 10k before I managed to find a group of 10-12 riders doing a pace I was comfortable with. We stuck together until a rest stop at the top of the course at about 30k where the group split up. By this time though, the rain had started and conditions were a bit messy. The rain itself wasn’t bad, but the wet roads made for some tough group riding with blinding rooster tails coming off the wheels up ahead. The run back down without a group wasn’t too bad as the rain had started to subside, but the temperatures had dropped noticeably which made being soaking wet all that much more uncomfortable.
The 75k route meant a second trip up to the top of the course and by this time, all of the novice and ultra-novice riders doing the shorter 25 and 50k routes were on the course. That of course meant having to navigate around a lot of slower riders inexperienced at holding a line, but that didn’t bother me. It was all for charity and not a race so I paced myself going back to the top. I have to say though that it is a tough course for a charity ride. The route back to the top is pretty much 10k all uphill which I would imagine is pretty tough for novice riders. I found the second go pretty tough actually and managed only a pace of about 17-18 kmh. Organizers would probably do well to flatten the course out a bit for inexperienced riders I think. After my second climb, my legs were pretty tight and I struggled a bit on a short but stiff incline with about 20k to go. Once past that though, my form came back and I latched on to the wheel of a couple of guys who paced me the last 10k or so at about 35 kmh. Wet, cold, hungry and mission accomplished, I loaded up my bike and headed home to spend the rest of the day recouping on the couch watching a Band of Brothers marathon.
Much like Saturday, my bike still seemed slower than normal, but I did complete a total of 77.5 k in 2h42, which is better than my average, so it must be just me. Maybe just an off week for my legs and lungs. Who knows? We’ll see what happens next week.