Now that I’ve “peaked”, whether physically, mentally, or both, its time to settle in and slide lazily down the backside of fitness. Let the good times roll!
I’m a couple of weeks into rebooting and it has been pretty manageable. I think the biggest trick to rebuilding fitness is knowing exactly what I’m supposed to do. Its pretty easy to get in shape: You do a bunch of months of longer slower rides, then you pile on a month or two of harder efforts, and then volia, you’re fast.
But how is it exactly that you “get slow” on purpose? It’s hard. I’m pretty sure I’ve been doing it at least 50% wrong. I’ve stopped racing, which is good. I’ve opted out of a few Meridian rides, which are pretty intense, and I’ve limited my own hard efforts on my solo rides. Mileage is down a bit as well. My Garmin is dead, so I don’t have HR or power data to pay attention to anymore either. That pretty much sums up my shoot from the hips approach to get-slow training. I should probably go read a book or talk to a coach about dialing it in even more but I’m not a pro and I’m not that concerned with nailing it, so I think I’ll continue on this course for a while unless it doesn’t seem to be working.
The good thing about mellowing out is that it is allowing me to enjoy riding a bit more. As I suspected, I really enjoy just soaking up the rides as a simple cyclist, not a racer who is out training. There is a certain zen that comes with relaxing, looking down, watching your knees bob up and down, and not experiencing any pain.
I’m looking at the horizon and starting to feel the itch to do a MTB race, so I thought it time to break out my vintage mountain bike: The Yeti AS-R. I bought the bike used in 2004, but I think it might be a 2002 or 2003 model. That would make it almost 10 years old. Ever since I was in junior high school I had always wanted a Yeti. Watching Myles Rockwell and Missy Giove shred on those beautiful green bikes burned the brand into my memory, so as soon as I had enough cash to buy one I did. I don’t ride my MTB much these days but I started cycling on a mountain bike not a road bike, and it is fun to return to my first love.
Whenever I show up to a mountain bike ride with the Yeti nowadays, I always get the same reaction: “Whoa, that thing is vintage!”. The same was true yesterday as I headed out to Mayhem Gulch and Centennial cone with my buddy Chris. We had a nice mellow paced ride in perfect weather conditions. I always pick up a bit of skill from Chris, who is a much more seasoned bike handler than I. Just by watching his lines and mimicking, I can improve my descending speeds pretty significantly. I also reduce my chances of crashing in the same manner. I’ve always held that riding MTB will improve one’s road riding abilities because it tests the reflexes and hones instincts in a way that road riding simply can’t. I’m pretty sure that MTB instincts have saved me from more than a few road bike crashes, including one spectacular crash at San Dimas Stage Race where, in an act of pure MTB instinct, I fully bunny-hopped a rider who went down in front of me. I told Chris yesterday that I rarely experience fear on my road bike unless a car is doing something dumb, but on a MTB I experience sheer terror quite frequently. A little fear is healthy!
In a direct manifestation of the benefits of slowing down, yesterday I was able to stop at the top of Centennial Cone and grab this panorama of the very things that first drew me to this state about a year ago: The Colorado Rocky Mountains.