Kenny Rogers said it best: You got to know when to hold them. You got to know when to fold them. When to wak away and when to run.
So yesterday a summer cold woke me up at 4am. I joined the cat on the downstairs couch and we made it through to morning. I was hoping that this was the famous 24-hour head cold as I really was looking forward to my last training session with Petrina and the training group of cyclists I’ve been riding with all summer.
Wonder of wonders I woke up this morning to feeling fine. Glory be I thought now I can go riding. Chores first including moving a bag of cat litter and all was well until I took a step out of the shower and my right hip flexor went into spasm. Painful! Two Tylenols and alternating heat and cold plus an emergency run to Dynamic Health and Perfotmance and I can walk again sort of.
My mood is pretty ugly so sitting at home on the Muskoka chair in the sun is helping but I missed my morning ride…a lot. (That’s me in the photo getting one of Petrina’s famous stickers because I was one of the few riders who showed up on a rainy morning.)
As readers here know I found Petrina thanks to a runner in my Toastmaster club and I was scared to even call. I had no idea what to expect but I had bought a very expensive carbon-fibre road bike and my first ride out with the Oakville Cycling Club had been a crushing disaster.
So now with Petrina I went out twice a week for two hours of instruction on the back roads of Milton. My riding companion students were almost all women (A couple of husbands and one young son showed sporadically.) and everyone of them could out ride, out power and out last me.
Petrina asked me what my goals were and I told her about my Oakville club ride humiliation so I said I had two goals: First I wanted to be able to ride with the big kids and; Two I wanted to be able to ride 50 to 60 kilometres at a time.
Let me tell you the training was hard somedays and somedays it was exhilarating. Somedays I almost stayed up with the other students many of who participate in amateur races here and in other countries. I’m 67 1/2 and I’m guessing at least two other riders were at least my age. And then there was this skinny 13-year-old wonder kid and we won’t even talk about him. (Michael if you keep riding you’re going to be amazing…Olympics in 2020?)
A couple of times I was let’s say a little overly enthusiastic and somedays I just fell off the damn bike. But over the weeks I started riding up hills that had defeated me. I learned to conserve my energy early in the ride so I’d have enough to get home. I learned how to shift so I could power up and over hills. I leaned what foot goes up and what foot goes down when making high-speed turns. (I may never get Petrina’s voice out of my head.)
I learned you are not to argue with the coach and when Petrina says to do it again then you don’t make a face. LOL but there aren’t too many men or women who I would allow to speak to me like this and I loved it.
We had a lot of great rides. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been riding 50 to 60 kilometres nonstop and, for the most part, (with big hills still causing my heart rate to exceed my limit) I can keep up with the big kids.
I can do this because Petrina taught me how to draft. One of my best and most memorable training mornings happened while the big kids were ripping up and down Bell School Road and Petrina told me to draft her and to yell “off” every time I lost contact.
As you can imagine Petrina is a beautiful rider. She’s fast but she’s also able to maintain an exact cadence. This makes her easy to draft and easy to predict her tempo. All you have to do is watch her feet at the same time you keep looking down the road. It’s tricky.
Drafting is magical. It reduces energy output by 30 per cent. You can feel it. Tucked under Petrina’s draft and making absolutely certain I wouldn’t hit her I got within inches of her back tire. We started our run at around 24 kph and as the road rose and fell Petrina kept spinning up our speed. When we hit 34 kph or so we were flying and a long way down the road. It had been an amazing run.
The next time we were back on Bell School Road all I did was chase and draft the other riders. When I felt myself slip into the draft I said to myself now relax…relax..relax…and the effort fell away. As I reported here in another post one of my favourite riders who trains on a super fast aero bike and is lot younger than me was going in the opposite direction and I turned and with 110% effort I chased her and drafted her until my heart rate pinned itself in the red zone and I was forced to disengage. I was overjoyed.
It will come as no surprise if I say this was one of the best summers I’ve had in my entire life and I’m not going to let a little thing like a spasm in my hip flexor keep me off the bike for long. Should be riding by the weekend.
Also got my blood work results today and all is terrific:) Just got to run my cardiologist’s treadmill into the ground later this month and I should be good to go for another 10,000 kilometres or so 😅