Yesterday my friend Jeff Stephens put the call out for a morning ride. Jeff sent me an advance email last week letting me know that he was planning on a couple rides this week with a group visiting from Wisconsin, so I’d already penciled this ride into my schedule:
“Going to ride with Mike Spiro and his band of Wisconsin friends in the morning. Depart from FNB @ 9:00 AM. I let ’em pick the time, as they are on vacation. No HAMMERFEST, just steady miles up to ASTOR and the scenic route home. Probably about 85 miles or so… start slow and maintain.”
For the life of me I can’t figure out to whom Jeff was directing the “No HAMMERFEST” instruction…
Anyway, after the spirited 100 mile ride we did on Saturday, a nice long social ride on some beautiful country back roads sounded perfect to me. I informed Jeff he’d have no trouble out of me.
I met with Jeff at the starting location, and a few minutes later Mike from Wisconsin, along with three of his friends, rolled up.
Once we were warmed up and out on the open roads, the pace picked up. I was not the instigator, but was more than happy to maintain the standard. As we approached the 50 mile mark, our average speed was 20.7 MPH–not exactly a casual social ride pace!
The winds were really picking up at this point (in fact high wind advisories were in effect), and as we approached mile 60 we were riding into very strong constant headwinds, with even stronger gusts. The winds slowed our pace, but we were working just as hard: in fact, my average power for the final 39 miles was higher than it was for the first 50 miles.
My lower back has been hurting since my bike wreck a little over a week ago, but during rides it’s not been too bad. Well, around mile 60 on yesterday’s ride my lower back started SCREAMING at me. The pain was constant with occasional muscle spasms; to put it mildly, I was extremely uncomfortable. Every mile felt like 10, and with nearly 30 miles left to ride, I was starting to wonder how I was going to make it…
The only thing I could do was ignore the pain, and try to focus on something else. Once the wind was hitting us full-force, I used that as a distraction, and that helped. By the time we were in the mid 70-mile part of the ride, my back had calmed down enough that it wasn’t too much of a factor for the rest of the ride.
My legs and cardio felt great the entire way. At this point I feel like I’ve done everything I can to prepare for the the 274 kilometer/170 mile Cross-Florida (XFL) ride (Sunday, April 6, 2014). My only concern is the lower back pain I’m experiencing and, to a lesser extent, the saddle sores (although they are MUCH improved now). Right now my body needs to recover and heal, so I’ll start scaling back my miles (while maintaining my conditioning) as I get closer to the XFL.
Yesterday’s ride put me over my previous single-month cycling distance record, which was set last month. As of yesterday I’ve ridden 1,586 kilometers (985.2 miles) so far in March. Today I’ll break the 1,000 mile single-month distance mark, which is something I committed to doing this month.
I’ve also set a new single-month elevation record this month, having climbed 28,346 feet (so far). That eclipses my previous best of 21,673 feet, which I set last month.
My cycling distance for March has put me in the top 1% of all worldwide riders on Strava who are participating the March Monthly Training Series (currently 70,996 cyclists).
Not a bad month so far. 🙂