Admittedly, I haven’t been riding my bikes all that much in the past 3 months. Seeing all the cycling adventure or misadventure that friends are posting about on FB or their blogs or Strava accounts, I feel kinda guilty and honestly, a little pathetic. But I’m not sure I’m being fair to myself. So I try to assuage this damaging mind-set by reflecting on last season and looking forward to next spring and summer.
Starting in January last year, I decided to commit to “purposeful riding” in order to prepare for mountain bike racing season culminating at the USAC Marathon Mountain Bike Nationals in July. I intentionally never called my preparations “training” because it was so important to me to always enjoy the sport. To me, training sounds like drudgery. That doesn’t mean I didn’t try hard, or suffer, or hurt, or sometimes wish during the middle of a ride when I had to hike-a-bike under blazing desert sun that I had stayed home to drink cold margaritas instead. If you know me and I know you (which is likely if you are reading my blog ), you will agree that oftentimes we both find “fun” in a certain level of suffering. Whether it’s the agony of screaming barfies while ice climbing, or the anaerobic, near heart attack conditions in a cyclocross race, climbing a run-out choss pile, or being benighted on an epic adventure, it is all a type of ”fun.”
For the first time last winter, I kept a log of my workouts and tracked “perceived efforts” on a scale of 1-10. I didn’t geek out with a heart rate monitor or expensive power meter. I included foam rolling and other mobility exercises (think PT style recovery movements), and I went for road or mountain bike rides when I felt like it. In early spring, I raced the local Thursday night series and went for longer and longer rides on days off because my fitness seemed to keep up with me and it was fun. It all paid off; I had a fantastic race season. But then I fell to a precipitous low of inactivity after that.
But I’m finding my rhythm again. It had always been part of my plan to start a supplemental weight training plan in October. By the end of season last year, I could feel an imbalance in my muscles and a biased flexibility from so much repetitive motion. I could push pedals all day, but to gain more speed, I needed to push the pedals harder, which would only have been possible if I had greater leg/core/body strength. So I’m giving James Wilson’s Ultimate MTB Strength Training program a shot. I’m into week 4 of his 6 month program, and boy was I sore through the first two weeks! Pedaling is not a focus at this point. I’m just getting used to a new routine at the gym a few days a week, riding when I want to, and better yet, starting to rock climb more again! Climbing friends will be glad to hear I got back on the sharp end and led a 5.6 last week on Insidious Crack (pic in previous post). So I’m striking a pretty good balance now.
The ultimate goal? To finish a sub-9 hour time at next August’s Leadville 100 mountain bike race. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.