Monday, 25 April 2011

125km ride to Hoch-Ybrig and back with 1,356m vertical metres of climbing

After a rest day to let my butt recover from my first cycle ride, I decided to hit the hills today.  A lot of the passes are still closed and won't be open till June, but there are still plenty of hills around.  This is Switzerland, not the Netherlands, after all.

In the winter I went cross country skiing in Einsideln and Studen a fair bit, and the countryside around there looked very pretty.  For this reason I decided I would head there, then see how I felt, and carry on further if I could. I reached Einsideln without any problem at all.  Despite the fact this is only my second cycle ride of the year, the running has really given me strong legs and a great cardiovascular base.  I have read various articles saying that the transition from running to cycling is much easier than the transition from cycling to running.  One of the reasons cited is that cycling doesn't prepare your legs for the impact of running.  Runners on the other hand don't usually quite the power to push up the hills on the bike to begin with.  The advantage I have in this regard is that I was not a skinny runner and don't have chicken legs at all.

I have never been to Hock-Ybrig before, but I know a lot of people go skiing there, so I figured it was probably a bit higher than Einsideln and headed up there.  Just after the cable car there was a gravel track which headed in the direction of Druesberg and I followed this for a while, but obviously I was slipping and sliding a lot on my road bike with it's slick tyres.  My Garmin was reading around 3,700 feet so I decided I would keep following the track until it hit 4,000 feet, which would mean a good start to my hill training regime.  When it hit 4,000 feet I turned round and headed gingerly back down the gravel track.  If you have ever tried riding a racing bike downhill on gravel you will know that it feels like the bike may slip from under you at any time.  Luckily it didn't and I got back down fine, although at one point a girl was riding on her MTB uphill and because you can't turn easily on gravel I was heading straight towards her for a while.  She probably thought I was playing a game of chicken, but I can assure you that I wasn't.

Going down the hill back to Einsideln was of course pretty easy, although there was a very strong headwind and it would have been a killer if it wasn't downhill.  Once I got to Einsideln I decided I would stop for some food there, in the vicinity of the monastery.  Being used to burning a couple of thousand calories during my runs, I am shocked at how many calories I am burning now on my bike.  The reason of course is because I am spending much longer on my bike - 6 hours compared to 3 hours.  But even then, apparently I have burnt 4,264 calories today and that is a lot.  I didn't go crazy with the food and just ate a pizza, an orange juice and a piece of tirimasu.

Of course the way back from Einsideln to Zurich was pretty easy as it was downhill to the lake and then flat along the lake.  I didn't push it too hard along the lake, but I was somewhere around 30km/h, which is a nice speed.  There didn't seem to many serious cyclists out today along that side of the lake, and I was pretty much overtaking everyone.

Once I got home I was keen to see how many vertical metres I had climbed, as I was hoping it would be more than 1,000m.  When I connected my Garmin to the laptop I was pleased when it read 1,326m of vertical ascent, and a horizontal distance covered of 125.24km.   I have been panicking a little that I left it too late to start training for the Marmotte, by focussing solely on my running up until the marathon last week.  But after today's ride I am filled with some confidence that with 9 more weeks of training I can complete the Marmotte for my third time.  The Marmotte will be 50km longer than today, and with 3 and a bit times that amount of climbing, but it is amazing what 9 weeks of good quality training can do.

Current areas to work on are getting my back and butt more used to cycling, losing a few kilos, and increasing the power and endurance in my legs.