Today I did my first hard ride of the year, the 11-hill version 58-mile "metric century" 7 hills ride. Last year I did CTS training, and while it did great for my aerobic endurance, I didn't think it had enough strength work or interval work. This year I've been spending more time pushing bigger gears, and have been doing the majority of my rides on my middle chainring (rather than the tiny one). I've also done some core work, and am starting to do some specific climbing workouts.

Looking back at my HR data from last year, I averaged 13.8 MPH for 46 miles with 2900 feet of elevation gain (which included a quick ride to the start and a pretty slow ride home afterwards). This year, I averaged 15.3 MPH for 59 miles with 4125 feel of elevation gain.

That's a pretty significant improvement, though some of it also came from climbing at a cadence of around 85 RPM vs the 100 RPM that I was targetting last year. The lower cadence seems to allow me to work out at a higher effort with less cardio load, which is good as long as your legs hold out, at which time you have to switch to spinning. Or you need to do it if your knees fall off.

The ride itself was very nice. A bit cold (49) in the morning, but overcast with a bit of sun and not too warm, with no wind. The ride was nicely run as usual, and it seems that it's growing each year. Recommended if you like hills.