I decided to take yesterday off from work, and just go out and ride. My goal was to do my first century, partially for its own sake, and partially to hit the Gran Fondo challenge for the month on Strava.
Since it was my first ride over 35 miles, I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. I knew, starting out, that the direct trip where I was going was about 44 miles, so I knew I'd have to tack some extra stuff onto the end if I wanted to reach a full century. My plan was to complete my normal trail loop to round it out.
Well, things started pretty well; I made it out to Purcellville in 2:20, which was an 18mph average (faster than I'd planned, actually). I'd stopped twice, for five or ten minutes each, to rest a little and eat something.
The way back went considerably less well. In the first mile, on the way back, my chain popped off while crossing a street and my Speed/Cadence sensor fell off as well. I managed to get the bike and sensor off the road without incident (though doubtless annoying the drivers). Some good luck; I was able to find the rubber piece that holds the sensor on the bike. I figured that leaving the sensor off would just mean I'd lose cadence tracking, which I don't much care about for such a long-distance ride. I figured the GPS on the phone would give me speed and distance, so I'd just ride home without taking the time to put the sensor back on.
And either I'm getting better, or was a bit lucky that the chain went back on very easily.
So I continued on. I noticed right away that the speed wasn't updating, but didn't notice for close to six miles that the distance wasn't updating either. At that point, I decided that I needed to put the sensor back on, and stopped to do that. A pain, although less of one than I'd guessed it'd be.
From there, I kept riding. I made it nine more miles before I needed to stop again (this time, five minutes that was largely a bathroom break). Then only three miles before my next stop, and eight more for my next stop. Bad stretch.
From there, I was on familiar ground and really didn't want to stop, and managed to push all the way home (though it was a tough slog). I didn't even try to do the extra loop; I was limping home as it was. Because that six miles or so was missing from the recording, I managed to push myself for an extra mile and a half loop to make sure I'd clear 130km for the Gran Fondo, but even that was itself a challenge.
It took me a while to somewhat recover, but the good part was that my only pain was the pain of overworked muscles, especially my thighs.
I mentioned doing the Retuel fitting, and did do that. We adjusted my stem a bit higher, and moved my seat up and forwards a bit. The fitter said my technique is very good; I've got very little side-to-side in my pedaling. I also need to get a zero-offset seatpost (on order on Amazon, although it'll apparently take a depressingly long time to arrive) and a narrower handlebar (on order from the shop that did the fitting).
Because of the narrower handlebar thing, I did use the tops of my bars more than normal, which might have helped stave off the neck problems that I often end up feeling. And I'm sure that moving the seat closer helped with that, since it raised my back angle five degrees or so.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I think the Retul fitting was worthwhile. Worth that amount? Not yet sure. But definitely valuable. If I start getting through my normal 20-25 mile workouts without pain, especially if it comes with improving speed, then it will have been worth the price.
Happily, I did do enough for the Gran Fondo challenge, finishing with 138km (a weird number, to be sure), but eleven or so miles short of my hoped-for century. But I made it, and back, and was in time to shower and change and pick up the kids from school. And no injuries (I did have a couple of close calls towards the end, when I was tired; need to watch that) or nagging issues. So I'll call the day a success.
As a side note, I talked to a very experienced cyclist at one of my stops, and he said the general recommendation is to extend your distance by about 10% weekly. I kind of chuckled at that. My progression has been 7.4 -> 3.66 -> 24.7 -> 51.2 -> 49.0 -> 71.5 -> 89.5 -> 144.5 -> 142.3 -> 116.3 (with three days left). If I get sixty more in the remainder of the week, that'll work out to an average increase of about 20%. If I instead try to apply that to longest ride, it's about 3.8 -> 3.7 -> 6.5 -> 9.25 -> 8.6 -> 10.9 -> 21 -> 35 -> 26.3 -> 89. Which is only a hair more, actually.
Less than I'd guessed, actually. And a little bit deceptive; I don't really have the time to do more than 140-150 miles a week, unless I speed up a bit. I'm mostly riding around 18-19 mph; pushing that to 21mph would let me add another ten or twelve miles. I guess I need to work on my climbing, to make that a realistic hope. And find some people to do hard, pace-line rides; that would help quite a bit. I'm working on that; we'll find out Saturday how I've done. Hopefully that group won't just end up dropping me after a few miles.