Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunch Rush

My ride to work this morning was uneventful, though I felt like Travis "Taxi Driver" Bickle when I got up this morning.

No more apple fritters. No more bad food. No more flat bike trails. From now on, you commute via side streets with hills twice a day to build up muscle and put in 50 minutes on the indoor trainer every night to burn off fat. No more excuses. Every muscle must be tight.

I didn't take any of that advice. (I also didn't shave my hair into a mohawk or kill anyone, so there's a positive side to this.) I took the trails: I didn't want to be kept waiting for traffic if it started raining on me.

There is something awesome about escaping the office over lunch to get a ride in. Even more awesome is when it just finished raining and the resident smokers are standing under a shelter recommending that you to keep dry. Bah. It won't matter, I'm going to need a towel when I'm done anyways.

I threw some feelers in my facebook and google talk statuses for some riding buddies, but nobody said "I'm in", so I went alone and turned it into an intervals workout.

Why intervals? Commuting on Lincoln's trails is great, but it's led me down the path (no pun intended) of mediocrity. A good fix for this is a workout on the highways.

I got four 3-minute intervals at 85% max hr in during the 39 minutes in the saddle this noon hour.

Interval training involves pushing harder than normal for short periods of time and then lightening up for an equal amount of time and repeating. The goal is to raise your body's efficiency at a given level of effort, so the same effort results in more work accomplished.

Going 11-14mph on the highway during recovery periods is the toughest part. The only reason to go that slow during my rest periods is manufactured by my desire to improve my overall speed and stamina: I don't see two walkers walking side by side chit chatting about vacations they recently took while a hipster on a 1970s steel bike converted to a fixed gear and no brakes is barrelling down from the other direction and I have no choice but to squeeze a brake lever to make sure we're all upright when we pass.

No, only need to go that slow so my heart rate can drop back down to 70% of maximum within 3 minutes, only to ramp it back up to 85%.

 When I was done with my workout, I thought about how I rode that same stretch a whole lot faster last week when I just had fun with it, when I completely avoided my heart rate and just went with the flow. I felt like Luke Skywalker: Ben Kenobi was telling me to turn off my target computer and ride with The Force.

Instead I chose to listen to Han Solo: "ancient weapons and hokey religions are no match for a tuned cardiovascular system at your side."

I felt great after my little jaunt. I was slightly disappointed. Maybe I didn't push hard enough. And then it hit me at 2:15: my legs were on fire.

Mission: Accomplished.

My ride home was painful. What normally takes 20-22 minutes took 35. My legs still hurt as I type this tonight.

I'm driving tomorrow.

24.3 miles today.

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