Yesterday I completed my last full day of training. It was a 6.5 hour ride over 85 miles. I started the day with my usual nutritional supplements. They do make a difference because my legs feel strong everyday.
We climbed for 2-2.5 hours and then descended into the most delightful Portuguese village for lunch. If I was back packing around Europe this is where I would want to come to see beautiful scenery, have sunny days and pay 2 euros for lunch.
The ride went smoothly until one of our cyclist got knee pain. We called for the car to pick him up. Up until this point I had been climbing smoothly at a good pace and feeling strong. When the car came my coach said “Rhys time for some madness”. I hated those words as this meant hard and fast riding as he wanted to beat the car down the mountain and into the next village.
We took off and I glued myself to his back wheel. We were cornering like rally drivers around the twisting downhill descents. In-between the descents were slight inclines which meant climbing 500 to 1000 metres as fast as possible. This was when the pain in my legs kicked in. I pushed as hard as I could and managed the first incline. I rested on the following descent in preparation for the next climb. My coach said “Rhys let’s get on it!” and accelerated again.
The lactic acid built up in my legs with each extra effort I made to push faster. With 200 meters to go to the end of the next climb I broke. The pain in my legs and my high heart rate were too much and I blew. My intensity of riding dropped and the car caught me up. My coach probably would have made it to the village but he waited for me. The moment of madness was over….so I thought.
We relaxed and I followed my coaches slip stream into the village. My legs were fatigued after 80 miles of riding. We still had the climb back to the house to go. I chose to take on the beast of all mountain routes just to finish the day hard. It was stupid but that is cycling for you. It took me 18.30mins with 11-14% gradients. If I stopped pedalling I would fall over. The final push to the top was mighty. Another hard day of climbing finished.
It was encouraging to find my legs still had strength in them and I knew the last ride tomorrow was going to be another good test. I learnt more about pacing myself today and following good lines on the descent. I learnt how to slow my breathing down again and regain composure when I am gasping for air when climbing. Keeping weight on the front handle bars was important to stop speed wobbles down hill.The training has made me stronger over three days.
I put on compression leggings when I finished and relaxed. We headed for dinner and we all ate mountains of food. Our metabolisms were going ballistic. I am enjoying this experience and I can see cycling is very technical when riding in mountains. There is nothing that beats practical experience and that is exactly what I am getting here at the Delucci retreat.