Death and Resurrection

Bike intervals on the trainer, those are a bitch. When you've got another minute to go and you're moving into bigger gears and trying to nudge your already furious heart 10 beats per minute faster, it's so tempting to throw in the towel. You've got no buddy beside you pushing you—or you him—to the next utility pole. All you can do is reach deep inside and tell yourself that you need to do this. Of course, when you've hit the mark and it's time to scale the effort down, you feel great and that's a big reward. You are a king, a tough guy, a warrior, a worker, a winner, you’re getting it done, moving toward your goal, you’re going to kill that IMCDA bike course! Really, that’s the ridiculous and wonderfully pleasing stuff that goes through your head.

I like doing intervals on the bike once or twice a week during the winter because I like all that, and because I know they're good for me. And despite how gruesome they are, they're actually easier than a long steady trainer ride. My basic formula is to ride hard for three minutes, moving through progressively bigger gears while trying to maintain my cadence and push my heart rate to around 170, which is over 90 percent for me (I'm not sure, but I estimate my maximum heart rate to be about 185). After three minutes I plunge back to a much smaller gear for two minutes, letting my heart rate fall to 120 (about 65% of max). I cycle these cycles for about an hour. The last minute of every hard interval is a killer. Then you are reborn. Death and resurrection.

The chart above shows today's workout. I hit 182 beats per minute at one point. That might be getting close to the top for me.

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