This year I have ridden differently then I have before. I put in a lot of base miles and did very little intensity besides a few endurance mountain bike races and on a Tuesday night ride that no longer exists and has no name. If that ride did exist, I would have made it to about half of them this year.
I also started using power because I got a crazy deal on a Powertap and I already had a Garmin. Training with power has been very helpful, thus far, I think. All of this to hopefully have a great cx season where I can improve every race until our little girl comes along.
By not doing much intensity I feel as though I am unsure of where I am shape-wise. I can ride forever comfortably, but I don't feel like I have any pop yet. Last night, I rode with a bunch of oddly dressed fellows for 40 miles. As we rolled out, I noticed that my rear wheel was a bit squishy, I am guessing it was in the 80psi range. It made for a cushy feel on my 28mm tires. Well, when the bell rang, the intensity picked up and I stopped thinking about my tires and starting thinking about the pain.
I had a hard time pulling through consistently and spent more time than normal sucking the draft. I had to keep reminding myself that these guys are almost done with their race season and mine is just beginning. By the end, I was happy to stay with the group and not get dropped on the hills.
This morning I plugged in the Garmin and checked out the data. From the bell ring to the end (an hour and twenty four minutes) my average power was 308 and the normalized power was 354. I'm a big guy, so my wattage is always skewed a bit higher, but seriously, talk about resistance training! That sort of wattage shouldn't have had me just holding on, I should have been pulling through constantly and pushing the pace.
Maybe my legs are better right now than I thought. The season starts in a week so I'll find out soon!