I’ve been slacking on the weblog because I’ve NOT been slacking on riding bikes. It’s amazing — when your week consists of working 40 hours, sleeping 60 hours, and riding bikes for 24 hours — how little else you can or really want to get done in a week. Generally I just try to increase that 60 hours of sleeping figure. For those at all interested, I’m going to indulge myself in some bike geekdom.
For the past three years, also known as 3/4 of my cycling career, I’ve attended a training camp in San Luis Obispo each March. We get to pretend like we’re pros, and eat, sleep, breathe and converse bikes. Bikes bikes bikes. And what this has meant, historically, is that I get a huge bump to my fitness in the first couple weeks of March, since all we do is ride every day. No work, no worries, just cycling.
This year, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to rack up that one week of 30+ hours on the bike, so I talked to Coach Liam and we came up with a new and different and exciting plan. One that would test my limits. One where I’d come out the other side a lot stronger, perhaps this time actually ready to tackle the pro race at Joe Martin, and also Gila (if I can get in…).
So I planned two 2-week staycation bike camps. I live in a pretty good place for that now, so the variety of the daily routes wasn’t going to hold me back. The physical and mental aspects of balancing it all would be the difficulty. Essentially I’d be overtraining for two weeks, then cutting way back for a rest week, then doing two more massive weeks. Yesterday was the end of the second 2-week block, and I must say, it went swimmingly.
Back in Chicago, the only time I’d ever rack up more than 18 hours/week on the bike was the aforementioned SLO camp. I just now spent four of the last five weeks averaging 24 hours on the bike. And they weren’t 24 easy hours, either. For those keeping score at home, I usually take a rest day on Mondays, so 24 hours averaged over those remaining six days is 4 hrs/day. What that meant for me was waking up at 6:30, getting to work at 7, and then either riding four hours at lunch, and coming back to finish up work until 7pm, or, when Daylight Saving Time kicked in, working 7am-3pm, and then riding four hours after work until it got dark out. I tell you, I don’t know how the crazies in finance or law or medicine or any job that requires 12-hour days can do it for more than a couple weeks at a time. I guess they just don’t sleep. But to train this much and then not sleep is perhaps the most counter-intuitive thing there is, as the huge increase in training means I need more sleep than before, if anything. So I’d get home at 7, 7:30, cook some quick dinner, maybe put a movie on or start reading 10 pages of a book in bed and then fall asleep and do it all over again.
There were most definitely some days where I questioned what the hell I was doing (Saturday’s personal-record-shattering 347 TSS day, for example). But then the next day I’d do it again, look up at the mountains, smile, and realize I have a legitimate shot at one, if not two, national championships on the track come August. The Pursuit is mine. Though as I’ve always said, it’s nearly all intrinsic motivation here, so it’s just as much the pursuit of the Pursuit as it is the actual Pursuit. I hope you’re confused.
Essentially it’s been one massive, timesuckingly awesome training block to get me into the best shape of my life so I can maybe do something cool at Joe Martin down in Arkansas in a couple weeks. And the three races I’ve been in (two DNF’s and one 44th place) have all been in the name of intensity at the end of a long ride, so I haven’t really cared too much about results. Just doing them to get that extra snap that you don’t get from doing Flagstaff repeats.
I’ve never started a season off with two DNF’s and felt so good about how the year could go. Then again, I’ve never begun a season with two DNF’s…