One of the dread moments in every racing cyclist's life is the first set of performance tests after the off-season. So too with me. Between December 1 and January 15 or so, I basically only rode 2-3 times a week, mostly taking it easy, perhaps doing a moderate-to-hard ride. One week a cross race, one week a couple mountain biking excursions, etc. I slacked a bit on diet compared to 'cross season. Sorry, perfection there is going to take me a few years to reach. I took it easy. So naturally, I must have fallen apart in my fitness, like last year, right? Puttin' on 25 pounds, falling totally apart, right? Well, not exactly.
I started pre-season basebuilding riding two or three weeks ago. Bill Gros has me on roughly 8-11 hours a week of mainly easy riding, and a slightly reduced schedule. I knew I had a test coming up this weekend, so I hopped on the scale on Friday. Hmmm... not great, I put on 10 pounds from the middle of last cross season, but not that bad, by my standards. I can take that off in two or three weeks of steady base riding, and I'm back on my 'diet,' which isn't really a diet but a basket of healthy eating habits. That works better for me than trying to count calories and get all anal retentive... I sort of gave up on complex math when I dropped out of electrical engineering around 20 years ago.
So the weight was fine, not perfect but not a huge deal and way better than last year. But today was the real test, the 20 minute Critical Power test on my trainer. For those who train power, you know the deal. For those who don't, it's a 20 minute, all out time trial. It's 100 pounds of hurt stuffed into a 20 pound bag.
What did I expect? I don't know. After training hard all last spring, my late June CP 20 was around 300 watts, after a CP 20 test averaging 315. After doing some serious build work over the summer, I had cranked that up to around 350, and had a CP 20 of 368 during one memorable ride. So today? Hard to say. Didn't really train power over the fall, just rode cross races and practice, recovery rides, and very rarely, some intervals. So?
Relief. I averaged 338 over 20 minutes, finishing with a mid-400's watt surge in the last couple minutes that caused a near-blackout and a near-tipping-off-the-bike. So I'm starting the season with better fitness than I had last year, mid-season. I'll take that.
And before you say, "great power numbers," remember, they aren't that great. I'm a big fat dude and the key, as always, is power-to-weight ratio. Mine is good enough to let me hang with Cat 5s and in flat Cat 4 races. The hills immediately reveal my dietary weaknesses and lack of discipline at the Golden China Buffet. That is going to be a project for this year, along with seeing just how high we can push that threshold. Don't know if it will happen but I'm hoping to manage a CP20 of at least 380 - that means pulling an average of 400 watts for the 20 minute test. Seems within reach considering I pulled 368 last fall.
Do that, along with losing 50 pounds, maybe some of you bastards will start worrying about me.
See ya out there on the road, boys & girls.