We're not officially at winter yet, but the temperatures sure make it feel that way. We woke up this morning to misty rain with fog and the roads were real wet for five miles on the way into town when we took the kids in town for their annual Christmas shopping trip to buy presents for each other. Once in town the sun was shining and the roads were drying out real well.
As we came home I was waffling back and forth - ride on the trainer or go outside for a ride on the wet roads. The temperature was mid-40's when I got home and I decided I had to hit the road and take advantage of these days before the snow comes. The bike can always be cleaned.
So, down to the end of the road I went with the bike in the back of the car. We live at the end of a 1/2 mile gravel road and I don't ride the road bikes on it. The layers were on - tights for the legs, three layers up top, heavier booties on the feet, the light fleece gloves and the ski ear band. Eight miles into the ride the ear band came off. It was just too nice and I was starting to heat up.
The fleece coat adds a little more resistance to the ride and that's not all bad because it makes you work harder. Around here all the roads gouphill heading out of town. While it's a gradual incline it can zap the energy after 8 miles of climbing. In the heavy wind those climbs are even worse. I added four sprint intervals during the last 8 miles and ended up averaging 18.1 mph over the 21.5+ that I did. The sprints took a lot out of me and really hurt but I know it is all for the best for long term conditioning.
Tomorrow will be a day off, or an easy ride on the trainer, so I can avoid overtraining. Years of bodybuilding training taught me how important it is to work hard while taking your body to the brink of overtraining without doing so. It wasn't until I got into my 30's that I got smart and stopped lifting weights for an hour and a half to two hours per workout, four to five days a week. My workouts shrunk to no more than an hour and three days a week to allow plenty of recovery to the muscles. Yesterday's leg and ab workout was over in 40 minutes and I added another 30 minutes on the trainer in the evening before an attack of low blood sugar shut the ride down.
I treat my cycling training very similar. I will usually ride for three days and take one off and then start again. I don't have a formal training plan at this time - hill intervals, sprint interval, sustained rides at X% of the maximum heart rate - I do what my body tells me feels right. This has kept me from developing any injuries this year and also kept me reasonably healthy. I treat my shorter rides like a time trial and then seek out the bigger hills to ride, averaging 10-12 mph up most of them, including the long ones.
My legs feel heavy from the sprints this afternoon. It's nothing a hot bath and gentle massage can't help. Then I'll sit in front of the wood stove, close my eyes and do some positive mental cycling imagery before my nap.