Having spent yesterday getting the bike back on the road it was only fitting that today I should actually ride it. An unusual thing to do these days given that I’ve not ridden more than three miles since July. I’ve not rowed since the end of November and only been on the turbo once since then. I think this is called letting oneself go.
Over the last three years of rowing I have come to the conclusion that rowing is a sport that involves an inordinate amount of faffing around time. We would regularly have sessions of maybe 90 minutes of time spent on the water that would take five hours door to door. The 15 minute commute to the boathouse didn’t do much to justify it either. I think the problem is centred around the ‘trying to get many people to be in the same place at the same time’ issue that coincides nicely with the ‘hoping they’re ready when they get there’ one. Over time this was taken as normal and the time was planned for. You knew for a 7am pick-up that you would be lucky to be home before midday.
Given the causes of this time wasting, you’d have thought a sport one did alone, from their own house would be free from such constraints. Alas no. I woke up with the single aim for the day of going for a ride. This is a ride that takes, fitness and weather depending, somewhere just the other side of an hour to complete. So what time did I get back from said ride? 10 am? Midday? No. 4pm. I woke up at just before nine. That means there were approximately six hours of me being awake and preparing to cycle. It wasn’t even a long ride that I needed to prepare for. It was the standard training ride I must have done countless times.
Granted I had to refit the chain and dry the helmet from its bleachy swim, but neither of these should take more than half an hour and the drying could be happening while I was chain-fitting.
So what was I doing? I honestly have no idea. I didn’t even turn the computer on.
But anyway, after the minimal amount of fighting stubborn powerlinks, I was ready. Having been on the cold side of comfortable all morning I proceeded to climb into more layers of lycra than any one man should own never mind wear at once. I re-accustomed myself to the heel down hobble that road shoes ask of you and sauntered to the bike to actually get under way.
Within two minutes I started regretting how much I was wearing. Within three minutes I could feel the lack of anything I’d done in the last two months. The wind didn’t help much either. Stretches that are level and straight, felt instead like the brakes were on constantly. The upside of this though was that on the other side of the circuit, with the wind on my side, I could pretend I wasn’t actually unfit. The fact I was still only doing to speed I’d normally be doing on a still day doesn’t need to be mentioned. The biggest hill of the route (half a mile at ~1:6) almost killed me. Where I’m usually spinning in fourth or fifth at ~8-9mph I was grinding away in first trying to keep on the better side of 4mph.
The final climb to home is usually one where I am racing against the clock sitting at ~15mph pushing towards 16. Today I didn’t even bother checking the time. With the lack of anything to power me and the headwind, I was pushing hard to stay in double figures.
The final time when I’d stopped was abysmal. A jaunty 13:35 behind my PB. Even accounting for the wind that’s a poor time.
A better turnout for the day is the discovery through a friend of the MapMyRide/Run website and associated app. Now not only do I get an overall time and speed from the bike computer, a time for each of the five splits I record on my watch and HR for each, I now get splits for each km and a graph of speed vs elevation and a little map that shows me how fast each section was. It even times the hill climb separately. I think I could become obsessed without too much effort. Think of the stats I can collect and compare.
Still I made it. Since I’m no closer to finding a new rowing club, this is likely to return to being my main training, so it looks like grinning and bearing may be in order. After hopefully not too many more attempts I should be back to a level where I once was. The idea of racing in a fortnight is looking more and more to be on the crazier side of sensible.