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The agony of defeat: 2 seconds.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

Bike on a Trail for September 20, 2011.

Bike on a Trail for September 20, 2011.

Before I get to the focus of today’s blog, I want to mention that yesterday’s “Bike on a Trail” photograph has special meaning to me. Almost one year ago I rode my bike from my house to what I thought was an entrance to the Wekiwa State Park. When I got to the location where I thought I could gain access to the park, there was nothing but a locked, unmanned gate and razor wire blocking my path. After coming all that way I decided to hop the fence (I purchased an annual pass shortly after this day, so I don’t feel too horrible for doing this). After riding about a quarter mile down a sandy fire road, I came across a real trail. The “Bike on a Trail” photo for yesterday was taken in the exact same spot that I took my first very first pedal onto the Wekiwa mtb trails almost one year ago. I had no idea where the trails went or what I would find along the way; it was a really fun and exciting day for me. Over the next week I returned to the trails several times, and I slowly began to map them out and document them with GoPro video. Fast-forward one year and thousands of miles later and now I know these trails like the back of my hand. I feel fortunate to have such a great place to ride and enjoy nature so close to my home. The recumbent bike in my gym has about an inch of dust on it…

A very grumpy Gopher Tortoise.

A very grumpy Gopher Tortoise.

I got a bit of a late start yesterday morning, and I hit the trails about an hour and a half later than usual. It was really hot, but I was excited about making an attempt to break the personal record I set last Thursday (if you’re not familiar with this timed mountain biking cross-country speed run I like to do, give my September 16, 2011 blog a read).

The distance to the fishbowl (the end of the timed run) is about 4.5 miles, and my personal record currently stands at 25m47s. The trail has a wide-variety of terrain: everything from large roots, muddy water crossings, occasional downed trees, branches, very sandy sections, tough climbs and sharp corners. When I took off from the trailhead I was feeling really good, and I rode as hard as I possibly could the entire distance. I was in the zone: I was carving the corners at a good clip, bunny hopping logs and branches without losing even a fraction of my speed and climbing with power.

Unfortunately these are shared trails (bikers, joggers and hikers), and so there are a few blind corners I have to take really slow just in case there’s a jogger coming from the other direction. There’s not much I can do about that, but at least this handicap is consistent from one ride to the next.

So as I closed in on the fishbowl that marks the end of my timed run I felt like I was going to puke. Don’t misunderstand, the queasy feeling was not entirely unwelcome; this is what happens when you push yourself as hard as you can. I resisted the urge to check my time and just raced ahead with everything I had left in my tank. When I got to the finish line and saw my split I was dismayed: 25m49s with an average heart rate of 186 BPM.

Two mother trucking seconds slower than my best time. Two!

After 26 minutes of riding in the heat at almost 95% of my maximum heart rate, I was obviously destroyed. I started pulling off my gear (helmet, gloves, sunglasses, Camelback) and just collapsed on the floor of the forest. As my heart rate came down and I cooled off I double-checked my split. Yep: 25m49s. I still couldn’t believe it.

A Florida Yellow-Bellied Slider turtle!

A Florida Yellow-Bellied Slider turtle!

My average heart rate was 2 BPM higher than it was when I set my personal record less than a week ago, and I wondered why that was? As I pondered that question, I stood up and began to walk around. My legs felt like rubber, and then the answer occurred to me: I’d worked legs the day prior… duh! When I set my personal record last Thursday my legs had completely recovered from Monday’s leg workout.

Well, I guess coming within 2 seconds of my best time on tired legs is some consolation. Still, I can’t describe how disappointed I felt after putting in such a great effort.

When I got back on my bike my legs felt wobbly and tired. I rode at a slower pace for a couple of miles, and then I started to catch my second wind. I picked up the pace a bit, but stopped to take some photos a couple of times along the rest of my ride. I wound up doing a little more than 22 miles, and overall had a fantastic ride.

I’m going to break that personal record next time!

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