What happened?

Friday September 10th 2010

Decided to fit in another training run prior to the Ventoux on Sunday – but with a lower power output. There were still big surprises in store! 
If someone had told me that pedalling technique made an enormous difference – I would have perhaps accepted but with a pinch of salt, expecting a small difference but not an enormous one. Unfortunately that person would have been wrong.  It’s not an enormous difference it’s an utterly humongous gianormous difference. Why has it taken me almost 50 years of bicycling to get it ? How ridiculous. Unfortunately I don’t think I’m alone here.
I wanted to just climb today – up to 2000m – which is higher than the main climb will be on Sunday. The weather was good so no protective clothing was needed. The legs were still a bit tired from a demanding (high gear) ride yesterday and I din’t want to push it too much – it was more of a “maintenance” ride.
One month ago I pushed very hard up this climb to La Plagne 2000 staying mostly above the lactate threshold zone – which is very hard work. Today, staying more than two complete training heart rate zones lower – between “Basic Endurance” and “Tempo” – I arrived at the top of the climb five minutes faster than on that previous gut busting effort! What on Earth happened?
Despite working at a very much lower effort the climbing speed was a lot higher. This doesn’t equate! The difference was purely in the pedalling – the pulling up along with the pushing down – all the time. Previously I’d noticed that I lost most time in competitions on more gentle, long gradients. I could battle up the steep hills – but by the second big climb my legs would be finished. I could stick with groups on the flats. Intermediate climbs just seemed to kill me – as if it was some sort of power to weight ratio problem – so  I worked on losing weight – but to no great satisfaction. Until now I have been compensating for poor pedalling technique on the climbs by pushing effort levels to the extremes – which is why the longer races have been agonising and yet not bringing results to match the effort.
Now I’ll never be able to ride a bike again without some sort of cleated pedal. My mountainbike flatties are going directly out of the window. I wish I could go back to being two years old and put cleats on the bike way back then (plus a helmet etc.) Actually I didn’t use a helmet when I was two and never got hurt, so why am I so paranoid about wearing the stupid thing now?

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