Thursday, September 18, 2014

Strengthening The Foundation

How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat? 

I wish I could prepare for every event the way I prepared for last Saturday’s WEMS race at New Fane. Getting 10th place was a good result. I could not have done that well without a high level of fitness, but having a lot of experience on those trails was a huge advantage too. I have ridden at New Fane 18 times this year, covering 253 miles in 23:58:56. I figured out a lot of things in the 17 practices that led up to the race, but the race itself revealed one major oversight: passing. I executed several passes during the race and almost all felt unnatural because they took me off my well-worn lines. Passing just doesn’t come up that often in practice, so in 2015 I will make it a point of emphasis.

Preparing for cyclocross is an altogether different proposition. Nobody really gets to train on actual racecourses … except maybe the guys who practice at Badger Prairie in Verona. Tuesday practices at Royal Oaks Park have been good for my fitness and, to some extent, for my bike handling skills. We will practice just two more times this year at Royal Oaks. In October I will have to make my own short-but-hard weeknight workouts. I am always tempted simply to do long-steady-distance road rides, but I cannot deny that the shorter and more intense workouts have had a great effect on me. I can sustain hard efforts longer and recover faster, and I have dropped 6 pounds since cyclocross practices began on August 5.

But base miles still matter and this week I will get a lot of them. Today I surpassed 4,100 miles year-to-date, and that’s significant to me because last year I finished with exactly 4,100 after losing a full month of prime riding time to a broken collarbone. With no races on my schedule this weekend I should have 12-15 hours of saddle time for September 15-21, inclusive. I have done 100 miles in 6 hours so far. In October, every weekend will have cyclocross races on both Saturday and Sunday. Throw in the travel time between home and the race venues and it’s a big commitment. But as tempting as it may be just to be done when the races end, I will make myself spin out the legs on Saturdays and go for longer rides on Sundays. My training volume will inevitably decline as shorter days force me to do shorter after-work rides. Treating each weekend as an opportunity to train—not just as a time to race—will allow me to maintain a deep reserve of endurance.

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