Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let the Season Begin

Like it or not, mother nature decided that a couple of weeks back should be the official start of the spring season. She did so with a batch of rain followed up by some warm weather and added in extended alternations of sun, warm, rain and fog. This basically ensured that the local snow pack, which had been stellar all winter, would be decimated in the course of a week. That which it appeared would never subside, namely the 6' high snowbanks that abounded, quickly shrunk and shriveled to dirty little shadows of their former selves. The roads have also widened up, dried out to an extent and motorists can actually see over and around the remainder of the snowbanks. This means we are safe to hit the roads.

Unfortunately, in the shelter of the wooded areas the snow is still a force in many places, though our local trails are mostly clear and off-road riding is once again possible. With that, last week during our glimpse of spring, I stole away for a quick MTB ride in the PR before the planned road hill ride was to take place. It was a really, really nice day and it felt good to be out on the trails, if only for a brief time. Of course, I was wildly overdressed and melted down but that helped me to dress more appropriately for the evening ride.

On one hand I'm a bit sad that winter is gone, for all intents and purposes. I was really having fun doing something fresh and different rather than just being about the bike all of the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the bike all of the time, but I really had fun being about the skate skis and XC skis this winter as well. It felt really good to be doing something different.

Two weeks ago was the first week that I was able to ride in earnest, logging over 200 for the week. It was a bit of a shock to the system to go from a max of 8 hours a week in the saddle this year and only 3 hours the previous week up to 12 hours and then almost 16 last week. This week has been good so far as well so far and I hope to put in another good batch this weekend. I've got to say that the 4 plus hour rides are tough at the point but we have been able to get in a couple of good weekends with back to back near 4 hour rides on Saturday and Sunday.

I'm at the point though, where I am physically tired so will be due for some legit downtime next week I think. Last year there was no cutoff/break and I was able to put in big miles and hours even in January. That of course, took it's toll later in the season when I burned out and faded all fall. My resolution is to not fall into that trap again this year. Really, this time I mean it.

In order to combat that fade this year, I'm trying to ride smarter. Part of my issue last year was that I allowed my self back into the comfortable arms of riding every day, for fairly long hours, moderately hard. This made me really good at going for a long time at a moderately hard pace. Unfortunately I had no top end and I was tired all of the time. Who'd have guessed? This year my plan is all about extremes. When riding, my intent is to either be suffering harder than I am used to suffering or be going really, really easy. The time in between needs to be minimized and I need to stop getting caught in the trap of going on an easy group ride for a recovery ride. That trick never works.

What I have found to be a good recovery ride is riding my SS MTB on the bike-path. It's flat and the SS MTB gearing acts as a governor to keep it real. An hour of that and the legs actually feel good at the end without being taxed. For the hard days I try and spend as much time at the front hammering as I can. I'm also trying to push it a little past the point where I would normally crack and back off as well, again trying to push my comfort level with discomfort. It's all about what you are used to. On a larger scale, I'm also listening to my body. If I feel really bad or my knees/legs are really sore, going out a hammering again may not be the best bet. Common sense, eh?

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