It's Wednesday and I was thinking of joining the SF2G "dirty Mount San Bruno" ride via the Saddle Loop trail. It's a gorgeous ride. Riding in the dirt is a lot of fun on a road bike, and on a clear day, the early morning the view from the trail is excellent.
But I just didn't feel ready. I'm still tired from Saturday.
As exhilarating as finishing a double is, they do take their toll. It begins the week before, with the need to taper in to be adequately fresh for the long, hard ride. Then the week after, recovery is absolutely key. I remember long ago riding the Davis Double. It made me feel invincible, as if I could do anything. The next day I joined the Alto Velo "A-ride". People couldn't believe it: i was on the A-ride, smiling and ready to go, having ridden 200 miles the day before! I didn't do the while thing, just the first climb of the ride up Old La Honda, then cut it short and rode home. Unfortunately, even this small dose of over-enthusiasm was the straw that broke the rider's back: I was wiped out tired for a week after. I'd have been way better off seriously focusing on recovery, no matter how much I'd wanted to ride on Sunday.
Davis as considerably less climbing than Mt Tam, and I felt anything but invincible this past Sunday (not to mention I'm older now). But after taking it relatively easy Sun, Mon, and Tue, I'd had enough with this go easy thing, and was ready to start riding into work again. But I realized it's better to take it slower, not push it. When my body is ready to ride it, it will let me know. I did some "test runs" Monday and today, only between my office and the cafeteria, maybe 150 meters, both days my legs clearly tired. But then yesterday was a long day at work: leaving home @ 7-sharp to catch a train, getting home at 7:30 pm, no time in between to even get lunch (instead eating fruit I had at my desk). That's never good for spirits.
It's ironic that I've falling off the pace in the Strava "Every Second Counts" distance-in-a-month challenge. One might naively think a double century would be a good way to boost miles. But it's not, at least if it's ridden hard. Too much distance drained from the week prior, too much borrowed with interest from the week following. If distance was my goal, shorter distances Sat and Sun coupled with a few long rides the work-weeks before and after would have added a lot more. But I don't pay much attention to Strava challenges. They get in the way of other goals.
Some try to deny physical limitations. They carry big miles into their doubles, then flog themselves as soon as possible afterwards to "keep the momentum". But it doesn't work. Training is all about stressing the body, then allowing it to recover from the stress, when it can overcompensate for the damage done. You can't stress it properly if you're not fresh for the effort to do so, and without recovery you can't build added strength. In the end, I've found these people run themselves into the ground, perpetually riding in a state of mediocrity.