Cycle 3 – Day 16: Tough Ride

I was out on the bike today riding with my usual Wednesday group but things didn’t go as expected.

I use my cycling experiences as a way of gauging how I’m doing physically. With the heart rate monitor, power metre and just how I’m handling the pace with my fellow riders I can judge pretty accurately if things are getting better or worse.

A few weeks ago I had a great ride on the same route. Lots of energy and able to ride up the hills with the group no problem. This week, not so much. It was a real struggle on the last 30km just to keep going and get back home. I found this to be quite discouraging.

Now there were some mitigating factors that probably played into my struggles. Just before leaving home I was checking over the bike because on the last ride the front derailleur was not shifting up into the big ring. As I investigated, the cable snapped! This would be a simple repair, but not in the next 10 minutes. I needed to leave shortly to meet the group at 10am.

Decision time, skip the ride or take another bike. I really wanted to ride so the next best bike for the group ride is Jake the Snake, my cyclocross bike. This is a great bike but significantly different from the Kuota Kharma carbon road bike. Jake is heavier, tires are 40mm vs. 23mm etc. but I thought I could overcome these differences with a little extra effort and be able to keep up with the group.

Jake is not as bad as this but at times it felt like it. 😀

We joke all the time about how flat our rides are here in Manitoba and often say the lack of climbing is compensated by the Prarie wind. Well, today there was a fairly strong wind from the south, so the first half of the ride would be straight into it.

I don’t like to blame my equipment or the weather for a bad ride, but I think they both played into my difficulties.

A short distance into the ride I knew that there was going to be a problem. I limited my time on the front and tried to stay in the draft as much as possible. Around the half way mark I couldn’t maintain the 30-32km/hr pace and was dropping off the back. The group is really great and they know my situation and inspite of me telling them to go on without me they slowed the page to a more manageable 28-30km/hr and stuck with me to the end of the ride.

So in the end I’m left wonder was it the bike, the wind, me or all three? I’ll discount the wind a there is almost always some of that to contend with. The bike for sure would make some difference but I wouldn’t have thought it would have accounted for my extreme fatigue and the struggle to complete the ride. That leaves “me” as the most likely factor. I don’t like to think that the chemo is making me weaker and having this kind of effect on my endurance. On the last 2 group rides I’ve been “that slow guy” that is holding everyone else back. I got to admit I don’t like that feeling but I guess that’s just the way it is right now. Also, it makes me a little worried about the impact of the next 3 cycles (9 weeks). Will I get even weaker or was this just a blip? I guess time will tell.