The charge of the heavy (legged) brigade

I hardly know whether I’m coming or going at the moment.  And it’s dropped me into a proper little funk, I can tell you.

The team even got to try out some Strade Bianche...

The focused and really quite serene world of the Majorca training camp has at a stroke been replaced by an absolute whirlwind of domestic and familial duties, such that I’ve not had time to finish putting my race bike back together, nor to give it a much-needed wash, let alone actually turning any pedals.

And now I’m back at work also…at least I will be resuming my day job once I’ve got this blog entry done.  Priorities, priorities…

None of this would be too much of an issue were it not for the fact that I’m back racing again tonight, after what seems like a lifetime since my last competitive outing.  It’s the first of the Surrey League’s season-long Goodwood Gallops series, which pits all categories of rider against each other in a handicap format where the best go off last and have to chase down the lesser riders like myself, before no doubt leaving them for dead.

I would have liked some sort of loosener before taking to the track, especially as the traditional post-Majorca effect is to be heavy-legged for around a fortnight – ‘stuck to the road’ as they say in cycling terms.

This puzzled me when the rest of the gang were talking about it on the island, but I kind of understand it now.  The training camp was all about getting in plenty of good quality base miles.  We didn’t race anywhere, instead keeping up a similar tempo to our Sunday café runs, one which is hardly dawdling but still enables riders to hold a conversation while pedalling along.

Cresting the summit of the Puig Major during my 'good' day

We also rode up most of the significant climbs the island has to offer.  Again, not necessarily as race training, more because they offer a worthy challenge as well as great views at the top.  If I was riding in the Marmotte again this year such a week would have been amazingly good preparation; on the pan-flat expanse of Goodwood Motor Circuit the benefits of being first up Puig Major will not be quite so apparent…

By the end of the week, with more than 400 miles in my legs, I was properly weary and saddle-sore.  I had also encountered a phenomenon hitherto unknown to me: absolute power loss.

The weird thing was that I didn’t feel particularly tired or ill when I woke up on the day in question.  I didn’t even feel that rough on the bike.  But every time I pushed down on the pedals nothing happened.  And I mean absolutely nothing.  I had to grovel on the flat sections, too far off the back even to wheelsuck most of the time.  Worse still, small climbs into villages turned into vertiginous monsters akin to Rosedale Chimney, where I rapidly ran out of gears and had to resort to long spells out of the saddle – something I never normally do as I can usually find a gear low enough to spin whatever the steepness of the climb.

It was the oddest 16 miles of my cycling life, the very definition of what the French call a jour sans.  Then, just as oddly, the power started to return, a little at a time until by the end of the day’s ride I was almost back to normal.  I was ready to call in the X-Files team, until the knowing glances of my training camp pals left me thinking that perhaps this was all quite standard for a Majorca newbie like me.

I’d certainly like to avoid another jour sans tonight.  A jour avec would be my preference, thank you very much.

You can find out which French preposition turned out to be closest to the mark if you tune in tomorrow, when a race report will no doubt be dredged up from the darkest recesses of whatever funk I’m presently immersed in.

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