We had a nice small family Christmas day this year which didn’t get too silly with food. I had been in charge of making the chocolate log – the recipe I used said ‘serves 8′ but I was dubious, so I doubled all the quantities. The swiss roll base went into the oven – and grew, and grew. It got too big to roll so I had to slice it in half to make it thinner. It turned into a chocolate tree rather than a log, but was very nice. My kids are both chocolate fiends and gave it a thumbs up. My daughter had also made a lovely trifle, so although we had quite a modest dinner, we ended up eating a lot of sweet stuff afterwards.
This morning we woke up and the sun was shining which was an unexpected Boxing Day surprise. We decided to take the tandem out for a ride and work off some of that chocolate log, so we did the 40 mile loop round Innerleithen. It was quite mild for this time of year and there were lots of runners and cyclists out with the same idea as us.
Because we’re both doing structured training, we take HR monitors on every ride just so we can keep track of weekly TSS. I planned to get in 40 minutes at sweet spot intensity as well. We both have a Garmin Edge 520 units and Garmin HR monitors which we use on our tandem rides (the power meters stay on the training bikes in the garage).
So off we set, and 10 minutes into the ride we hit Windydoors Hill which is fairly steep with a section at 15% towards the top. I use this as an opportunity to get 10 minutes’ sweet spot in and am soon riding at 165 BPM and unable to say very much. On a recumbent, my heart rate rarely goes above 175 BPM and 165 is high sweet spot, verging on threshold. My wife tends to join in regardless of my assurances that she can do what ever she wants and doesn’t need to self flagellate just because I’m doing it, so we’re both not saying anything. At the top, my wife remarks that she seems quite tired today, and I tell her it’s probably because of the hard ride she did on Monday. We continue on down to Clovenfords and along the back road to Innerleithen.
Every time we hit a little hill I am pushing reasonably hard, but my wife is holding back and continues remarking on how tired she is. Again I tell her just to chill and there’s no need to work hard just because I am – we go whatever speed we go which is the beauty of riding tandem.
Once we get to Innerleithen, I tell my wife that I’m going to use the 7 mile climb up to the Granites to get in some more sweet spot but she should just to take it easy and enjoy the scenery. Soon I am back up at 165 BPM and not saying very much. 10 minutes in, I’m feeling quite good so decide to just continue all the way to the top and keep up the intensity. I can tell through the pedals that my wife isn’t pushing too hard. I find myself pushing harder and am soon up at 175 BPM and probably just above threshold power. In other words, I am drowning in a sea of lactic acid and am unable to carry out anything resembling human communication other than gasps and grunts. My wife again says that she’s really tired and is backing off, and sounds a bit concerned. I’m not sure what’s going on but we’re nearly at the top so I push on, being the considerate gent that I am. She asks me what my heart rate is, but I can’t answer because I am right on the edge and just trying to hold it together all the way to the top.
We get to the top a few minutes later, and I’ve managed 33 minutes at high sweet spot / threshold which I am very pleased with, but am still completely unable to say anything understandable by another human so I start coasting down the other side whilst trying to get my legs to work again which appears to be a lost cause for the moment.
My wife again asks me what my heart rate is and I manage to answer, and with what sounds like obvious relief she tells me that she now knows why she though she was so tired. She’s paired her Garmin to my heart rate monitor! Hee hee. She was freaking out because despite taking it really easy, her Garmin was telling her that her heart was doing 175 BPM which was causing her a lot of worry, as you can imagine. Turns out she was putting in very little effort for a lot of the ride which meant I was working a little harder than normal – this just made things worse because my heart rate was quite high and hers should have been low, so she had a slowly rising sense of worry that something was physically wrong as the ride went on.
We stopped at the bottom of the Granites and I re-paired her Garmin to her own monitor, and suddenly all this power starts coming through the pedals again. Now that she could see her real heart rate, was able to put out some good power to get us home. Just as well – I was pretty pooped after that long blast up the Granites and didn’t have much left.
Quite a funny little episode. Never trust technology!