Residual Fatigue and “accidental” k’s
I think it is probably quite fitting that my next Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool instalment is written right about now, as I am sitting at my desk on a Wednesday afternoon, having banked another mid-week five hour ride.
Here we are, with Entry #2 into the KP M2W Diary (or journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call this). I would like to start by saying a big thanks to everyone who read the first one, those who messaged and said they were looking forward to the next one, and those who took it as an opportunity to confirm how crazy I was! Although I knew this already.
Why do you ask, is it fitting that Entry #2 is now? Well, because, you see, I “accidentally” went for an 8.5h bike ride on the weekend (227km and 3600 vert for those number nerds who haven’t already stalked my Strava 😉) I can already hear you scoffing. Accidental? Yeah right, how does that even happen? Well, I will tell you how it happens, and why I would actually encourage you to do a ride like this. An Epic, as it has been informally described.
It all started when I decided I was going to ride out to a club race (~60km to the start of a 52km kermesse) on Sunday. The race was in Yarra Glen, and I knew these roads like the back of my hand. I knew roughly how long it would take me to get there, roughly how hard it would be, and by looking at the small start list for the race, knew it was going to either be a solid race, or a tactical one in which I could grab some cheeky respite before the ride home (who was I kidding?!). Turns out when you leave home almost half hour later than you wanted, that extra time you had up your sleeve quickly evaporates, and you must push a solid pace to get to the start. Up goes the intensity, the TSS, the overall “holy hell this is going to make the race interesting” vibe. Perfect lead into a race. 😉
With five minutes to spare I pinned a number on and took to the start line. Two hours deep…. Fast forward 1h45 minutes later and I now had a total of 110 odd kilometres in the legs, and an overall Intensity factor of 0.83 (or thereabouts – don’t worry if this means nothing to you, essentially, it was SOLID!). Dad had come to watch my race, so it would be rude not to suggest a lunch stop in Healesville really!
Add another 15km to get to lunch and now we were brushing just shy of 130km. I was at least 100km from home, with some decent burgs and rolling hills to get over before I could crawl into the foetal position in the shower, bringing myself out of the shadow realm that I was no doubt going to be entering.
Lunch was a salad roll and a date scone and my third double espresso for the day (we will touch on fuelling and race nutrition next time we meet so I will save the details till then on what/how much I eat vs what/how much I really should be eating – sorry coach!).
On I pressed, homeward bound via Myers Creek Road, back of Kinglake and then Diamond Creek, all the way home to Richmond. 227kms in the bag, ride time of 8.5h, 3600 vert and a total day chamois time of 10+h.
So back to the ‘accidental’ part. I knew it was going to be a long day, I naively didn’t do the maths before I got to Healesville. But to tell you the truth. I didn’t mind. I actually love these kind of rides. Not every weekend, no way, but every month or so I think it is a really good idea to bank one of these so-called epics. Set aside a day where you have no other commitments, no dinner plans that night, or other social activities. Because spoiler alert – you’ll be a shadow of your former self when you finish (in the immediate hours to follow). Doing these sorts of rides teaches you a lot about what you can handle, and about what my coach rightfully calls residual fatigue.
Residual fatigue. It is like the hangover that we all have experienced before. Fatigue hits everyone differently. For me, it usually smacks me in the face about 12-24h after a ride like this. It comes in waves, and every time I have it, it is different. This time around (it has been a long time since I have done a ride like this) I felt (relatively) okay when I got off the bike. I sat on the couch in my helmet and kit for approximately 20 minutes, not really doing much at all let’s be honest. I then made myself an omelette. Hunger is a weird one when you finish a ride like this. Your body kind of shuts down and you don’t feel hungry, but you know you need to eat. I craved something salty, savoury and filling. Omelette it was. 4pm. Dinner was only 2h away. I then had a shower, probably stood in the shower for 30 minutes, again, not really registering much at all. Didn’t feel ‘tired’, just ‘wasted’.
Then it hit me. I had walked to the supermarket. I had managed to get through Aisle 2,5, 8 and the fresh food section. I had missed about 3 things each time and double backed. Shit, the eggs, best I go back and get them. What, why have they moved the nuts section? Why are they out of Peanut Butter? All absolutely diabolical situations to be faced with when your brain power is next to none. Made it to the self-serve checkout. This is where I slowwwwwwed right down. I am not sure if you have ever experienced it, but there is this thing that sometimes happens to me where my body moves slower than my brain, and vice versa. Weird and not at all enjoyable. This time my brain was moving faster than I could scan the frozen berries through the checkout, and I found myself telling myself to move faster but my limbs were not coming to the party. This my friends, is fatigue experience number one.
Then you get home, you get through the next few hours and it’s time for bed. Fantastic! I will sleep like a log, I am that cooked, surely, I hit the pillow and I am out! Wrong…
Your legs ache, your brain is so tired it is awake, and your core body temperature is a little too warm for your liking. Fun times. I have been here before, I know not to fight it, but rather just ride the wave. You will eventually fall asleep. Then you probably won’t wake up again until the alarm goes off and Monday smacks you in the face!
Enter Fatigue experience # 2. Your tolerance for Monday will be drastically reduced. You will find yourself cursing out loud more, drivers will annoy the shit out of you, things that are inconvenient and ‘problems’ will irritate you more than usual, and you will find your eating patterns are a little out of whack.
It is Monday and Tuesday that you have to be prepared for when you do an Epic. This is where all the hard work can be undone. Make sure you still refuel, rest and don’t push yourself too hard, look after yourself and that immune system of yours!
That is probably enough from me for now. The longwinded point I was trying to make is these kind of rides are good for a few reasons. Apart from just the physiological benefits of “base k’s” it will expose you to having to feel tired and perform when tired.
You will realise what affects you the most when you are tired/exhausted/fatigued whatever you want to call it, and you will need to come up with coping strategies to work through it. All of which are relevant in the final hours of an event like the M2W or the G2I where the wheels might fall off so to speak.
Next stop for me is a few big weeks of bike riding, mountain climbing, racing and travel, so for now, it is banking more kilometres, building this engine and getting stronger. Stay tuned.