First, I cannot believe I haven’t updated since June. I swear I’m not dead. How would I be writing this if I was.
But secondly, the reason I haven’t been updating is because I had a summer’s worth of excellent riding that completely distracted me from posting on the regular. I just didn’t have time. However, here I am, and boy do I have progress updates to report!
Since about July, I’ve been doing hill repeats almost every Friday night. I started off STRUGGLING up the hill, finishing each loop dead last and tapping out after three rounds. No joke, I’d sit on a park bench at the top of the hill and wait for everyone else to put in two more rounds. Slowly, but surely I worked my way up to four repeats and I can proudly say that for the last three Fridays, I’ve stuck it out for all five loops.
How hill repeats have helped my cycling:
- I am a noticeably stronger rider. I primarily ride with a group of guys who all shop at our local bike shop. They’ve all been riding for years and years, many are also track riders, and needless to say, they’re very fast. Since doing my workouts, I only fall off the pack when they decide to go for an outright sprint. If we’re doing a steady pace, I can hang on just fine.
- I’ve learned how to use my gears better. Climbing is weird. You suffer and you know you’ll suffer, but you don’t want to ease up on the gears too much and lose speed and power, but you also don’t want to just hurt all the way to the top. I’ve figured out where I can hang in a little longer in a harder gear before dropping into an easier one. And I’ve figured out when to put it into a harder gear and just get up out of the saddle and grind up a segment. Since figuring out a good gear strategy, I’ve managed to break into the top ten all time women on TWO Strava segments.
- It’s helped me drop weight. I’ve wanted to lose weight anyway, but ever since I’ve been doing hill repeats weekly, the weight has just been melting off. My clothes fit better, I feel better, and hey, that’s a couple pounds less that I now don’t have to drag up a hill!
General rides: We’ve been doing a longer ride (40-50 miles) every Saturday morning. Consistently putting in the miles has helped me increase my average speed, I don’t feel as winded and tired halfway through, and my bike handling skills have gotten so much sharper. The other day someone was in front of me on a group ride and suddenly moved to one side, slowing down in the process. He would have caught my front wheel and taken me down, but I was able to slam the breaks and maintain my line all while standing up, climbing a short hill. I felt like Peter Sagan dodging that dog during his Tirreno Time Trial.
New Challenges up ahead:
Winter is coming! Okay so I live in Southern California where it doesn’t really get cold cold. But we’ve done a few late night rides and I have been freezing! I just picked up a wind jacket when Rapha was having an Archive Sale, but I’m also eyeing some leg warmers because even on early morning rides, it’s a little chilly. I’m that person who gets cold all the time anyway so it’s not so out of character that I also need to bundle up like I live in Maine when I’m riding in not 76 degree weather.
And in a related note, I kind of wonder how likely I am to keep sticking to this very dependable riding schedule once the temperature drops. We’re expected to have a warmer and drier winter this year (but that’s what they said last year when we had historic rain), but I can see it getting a little tiring to have to put on all these clothes and go out in the cold when it’s so easy to just stay in and have some warm coffee while watching Say Yes to the Dress.
Do any of you Zwift? We have a trainer and maybe I could try to do that. Or perhaps I’ll get back into 24 Hour Fitness cycling classes. Ideally I’d like to just keep riding out in the real world, though.