The days are reaching the apex of their freakish summer extremes. I just put my headlight away and this week I left the house at 5:30 for my bike commute into the office and I had sunglasses on my nose.
This is the time of year that makes up for those dark, wet, cold winter days. I am glad I did those long rides with El Chefe back in January and February. The numb feet and frozen hands are pretty much forgotten. Now my arms and knee are getting darker and my smile is wide.
I ran stairs on Monday this week and instead of needing a headlamp and rain jacket like I did in the pre-dawn blackness of March I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt under blue skies. There were five others enjoying the early morning sunshine in contrast to the solitary experience of my winter workouts.
I absolutely understand there is no prize or glory that comes with being marginally faster. It is unquestionably more enjoyable to be faster and I am enthralled by the challenge of the complex puzzle that is middle aged fitness. Figuring out the plan is significantly harder than executing the plan.
I am still trying to master the hard/easy mix that is optimal for the athlete with grandchildren. When I get it right I can turn on the power as if I have a switch. This is a function of the smart rest I am finally beginning to understand and paying my dues during those chilly months that chase many cyclists indoors. Being able to power up a climb or accelerate on the flats feels wonderful.
My recovery takes longer and I have reluctantly accepted that. Instead of a one to one ratio of hard to easy days it may be a hard day followed by two or even three easy days. Those easy days typically include at least one day of total rest. I also try to make the hard day really hard. Instead of an easy week every four or five weeks I do an easy week at least once every three weeks.
I think this is working. I blew up in Leavenworth and was still pleased with my time. On a recent team ride I put my head down and pulled away from a couple guys who typically drop me on that same climb. I felt like superman at Ephrata and Goldendale. It feels weird to rest more to go faster but it seems to be paying off. If only donuts helped you climb.