It’s high tide I write something before I forget how it’s done. Closing in on January, we’re entering true danger time for the cyclist who hasn’t yet begun serious training…at least if they’re targeting the spring like I am. I got off to a late start myself this year. With the extended off season I took, a cold virus delaying my training back in mid November, the flu a few weeks later, and then off and on terrible weather, up until recently I definitely hadn’t been feeling like I was on top of my form like I usually am at this time of year (‘Christmas Star’ type of form). That’s not to say I’ve been a complete sloth though.
I’ve been doing more sprint workouts than I ever have in my life. I usually don’t start doing sprints until the Redlands crit. I’ve also picked up where I left off with those 30 seconds on at V02, 30 seconds off at tempo intervals. They’ve been going very well. Even the first set I did was way higher than I’d hoped for. But I’ve been struggling with endurance/tempo–something that I’ve never struggled with before. And I’ll tell you what–it’s been scaring me! This is what I DO. Five and six hour smash fests are what I’m known for.
The main problem hasn’t been the first long ride of the weekend, it’s been the second. I do both of my big rides on Saturday and Sunday, due to work time constraints obviously, and I do all my easy rest days and intervals during the week. So the weekends are the most important days for me to train. If I miss even one of these days due to sickness, lack of motivation, bad weather, or lack of legs from going too hard on Saturday, I feel like I just threw away the entire week of training, which I know isn’t true but that’s the feeling I can’t shake. Even if I cut a ride short on one of these days I feel like the whole week is wasted. By taking a look back at my super secret training log that I can’t show anyone for fear of them learning my secrets, I’ll show you what I mean about being worthless for that second hard ride. (All in all, I feel like I’ve barely done any real training until just two weeks ago).
Sat November 16th. “6 hrs. First day of training. 14,260 feet of climbing. AV power was 233, normalized 288, TSS 359. Flag four times, Sunshine once, then twice up to the top of the first steep section.”
Sun November 17th. “5.75 hrs. AV 234. Twice up Sunshine, then around Carter lake. Didn’t push it today. Still a bit worried about the cold and definitely started feeling it in my sinuses about 4 hours in. I think I’m being smart but just realized that this many hours was not something I should have attempted this week with still being somewhat sick. Lungs fucked when I got home. Tired. Wasn’t tired after yesterday’s ride but now I’m tired.”
Sat November 23rd. “4 hrs (.5 hr commute). AV 266, NP 288. Did 14 sprints.” I wrote more but basically it came down to ‘not motivated today,’ which rarely happens to this degree of me not completing the workout. I had planned on doing at least five, but hopefully six hours today.
Sun November 24th. “2.5 hrs. AV 272 or something. Was going to ride long and my legs felt up to it but..” Wasn’t motivated again today.
Sat November 30th. “5.5 hours. Sunshine three times, really slow. Then 10 sprints up north. Appetite still isn’t here, but felt way better today than yesterday (.5 hrs of commuting for yoga).” I had the flu right before this and missed two days of riding on Thursday and Friday–both of which I had off of work due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I was PISSED that I missed these two days and was still feeling sick and weak on Saturday/Sunday.
Sun November 31st. “4 hrs. Did Flag roughly 4 times. Was feeling better than yesterday but tired. Started feeling bonky at like 2.5 hrs. Did three sprints right at the end on hwy 36. Max was 1385.”
Sat December 7th. “5 hrs. AV probably around 260 to 270 judging by speed (Quarq wasn’t working in the cold). AV temp was 2.9 degrees, minimum was -2. The roads are still icy so I was confined to hwy 36 and 66 or whatever that T-intersection one is. Did 3 laps of an L shaped route. I felt strong but was pretty tired and lagging for the last 45 minutes. Feet took forever to unfreeze and were swollen all night.”
Definitely the longest cold ride I’d ever done.
Sun December 8th. “4 hrs. AV 224. Had nothing in me today. Legs were fucked. It was probably on average about 12 degrees warmer today so that wasn’t an issue at all. Very comfortable compared to yesterday. I did either one or two sprints and didn’t get above 1200. Used the Powertap today. Yes I have two power meters again, one is for the TT bike, which is fully built up to ride but I haven’t gotten on it this winter yet.”
Sat December 14th. “6.5 hrs. 30′ commute. 14,400 ft of climbing. Was averaging about 315 for most of the climbs (three times up Sunshine, 3 times and a little up Flag).”
Sun December 15th. “2.5 hrs. Including hike up at the Flatirons. Felt too tired to ride today so came home after a little under two hours on Sunshine.”
