I’d rather ride than write about riding, or I wouldn’t manage to ride 10,000 miles a year. At this very moment, I was hoping to be at the start line of our first “summer” Hills of the West Coast group ride. Instead, I am looking out the window at what seems to be our third or fourth deluge in the last week. June just doesn’t feel like a time of the year to ride in the rain.
Most years I try to build fitness gradually, and then be as good as I can for an extended time period, ideally June through August or September. I think of this as “plateau training”. In both 2007 and 2008, I went to Europe in June, spent a lot of time specifically preparing for the trips, i.e., peaking, and was pretty much burned out on hard riding by the end of July. Whoops!
Through April of this year, I had already spent a lot of time on the bike, accumulating 201,087’ of climbing over 3283 miles of riding. In May I rode 736 miles, my lowest monthly total of the year, but that’s hardly a “recovery” month. I added another 46695’ of climbing, which brought me to 4019 miles and 247,782’ YTD. Not bad given the volatility of the weather, but I’m wondering how productive my winter and spring will prove as part of my whole cycling year.
I didn’t start riding with any real intensity until March, with the goal of a gradual build, and a delayed or non-existent burnout. Perhaps I should have delayed that type of riding until May, as I think it will be challenging for me to sustain motivation throughout 2010.
Having completed coaching and riding at the Cycle U Chelan Skills and Hills Camp in May, I now must look forward to the rest of my 2010 riding program. Tracy and I are going to Maui in July. Normally I take some time off of the bike in July, and Tracy and I do a little travelling or just hang out together. This year, I’ll be climbing 10,000’ to the summit of Haleakala, and doing several other hard rides while in Hawaii. In August, we have the Cycle U Rainier Big Mountain Climb Fest Coaching Camp and the riding will be just as hard (and as long as the camp title) as it sounds. I know, because I have designed the daily riding routes.
Normally in September, I volunteer at or ride the High Pass Challenge, and then take a solo fast and light tour before winding things down in October. I think of October as Fartlek month, a month where I ride however I please with no structure or plan. If I feel good and am in the mood, I ride hard. “Fartlek” is derived from the Swedish word “Fart,” meaning speed, and “Lek,” as in play…Hmmmm. In November, I usually cut back the riding and go for walks and hikes in the rain.
For 2010, the seed has been planted for a truly epic trip in October or even early November:
This event is not called the Everest Challenge for no reason. While it might be fun to participate in this two day sufferfest, my plan is to take a longer unsupported trip (expedition?) to the area. I’d like to do this trip solo, but I’m not sure the logistical requirements will make that feasible, so I’ll likely try and put together a small group of similar minded people. The east side of the High Sierra from Reno down to Death Valley is one of the few mountainous areas in the Western US and Canada that I have not explored by bike, and I am pretty keen to go. Now it’s time to do some coaching (of myself), and figure out what makes the most sense for 2010. Do I try and “peak” three or four times? No, I know better than that. Do I try for an extended plateau and keep building at a steady rate? Should I just hit the HOWC hard in June, taper for the July Maui trip, and then spend August rebuilding the aerobic engine and riding the HOWC hard on Sunday? How can I keep my head in the game long enough to mentally and physically survive a late fall trip that will involve multiple consecutive days with well over 12,000’ of climbing per day and pass summits topping out at over 10,000’? Maybe I had better do a trip to Colorado to get some riding in at altitude?
Wait just a second! The Sierra trip sounds an awful lot like my 07-08 trips to Europe. As a matter of fact, many of the alpine climbs on the east side of the Sierra are comparable in length and gradient to the big alpine climbs of Europe. It will be a lot browner, the food won’t be nearly as good, but at least I can eat breakfast when I want and have dinner before 9pm!
Looks like I just talked myself into it. All of a sudden, October is not looking like a Fartlek riding month. Doing multiple big climbs in the Sierra will definitely be the hardest riding I do all year. As opposed to Europe in June, I have to have my head in the game in October.
I guess I better slow down, and not get ahead of myself.
I hope to see you on the road.