As I lay dying on the side of Old Stage Rd., a concerned cyclist stopped to ask if I was alright. Drowning Pool was still blaring in my ears and all I could do was raise my hand up to wave him off. I inhaled, deeply gasping for air. I exhaled, vomiting bile into a steadily growing stream that was flowing towards my knees. I’d been there for a good minute. Would stay there just like that for another minute too. When I finally got up, I ripped my my earbuds out and thanked the cyclist for checking on me. Still panting, face still twisted in agony over the burn in my legs and throat, I told him I was just doing intervals. “Two to go,” I said. “Wow, you’re really giving ‘er!” he replied. “Yep,” and I was on my way back down the hill.
With Bucks County looming on the horizon as my last goal of the season, I’m piling on the intervals. Last week I did four days of them within a five day stretch. 6 to 6.5 hour rides on the weekends. I’ll show up to the start line in Pennsylvania either cracked or ready to crack skulls. Those two weeks off I took after Cascade have really shown me what rest will do to the truly tired. I’m already breaking (interval) power records–for altitude not sea level. Yesterday was an example.
While 8×1 minutes may not seem like that daunting of a task to those who haven’t done the workout, I certainly knew what I was up against. This plan for the Secret Intervals was handed down to me, generation to generation. I heard about it from Que Kaaaaaaaay (AKA Quinn Keogh), who heard about it from a Tour de France legend. I can’t remember the guy’s name though. For years I’ve kept it secret, or maybe it was weeks, but anyways I’ve decided that it’s simply too hard for most people to do anyways so telling the secret won’t matter. Kind of like telling the secret to becoming really, really, really rich: get lucky, work hard, fuck over everyone.
Each interval is done on a steep hill. All out. Every time. With 15-20 minute rests in between. Full recovery. I smashed the first one really hard. Had to get off the bike and lean over the top tube. Got the same exact power number for the second one, meaning I probably didn’t go hard enough on the first. Had to get off and lean over the top tube again for a few minutes after the second one. By the third one I was feeling it a little and went out too easy for the first 20 seconds. I only had to stop and burry my head against my bars after that one and didn’t have to fully dismount the bike like the others. I vowed to go harder for the fourth.
The fourth one was ridiculous. I ended up kneeling on the ground, puking bile and gasping raggedly for breath. This was the first time someone has ever stopped to check on me while I’m doing intervals. I developed a spiking headache after this fourth interval.
Long before, after the 2nd interval, I’d decided I’d only do six intervals today. The Secret Intervals plan calls for between six and eight sets. No more, no less. Six would be plenty today. I did the fifth one and managed not to throw up until the way down. An un-chewed chunk of peanut butter from breakfast now stuck to my leg. I left it there. My body was shaking. I was almost out of liquids and I dared not finish what I had, knowing I’d throw it up again in 20 minutes. 95 degrees out. Head pounding. I drank anyways of course. This was playing. Loud:
I blew to pieces on the last one. I had absolutely nothing to give for the last 20 seconds. The last 20 seconds are the only important seconds though. One must ride those last 20 seconds like they’re the last 20 seconds you’ll ever live. And they might be–a heart attack or swerving into a truck due to loss of vision aren’t out of the question. I was massively over-geared but ground out the last sprint. All over the road, all over the bike. I went six seconds too long because I couldn’t read my Garmin. I wish they’d make a true interval screen where the timer is huge so you can actually see it.
It took almost an hour and a half to do six minutes worth of work. Normalized power for that hour and 26 minutes was 397. ??? Okay, so normalized power isn’t that accurate considering this would be quite impossible for me to do at 6,000 feet.
Down in town, I realized I needed to go to the hospital. I was that out of it and messed up. The next best thing was seeing a doctor. So I went to the gas station and got the biggest one I could find. 44 ounces of Dr…Pepper that is. I took a big chug and refilled to the top. My hands were shaking as I handed over two bucks to the cashier. Went outside and sat in the parking lot on the ground. When I’d had enough of the gas fumes I rode one block to a bench at a coffee shop and sat there drinking my 550 calories of pure sugar for the next 20 minutes.
According to Quinn, the Secret Intervals plan called for getting home as soon as possible and taking a big dose of protein and carbs after the workout. Rest IMMEDIATELY and begin recovering. This is what I’ve always done in the past. Today, though, I had different plans. I still had four hours to ride if I was going to make it a six hour day. Better get going. The mountains were calling.
By the numbers in case you’re interested, which you should be:
Interval #1: 848w
Interval #2: 848w
Interval #3: 795w
Interval #4: 846w
Interval #5: 802w
Interval #6: 731w
(This is accurate)
Normalized power for the total six hours and nine minute ride: 307. TSS: 412.
I just finished my morning mug of espresso, pile of pancakes, bacon, and eggs, and am therefor ready for round two today. No intervals though. That would just be stupid. No, just another six hours in the mountains. Adios.