It's utterly amazing how fast leg strength and overall fitness goes down the drain when we our riding/fitness routine slips for just a few months.
We slacked off on riding over the holidays. We still remained "active" but didn't get in nearly as many longer rides, nor as often, and consistently missed our group's 36-mile Saturday rides for breakfast. We did a handful of 20-something rides but rode less often.
So when today's 50+ mile ride to the Original Pancake House was announced, we wondered if we were ready. There was a shorter ride option, to drive to Heritage Park a shorter distance away from the OPH, then ride from there. We did a metric last October so we knew we could do it, but we were in better shape then.
We decided to brave it and do the whole distance. I knew I was in trouble when my quads felt tight before we even arrived at the OPH. The ride back included a long (5-mile, at least??) steady but low climb that seemed to go on forever. When we arrived at our rest stop at the park, I said to the rider near me "Right now I wish I was riding up our driveway at home..." (He almost sprayed the big gulp of water he just took in...) We still had 13 miles left.... to top it off, today was the warmest day we've had in a while (upper 70s), and I wore the warmest jersey in my closet.
The ride home was as much mental as it was physical. "You can do this... you can do this....." I was beat, thrashed, totally spent. I thought "This must be what it feels like at the end of a century."
We rode 60 miles and if I had anything left I'd have made it a metric... but I didn't.
Ate 3 chocolate chip oatmeal cookies w/milk and fixed a good meal of chicken, broccoli slaw and bread... and took an Advil for good measure.
When daylight savings starts next weekend, I plan to ride after work for at least 45-60 minutes before dinner as many nights a week as I can. But not just easy rides.... I need a plan, a strategy to build strength and work my way back.
Does anyone have a good tried-and-true suggestions for making short, even 30-mile rides count the most and be as beneficial as possible? I know riding more often is also key, but I want each ride -- even short rides -- to count if 30 minutes is all I have.