Every now and then they—the elusive “they”—say you should take it easy and do recovery rides. I do not find it easy to do this, because my mentality says that if I keep going fast, I’ll eventually become fast! But cycling requires more than just explosive speed; it requires a lot of endurance, and so training at a slower speed for longer periods is also important. Recovery rides are one of these types of important training, as they allow the muscles to repair whilst also working at a lower intensity, building the type I muscle fibres—the slow twitch muscle fibres.
I was meeting a mate, Jono—or JLamb as I like to call him—for one such ride a week or so ago. We both wanted an easy one, so why not do it together, pass the time a bit quicker. He’d smashed out some pretty intense efforts the day before so was adamant, yes adamant, that a slow, flat and easy ride was the agenda.
Another of his mates, Craig, joined us after we’d done a quick but easy lap of the Boulie, and then we set off on our “easy ride”.
Heading off down the Kew Boulevard, we encountered a rise—a rise I now associate with sprinting thanks to what’s about to happen, and every time I’ve ridden it since with JLamb— he shouted at me to get on his wheel, and so I did as I was told. I latched onto his wheel and as he led me out my legs felt pretty good, so I flew passed him once he tired. Awesome, nice little warm up, now easy…
Nope. The next thing I hear is: “Let’s do a Mount Pleasant loop”. Oh no, I think that little effort, culminated with the new bike effect, took hold of him. The Mt Pleasant loop, although it would be easy to think otherwise, is apparently quite a difficult loop, with a long and undulating climb. I’ve never done it before, and have wanted to, so I figured ‘what the hell!’ There was a small problem; time was of the essence. Both Craig and I had forgotten to bring lights. We did some quick, and bad, maths and worked out that we would probably, maybe, just about, make it back in time before the sun sets. Maybe.
So off we went. I joked with JLamb about that ridiculous thought we’d had earlier in the week to “take it easy,” hahaha... But I didn’t actually mind at all. New loop. More training. More strength. That’s how my brain is programmed, and it might take some time to reprogram it.
This day, I felt as though I had the legs (having legs: the feeling of being strong but with no explanation other than feeling strong on the bike). Following JLamb up a hill, the mountain goat that he is, is never easy, but I held on without too much effort. I don’t think he was pushing it to be honest, but I’ll take some positives from it.
When we finally made it to the Mt Pleasant loop, JLamb gave us some heads ups and informed us of some sharp inclines and how to attack each little part of the hill. This was handy, but I’m pretty sure I just felt full tilt into most of them, and then tried to hang on. Same with Craig, who hit some of the hills very hard. I pushed myself pretty hard in places and took the foot off the gas in others. As did the other two, and it ended up being a little bit of a duel on some climbs.
The loop itself opens up some amazing scenery and because you’re on back roads, there wasn’t much traffic at all. This must be where the name Mt Pleasant comes from. If it was named by a cyclist, said cyclist had a sick sense of humour. As for cycling, the loop, like previously mentioned, is very undulating. In places hitting very steep gradients, then it gives you a few seconds to recover and then smashes you again!
The ride home, Craig nor I knew where we were or the way home, so JLamb took us back so far until Craig recognised where he was. I was still completely lost. Which on another note, makes me realise I need to start paying attention when riding, especially when someone else is leading the way.
The ride home was actually pretty hard due to the fact I’d just spent all my energy on the hills. I was also long empty of water and hadn’t eaten since lunch time—having only eaten a bloody salad anyway; the one day I have a salad! Thankfully, we found a petrol station (that’s “servo” in Australian) to top up our water. I also grabbed a boost chocolate bar as I was absolutely dying of hunger. Following that burst of energy I was ready to push it hard again any time the road pitched up. I was in that kind of a mood.
Luckily I made it home just as the sun started to set, at around 8:30pm. That meant that our rushed and guessed mathematical work on the sun setting, the distance and the time it would take was accurate. Shocking!
As it was late, and the boost hardly covered the calorie debt I’d just created, I looked in my fridge hoping to see a massive steak and a big chocolate cake, however I was met with a box of eggs and some cheese. Serves me right for being unorganised. A 4 egg omelette it would be, and then I had some toast after, all before falling into bed and passing out.
So, although not a very good recovery ride, which is what I’m sure you were expecting to read about, it was a good ride in the end, covering 90km, more than double the planned distance, and lots of climbing, 1,300m. It worked out well, because the week’s weather was awful and this ride helped me to get at least close to my week’s goal.