What I have learned in the last 12 months

The following content is based on my experiences and mine alone. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

My 2018 Hotter n’ Hell preparation has drastically improved from my inaugural race in 2017.

Experience and knowledge DOES make a difference ha!

In all seriousness, I am two months out from the race, and my preparation has put me so much further along than this same time last year.

Don’t get me wrong, I was putting in the miles last year. I was averaging 75-100 miles a week towards the end June, but it was a struggle each and every week to meet that goal. I’m meeting the same mileage goals this year, but with far greater ease and efficiency, and I was curious how and more importantly “why” this came to be the case.

I have been reflecting on the differences and came up with a few key points.

I want to clarify one point. These are by in no means in reference to order of importance, rather these simply are a collection of points.

First was the change in equipment. Last year I rode a Raleigh 400R in the race, and while this was a fantastic bike for its day, by no means does it compare to the bikes of today.

I switched to a Fuji Roubaix a few months ago, this was an amazing early birthday present from my wife and daughter, and while I was cognitively aware bike technology had improved, I was amazed just how much of a difference I felt from the first ride.

On long rides (25 miles +) my computer would record 12-14 mph average pace on my Raleigh, whereas I immediately saw my average speed increase to 15-17 mph with the Fuji. I didn’t feel a difference in my effort, nor did I feel greater fatigue after longer rides. With a few months training I have been able to maintain speeds around 18 mph for extended distances while I was working at the same work capacity. Sprint intervals I would record 19-23 mph, vs 17-19 mph on the Raleigh, and climbing hills I found much easier.

The Fuji is a full 9 pounds lighter and came with a Shimano Tiagra drive train so not only is the bike lighter, but every revolution is efficient and has increased power. The aluminum frame is light but does not sacrifice stiffness or durability, and while I may not have Carbon wheels, yet, the wheels from Oval Concepts has 21 spokes compared to 38 on the Raleigh so the wind resistance at the wheels is diminished.

My next upgrade was moving to clip-less pedals and purchasing cycling shoes. Swapping out sleeved pedals for the Ultegra R8000 carbon pedals and a pairing with Shimano RP5 cycling shoes was a game changer.

 

The Ultegra pedals were smooth and just a bit wider and I noticed better stability; being flat footed this was a huge advantage. The RP5 cycling shoes are simply amazing. The soles are fiberglass-reinforced nylon with a carbon composite plate to optimize power transfer, and the vents make a difference when the temperatures are above 90 degrees. I noticed the improvement in power and efficiency most directly when climbing hills and/or doing an all-out sprint.

There is a .75-mile climb on my training route, and the ability to pull with my hamstring while simultaneously pushing with my quad allowed me to maintain a good speed during the climb without exhausting my quad when I got to the top of the hill.

This was nice change of pace, and my quads weren’t screaming half-way through the climb.

Upgrading equipment is just one piece of the puzzle I changed in preparing for the 2018 HH100 race. Nutrition, managing training cycles, incorporating community, and of course enhancing recovery are other critical key points I discovered in improving my training block, and I will discuss these over the next few blogs.

I am exactly 8 weeks out from competing in my second century race, and to say I am a bit excited is an understatement.

Cycle smart!!

Steve

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