Sunday, January 21, 2007

Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Snow nor Dead of Night

So I have been really testing my limits and resolve lately by making it a goal to stick to my training program and ride "no matter what". Over the last several weeks, I have ridden several times in pouring rain, sub-freezing temperatures, insanely low wind-chills, darkness, and wind speeds over 25mph.

There IS a method to this madness...

I have been committed (or I should be) to sticking to my goal and my training program and in an effort to not allow myself to "slack off", I have done some interesting, rather involved mental gymnastics and preparations to help me stick to the goal. I sat down back in the fall and made a sort of list of all conceivable "obstacles" that would attempt to deter me from the plan. Here is what I came up with and my solution to the issue:
  1. Issue: It's too cold --- Solution: Invest in some proper clothing.
    I had been saving money all summer for my cycling endeavors. I do repairs on the side out of my home, and I sell stuff on eBay constantly. I basically bought an entire winter cycling wardrobe from head to toe. I bought good stuff (Descente, Pearl, Smartwool, etc) and I bought something for every type of day.
  2. Issue: It's raining --- Solution: Get a beater bike with fenders and get some rain gear.
    I took an old Lemond frame I got on eBay for $50, put a bunch of old parts on it I had in my stash, threw on some fenders, and built up a set of bomb-proof wheels with 28c tires. I bought a rain jacket, rain pants, GoreTex helmet cover and waterproof gloves.
  3. It's dark outside --- Solution: Lights - lots and lots of lights.
    I had a light system from years ago that still worked, but I enhanced by add some "look at me" lights - ones that flash so I can been seen. Combined with my 9 amp-hour batteries and over 50 watts of lights, I can glow like Three Mile Island.
  4. Issue: There is snow on the ground --- Solution: Under 4 inches, ride the ATB. Over 4 inches, break out the x-country skiis.
  5. Issue: What to do if all the above gets past my mental roadblocks --- Solution: Stationary trainer and rollers set up in basement with a dedicated bike, ready to go at any time.

What all this affords me is absolutely no excuse to not get my time on the bike in a week.

The ONLY obstacle that I have run into is travel. I went to the Czech Republic in med-December and getting my ride time was a challenge. The hotel had a crappy, poorly setup and maintained stationary bike. Somehow, I managed to log about 4 hours on it that week, which was grueling.

What I am finding out is that there isn't any condition that is just absolutely miserable, once you are acclimated, properly dressed and mentally prepared for it. I think if I were to just go jump on my bike on a 20 degree day having not "worked up to it", it would be much more difficult. Having the proper clothing and knowing how to dress is really half the battle.

In the last three weekends, I have done 5 rides of 3 or more hours, all of which were in the rain except one, and all of which were below 40 degrees with a pretty stiff wind. Some other rides recently included a commute to work with a temperature of 16, winds of 10 and a windchill factor of 8.


My hope is that all this consistency in my training, combined with the stamina (both physical and mental) will prove to be valuable assets once the racing season starts.

Time will tell...