Thursday, March 03, 2011

Bethel Spring Series - Training Onsite

This year, for a variety of reasons, I haven't been training as much. For the last two weeks my only rides have been at Navone Studios - Wednesday, Sunday, and then Wednesday. It got to the point that after Wednesday night's ride I just left my bike there. The next time I'll ride it will be Saturday after the sweep; after that it'll be on race day.

Of course, when you see the next couple pictures, you'll see why it's easy to ride at Navone's... the atmosphere.

The place is dripping in bikes, although I haven't taken any recent shots. But as an example here's one from last year:

Think more bikes, more pictures, and less tables.

The back is a bit more closed off now, with the nitty gritty of the operation hidden back there. It's open on training night since that's where everyone rides (who rides indoors - there's a corresponding outdoor ride which, in these cold temperatures, is way too flahute for me).

During the Series though, please remember the back is off limits. Even us registration folk won't be parading back there very often, if at all.

The screen about thirty feet away. I'm standing near the dividing wall between the front and back areas.

The space allows as many as eight riders or so to line up side by side without getting hit by errant sweat droplets or even any kind of odor (although I think for Pavlovian conditioning using embrocation would be excellent - I haven't brought my Atomic Balm out yet).

A better look at the screen.
Yes, that's my bike. Yes, that's the last race I did in 2010 on the screen.
Yes it's huge.
And it has a speaker system to match.

On two days we did structured workouts, one by Sufferfest, another by Carmichael. I liked the Sufferfest better because it uses a lot of race footage. As a bonus I hadn't seen the footage before it really engrossed me.

(Of course I had time to watch - I was so weak I gave up 15 seconds into each of the fifteen 60 seconds intervals. This gave me plenty of time to sight see.)

The Carmichael clips, although they are good at vocalizing the steps and stuff, have lots and lots of clips of riders on trainers. Since they all look like they're just moderately suffering, and they all have that same desperate look on their face that all riders on trainers have, it's not as aesthetically pleasing as seeing, say, Jens Voight putting it down in some unknown to us mainstream-race-watchers small stage race or something.

I realized that my ideal workout would be a split screen TV. I'd have the audio and the visual timer clock thing that Carmicheal has on one part of the TV (preferably the lower 10% of the screen, which is where the timer numbers sit). I'd have bike racing footage to replace the suffering trainer riders. I mean, yeah, I understand it's good to have a visual, but I'd much rather see some real racing action, not just that glazed over "I'm on a trainer and someone's video taping me" look.

In fact my ideal workout would be tied in with point of view footage of attacks, chases, and hanging on for dear life.





To tie it all in, sort of, on the in-between day, a couple hours on Sunday, we watched something totally different. We warmed up to some 2006 Giro (the inhumanly strong Basso just before he took his leave of absence) before switching over to some SDC helmet cam clips.

Yes, we watched my point of view of some races.

No they did not have intervals built into them. We just did a 60 second effort every five minutes for an hour.

Every now and then I'd holler out (over speaker and trainer noise) pertinent information regarding tactics or some unwritten (i.e. not subtitled) stuff.

Jefferson, a Navone rider who I cruelly chased down at Naugatuck, did sprint the whole sprint in the Francis J Clarke clip, which has an unusually long sprint for me. Since the timing was off for the minute effort (it ended just as Cliff hit the front), I'd already sat down. I watched Jefferson drill it for another 30 seconds or so - my legs hurt just watching him.

In case you forgot what happened in the two races, I'll post them here. First Naugatuck, where I worked my butt off (intentionally). I was working for my teammate SOC who, after the race, admitted putting too much pressure on himself, but I also worked because I was chasing this elusive thing called form. I knew if I kept working on it I'd get it.

So, first Naugatuck, where I chased Jefferson:

And the final Cat 3-4 race at Bethel for 2010 (Jefferson wasn't in there as he was still a Cat 5):

If that second clip doesn't get you wound up for Bethel, I don't know what will.

Which brings me to Bethel for 2011...

Man those roads were CLEAN in 2010. Holy smokes.

Each time I went to Navone's I was really going to work on moving some of the ice off the pavement. The rides were just the bonuses, the reward for a hard bit of work.

I jokingly said to a few people that I'd make a good prisoner, chopping and hacking at the ice and frozen snow, then shoveling the grainy chunks off to the side. Rinse and repeat. Over and over.

Incredibly the course has gotten a lot better, but there's one final huge chunk which defeated me and a long time Bethel supporter Pat. He came out to help with this final obstacle last Wednesday (yesterday I just realized) and worked with me. We hacked at the thing in the dusk and then in the dark, illuminated by my idling car.

(The red car gets about 40-44 mpg if I drive it once or twice to Bethel with 100 miles of 3 mile commutes thrown in there, but if I idle it while I chop at ice, it's more like 33-35 mpg... it takes a full gallon to idle for an hour or two. Note to self - generator burns a gallon every 13 hours or so and I can run a couple 250/500 watt work lights off of that thing.)

We took turns chopping and hacking. Pat worked better with the high-force, high-impact metal shovel work. My shoulders and arms were still kind of half numb from Sunday's 6 hour session with the metal shovel. But I was good with the plastic big scoop shovel, an excellent Garant snow shovel, long handled for better leverage (with less back strain) and a scoop with sides so snow and ice chunks don't slither off before you get them hoisted over the bank.

The bank, by the way, was a bit tall, like three or four feet for much of it.

Pat would chop then pull off. I'd take my pull, shoveling. We traded pulls for a while, working like a two man paceline. Eventually we both blew up. He did what he could with salt and stuff; I slowed to a crawl while I worked first one shovel then the other.

I realized that I shovel just like I ride - fast and furious until I explode. Then it's painfully slow and methodical.

Nonetheless I feel pretty good about Sunday. Not about my racing, which will be pretty dismal, but about the race. I took a lot of pressure off my shoulders when I cornered myself into being able to do just one race, the P123s. Without being eligible for the M45+ (if I lowered it to M40+ I'd be eligible, one main reason why I didn't do it), nor the 3-4s, I put myself in a no-win situation.

Therefore I have no pressure on me. I don't feel obligated to train my brains out. I don't need to ask my teammates for help (I always feel guilty doing that, although I'll accept it if it comes my way).

Therefore I can focus more on promoting the race, versus racing the race.

Therefore I can do stuff like the clinic. Work on making some stuff way more cool than before. Work on some longer term ideas. Appreciate what the Series has already accomplished. Yada yada yada.

And I'll still be able to at least go to the start line and roll off with the field. No spectacular places for me, not this year. I know my place and I'm diving into water that goes just a bit over the top of my eyes. It'll be a struggle to stay afloat, but that's okay. I can handle that. I handled it before, and I'll handle it in the future I'm sure.

The Series, though, I hope it excels.


Matt said...

I don't live anywhere near you and won't be racing in your series, but thank you very much for going through all that effort to clean your course. While I won't be a benefactor, it made me realize that there is probably someone just like you out here, promoting our own spring series (we have two), who deserves my thanks (or even better, my help).

You are a huge asset to the community.

Aki said...

Thanks for the note. I'm sure that where ever you live that there is indeed someone like me who is out there working hard to make some spring series work out as best as possible.

You're already thanking folks, even those like me not in your area, so I'm kind of preaching to the choir.

But for everyone else, please thank your race promoters. Holler it out when you see them when you roll by on your bike, or thank them if they're at registration, whatever.

Don't forget the officials. Although they technically get paid, it's not a lot of money at all, and believe me when I say there are easier and way more pleasant ways to spend a race day.

Whoever you thank may either grin or smile or do something positive if they're in a rare moment where the race has not innundated their brain.

However, if they're in normal promoter/official mode and totally intent on fixing some race thing, they may look at you with blank incomprehension, surprise, or (like me), with a stressed look which can be misinterpreted as anger.

It's okay though. Trust me, at some level, they appreciate it. At the end of the day I may be talking about the difficulties of the race, but it's the appreciation that balances it all out. It's what drives me to try and make the next Series even better.

Whatever else their faults or your opinions on the individual, the promoters/officials worked very hard to make the race a reality. I don't have exact number but many promoters actually pay money to make races happen. Even if they make money, at a grassroots level, it's not a lot. The thanks go a long way toward helping deal with that.