As a road rider and racer, my cycling season tends to wind down about this time. If I were to start racing cyclocross, I’d extend it out, but for now, I’m staying out of that. The past two years, I’ve marked the end of my season with racing at the Jamestown Classic down in Rhode Island. This year, a combination of the fact that I really kind of needed to work the day and also that my fitness wasn’t really where it should have been for a race led to me skipping it. Now I’m a little bummed that I did, but c’est la vie. I’ve spent most of the past six weeks generally riding just for fun and without any real training goals in mind, although I have been watching the power numbers on my shiny new powertap out of curiosity.
Looking back on the season, it was one that was both successful on some fronts and utterly not on others. I did a good job of keeping up a good base training routine through the winter but then ended up doing little in the way of racing over the course of the spring and summer. First it was waiting for the new bike, then it was being busy, then the weather sucked, then I got hit by a car, then travel, and then the season was over. Even though I didn’t race much, I felt like I was a lot better prepared for the races I did do and that my fitness was higher as a result of the base training through last winter.
So I think it’s now time to start easing myself back into a bit more of a routine in preparation for the winter of base training. I picked up a new trainer to replace the freebie I had been using that’s significantly quieter. Last winter, I was able to do trainer time in the evenings, but with my current schedule that seems unlikely so I’m going to start getting up a little earlier to get time in before the ride into work.
Set it up last night and had the first ride on it was this morning and it’s pretty nice — quieter than the old one and seems a bit smoother as well. I’ve got a pretty good set up to start with to be able to watch DVDs or online video. I’m then streaming the audio to my iPhone with AirPhones so that I don’t have to have a long headphone cable or worry about turning up the speakers really loud. Today was watching some TV via Hulu and then a Spinervals DVD. For the latter, though, I need some better music. What do other people listen to as a good upbeat playlist for time on the trainer or even general race warmup, etc?
It’s been a long winter of base training, but in the past couple of weeks, I’ve started to feel the twitches that make me think that race season is coming soon (and it is). While I’ve been perfectly happy to go along nice and easy both on my commute and on my training rides for the past few months, a couple of weeks ago I had someone pass me on my way to campus and I felt that it wasn’t right and so I had to sprint forward and then drop them. And the frequency of it has been increasing. I see someone up the road a little bit and I need to jump forward to catch them and pass them.
So how do I think the base training has gone? Pretty well, overall. I haven’t quite hit what the MIT plan was but I’ve done pretty well considering I was sick a couple of times, I’m working in addition to school (unlike most of the team), and the general crappy weather that this winter has seen in New England. We’ll see how it translates into racing. And there’s not long until I’ll see — the first ECCC race weekend is a week and a half away in New Jersey and I’m leaning towards going there. Which, of course, means that I need to find some time to tune up the bike and get it race-ready. Hopefully the components and frame for my new race bike will be getting here soon, but it definitely won’t happen in time for next weekend.
The past couple of weeks have been pretty bad in terms of my bike training. The weather in the Boston area, for those who are elsewhere, has basically consisted of significant snowfalls followed by days of highs around 20. Not exactly ideal biking weather. And also, making it very hard to get motivated for the trainer. On top of the weather, I’ve been going into the office more during IAP while I don’t have classes to go to. This also ends up cutting out time for training as usually I can get a fair bit in with the commute to Kendall and back. Just going to Alewife to pick up the shuttle just doesn’t get me anywhere near the same amount of time. And the aforementioned conditions make the idea of slogging out to Westford less than appealing… especially since I’d be coming home in the dark. And then with the bus schedule being once a day, I can’t really be flexible enough to get in any real trainer time before going into the office (me get up at 6? hah!) or after coming home (7-7:30… and then need dinner)
So yeah, it’s suffered. But today was almost warm with the temperature above freezing first thing this morning but quickly dropping to hover at around 30. And the sun was out, so I headed out on a ride with some of the other Quadies. Given the weather forecast, we decided to leave a little earlier (9) than the usual ride (10) to try to maximize the warm part of the day. Ended up having about 8 of us heading towards Concord and then 2 split off to Sudbury, 2 split off to head back and the other four of us headed to Harvard, MA. Harvard’s a pretty popular destination for cyclists in the area because you do get to get in some decent hills on the way there. So we made our way at a fairly sedate pace. As we got to Harvard, I was pretty cold — my feet especially. Luckily, the way back at least seemed warmer. The hand warmers in my boots probably helped some and also having the sun out and shining on us certainly did. Plus, we had a tail wind instead of a head wind to cut down on the wind chill a bit.
Overall, a good ride. 56 miles for the latter part of January is certainly nice. But I need to get better about getting in the training time, even if on the trainer, as it gets closer to racing season. At this point, both the collegiate and the NEBRA calendars are set, so I should sit down and figure out exactly what my racing season is going to look like. And probably in a couple of weeks time, it’ll be time to start moving out of base and into a build period so that I can get into appropriate shape. I think that the Base part is actually being pretty effective, though — my heart rate is pretty good about getting back into a low zone after anything resembling an effort, not that I’ve done many of those recently. And also, I pushed a little going up a hill today and I don’t seem to have lost any power to speak of. So hopefully combining the two will let me race a bit harder for longer and maybe have that show with my season.