First let me say, I dedicate this to my wife who was supportive and understanding of my effort to do something with little tangible reward.
Trying to complete the Rapha Festive 500 in 5 days is a challenge, but not in the way I thought it would be. I thought the challenge would be getting on the bike every day. I thought it would be resisting the urge to call in the sag wagon for an air lift. Oddly, so far as I have seen for myself anyway, if I drink and eat, I can pedal on and on. I don’t get saddle sore, back or knee pain, and I can ride chewing on the stem for hours on end to try and stay out of the wind.
I discovered the real challenge is finding the time during the holidays between cold, utter darkness and family gatherings to get out and put in the hours it takes to complete 500 km. Add to the mix an unfamiliar city with hundreds of miles of disconnected bike lanes, maps that don’t differentiate tarmac from dirt, and navigation software that said “off route” more than it said “turn right” and the whole thing becomes work.
Besides the logistics, this challenge also taught me the effects of overtraining my body. I normally ride hard every other day and twice on weekends if I can. It has more to do with when I have the time to ride than any specific training plan. My average HR is around 165 with a max of about 190 if I am really crushing it up some grade. This week though, I rode hard five days straight and by the end my heart was done being flexible. Take a look at the stats:
Prologue: 19.1 Miles, Average power 165W, 734kJ Produced
HR: Average 162, Max 179
Stage 1: 64.7 Miles, Average power 173W, 2,148kJ Produced
HR: Average 156, Max 177
Stage 2: 51.2 Miles, Average power 154W, 1752kJ Produced
HR: Average 154, Max 174
Stage 3: 115.1 Miles, Average power 154W, 3747kJ Produced
HR: Average 148, Max 164
Stage 4: 20 Miles, Average power 172W, 827kJ Produced
HR: Average 149, Max 159
Penultimate Stage: 45 Miles, Average power 143W, 1330kJ Produced
HR: Average 143, Max 160 (this includes an all out effort to catch a faster moving train going up hill, using all my Sufferlandrian training)
Final Stage: 20.0 Miles, Average power 133W, 557kJ Produced
HR: Average 137, Max 153 (nothing left)
As you can see, by the end, my variance was very small and my power output diminished.
By the way, if you ever end up in Scottsdale on the weekend, check out the Faster group ride and facility (I can’t even classify this as a bike shop; it is way beyond that). I did the Faster B ride for my Penultimate Stage and had a load of fun. Next time I plan to go fresh and do the A ride.