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Race Prep

Race Prep

All the training I've done that will help me is already done. (Or, in my case, not done.) My one and only goal is not to finish last. I feel like I have a decent shot at achieving that.

The race lineup was posted this week, and I feel like there are 4-5 guys who are right around my level. I'm certainly not much stronger than I was at Aliso, and I'm hoping they're not either. If they've all been doing Over the Hump, I'm screwed.

So today the bike got one final tune-up. A general cleaning, fresh Stan's in the tires, and a clean & lubed drive train. I also removed the rear water bottle, which should make me 0.04 seconds faster. So if I win by 0.03 seconds, we'll all know it's because I'm fast and smart.

Monday and Wednesday I'll do shake-out rides to stay loose and flush out any lurking problems with the bike, and then we'll see just how old I got this year.


New Drive Train

New Drive Train

More than a year ago, I was warned that my drive train was on it's last legs. And over the last couple of months, it's become nearly unusable.

I had new rings, chain, and cassette priced out at about $120, which made sense until I waited too long and discovered that it now requires some kind of witchcraft to get your hands on a 9-speed cassette.

And then I spotted a new Deore 2x10 complete drive train on sale for $175. Sold. (Plus, I had a new ZTR freehub waiting to go on. Sweet!)

I spent much of the weekend setting it up.




It's transition time, so I'm running this week as a back-off week: 100% intensity, 50% volume.

I took a spin around Aliso on Monday night. I felt slow, but set a new PR on Cholla, a short & tough climb. I only took 3 seconds off, but that's pretty great considering that I did it with a much lower heart rate and RPE.

And tonight I climbed Chutes twice. Both times were faster than my old #2 time, and the second was faster than the first by 10 seconds.

So the signs are there. The thing to do now is rest, take my vitamins, stretch, and do a short, fun ride on Saturday to finish out 3 hours for the week.

The Panic Creeps In...

The Panic Creeps In...

I've hit the transition point in my training. The focus will shift from strength training in the gym, to speed and stamina on the bike.

In theory, I've built up my strength and recovery capability, and can now pivot and use those aptitudes to quickly build speed and endurance.

I can feel that I've gotten stronger. I can feel that I'm riding better. But I'm also slower. That's expected-- when I focus on strength, chronic training load goes up, cumulative fatigue goes up, and speed and stamina on the bike go down.

Last week I did a lap of the Santiago course to see where I'm at. My target time was 45:00.

Final time: 48:17.

That's not good. Worse: I was pretty cooked. The Santiago race is two laps. No way would I have managed a second lap in under 50 min. Judging from last year's finishing times, that puts me near the back of the pack.

That's enough for me to feel a little panic start to creep in. I haven't been training like this to finish last.

I have eight weeks to build a faster pace, and build the endurance I need for two laps.

This is where I either have faith that my training plan will work, or I panic and just "ride hard" for the next few weeks, and end up shelled on race day, rolling in DFL and wondering what the hell happened.

I have to remember that I'm working a different kind of training plan. An explicitly, intentionally experimental plan. One that layers in stamina at the end, instead of as the "base."

I have to remember that I thought this through months ago, and I'm right where I expected to be: matching my old race pace for one lap, but turning bigger gears and setting PRs on downhills and short segments.

What should happen now, if I know what I'm doing, is that I'll start posting new PRs on short climbs like Cholla, then move up to bigger stuff like Mathis, Coachwhip, and Mountain Goat.

And if that's not happening, well, then I know I did something wrong, and need to reevaluate. I don't plan to do any racing next year (plenty of other stuff should be taking up my time), so I have plenty of time to play the long game, build general fitness, and pivot back to mountain biking in 2018.

But the experiment continues: How to finish mid-pack while training just 3hrs/wk.

But I had a nice thought the other night: even if Santiago doesn't go well, I still have Caspers in four months.

Training Progress

Training Progress

"If you want to be a stud later, you've got to be a pud now." -Christopher Sommer

The new workout has been doing me good. When I first started, it took me about 42 min. Now I'm down to 35 or so, and the movements feel easier. Not easy, but easier. Today's session felt like just another punch-the-clock workout. Another few weeks of this, then it'll be time to transition to a strength maintenance phase and focus my training time primarily on the bike.

I have made some adjustments to the way I originally put the workout together, mostly to dial back the load on my shoulders. I was struggling to keep the kettlebells in position during the third set of KB squats, and to finish three sets of 8 full push-ups. A lack of progress meant either that I was working too hard, or not hard enough.

Given that I was having trouble completing the workout, I bet on too hard.

I consulted Convict Conditioning, and moved back a step in the push-up progression to knee push-ups. I also switched from KB squats to front squats. This gave my shoulders a break, and let me train my posterior chain without letting my shoudlers be a limiter.

With those adjustments, progress has resumed across the board. Each workout feels slightly easier than the last.

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