On Sunday I went to Albion Hills to do some riding. I rode with a few guys I’ve known for a while and one guy I have never met before named John, who rode a single speed with no shocks. It was a great ride and it’s the hardest I have worked in years.
John is one of these guys whose physiology is ideal for bike racing. He beat me at everything which is unusual. I worked hard to keep up and when we stopped to wait for the other guys, I was always winded while he just seemed to be breathing normally. I asked him about this and he told me that when he was last measured his max heart rate was 216 – which he has gotten his heart to. He is able to maintain a HR of 185 for extended periods of time and it recovers really quickly when he slows down. Compared to my numbers of 174 – the highest my HR has been in years – and my ability to sustain work at 157 and it’s clear why I was left trying to stick to his tire for the draft.
I asked him how his numbers compared to other people and he admitted that his cardiovascular system is in a league of its own – he’s in the same range as top professional cyclist. Being 10 years younger than me, the fact that I didn’t die trying to keep up with him was both lucky and a sign that my training is moving me in the right direction.
What I liked most about the ride is that it was a pissing match. He knew I wanted to beat him and he was pretty vocal each time he passed me, which only served to fire me up even more. It was good natured and it brought up my riding to a level I haven’t seen in years if ever. I’m not sure if he was being nice but he did make a few comments that it was good to finally have someone stick with him, but then he pulled away again so I’m not 100% sure he wasn’t mocking me.
Hopefully I’ll get to ride with them again. The guy who set-up the ride has just started back to cycling after a decade long break and he’s getting better each day. He’s picked the right group to ride with because they are forcing him to get improve much faster than he would if he was doing it on his own and his progress is fantastic; it’s even better considering 8 weeks ago he was still smoking.
The take home lesson – train up if you want to improve; and quit smoking today!