but something sure has changed.
I have a couple of short but -for me- pretty demanding uphill runs I do almost every time out when I stick around town. One is 1/3rd of a mile 5 or 6% grade, another is a 1/2 mile 7% average climb (8-9% for the first 1/4, 5-6% for the 2nd) and, then, of course, there's that nasty little 600+ foot 11-12% climb home.
I am always mindful of my HR -which is never to exceed 166bpm- and these climbs have been testers.
Even slowly grinding up at 60-65rpm and taking some pretty deep and heavy breaths, I would have to back off more and more so as not to set off my alarm.
But that's changed now, it seems. The last couple of times out I have "zipped" up these climbs pedaling 65-75rpm and my HR is staying under 160. Ok, I hit 163 on my 1/2 climb but backing off just a bit got it to 160... at the end just before the top, last night, I actually shifted UP two gears and started sprinting for the top! And I still only hit 165bpm doing that.
So, why the difference all of a sudden?
And it *is* sudden... there's been no hint of this coming; it's just happened.
Am I now achieving some real cardio/strength benefits after a year and a half? Has all that I've done to date just been a prelude?
Is it because, I'm concentrating on keeping my upper body erect and loose?
Just holding on the the bars enough not to fall off? Keeping my lungs and diaphragm open and free?
Is it the change of gears on my LeMond? I had a 26T on the bottom, now it's a 30T with my penultimate low gear a 27T, one tooth lower than the stock cassette?
Maybe; I do use the 27T for the 1/2 hill but I use one higher gear for the 1/3rd mile climb, same as before, only now I don't need to drop to a lower gear at the top.
Is it the 2 pounds I've lost in the past week?
I'm actually beginning to flirt with the 180s for the first time in 10 years or so.
Is it the shoes? Just kidding but I have gone to some good stiff-soled PI road shoes (with the I-Beam sole. Yeah... Ok)
I just gave my chain a good lubing.. is it the lower friction?
Or.. is it all of these things? I don't know and I know there is no answer to these questions.
But, man, I felt so proud to be out there last night in my 50+ jersey making a statement to the world:
I can DO it! And so can you...
And all this after I beat myself up pretty good the night before. To ride with this kind of effort 2 nights in a row? Unheard of.
Maybe next, I'll try that 2 mile run up to the top of the valley and out of town.
I mean, only the first mile is really hard and I'm already doing 1/2 mile with a 27T... what can I do with my 30T, I wonder?
I feel pretty darned good today