Week Two came to an end last night in the saddle of the Cannondale inside the relative warm comfort of the basement exercise area, with the bluish light of the TV painting images of the 2001 Tour De France across my eyes while I pedaled. Eight miles was all I needed to round out the week’s mileage goal, and with the temperature outside in the low teens, it just wasn’t worth suiting up for. I despise training inside, but the visual motivation and constant Phil & Paul commentary helped pass the time, while my extra wireless computer on the rear wheel clicked off the miles. This might be worthwhile, after all! Pedaling along with Beloki and Francios Simon while they pursue Armstrong certainly is better than staring at the walls or listening to music. I play Ullrich, jersey unzipped and jaw agape for air on the long col. I reach down and add more resistance to the trainer.
Freshly cleaned up, barely touched since October, the Cannondale was gleaming happy below me, fresh lube sklooshing past shiny chainwheels, and taut cables flicking smartly with each gear change as we climbed to the ski station atop Pla d' Adet. It was a time of forgiveness for the Cannondale and I, as I wiped clean the whitish gritty film left over from passing over wet pavement near the cement plant on the loop at Tejas. Wiping off the pedals, re-lubing cables and pivots, pressing air back into long neglected tires; with each polishing stroke, I wiped away the pain, the hardships of the ankle injury, and the tarnish of a season ended short. Mounting up, all indications of mal-adjustment were absent, knees meeting just shy of elbows in the drops, and ankles pulsing properly – nothing over, or under, extended. Only a half-hours task, but enough to feel that this is a very different bicycle than the one I’d ridden in October. As if anxious to prove itself to me, the shifting was crisp, the saddle forgiving, and the handlebars felt like home.
It was a rough week; Monday proved cold – but serviceable, Wednesday proved a serious challenge in varying states of traction and harsh winds and snowfall, and Friday with its torrent of hard headwinds no easier. It was good to be inside – and with a differing outlook compared to last week, I was feeling purposeful on the stationary trainer, instead of feeling tasked with the impossible like in year’s past. My arms are changing, my midsection still needs work but feels better than usual – more engaged – and my legs feel as if they are holding back, ready to snap into a heated sprint… is that the Warbird I see on the horizon??? With focus and purpose, I up the tempo as Armstrong breaks Jalabert’s grip in the last 5km of the climb.
In only four short weeks, February will be gone and the first brevet will be looming. The 200K, hopefully with the promise of warmer temperatures, will set the stage for the entire rest of the year. The cardio base will nearly be complete, and the slow steady rise to “fast” will begin. Two weeks later, the 200K in Liberty will begin the hill-climbing training in earnest, and consequently build strength and speed with it.
After that, the controlled excitement of a tailwind from Liberty to Albany on the 300K, and the long slog back south – my favorite brevet of the series; long enough to be seriously challenging, but still only taking one day – and a steady stream of hills and good scenery. That and the mystery of April in eastern Kansas – it could be cold, hot, windy or calm, dry or soaking wet. In two barely months time I will set the stage for the entire season, and set my gaze long towards Tejas 2007, and redemption.
These thoughts flash past my mind as I fly free to the finish line, prompted on by Phil Liggett’s cries of exaltation and the roar of the fans lining the streets. Yes, a short training session – but all big things must begin small. Week three begins tomorrow, and the weather doesn’t look good – at all. Mentions of freezing rain, flurries, and roller coaster temps are making it hard to keep the motivation high – but my eyes are on the prize, and if I have to do it indoors, so be it.