Starting From Zero

Chris Fromme, 4 time Tour de France Champion, needs more surgery to recover from his crash last June. He says that when he comes back to training, he will be starting from’ less than zero’ to recover his fitness. He also says he isn’t sure he will ever return to his former level. I think I know what he means.

Readers know that I am retired but take a month long job ‘counting nuts’. In fact the job is a little more complicated, but that description conveys the primary purpose of all my database and spreadsheet work. I also weigh the trucks and process the receiving paperwork and test deliveries for moisture. It is a busy month and I don’t have much time to ride.

Lots of counting means little cycling

This is my 13th season ‘counting nuts’, so I’m used to the effect that my reduced cycling has on my fitness. But this year I did a very mediocre job of trying to squeeze in rides either late in the afternoon on the road, or early in the morning on a trainer. I just didn’t feel like making the effort. My counting job is not strenuous but it is not sedentary either, and I’m tired at the end of the day. So I decided to give myself a mini vacation and not worry about how much fitness I might be losing. I also decided to take a vacation from weighing myself, which I normally do almost every day. I figured I’d deal with an excess of fat and dearth of fitness once the season ended.

For 4 weeks I rode a grand total of 112 miles, instead of the 700 or so I usually do. And all of that riding was on flat ground save for an occasional overpass crossing Hwy 99.

As of Saturday the busy part of the season is over. The scale says I didn’t gain any weight, which is nice. But the power meter and heart rate monitor tell a different story.

I worked Saturday morning, then went out for what was supposed to be a 34 mile steady and flat ride. There wasn’t a lot of wind and I didn’t ride hard. But right away I could tell something was off. I was doing 150 to 170 watts, which I can usually do with my heart rate at 110 to 115 beats per minute. But I was about 12 beats above that.

I deliberately decided to ride a bit easier and get my heart rate below 120, and I did. But when I was about 6 miles from home I started to feel really tired and lousy. My neck hurt and my hands were numb and I had to reduce my speed to a measly 13 mph. On flat ground with no wind I normally cruise at 18 mph with little effort, but today I was struggling to finish the ride even at my slow pace.

When I got home I took my blood pressure and it was 95/61, which is pretty low. And I recalled that almost exactly the same kind of collapse happened to me during walnut season last year. I had a similar rapid onset of exhaustion and low blood pressure then too. I wrote about it in my blog. That time I was stung by a wasp and thought that might have been a factor. But Saturday there was none of that. I was very discouraged at the end of the ride. I knew I had lost some fitness, but I didn’t think I was this close to ‘zero’.

7 weeks ago I was riding big climbs in the Dolomites, and I did fine. I wasn’t fast but I wasn’t that far behind my faster friends. I got to the top of some long and steep climbs without sagging, and I came back from Italy pretty strong and fit. I’ll get back to where I was 7 weeks ago. But for now I’m starting near ‘zero’.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives