You'd think that after thirty years of regular training I'd know my body by now. I might be expected to have some kind of understanding of how it ticks. The truth is, though, that I really haven't a clue. Some days you feel great. Other days you feel sluggish. And I'm at a loss to discern any kind of pattern.
Last Sunday, as described in my last post here, I set out to do a hundred miler. I'd got plenty of miles in the legs. I'd rested for a few days and I fully expected to feel good. I even had half a mind to do a quadruple traverse of the hills between Wensleydale and Swaledale, a masochistic delight I've been wanting to inflict upon myself for years. But that went out of the window early on. The legs felt heavy on the very first hill, the tempo for the ride was set to steady (read survival), and it took a massive effort of will to pass by the cafe at Askrigg and commit to the full hundred miles. If I hadn't taken my camera with me, after being inspired by the beauty of the ride the weekend before, then I suspect I never would have made it over the hill into Swaledale.
After that ride I've had a relatively easy week. I did a 'steady with hill efforts' 30 miler on Good Friday and clocked up a few miles on Saturday taking in my two son's cricket matches. But plans for a longer ride on the Sunday went out of the window when I came down with a cold. It hit me quickly. Sore throat and a sniffle developing on Saturday evening and yesterday I only had energy for a walk on the moor on what was an almost perfect afternoon. Overnight rain had cleared the haze that had been building up and all the colour had been returned to the landscape. Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to simply take pleasure from being up on the moor rather than out on a training ride as planned.
I'd originally intended to go for a long ride with my Earlybird mates this morning, but I had a rough night, developing a hacking cough and I woke up with a very fuzzy head. I tried to get some work done, but it wasn't easy to concentrate. Come midday and my patience had gone. Enough of doing the sensible thing. There was a lot more cloud around today than we've had for a week, but it was still warm with just a gentle breeze. Damn it. I was not going to miss out on another ride.
I've not been keeping up with my laundry so I had a choice of just two shirts: my lightest summer Gore top or my ShuttVR racing shirt - which hadn't actually made it to the washing machine at all after three outings. For some inexplicable reason I chose the racing attire and I believe that making that decision switched something on inside my head.
Although never intending this to be much more than a tootle, I set off at a good lick, somewhat encouraged by overtaking a procession of riders heading out on the back road to Nesfield. Up the little hills there and I realised my legs felt good, and the tickly cough that I'd been plagued with all morning wasn't causing me a problem. I kept up the good pace, forming a plan to do the route out through Embsay, Airton to Malham and then over tops to Arncliffe and back down Wharfedale. I love this ride, and occasionally do it as a kind of time trial to gauge my fitness. I felt good all the way around and, quite astonishingly, clocked the fastest time I've ever recorded for what is quite a hilly 54 miles, averaging over 17 mph for the round trip, which included having to deal with a lot of bank holiday drivers who clearly had no sense for the width of their cars.
So, I'm feeling a whole lot better than I was first thing this morning! It can only be down to this ShuttVR Racing Shirt. It clearly must have some kind of magic power. That wasn't much in evidence when I first wore it at the Addingham Hilly 10 mile time trial a month back, but I suspect the shirt has to be worn-in first before it starts to cast its spell on the rider wearing it. Actually, I know for sure that this shirt is magical because it seems to require no washing. This Merino Wool fibre is quite astonishing. It dries in an instant and leaves no smell. I'm not sure I'm ever going to put it in the laundry, for fear of losing the power it clearly extends to my legs!
It's been a surreal afternoon. And to think I could so easily have spent the day moping around the house in a sulk.