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Fitness benefits of the 8DC already showing; Doing a century group ride.

From Monday's ride. Had to stop and get a picture of these Texas Longhorns!

TrainerRoad’s “8 Days In California” event concluded on Sunday (here’s my 8DC wrap-up blog), and after eight straight days of tough workouts you’d think I’d be more than ready for a day off from riding. My plan, in fact, was to rest on Monday, but when I woke up that morning all I could think about was getting outside and riding. I guess eight days of indoor trainer workouts had me feeling a little stir crazy.

My legs were feeling heavy and tired, so I decided to head over to the West Orange trail and just do a light ~27 mile recovery ride. Well, at least that was the plan….

From Monday's ride. Had to stop and get a picture of these Texas Longhorns!

From Monday’s ride. Had to stop and get a picture of these Texas Longhorns!

I set off at a moderate clip, around 19 MPH, and kept my spin light and fairly quick. As my legs warmed up they started feeling less heavy, and I was surprised that they had more spring in them than I expected. A few miles in and I realized I was feeling pretty good!

I have to digress for a moment. I hate recovery rides. There are rare exceptions, but in general I don’t enjoy riding slowly. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever successfully completed an outdoor recovery ride. On the trainer? No problem, I can lay back, watch some TV and spin lightly. But for some reason when I’m riding outside I’m happiest when I’m laying into the pedals.

So, about four miles in I knew I was coming up on a segment: West Orange Trails Fastest Section. I think I was sitting around 10th on the leaderboard (out of 461 riders), which isn’t too bad, but I’d never really hammered this segment specifically for time. The segment is short (just 0.6 miles), and so I thought, “What the heck, let’s see if my legs are up for an all-out sprint!”

My legs felt surprisingly good, but I think what was really propelling me was how incredible it felt to be back outside, riding in the sunshine and feeling the sensation of speed. My average speed on that segment wound up at 32.6 MPH (wheeeeee!), and I managed to beat the existing KOM by 3 seconds. This was an especially satisfying KOM because the time I beat was ridden nearly four years ago and has remained unchallenged since. I think on fresh legs I’ve got another couple seconds in me.

At the end of my ride there is one final segment. This 1.2 mile segment is called “Last Dig to the Temple“, and I love that section of trail. After the “8 Days In California” event and a solo 26 miles at about a 20 MPH pace, my legs were feeling more than a little rubbery, but I decided to see if they had anything left. My legs responded surprisingly well, and I bagged the “Last Dig to the Temple” KOM. I’ll enjoy this one while it lasts: Tic Bowen, who had the existing KOM, is a much stronger rider than I am.

So what’s encouraging about this ride is that clearly the 8DC event has improved my fitness and my strength as a rider. Even on very tired legs I was able to ride at a good pace, my cardio felt good, and I grabbed a couple of KOMs–one of which had stood for almost four years. Feels good, man.

Here’s the entire ride on Strava.

I think over the next couple of weeks the fitness benefits of the 8DC will become even more apparent.

I’ll be doing a century (100 mile) group ride a week from this coming Saturday, so that’s going to be a big day for me. I need to plan my training over the next week and a half around that event.

I took yesterday off from riding, and today I’m feeling good. I’m going to ride today, but I’m not sure where.