Looking back on this year’s bike season, I have some observations and suggestions for myself next year. Now, I realize this is an enormously popular blog and my readership (Hi Boz! Botched, you still getting RSS feed?) sometimes overwhelms the Microsoft servers with their constant reading, but this post is really for me. So, yeah, go ahead and read it. I’m hoping that, in six months’ time, I remember to read it myself and use it for next year.
• Advice: Spend more time at threshold.All right, I’m limited on training time. More specifically, I have only about three or four hours a week to ride my bike. But I’ve spent too much time in recent years working on the aerobic end of things. While that’s good for the first half of the season, it’s probably overkill in the six weeks before the race. I need to spend a little more time at functional threshold—whether on the trainer, in intervals, whatever. And actually, let’s throw more trainer time in there too.
• Observation: Just getting to the race is an ordeal.Now, I love my family. I love them more than bike racing. Sincerely. But once in a while, it’s nice to go to a bike race. So far this year, it’s been nearly impossible to make it to a cycling race without some sort of fiasco along the way. Why? Because I want my family involved in the racing. I want spectators. Now, knowing that, I need to probably find some way to accommodate family members. I should also give them more advance notice and plan my races away from family vacations, etc. Scheduling races is already a bit of a fiasco (since my only job trip will likely take place on the same weekend as the race I would like to do next summer), but it would perhaps be less complicated if I could get the family team onboard in advance. How? I’m not quite sure. I guess I’ll have to think that one over.
• Advice: Run some hills! Who cares about specificity?! When it rains, running the local hill is a good alternative to riding. Riding the trainer isn’t such a bad thing either, but there’s no reason to discount hill running. One of my better races this year (I guess two out of the three count as “better” races) was the WYDAHO race at Targhee. I’d spent the entire month before that race (June, in which we had rain almost every day) running hills to get ready for the uphill leg of Bone and Back. I didn’t have the best run at the B n’ B, but I climbed my way halfway through the next division by the end of the first hill in WYDAHO. To top it off, I stopped a bunch of times on the downhill for some FS folks, so heaven knows things could’ve been even faster if my fork had a little bounce in it.
• Advice: Lift some weights! Okay, now, devoting lots of energy to multiple-set hypertrophy-oriented weightlifting is probably not the best thing for a cyclist—mountain bike or road—during the race season. But doing a single set with a couple of different lifts just to keep the fast-twitch muscles firing is a really good idea. I abandoned running and weightlifting (and clipless pedals—dumb!) before my one and only not-so-hot race this year, and I was hurting at the end of that race. My legs felt a little shot, yes, but my shoulders were toasted. When I was riding, I was clinging to my handlebars like my life depended on it, and when I wasn’t riding, I was walking and pushing my bike. My delts and my traps were hurting when all was said and done. Now, I’ve made some gear changes that should lessen the amount of bike n’ hike I do next year, but the fact is that mountain biking is capricious. You need to be ready for anything.
• Observation: Recovery stuff works! I spent a bunch of time elevating my legs despite overdoing itin the last week before my last race. When I got to the start line, the legs were ready to go. Mind you, I also took the day before the race off work and did some serious relaxing. One way or another, I was happy with the result.
Honestly, I’m happy about the way the season went. I sandbagged and won the first race I did (sandbagging = not so cool, but what’s done is done), I bit off way more than I could chew and loved it at the second race I did (and got schwag that cost more than my race entry fee, how cool is that?), and then I walked away with an age group medal from the last race I did this year. That’s not a bad season in my book.
Hold on now … I have a book?