I can’t say enough about how stoked I am that the valley trails are clear already. Normally, this time of year in Edmonton they would still be under several inches of hard packed snow and ice. In the shade of the trees, it would be another 2-3 weeks yet before they were good to go. And honestly, that might even be optimistic.

Being able to get outside has been fantastic for the training. I willingly ride longer, and harder and suffer the pain with a smile on my face. Well, maybe it’s a grimace, but trust me I’m smiling on the inside.

Just outside my place is a loop I call the Rat Creek Loop. It starts at the top of the valley at Jasper Ave and 82nd street, and rolls consistently downward along a perfect sample of single-track for about 1.6km. You can bomb down this thing! At the bottom you come to a trailhead that goes all the way back up to the top through a densely treed ravine called Rat Creek. This meanders upwards for about 1.5km and is a real slog when you push it. So far I I’ve been including 5 or so repeats of this loop in my ride. This has turned out to be a super convenient little sweet spot for training. I can’t believe I didn’t ride it more last year.

2 weeks ago, I went in Calgary for a road ride with Ken. We left from his house near C.O.P. and rode out to Bragg Creek and then to Elbow Falls. It was a 140km day. Easily the longest single day ride I’ve done. It’s been nice to find that all the off-season training has paid off. The road ride was one indication of that, but it was really the first trail ride of the season that impressed me. I headed out with a local Juventus team rider, Kirk, and I followed him through the planned Edmonton World Cup course. Super fun, pretty technical. The racers should really enjoy it. For me though, I found that I could climb hills I couldn’t, even at the end of the season last year. One in particular has been a nemesis for years. Ken, nor I, have ever cleaned it, at least not that I know of. This year, first ride of the season, I rolled right to the top. It was awesome! I’ve done it twice since as well, so I know it wasn’t a fluke ;-)

So yeah, I’m excited about the season in front of me. I’m starting in the best shape I’ve ever started a season in. I still have a long way to go to be TRC ready, but I think I’m on the right track.

Ken and I are in the Bacon Buffet, and the Stoney Plain Superhero Challenge coming up in only a couple weeks. I still expect that Ken, who has done a great job with the training through the winter, will still be the stronger rider. This is admittedly very much to my chagrin, but I’m not going to complain too much yet. We still have a few more months of training to go.

Wins:

  • Kept up with my training schedule – 4 rides a week
  • Weekend rides are getting longer – 2-3 hours in the saddle now
  • Getting back on the trails and building up the ‘outdoor’ riding muscles. Sitting on a trainer just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

Losses:

  • Missed a couple workouts due to work. It’s been busy for me lately
  • Slowed down in the gym. Going 1 time per week now to allow for more rest and recovery from the more intense and longer rides
  • Not sleeping that well lately
  • Not stretching enough – I really need to be more diligent about that