Yesterday, we had a pretty nice ride. In fact, it turned out to be quite a surprise in terms of performance. The night before, we had agreed upon a long and easy ride to Nariman Point and back, which would be about 85-90 km. In the morning, however, Kaushik said he needed some work to do to meet an office deadline and would have to return by 9:30. It was raining, so, in my mind, Ghodbunder Road with its concrete road climbs was not on the favourites list. Finally, we decided to ride to Bandra. This would be just 50 km, but then I thought if I rode on a high ratio, that would mean some hard work. Anyway, I had started off from home on the 52 12, just for the heck of it. In fact, I realise that if you do not push this ratio, its pretty nice for a different warm up.
We set off over the wet roads, with no drizzle yet but overcast skies. I moved from 52 12 to 52 14 and soon to 52 15. Soon, I was moving reasonably smoothly at about 30 kmph, and it did not feel like I was grinding. Kaushik too was on the large ring. Looking at him pedal I kept noticing how slowly he seemed to be pedalling, which in fact was the same cadence as I was maintaining. That made me realise how the high cadence method had got ingrained into my thoughts.
We reached the WE Highway after crossing one flyover, still on the larger ring and me on the 15 cog. The moment we join the highway, the wide smooth stretch of Goregaon leading to the Aarey flyover is an immediate invitation to accelerate. I resisted the temptation to increase the cadence all of a sudden, and accelerated smoothly. The southward climb to the top of the Aarey flyover is short and we got to the top easily. My speedo had stopped working, and was showing a 0 as my speed. I would have to stop a fiddle with the sensor on the fork to make it start working again, but the speed and cadence felt pretty nice, so I just kept going. Soon, it began to drizzle and it felt nice. I have by not got into the habit of giving the bike a nice hose down as soon as I get home, so rains and puddles and muddy water do not bother me even a bit. I just kept going. In fact, the rains keep the body temperature down and I hardly sip any water these days. By the time I reached Bandra, I realised I had not had any water. So, just like that, I drank some water.
Kaushik's Garmin was recording all the data that I was having to guess. Both of us were pleasantly surprised that we had already completed 25 km on the 52 and were not feeling any strain. The base building was yielding results. I remembered the times just a couple of months back when I would get off the bike at Bandra after a fast ride with my legs feeling quite tired. Today things were quite different. We had come to Bandra after a month or maybe more, and this was a nice surprise.
We loitered in the small pedestrian tunnel under the road towards the Sea Link appreciating the graffiti, and after a while, as the rain faltered a bit, set off again.
I was by now feeling quite accustomed to the load of the 52 17. Every once in a while, I would shift up to the 15, and on the flyovers, shift down to the 17. I had done the fiddling with the speedo at the halt in Bandra, and I was pleasantly surprised every once in a while as I looked at it, that I was most of the time on speeds of 32 or even 34. And the legs still felt quite fresh.
There is a stretch just after the Jogeshwari flyover, as one approaches the Hub mall, where the road widens to something like 10 lanes, and there is ample space to work one's legs up. Both Kaushik and I let fly and as I glanced at the speedo, I saw the numbers 49, 50, 51 fly past. 52 came a little more slowly and then 53. I was feeling out of breath. At that point I remembered the TT timings of the Tour, and realised that those madmen ride at this as their average speed. I may have maintained the speed for about 15 pedal cycles. Doing an hour at 50 is not even a distant dream.
Anyway, it was fun while it lasted.
As we left the highway and moved into the busier and slower Link road, I noticed that it was a lot easier to maintain 30+ on these ratios than on the 42 17 and 42 15 that I had been riding on most of the time. This route to Bandra may be a boring ride in terms of views around, but for training it has its merits. I think I shall do Bandra more frequently and practise the high ratio rides here. I got to 52 14 briefly this time. I am looking forward to the time when I can sustain 52 12 for some time without looking like I am in slow motion.
We ended our ride with some strong coffee at CCD. Our legs still felt fresh. Kaushik said his average speed seemed pretty high, around 27 or 28, though we had never really pushed ourselves except during the brief 50kmph stint.
Later, he called to give me the news that for the entire ride, we averaged 28.5 kmph. So much for some easy pedalling. In fact, the effort felt more like an average of 23 or max 24. So, now I am pretty certain that if I focus on it, my desire to do a Bandra ride with a doorstep to doorstep average of 30 kmph is within my reach.
So, guys, I think the programme is really working. Really.