Great ride today in the low 80 degrees which really helped. 44 miles of undulating terrain in 2 hr 20 mins. I felt so good that I "took part" in the king of the mountains points climb and the final sprint today! Held a 301 watt average for a 2 min climb to get some "polka dot" points and then repeated the same sprint from yesterday sans lady on roller blades to see if I could get some more watts out of the legs - 1030 watts today so basically the same. All in all a solid and pretty easy 44 miles where I felt like I could go faster at any time with ease. Legs are back!!!
So looking at the data and science some more I am now convinced that my lab test last week was an "off day". I have seen this before for athletes I coach who are known to be "on form" yet don't test well. Sometimes its just biorhythms and sometimes just a little bit of extra fatigue. I'd ridden hard the weekend before with a 70 mile mountains ride so I am sure my test result was now related to some residual fatigue. However, the test was really important as it guided me to take a few days easy and to keep the power and heartrate down so that my true form could again show. Understanding the data is key and relying on it I have found to be extremely important. Whether or not you base your whole next 6 weeks of training on your lab data or just the next week, I have found the lactate tests to be vital in maximising the form and development of endurance athletes.
Taking part in a 2 min hard climb and a couple of sprints is also helping to keep me "awake" or "open" as pro-cyclists like to call it. These short but hard efforts keep the top end in full flow and VO2 high when mixed in with the easy aerobic days. The danger is that when all you do go easy that your body sometimes "goes to sleep" and gets sluggish as it goes in to full recovery mode. These short efforts are just enough to maintain form and also build confidence.
Looking at the real TDF today was amazing to see Cancellara explode from the peloton using his power and strength to take the victory in the yellow jersey. Maintaining such a high power output for that last 800m was amazing to see.