The last couple of weeks have seen me have Saturday shop rides at both ends of the spectrum. Good and bad. I detailed in on of my recent posts about how awesome of a ride I had Saturday before last. The ride this past Saturday wasn’t nearly as awesome. In fact, it downright sucked for a few miles. The stats at the end of the ride told the real story though.

A couple Saturdays ago I had one of my best experiences riding in the shop group ride. Everything seemed to click, I got a lot of pulling time in, and I had learned the route good enough to be able to rejoin the group after stopping to help someone. It was an awesome ride.

This past Saturday saw me doing the same shop ride with a lot of the same folks. Everything started out great and I got a good pull in within the first five or six miles. At about mile eight though things started to unravel. My energy levels dropped off and I couldn’t maintain the 19-20 mph pace anymore. In fact, I was struggling to keep it at 17. I wound up getting dropped but eventually was able to re-join three other riders at a stoplight. After another mile or two I decided to go ahead and suck down a Hammer Gel at the 50 minute point of the ride. My energy levels came back up and I was able to finish the ride strong. I didn’t feel too great though knowing that I had been dropped from the main group and knew my numbers were going to be worse than the week prior.

How did I know my numbers were bad? Because my mind and body told me so. A funny thing happened after I got home though. After logging my ride data on Dailymile I noticed that the number seemed familiar. I looked back at the previous weeks number and was surprised to find them very similar. Here they are:

Date Distance Time Pace
4-Jun-11 26.98 miles 1:30:42 17.8 mph
11-Jun-11 24.27 miles 1:25:03 17.1 mph
% Difference 5 % 6 % 4 %

As you can see, the difference between the two rides isn’t that much but I expected the numbers for the second ride to be much, much worse. Yes, the second ride was slower but not by the factor I was expecting.

So, why did I expect that second ride to be worse? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • I got dropped. On the first ride I was able to stay with the group for the entire ride. That alone allowed me to ride further, and at a faster pace, because I was able to reap the benefits of drafting. The second ride I rode a decent chunk solo until i was able to re-group. That had me feeling that my numbers were going to be dismal.
  • I had to fuel early. I had gotten into a routine of not fueling until the one hour point of my rides so me sucking down that gel at the 50 minute mark was telling me that my body didn’t have it that day. I believe taking that gel is what helped me recover quicker and finish the ride strong and save a little face.

So, I guess you could say that our mind likes to play tricks on us. I was certain that my second ride was much worse but in actuality it wasn’t far off from the first. While I thought I was having a bad ride, I was actually still having a good one.

Have you experienced this in your riding?

PhotoC: Shayne July