Chasing the pack

I’ve still not fully recovered from Sunday’s ride which was a bit quicker than usual as some of faster boys came out to play. But I just about managed to hang in there and it seems to have done wonders for pushing my fitness level along a bit.

The first half hour was fine, rolling out toward Esher and Chobham, then we turned off into the country lanes and it all got a bit hectic. I came off the back and spent half an hour chasing to get back on, sweating like a sieve in a shower and hurting like hell but determinedly keeping the group just about in sight.

Eventually I caught up as they waited at one of the rally points along the way. Rusty who was leading the ride stuck me up the front to keep the pace down for a while and I happily sat in and recovered at a pace above my average one. In fact, my average speed has now gone up to 25.5km/h over the last three weekends, from 23.9km/h after the first ride.

I got brutalised up the hills again and went beyond the point where I couldn’t do anything other than just find my own rhythm uphill and hope I could stay with the group as we flew along at speeds which for me are fast but for most of the others would be a gentle tootle. Luckily riders kept on dropping back to make sure I didn’t get lost along the way.

I’m starting to rein in my urge to go at the hills hard from the outset and have almost got to the point where I can stop myself trying to follow wheels that are too fast for me. I haven’t entirely stopped, I just drop off them before I start to hit to my thresholds.

I’m being positive about it because riding with quicker riders in a group means I am extending my ability level. I still feel I need to get in a session in the middle of the week but I have been feeling a bit worn out and had a few too many other commitments this week. So I have been making the most of riding at intensity on my commutes, in part out of necessity as I keep on leaving the house too late.

As I was making my way home today I had the strange sensation of feeling like I was operating at a higher level than usual, turning over a bigger gear without straining and really flying along. Or maybe everyone else was just going a bit slower today.

Among my list of things to do still is flipping my stem over to raise my position up a bit as I’m still finding getting on the drops on descents a little uncomfortable. My reach feels about fine but I get a twinge at the base of my neck when I try to look ahead, unless I sit right back off the saddle.

I just wandered off and did it while I remembered. In terms of aesthetics, it’s not great but I shall give it a go on Sunday and see how it feels. I’m not sure how much of a difference it will make, although my bars and saddle are pretty much level which is supposed to be a good thing. Actually I can’t stand how it looks and I’m worried that changing my position this late in the day is going to cause trouble.

Other things to do: buy a big box of gels when i get paid, buy a rain jacket that’ll fit in my pocket (probably get the Respro one I saw which is clear and seems to do the job), keep training.

I can’t make flapjacks of my own at the moment as our oven is knackered so it looks like I’ll be sticking with jaffa cakes, which I have been trying the last couple of weeks. Not as filling but supposedly energy-filled, they seem to be working and are certainly easier to stuff down my throat as I go along than flapjack. I wonder if I can get them in France or whether I’ll have to pack my own supply.

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