Training, Epiphany-ing, and Some Photos
I haven't raced in a while. The race this last sunday was canceled because of the french elections...no dull details necessary for that one. In any case, the time off of racing has been swell, and I've been training plenty. It's nice to take a break from being humbled by the skinny french 20 year olds. But the humbling will end soon! I feel it. That tingle in the legs. It's coming...
So let me bore the readers with some technical bike-dork training jargon. The bike's coming along real well. Got new housings/cables yesterday. Snappy. Also installed the SRM head unit i've had for a long while (Endless thanks to this Guy). No SRM cranks yet, but it's so terrific to be able to download data from rides -even if it's just speed and HR for now. Fantastic. Charts. Graphs. Temperature. Calories. Gears. Seconds. Dig it. It's particularly gratifying after a good day of training. Like today. Short day. 2 hours. Hmmm..before I delve into the interval-game. Let's talk about how I came to do these things in the first place...
In SoCal, I didn't do interval training. Ever. The weekly routine was:
-Tuesday morning mix it up with the Barry guys, then climb the crest gently. Rest for a couple hours, then destroy the rosebowl at night
-Wednesday easy 1-2 hours
-Thursday was similar to Tuesday, depending on the weekend's race schedule is.
-Friday 2-4 hrs...depending on how I felt.
That's how it used to go, and it worked. Why? Because group rides, and rosebowls and all that junk that's so common and convenient in SoCal make for solid training! They're *real* intervals in themselves, and as long as there's proper recovery in between those things, it's a swell time. If you look back in the blog's archives, you'll find that my absolute hardest rides of the year in '06 were crazy rosebowl sessions with Hilton Clarke, Jaimie Paolinetti, Christian Valenzuela, etc etc. I'll be damned if anyone can get a workout like that doing intervals up some local hill. Additionally, the group rides gave me a way to gauge my fitness level(relative to the other riders in the pack). Good things all around...I'm having a bit of an epiphany here...my intention wasn't to glorify the SoCal training ride scene. Anyhow...back to Aubenas: the land without group rides or practice crits.
So a week after that first stage race that I botched (but finished!), one of the director sportifs, Jacques, came over with a bunch of papers. Papers....business papers. What he basically said is, "Listen, Fatman, time to get fast and lean." Jaques speaks relatively good (key word: relatively) english, so after a couple minutes, I was able to deduce that what he had was a complete training programme and set of guidelines to (a) get me leaner and (b) get me faster. I didn't realize it at the time, but in a sense, I was replacing the hammer sessions at home with neater, more quantifiable, more gratifying (sometimes...) interval sessions. Didn't like it at first, but when you feel good, and finish off a set of hard efforts...it's a good feeling. That's the "tingle" I spoke of earlier. I won't break down the whole programme right now, but today was fun. It's become my favorite workout. 30 minute warmup. Then, 3 to 6 efforts (6 today): 5 minutes each, with 5 mins of recovery between efforts. First 3 minutes at ~65% (160-164bpm for me), the 4th minute at 75-80% (172-176), the 5th minute gets ramped...to about 90-95% (180-186), then SPRINT the final 10 ticks (190+ bpm). Here's today's file:
The red line is heart rate. Nice and neat huh? I love neatness and symmetry of the intervals. I think I'd go insane with a powermeter....good thing it's not coming all at once. Prior to this, I hadn't ridden with a speedo/HRM/anything on my bars since the 80s! Also, found a nice little sprint trick which I'm shocked at not having discovered earlier...not that there are actually sprints here, but i'm sure it'll come in handy one day...
I haven't done any tourist stuff lately. In the Ardeche, if you don't speak french smoothly, you're not allowed to not be a tourist....so I have an obligation! ['Till I master French, of course]. Farmer's market tomorrow. Going with a bit of cash and a camera. I need a basket (one of those nice hand-woven ones would be nice...) for laundry purposes, but outside of that? Who knows? There's always something interesting out there...and I don't know how many more saturdays I'll have off from racing...so gotta jump on the opportunity.