January 9, 2006

Less can be more

I'm a mileage hog. I admit it.
Although I don't log 10,000-mile-years, it has been a past goal of mine.
The numbers -- the bigger, the better.

Hey - look what *I* did.

Let's forget for a second that the last two months of the year end up being a CHORE.
Cycling is no longer fun, and long after January 1st comes and goes, the numbers of the previous year are quickly forgotten - often stewed about, especially if I came up short.

In the dark, sometimes things can be SO clear and bright.
Sunday morning, before the sun came up, Ort and I were spinning southbound on a familiar country backroad, talking in the darkness. Talking about the usual early-season stuff. What went wrong last year - what's in store for the coming season.
Fresh from another year of coming up slightly short of an unrealistic mileage goal, I was doing more listening than talking for once, as Ort recounted a conversation with our RBA a couple weeks back, wherein said RBA was talking about HIS mileage for 2005 -- and the number shocked me. It was low. VERY low. Lower than I expected.
This RBA is an iron-giant of a rider, someone that I'd simply assumed was getting 10,000+ mileage years. Things like PBP, and multiple 1000K rides usually dominate his calendar, so it was a given that he'd have big numbers. Not really.

Instead of training A LOT, he was training smart.

While mileage totals over 1000 are nearly a guarantee for ANY aspiring ultra-rider, mileages over 5000 are sometimes rare -- and totally un-neccessary.

As I floated along through the darkness with Ort, many bells were going off in my head -- the burnout of last summer, the duldrums of late winter cycling, just shooting for a number; mistakes here and there that now had a spotlight on them. For once, I was plotting solutions -- and later that morning I spent a good amount of time writing them down, and looking back over my banner-year of 2003 again.

The mileage that I ended up with was simply gravy atop a pile of really good, QUALITY miles - I had goals each week, specific targets, destinations in mind -- some days I'd go light, others hard with lots of climbing, and always pushing myself when needed, and resting when needed.
Thank goodness for documentation.

I also looked back at 2003 with a little trepidation: was that ME??!! I was looking over a season of personal-bests that I had sorta forgotten about. I had remembered MV24, which - considering - I still hold up as a personal triumph; but leading up to that were impressive rides - rides that THIS last summer, I would not have been able to duplicate. There was a 20-or-better MPH average century, SOLO. There was a personal-best 200K with an average speed of 18.5 MPH, including stops. There was a 2nd place finish at the Tour De Shawnee, there was a near-record Octoginta in Lawrence, and there were smatterings of 23 MPH average speed-work runs at distances up to 30 miles. There were tales of body weight about 10 lbs. lower than where I am now. There are pictures of me wearing jerseys that, today, no longer fit loosely.

The big question is - can I get BACK?

Some would call it "hanging onto the glory days".... but I refuse to subscribe to that.

I'm not 70 years old, recounting a storied criterium career, something truly out-of-reach and foolhardy to re-attempt at that age. (until someone writes and tells me about what their grandpa did last summer, that is --- NOTHING is impossible, just improbable.)

This was only 3 seasons ago, and I know precisely who is responsible for letting that form slip. Me. Time to get to work.

This morning, as I logged into BikeJournal.com, I recorded the weekend's mileage, and modified the "2006 mileage goal" section of my profile. I put in a lower number, and saved changes.

Not only can I DEFINTELY make THAT mileage goal, I'll have a blast doing it.