I’ve been riding for about thirteen years now. Not nonstop, mind you, but I’ve got my share of miles in. Right now, though, I’m doing something I have never ever done before, bikewise.
Yes, I am following — mostly — Coach Lofgran’s schedule of riding less while drinking more (water), and resting.
I don’t like it.
For the past ten days, I haven’t had a ride that’s left me cooked at the end. I am constantly having to hold myself in check. About the time I get up to a cadence and speed that feels good, I notice that I’ve just bumped out of my target heart rate, and I have to dial back.
I’m riding short, I’m riding easy. It feels wrong. I’m itching — aching, really — to attack a hard climb. I yearn to find a flat road and open up, exploring the limits of my legs and lungs. I want to get on the bike for five hours and disappear into the rhythm and ache of the ride.
Sheesh, I sound like a lovesick teenager, don’t I? Or maybe a junkie in need of a fix.
Yesterday, I rode for just over half an hour, staying in zone 1 and 2. It feels weird to get to a minor bump of a hill and shift down and try to climb without letting your heart rate go up, instead of shifting up two gears and attacking. It feels crazy to do a ride, start to finish, without exerting myself; it’s like going for a drive without ever touching the gas pedal. It feels so strange, to quit just about the time your legs have awakened.
But I’m doing it. Coach Lofgran got me to this point — I’m faster than I’ve ever been, as near as I can tell — so I’m sticking to the plan.
Well, mostly I am, anyway. Bob’s in town now and he wanted to ride Tibble — which is in the most perfect condition it’s ever been in — right now. Who am I to say “no” to a friend who’s flown all the way from Seattle to go riding?
Today I was supposed to stay in zones 2 and 3a. I’m pretty sure that’s not even possible on some of the pitches going up Tibble. So I might have seen zone 4b for a couple of minutes.
Or possibly zone 9, but just for a second.
Mostly, though, I took it as slow as I could without falling over. And you know what? Tibble’s a lot easier if you don’t pedal as hard.
I am so insightful.
I’ve got this theory about tapering. The physical component — keeping your legs fresh and rested and storing up some fuel in your body — is just half of what the taper is for.
The more important part is what it does to your head. I figure that by the time I get to the starting line at Leadville, I won’t just be excited for the race, I’ll be excited to ride — to stand up and climb. To ratchet up to a tall gear. To go fast.
Of course, this means that I’ll be a slobbering, drooling, hyperactive freak by Saturday morning.
Once the race starts, though, I should be just fine.