Since taking a bit of break climbing, birding and insulator hunting I have started my 3 month training regime which will hopefully deliver me in good form for the solo24 in early October. I decided to concentrate on road miles initially (first month), then throw in some intensity training whilst keeping the miles up, then in the last month mix it up with the mtb, tapering and tuning skills towards making the trail flow. I’m almost ½ way and have managed to stick (mostly) to script.
In the first 5 weeks I have racked up distances of 400, 400, 400, 500 and 500 km; a pleasing accomplishment given the number of wet days I’ve had to contend with. It has been a road of rediscovery in some sense, navigating routes I used to do in preparation for racing all those years ago. Longer weekend rides have included West Head/Acuna Bay (West Head road brilliantly resurfaced!), Mangrove mountain via the old highway (still crap surface) and the more recently discovered M2/M7 combination and the 6 valley circuit (Bobbin Head, Galston, Berowra, Mt White, Brooklyn, Bobbin). The arrival of Kev from the UK has also spiced things up considerably, and just at the right time. Never seen him so fit and lean. He has provided the tonic with regards intensity and speed work that was thus far lacking; in the sense that it is fine to be able to ride for a long time at snail’s pace, but it is obviously desirable to do so a bit quicker.
Last Saturday I joined Kev and one of his workmates, Chris, a fairly accomplished triathelete, to do the M7. Kev assured me that Chris, at 6ft++ and 85 kg was very strong. He wasn’t kidding. I struggled to sit on his wheel, let alone do convincing turns on the front on the 80 km out and back course. Where alone I’d be struggling to hold mid 30’s (as noted a few weeks earlier), Chris would just pound away at around 40 km/hr, seemingly with no effort. With the ride completed, Chris then donned shoes and disappeared for a run. I knew such a hammer session was good for me, but it was a little demoralising all the same – knowing that I had all those km’s under my belt but was struggling at times to even hold wheels. It was sobering to consider that such an engine might be equally impressive on the hills as it was on the flat (I’m thinking van de Broek, Indurain etc); we’d tee’d up 3 valleys for the following day. Yikes! As Chris motored out along Galston Rd at 40 km/hr, with Kev and I sucking wheel, I was already resigned to getting shelled on the climbs that were to follow. Hence, I was somewhat relieved to discover that gravity was still my friend as Chris popped off my wheel somewhere on the middle ramp of the Galston climb. With the first climb dispensed with Kev and I then tucked in again as Chris, now recovered, ripped across the tops at 45 km/hr, again making it seem effortless. I think I finally have an inkling of how the pro peloton manages to do these incredible average speeds. On top of fancy wheels and kit, the combination of top notch engines and long pins eats kms in quick time. Of course i knew this all along, it's just a while since I've ridden at such tempos.
What has not been my friend of recent weeks has been the weather, nor a cold I’ve been trying to kick for the last 3 weeks. Aided no doubt by the weekend exertions, the cold has finally won for the time being – I’m a coughing spluttering mess, and its just as well this blog requires no oral communication skills. So an easy week it will have to be. But I am still upbeat as at least psychologically I feel I am close to breaking the back of the miles I wanted to get into my legs before the event, and am starting to look forward to the fine tuning that will ensue over the weeks ahead.