So, am I the last to know that it's already May?? It just dawned on me that the Iron Horse (a 47 mile, 6650 ascent to 10,867 feet) is only 3 weeks away! I find myself in a dilemma; is it time to train or taper? This is particularly difficult because the training has been lacking. I did ride Big Mountain on Sunday, a 3389 ft climb over 33 miles (round trip) that took about 2 hrs 25 min. At least I am familiar with what climbing feels like. With only two week-ends left before the race, I am going to consult Chris Carmichael's "Time-Crunched Cyclist" in a desperate attempt to prepare. The plans that are outlined in this book oriented toward busy cyclists are 12 weeks long and assume the rider has some base training. Sporadic rides interupted by a 2-week sea-kayaking vacation hardly resembles base training, but it is what it is. My strategy for the next 2 weeks will be to push hard on shorter rides during the week (when work does not permit longer rides), taking advantage of natural terrain for intervals. The canyon in my back yard is great for this, as it has both gradual and steep sections. I also hammer all the way down the sometimes rolling terrain. For the next two week-ends, I'm going to ride longer, hopefully 2+ hrs Saturdays and Sundays. This should help me get used to saddle time, as last year the Iron Horse took me about 3.5 hrs. I can use the last 5 week-days preceding the race to take it a little easier, just riding to stay loose. This is by no means an ideal training plan, but it's all that I can do at this late date. From a broader perspective, this should be fine, as my REAL goal for this year is to get a personal best at LOTOJA in September.
I promised I would get back to you on the topic of gauging progress by comparing yourself to others. I generally compete against myself, but it is fun to race against unsuspecting cyclist that just happen by. Reflecting on my performance, I realized I am like a wolf... preying upon the sick, the old, and the young. Translation: If you are a sick cyclist, I probably can beat you. (Usually, I don't see any sick cyclists... or at least I can't tell). If you are very young.... like less than 10 years old, I probably can pass you going up the canyon also, especially if you are wearing running shoes and a cotton t-shirt. Likewise, if your hair on your head (and legs) is really gray, I might pass you also. Very wolf-like, don't you think? (It should also be noted that I usually pass people cycling in boots or black work socks or on mountain bikes) .... usually. It's not much, but it's something!