Sorry for the near radio silence. It's been a busy week this week. Busy, in that I've reached the point of the year where my 'cross training gets serious. No, I'm not busy with lots more riding. I'm busy with lots more sleeping.
It's basically impossible for me to stick to a decent diet or train properly, or stay awake at work, while increasing on-bike workload and sleeping less than 7 hours. Since wedging work and training and family into each day requires me to get up at 4:45 or so, that means I have to be in bed by... sorry, I'm a *&$%in' lawyer. We have math issues. Let's just say "9:30" and call it close enough for government work. (In reality, I'm not innumerate, I just like to live up to others' expectations of me).
So this puts the hurt on blogging time, hence the radio silence.
Yet in spite of being plagued with the usual feelings of rampant inadequacy, and the annual pre-season near-panic, the training has been going reasonably well. After recovering somewhat decently from the WUSS Liberty Jam, through verrah easy rides on Monday and Tuesday, I hit the Reston loop with Joe M on Wednesday. Between my ride up to Clarendon and ride back into town, I did about 38 miles of false flats with a couple hills mixed in. It's an "all zones" ride, and good for racking up a few efforts, some long tempo riding, and all sorts of trainy-goodness, a hard group ride lite if you will.
Still, I'm feeling really inadequate and looking to blast my training volume up into the stratosphere prior to 'cross season. Upping the volume helps me lose weight quickly, and builds the extremely important aerobic base. I find that if I don't keep my base fairly high, I don't recover well from races; two-race weekends are hell; and trying to boost fitness and performance mid-season becomes impossible. Got that? A big base is what lets you go hard and recover fast. You can have good VO2 capabilities without a huge base, and go hard one time, but then your recovery may be in doubt; it could be a while before you're capable of going hard again. So, to build base, I'm going pretty hard right now. Yeah, it's that build period of base training. In plain English: I'm gettin' buried.
For power training phreaks, I hit the road this AM with a -21 Training Stress Balance. For the non-power training phreaks, that means I was at least one day's good rest away from having decently functional legs, maybe not a good thing before a frickin' mountain ride. But what the hell.
I took advantage of some back leave recently credited to my leave & earnings statement, and spent 3.5 hours riding up in the mountains near Thurmont with a truncated crew from the LBS ride. For non-MABRAites, the smallish mountains up there are called "the Catoctins." Catoctin is an Indian word that means "place where white collar professionals punish themselves for unspecified reasons."
Jon, Trevor, Tom and I rolled out early, getting to Thurmont at around 7:15. We started with Catoctin Hollow, then hit up Tower road to Harp, some climbs off to the side, before heading north to Wolfesville, then up to High Rock, a ~1200 foot effort over two miles. Thence up and over the ridge, down 550 back into Thurmont. The total damage for me was 3500 kcal of work, 51 miles, ~250 TSS points, and it pushed the Chronic Training Load up into the hallowed ground of ~82, approaching the holy grail of 100 that tells me I'm as truly race fit as a fat mostly sedentary cyclist wannabe can get.
Mother of Pearl, my legs are destroyed. They feel like they've been out drinking for a week.
The climbs went pretty well for me. Yeah, I was perpetually slipping off the back every time the grade topped 5 or 6%, but I'd get to the top of each hill within a couple minutes of the other three guys, and to be fair, they were getting a little strung out too.
I say they went pretty well because something Trevor said after the ride hit home: compared to most people who ride, serious riders who are bad climbers climb really well.
There's nothing to be ashamed of in that fact, and it's smart and maybe necessary to look on the bright side once in a while.
Yeah, I stink as a climber, yet averaged around 9 MPH up to High Rock, a 14 minute climb where I settled in at about 90% of threshold. My legs were blown, I'm very fatigued, but I did alright.
Maybe what is necessary to train well and consistently, and with good cheer, is to keep in mind our progress, and where we are compared to armchair pilots and even mere weekend warriors everywhere else. We aren't doing bad, people. We aren't doing bad. It's not just about some guys who race being better on bikes than a bunch of rec riders; it's that we're all moving at our own pace, and moving at our own pace in life generally is just fine. Nothing wrong with that.
As tough as a lot of experiences can be to digest - for instance getting my ass royally kicked by a bunch of very solid MTB racers - prospects are good for improvement, and where I sit right now isn't a bad place. Maybe we shouldn't let our goals be the whips that we put to our own backs. Maybe the ride is more important than the destination, and we should just enjoy the damn ride more often.
Thanks for pointing this out, Trevor. It needed to be said, and I damn sure wouldn't have thought about it.
In the spirit of keeping things in perspective, we went into Frederick and had a nice post-ride refueling stop at Brewer's Alley, whacking some very good Mac & Cheese, and a beer that was well and truly earned. Mine was an excellent Kolsch, thanks; it is faithful to the vision of the Koelnisch brewmasters, and the taste is very authentic. Kolsch is a perfect summer beer and a great thirst-quencher after a tough ride.
All in all, it was a great day. You want perspective? Four guys who are lucky enough to be able to ride and race bikes got to hang out and ride themselves into the ground, and take a vacation from the daily grind. It doesn't get any better than that. The fact that it counts as quality training, and that we did "x" power number and maintained "y" heartrate is a nice bonus, but the main thing is we had a good ride. Nothing should be allowed to obscure that fact.
I hope you all have really good rides this weekend. More accurately, I hope you can see the real good in your rides, whether they meet your current goals or not.