*NOTE: The point I was trying to make was that I could only ride hard on Saturday and that I had missed a ton of weekend training days already and that I was way behind where I should have been. But now that I’ve copied and pasted this all out from my training log, it appears that I got some good training in after all, though I believe it does show that I haven’t been as consistent as I want. It’s strange how you have an idea engrained in your head for a long time but when you actually analyze the thing, you see that you were completely wrong (my idea being that I hadn’t done a drop of good training at all in November and that I had barely done anything for most of December). Anyways:
It’s crazy how fast things can turn around. Last week on the 21st I went on a big ride out east with Adelaide, who held on for dear life during that first hour before dropping off on her own. It was cold, the trees and grass were full of thickly frozen frost, and the route was almost entirely flat. I planned on making zero turns. I rode 65 miles east on a big highway that slowly transformed into a silent little road with nothing but slightly rolling fields of 1-inch tall grass on either side. Or maybe it was just dirt at that point. Dirt farming is big out in Eastern Colorado. Not sure why they grow so much dirt out there but I guess it comes down to supply and demand. There were no cars, houses, buildings, or telephone poles. Not even any cows. I looked back west towards the mountains and there was no sign of them. Everything was grasslands/dirtlands as far as I could see.
I flipped around at hour 3 with an average of 285 watts, feeling it in my legs already and just hoping they’d stay attached to my torso for the ride back. It was cold but not too cold. I’d been riding in sub zero temps two weeks prior and it had been snowing at least once a week for what felt like months, so the cold wasn’t what was getting me. My power dropped off immediately on the return trip. It quickly plummeted by five watts. Then another five. I’d eaten all my food by hour four and there still wasn’t a gas station or store in sight. The power meter read 273 by the time I got to civilization and its crowning achievement: high fructose corn syrup. I chugged a gas station cappuccino mixed with hot chocolate, devoured a third of a package of cinnamon gummy bears, and filled my bottles with Dr. Pepper and Sierra Mist.
The power dropped to 271 over the next half hour before the sugar kicked in. It was a struggle to keep it there. I let out a good number of grunts, groans, yells, and even a few screams as my sorry legs continued to deteriorate. At 5.25 hours I did a sprint for about 4 seconds, having to sit down immediately. I couldn’t even get above 1000 watts, which at my size shouldn’t be that hard. I was wasted by the time I got home but had at least managed to hold the power at 271. I considered it an achievement, then remembered that last year at this time I’d done a similar six-hour ride at 20 watts higher. Shit. Now I was worried. It was already late December. “Well,” I thought. “All I really need is this next big block of training to put me back to where I should be.” With the current weekend, Christmas break, the next weekend, New Year’s break, and the weekend after that, I had eight days to ride long in just a sixteen-day span. This would certainly kick start things, or so I hoped.
The following day, Sunday, after that long ride was a disaster. From the training log:
Sun December 22nd. “AV 208. Really fucking sucked. I was so weak and slow today. My legs weren’t super trashed, I was just out of energy. Out of power. Cut the ride short (was going to do 5 hrs).”
Sunday was a waste of a ride. I should have just gone home immediately instead of prolonging it for hours on end, soft pedaling and sucking.
My family was in town at this point, staying with Adelaide and I for the holidays. I was absent just about every day either at work or out on long rides. I felt bad about it but knew that I had to do the miles if I was to have a good early season, which is everything–especially when you’re proving yourself on a new team. My mom, Galen, and his girlfriend Joslynn made a lot of good dinners under my dad’s watchful supervision from the next room, and and there were plenty of fantastic pancake breakfasts. But, I didn’t go on the many hikes and climbing trips that everyone else got to do. I did go see Galen and Jos climb at a competition at the Spot:
Galen made finals and wound up 7th, which was awesome given the talent here in Boulder. Boulder doesn’t just host a slew of the best cyclists, runners, and triathletes, it’s also a haven for climbers and just about every other sport as well. Sailing, surfing, and SCUBA included, I believe.
Galen and Jos made a ton of pizzas.
We’re currently watching Adelaide’s sister’s cat, Apollo, for a couple weeks while they’re out of town. He likes herring almost as much as me. Almost.
Transitioning back to what I said way back up there like five paragraphs ago, it’s crazy how things can turn around. All I needed was some consistent riding to get my endurance back up and start hitting normalized powers of 290-300 for my climbing days, which is what I consider to be a decent ride for myself. I decided to cut the rides to 5 hours from 6 until I know that I can repeat the 6 hour ones back to back. It worked. The last week has gone great. My legs are finally able to pump out back to back hard days in the mountains. I’m not setting any records or anything, but just being able to do +12,000 feet of tempo climbing two days in a row means that I’ve had some good improvements. I have one more week with four possible days of long rides thanks to the New Year’s work holiday coming up, and after that I get a rest week. I leave my job at SmartEtailing at the end of January, at which point I’ll finally be a full time bike racer again, which will leave plenty of time for training and a lot more time for rest and 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m at last confident that I’ll be fast for the early races and will have some good form coming into our training camp in February/March. Just a little over a week ago I was freaking out a tiny bit, wondering where my legs had gone and why my tires felt like glue. The moral of my story is that if you believe, anything is possible! And if great things don’t happen to you, you must be a weak, immoral person of little faith and you deserve to live a terrible, crappy life. Shame on you. SHAME! No but for serious, that’s one of the dumbest sayings ever, which is why I love repeating it all the time. For all the non-believers, the cynics for whom I’m sorry because they can’t believe in miracles, this calls for an old classic tail of faith and overcoming: