Consider, if you will, the following.
Item One: I am in remarkably good shape. I have thumped my chest and gone on and on about this recently, but the thing is: when you’re in really good shape as rarely as I am, it’s a conversational topic you find reason to bring up pretty darned frequently.
This isn’t just me feeling strong on the bike, either. In the past couple weeks, I’ve posted strong TT times on the Alpine Loop climb, Clark’s Trail in Corner Canyon (yeah, I’ve talked about both of those before), and — just a few days ago — on the North Suncrest road climb.
I’m at the point where I think it’s entirely possible that at the 24 Hours of Moab this weekend, I’ll be able to race without being a huge liability to my team.
That’s a new sensation, I’ll tell you.
Item Two: This has been a remarkable riding season. A really wet spring led to excellent trails and dense green foliage throughout the summer. And now we’re getting the big autumn payoff: all those leaves are turning colors now:
And when those leaves fall on tacky, packed forest singletrack — well — there’s nothing in mountain biking that is quite like it.
It’s like riding on a carpet. A red and yellow, short nap pile carpet.
Item three: It has begun to rain here. Often and a lot. It stands to reason that because items one and two have put me in excellent position to really enjoy being on my bike that…the weather has suddenly gone straight to hell.
Now, if I were Jill Homer, I’d be relieved. “Oh, good,” I would think to myself. “Finally, the good weather is behind me. Now I can start enjoying my bike again.”
But I’m not Jill Homer. In addition to other (more obvious) ways, I could tell this recently as I shot down the Alpine Loop on my road bike. The wind bit into me enough that I could feel my reaction time slowing. Rather than relish the refreshing feeling of hypothermia onset, as Jill would, I found a spot in the sun, stopped, and hugged myself — whimpering — until the shaking subsided and rational thought returned. During this time, I said to myself, repeatedly, “I will never ever ever ever do the Iditarod. Ever.”
I’ve lived in Finland. I’ve lived in Seattle. I know cold. I know rain. I don’t like to ride in either.
Which leads us — at long last — to today’s topic: What is my winter fitness plan?
My Winter Fitness Plan
My fitness plan for this winter is to gain as much weight as possible, in record time. I intend to do this using the following time-tested techniques:
1. Begin new exercise program. Or, as some less-enlightened people might say, “Begin exercising less.” I intend to do this through the medium of fooling myself. When it’s rainy (or windy, or snowy) in the morning, I will say to myself, “I’ll catch a ride later, when it clears up.” Then, if it doesn’t clear up, I have an ironclad excuse for not riding. If, on the other hand, it does clear up, it won’t matter anyway, because by the time the afternoon rolls around, my day is locked down.
It’s a brilliant strategy, and has worked for me hundreds of times. I have no reason to believe it will not work for me this year.
There will be times, however, when exercise is unavoidable. For these times, I will tell myself that:
- Winter is the time for me to put in long, slow miles. Sadly, I don’t have time for the “long” part. But slow, yes. That I can do.
- It’s been a while. I shouldn’t overdo it. I don’t want to strain something, after all. I should just kind of work back up to a good fitness level. Today will be the first step down that path. Just like the one time I exercised the previous week was.
- There’s plenty of time. Once winter begins, spring seems like forever away. This is because spring actually is forever away. Until, suddenly, it isn’t. Weird how that happens.
2. Begin new diet. I prefer the term “new diet” to the lmore demeaning (and, fine, accurate) description known as “eating more food, eating worse food, and eating more often.”
What I have noticed over the course of many winters is that, once there are more dark hours than light hours in a day, my body knows that it’s time to hibernate. Where before all I wanted to eat are apples, carrots and egg whites, suddenly I find myself wanting to hijack a Frito-Lay truck.
Worse yet, I generally want to use the Hostess truck I’ve hijacked earlier in the day to execute that (second) hijacking.
3. Begin using the scale judiciously. As autumn progresses toward winter, I intend to use the scale less and less often. You see, the bathroom scale is a very close relative to the mechanism used to kill (or not) Schrödinger’s cat. To wit, until I actually step on the bathroom scale and measure myself, I have not technically gained any measurable weight.
Trouser tightness notwithstanding.
I have high confidence in this plan, and am happy to say that I am well on my way toward executing it. It has been three days since I’ve been on a bike, and I’m feeling soft and lazy, and am considering my second nap of the day doing a good job of tapering for my race this weekend.