As I get closer and closer to the Transrockies, my training rides are getting longer and longer. What used to be a 1h30min ride 4 days a week, has turned into a 2h, then a 3h, and now they’re pushing 4hours. The pace of these rides isn’t manic; it’s more sustainable and consistent and this makes sense considering something someone said to be a few months ago about the TRC, “it’s about staying out of your anaerobic zone for as long as you can.”
At the time I wasn’t really sure that was true, but I am starting to understand. Although I will ramp well into my anaerobic zones on hill repeats, or through the singletrack sections – I can’t help it; it’s too fun, this comes at a cost. Even though these are short bursts, this explosive use of energy is just like putting the hammer down on the highway to pass a slow stream of cars – you can literally watch (feel) the gas gauge drop, and the result, though fun, is that you’re just not going to be able to ride as long or as far…
Endurance training has been a really interesting experience. It helps that I love being on the bike. I don’t get bored easily as long as I’m rolling along at a decent pace. I find it meditative and, well, purifying, for lack of a better word, to ride long. Something that’s vexed me though is that all this training has zapped my top end speed; I didn’t realize that was going to be so significant. The first race of the year, the Bacon Buffet, which was 1h 20min sprint left me exhausted through the last lap. I chalked this up to just having gone out too hot at the start. And, that was true, but it was more than that. I just hadn’t trained for sprint efforts. My muscle make up has shifted from fast twitch to slow twitch. I remember looking down at my wristwatch and seeing my heart rate in the 170’s on the flats, and the high 180 on the hills. This for me is 85%-95% of max, and I burned out fast. The next race I took a different approach, sitting back a bit and looking to speed up as the race went on. Again though, I found that on the last lap I was done like a Christmas Goose and had nothing in the way of climbing, or sprint power at the end. I dismissed this to lingering effects of illness. The last race though, the Iron Lung, I was healthy and happy and ready to rock, but the result was the same. My anaerobic training is just not at the level I’d like it to be when it comes to these short 1h-1h 30min races. Instead of being like an IndyCar, I’ve turned myself into something more like an economical mileage monster like a Jetta TDI.
This is going to serve me well come Aug 9th when I’m facing 7 days and 500+ km of fire road, jeep track and singletrack trails. But, it’s going to be a continually humbling experience at all these other short races. I guess the best thing is to just keep things in perspective and to not let the competitor in me derail my distance training. Marathon/Enduro racing is a whole other kind of race, and breeds a whole other kind of racer.