March 25, 2013 by IowaTriBob
This week was my first outdoor ride of the season and just in time. We got another 3 inches of snow on the ground. Sometimes I think Iowa is the only place that can go from a sunny 45 degree day to a winter storm with wind chill in the teens the next. But I digress…
The only way I can think to explain the first ride of the year was “back to reality”. Over the past 3 months I’ve been exclusively on my Computrainer and for the month prior to that I was on a spin bike at the local YMCA (with the exception of a Red Rock Canyon ride while visiting Las Vegas). To say I was a little excited to get back outside and ride would be a huge understatement.
Since getting my Computrainer I’ve been able to measure power on my indoor workouts and have seen steady progress with my FTP moving up from a starting point of 214 watts to 224 watts. If I had to do the same time trail test today I’d guess my FTP has increased even further into the 230-235 watt range. In my last few Computrainer rides I’ve been able to hold higher average power over rides lasting 60-75 minutes on both 3d courses with hills and resistance as well as the Nationals interactive video course that I started with. Everything that I’ve measured would indicate that I’ve gotten significantly stronger on the bike over the winter months.
My training plan called for an hour ride with a 10k time trial at the end, followed by a fast transition to a 20 minute run at 10k pace. A great race simulation for my upcoming triathlon in South Beach.
I choose a 24 mile route that I mapped out on the computer with the hills and grades seeming to be somewhat comparable to a few of the indoor 3d courses I had ridden. One would only think that the performance would be somewhat equivalent in speed and time as well. How wrong I was.
My first ride outside was a struggle from the very beginning. Within the first 2 miles I could feel my heart rate elevated, my breathing hard, and a little burn in my legs. My first reaction was, “slow down your way too excited”, until I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was only going 18 mph. WOW, I had an RPE that felt like 25 mph and was actually only going 18 mph. Now I know power is the more accurate measure but having been indoors on the Computrainer over the past 3 months I thought I had a pretty good gauge on RPE as it related to power, speed, and heart rate. In an instant all that was gone.
I was eventually able to settle into somewhat of a comfortable level, at least until a wind gust would hit me or I struggled up even the slightest of hills. Heck, I even started noticing the wind created by oncoming traffic from the lane over and started cursing anything larger than a small SUV.
At the end of the ride I had completed the 24 miles in just over 1 hour and 16 minutes with an average speed of 18.4 mph. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any reading on my new CycleOps power meter (more to come on that soon) or my heart rate as my Garmin 310XT wasn’t setup correctly for the multisport workout I was doing (complete user error).
So I’m chalking this ride up to the first ride of the year jitters and hope that the next few will start to show all the hard work I’ve put in on the trainer this past winter. This being my first off-season of using a trainer (or even off-season) I don’t know if this is a common scenario that plays out for everyone or something unique for me. I do know that I was a little disappointed in my first ride and am already looking forward to the next one to come (winter storm permitting). I’d be curious what your first ride of the season is like after a couple months of riding indoors?