Blame it on stop lights

I’m playing around with the Strava training feedback. They have a new Fitness and Freshness tracker for those who use a power meter. It is very similar to my WKO+ performance graph. It allows you to track your fitness and freshness (though they actually track your fatigue) and then help you project into the future to arrive at your best form.

Right now I’m just trying to get a feel for how it works. How does it decide that I am fresh? That ultimately leads to the question of how do they know that I am on good form? Those answers will come, but right now I am just seeing what happens to the numbers when I take a day off completely or what happens when I do various efforts.

I am currently seeking some freshness. As I was doing the Time-Crunched Cyclist Plan, you can see the graph slowly inching its way up with little dips here and there. It was clear that the plan was moving me up in fitness without overdoing it.

Then the weather changed and I started doing more riding outside. I am afraid I have to say that the TCCP went out the window. The graph started taking a dramatic spike up in fitness. At the same time, my fatigue spiked and that destroyed my form. So, the plan is go easier for a few days and then ramp it up with another spike.

Ultimately, I want to get my fitness up as high as I can at about two weeks out of the Memphis In May ride. Then I will start easing off to maintain as much of the fitness as I can while getting rest. The idea is that I will be peaking in form (as much as I can be) by the event.

I do have some other goals as well. That leads us to last night’s ride. I didn’t want to go a long distance at a hard pace, but I did want to give my Pait’s Place to Paris challenge a go. This is the ride where I attempt to make it to the top of Paris Mountain from my home within 30 minutes.

After a short warm up in my neighborhood, I went after it. The traffic light at the end of my street delayed me, but I was able to make up some time moving down Wake Hampton and onto Chick Springs. I was feeling good about my start.

Then disaster struck. The route leads you around the back of the shopping center that contains Big Lots and Play It Again Sports. You then have to get into the correct lane on Pleasantburg to turn onto Piney Mountain Road. This is a multiple lane endeavor. On this particular evening, the traffic was not working in my favor.

Finally, the light turned red and I made my way over to Piney Mountain. Of course, by this time I was caught in an argument… Was it worth it to go for the goal? Should I just pull up here and save it for another day? The answer came in a question, “Why are you doing this anyway?” It isn’t that covering the distance in 30 minutes wins me some reward. What it does is give me something to use to motivate myself to go hard.

So, I decided to give it a go. That means that I was pushing it up Piney Mountain and over the top to the intersection with State Park Road and Altamont. There I was stopped once again. Still, my timer showed that if I could make it to the top in 16 minutes, I would hit my goal.

The down side is that to have made it to that point with the stop lights that means I had burned some matches to get there. It showed on the climb. I started out strong enough and even put a good effort up The Wall. However, after that point I could feel it slipping.

By the time I reached the final climb up to the KOM, I was hurting. Still, I stood and climbed as best I could to the top. I looked down to see a time of 33:19. It took me 18 minutes to reach the top… a far cry from my best time of 15:13.

My next thought went to the traffic lights. I wondered what my time would have been from home if I had not had to deal with traffic. This was something I could discover.

At home I uploaded my data and looked for those sections where I had to stop along the way due to traffic. Hmmmm, interesting, the total amount came out very close to 3 minutes. Even with the slower time up the mountain, I could have come very close to my goal had I not stopped for those instances.

So, what do you think? Is it fair for me to consider starting to pause my timer in those situations? It seems that is the only way to make each effort consistent. It isn’t like it makes reaching the top in 30 minutes any easier!