Friday, May 11, 2007

Training - Regrouping

This post isn't about group riding and how to regroup after a tough climb blows apart the tightly knit pack of riders. It's about regrouping on a different scale. It's about regrouping to figure out how to approach the rest of a season in a year filled with significant projects and deadlines.

Earlier this year I did a trainer ride in the early morning, came out of my dungeon (most refer to it as a basement), and realized how warm it was outside. So I tossed my bike and gear into the car and drove to work. After work I went for a nice ride, two laps of my standard loop. It's a loop I normally do in about 30 minutes - a really slow one is 35 minutes and my record is in the 26 minute range.

Two climbs on that loop I did out of the saddle, relishing the feeling of power as I rocked the bike up the hills. Pulling up on the bars - it's more like shoving the bars to one side, pulling up with one foot, pushing down with the other, all while tilting the bike. It's like sprinting in slow motion. And I love sprinting.

I forget that this tilting and the corresponding pulling up and over the pedal stroke is something you can't do on a trainer. Later, at home, I commented on how different it is to ride outside compared to the trainer - and that I should ride outside more. My fiancee looked at my knowingly and said, "You say this every year."


Well I still consider it a revelation every time I discover it.

I ended up sore with muscles I forgot existed. I remember all the various things I hadn't thought of in a while - cornering, descending, even climbing. I remembered how much fun I have riding the bike. Cycling isn't a means to an end, at least not for me. It's an end in itself. This seems a bit contrary to my statement that "I train to race, not race to train" but I'll expand on it in a different post.

So what's this got to do with regrouping, you ask. Well, nothing. Actually, I wanted to illustrate where I was with the whole "I love bicycle racing" bit to illustrate what it means to prepare to sacrifice a year of racing. This year the sacrifice consists of lowering my 2007 season expectations.

There are a few factors skewing these expectations. The more immediate is the goal of selling the house and moving to a spot closer to the future missus's office. Bonus is that I get to work from home after we move. The second item on the agenda is getting married (hence "future missus" and not "girlfriend"), but since that's not until October, the move takes scheduling priority. And there are little things which have to get done - honeymoon planning and helping promote the CT Coast Crit. And there are things I want to get done - fixing up the red car, sprucing up the blue one, doing some maintenance on the van, creating a street sweeping gizmo, things like that.

I can't ride a bike while I'm working on those tasks so I have to choose.

Bike or Task.

You can guess what that means.

I've committed myself to working on the house. And this means writing off expectations of training. Last year, the future missus would say something like "You haven't ridden your bike, you should probably ride." Now it's "If you clip the grass along the wall, I'll paint the wall as you won't be home till later."

And although Monday's sprint workout was a relative failure, feeling the bike rock side to side under me put me in a "summer" mood.

That means I really, really want to ride.

But I decided getting the house on the market is more important than bike racing. At least for a few weeks anyway. House time becomes more important. And my training time takes the corresponding dive.

This doesn't mean a total abandonment of the bike. Au contraire.

My next race is Saturday morning - a great series in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. This week, it should be noted, I didn't get to ride after my Monday night sprints. This means I'll be really, really fresh for Saturday morning's race. I plan on using the race to see how I've held up between my form-building February through the form-destroying March and April.

After Saturday's race I think I'll be able to better formulate some goals for the upcoming "important" races - Hartford, CT Coast, and Nutmeg, a flurry of races in a three week period. Well four weeks if you count the Prospect a week later. I always do well in the first two Prospects and terrible at the rest.

I already know my first step in the regrouping process. (This makes the whole thing a lot easier.) It will be to do the 75k - 100k might be pushing it - of the May 20th Bloomin Metric on the tandem. I started my first Bloomin' in 1982 with my friend Ken (who really got me into cycling) and his dad. Unfortunately his dad got stung by a bee and we had to rush somewhere for first aid. I didn't complete the ride, and honestly, I don't know if I could have, little scrawny kid that I was. This year it'll be a nice, mellow ride to get some time on the bike, hang out with the future missus, and my friend and colleague Kelly and his girlfriend Jenn (they're riding too).

Hopefully, and I really hope this, in the middle of my regrouping I'll have to worry about moving sometime this summer. It would mean the house sold in a really depressed real estate market and we're getting on with things. Now I don't just "hope" without taking any action. We actually hired an inspector so we could work on things before any other inspector pointed things out. And we put in a lot of time and effort into making the house good for another 15 years without much maintenance. Thankfully the house really didn't need anything as I'd just had virtually everything done in the last few years. So the house is structurally ready. We still have to clean up though and it's been tough weeding out the stuff that's accumulated over 15 years and countless housemates (I know, it's called "going to the dump" and we have - literally thousands and thousands of pounds of stuff - and the house is still kind of full).

Of course then we'll have to find a house. But we'll do that once we are reasonably sure we've sold this one. Much less stress working that way than if we find a house we want but we haven't sold this one yet. In case we find ourselves homeless, we have an offer to stay at the future missus's best friend's house - and the fact the friend's husband is a good enough friend that I gave him my non-running green car and all its related parts is a bonus.

After the move I'd be working from home every day of the week. This would be in the nice cycling area northwest of Hartford. I won't have to drive to work anymore. We're talking of freeing up something like 15 hours a week.

Imagine how much training I'll be able to do with 15 hours a week! Talk about a regrouping period. Just wait till 2008!

Of course I'll probably spend it working on the yard.

Or the cars.

But, hey, that's a different thing altogether.


Anonymous said...

Have you really been in that house for 15 years? That's half my life! Does that make you feel old? haha Well you were very young when you got it.

Aki said...

lol it's been a while. What seems sort of funny is when people ask where I live and then (if they're friends of friends or maybe co-workers or in some way somewhat familiar), "Do you own your own place?" The final question is "Oh, how long have you owned it?" and I answer whatever - 7 years, 10 years, etc. And you can see their brain furiously working as they pause. I can imagine their thoughts - is he a lot older than he looks (#1 reason), maybe he inherited the house, maybe it's a horrible cheap place, etc. Then they say "Oh, that's really great. Real estate is a great investment."

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're crazy busy with all things house-related. I suspect you'll probably do even better than you think. We just finally put up our house a week ago yesterday and have done pretty well. I hope you're able to find the place of your dreams soon.

I'm glad you have plans to regroup your season though - looking forward to seeing you at the Hartford Crit (can't believe it's coming up so fast!)