Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lessons Learned - Part I

Pacing and GPS
An important first lesson was to learn to pace myself. At first I would go as fast as I could early in the morning, but then I soon found myself tired out, making slow progress. I would pedal full speed down hills or with a gust of wind, then pedal extra slow going up hill or into the wind. It did not take me long to realize that this pattern was very draining on my physically as well as psychologically.

It was a mistake to go too fast when the terrain was easy. When I kept the pace steady on the down hills, I had more strength and endurance to climb the inevitable hill.

After revamping my strategy, I found that if I kept the GPS spedometre between 24-26km/hr I could maintain more consistent energy levels, and my motivation levels would also stabilize. During a cross wind, I would set my speed a little slower, but still maintain a two kilometre per hour range. I never got too fast, or too slow. The strategy worked great.

Taking Breaks

I had set a demanding pace for myself (I realize that this pace is nothing compared to seasoned athletes, but for me it was a challenge.) and it was hard on my knees and muscles. Initially, every hour or so I would get off my bicycle and walk for a few minutes. This gave my legs (and seat) time to recover and change up the muscle usage, preventing repetitive muscle damage. It worked better than just sitting by the side of the road waiting for my muscles to recover. The problem was that my moving speed suffered drastically every time I walked. So the second day I began to try a different approach to my rest. I put the bicycle in it’s highest gear and stood up, pedaling once every ten seconds or so, alternating standing on one foot for ten seconds then the other. My moving speed reduced to 10-12km/hr, but it was still faster than walking. This rest system worked well. I was able to change the muscle memory and stress on my legs sufficiently that, after a few minutes, I could go back to my set pace.

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