Great ride at Wekiwa yesterday; 2 new PRs; A couple stories.
Yesterday morning I was in the mood for some mountain biking, and I wanted to get some hard training miles in. I thought about going to Mt. Dora and doing laps, but the changing scenery at Wekiwa State Park sounded more attractive to me, so I went there.
We’re still really dry here in Central Florida, and the trails are awfully sand–this is especially so at Wekiwa. I knew the sand would only help me get a better workout in, so I thought, “Bring it on!” Because of the sandy conditions, I didn’t expect to break any personal records yesterday.
Before I set off from the trailhead I decided I would ride hard, but not make any record attempts. Of course the instant I passed the start of the first Strava segment my competitive side took over and I laid into the pedals as if I were being chased by a pack of wolves.
As I plowed through the first few really sandy sections (which always portend the rest of the ride) I remember thinking, “Oh man, this is going to hurt!”
The first Strava segment, Wekiwa State Park – Sand Lake Trailhead to Marker 13 (Red Blaze), is the most “hardened” of my PRs/KOMs at Wekiwa. I’ve been riding this 2.7 mile section of trail for time over the past couple of years, and my personal record times have improved considerably over that time. Before I got more serious about my cycling training (but was still an avid mountain biker), my best time on this section of trail was 12m31s. In early December 2012 (with a couple of months of hard cycling training under my belt), I smashed that record with a time of 11m01s. A couple weeks after riding the 11m01s time, I set a new PR and turned in a time of 10m30s.
When I set the 10m30s PR the trails were riding really fast. Recent rains had really packed down the sand, and the trail conditions were ideal for speed.
Yesterday, as mentioned above, the trail conditions on this segment were very dry and sandy. Despite that, I still managed to beat my previous best time by 1 second and set a new PR of 10m29s! I know that when the trail is a little more packed down and less sandy I will be able to beat that time again–no question about it.
Also worth noting: my average heart rate on that segment yesterday was 176 BPM–1 BPM less than it was when I rode the 10m30s time in December. Why that’s interesting to me is two-fold: I felt like I was pretty much at my peak conditioning level back in mid-December, and also the trail conditions yesterday made me work harder than I had to in December. In other words, I feel like my conditioning is returning pretty quickly after the vacation/flu thing.
I have an amusing anecdote from the above segment to share. Towards the end of the segment there’s a turn that’s very slippery. It’s not a super sharp turn, but it’s usually covered in brown ice (dead pine needles) and I’m going very fast when I hit it. I’ve fallen at this spot before, but not in a long time. So yesterday as I was approaching this turn there was a runner coming towards me. I’ve seen this guy many times before, and we always say hello as we pass each other. Yesterday as we approached one another I was hauling the mail, sweat was pouring off of me, I was breathing hard and closing in on the end of the segment. I managed to get out a “Morning” as we passed, and he stopped, looked back and yelled, “Go man, looking good!!”
At that exact moment I hit the aforementioned slippery corner, and my bike started to slide out from under me. I was almost sideways and my rear tire was out of control. Somehow I manged to recover from the slide at the last moment: my bike straightened, I came out of the saddle and shot away leaving a cloud of pine needles in my wake. The runner yelled, “Yeeeeeeeeah!!!!!”
I’m telling you, the adrenaline boost from that near-wreck combined with the “support” from the runner is what propelled me to the new PR.
Here’s the segment: Wekiwa State Park – Sand Lake Trailhead to Marker 13 (Red Blaze)
After I completed that segment, I was feeling good so I continued on without stopping. I decided that I was going to use the good to start break my PR on a larger 7.8 mile segment, Wekiwa State Park – The Bike Loop w/ Camp Cozy to Sandlake Option: Sand Lake TH to Camp Cozy (Red Blaze) then Camp Cozy to Sand Lake (White Blaze).
As I mentioned about a week ago, I don’t ride the “Camp Cozy to Sandlake” variation too often; this segment was by far the softest KOM I have at Wekiwa. I changed that yesterday:
Old Record (July 3, 2012): 45m09s
Recent Record (January 22, 2013): 41m29s
New Record (January 29, 2013): 35m58s
Clearly I was right about my old PR being soft, as I beat it by more than 5 minutes yesterday. My average heart rate was 177 BPM (88% of my HR MAX) over that 36 minutes, so I was definitely working! I still feel that I can improve on my new time with better trail conditions.
After that loop I did another loop at a more moderate pace (but I was not loafing, either) for a total of 17 miles.
Pretty awesome ride, really enjoyed it. Here’s the complete ride on Strava.