June 28, 2009

Confessions of a cycling addict

Even when you know something is absolutely the right decision, its sometimes really hard to let things go. This is good in some ways, because after solid weeks of commuting back and forth and basically being car-free, I'm clearly not burned out: the last two days I have been struggling with ways to just squeeze in that 200k before June is history. I find myself knowing full well that I'm not going to do it, but the desire is still there. Its all for the best, because the farther I stay away from burnout, the better. The only thing that bothers me a little is possibly losing some of the endurance edge that I've built up by no longer doing a long ride every 30 days, but I think that can be achieved again easily enough if I keep my weight under control and do some 'smarter' rides. Kinda brings back the training theories of old, like hammering out 70% of the target distance at a higher effort, something along those lines. That keeps me out of the triple digits, gets me home faster, and is probably a better tool to prevent burnout anyways.

Noah stopped into the shop yesterday which made for good conversation, and got me thinking about that fact, especially about February's 200k, one that I'm glad I did for the experience and personal lesson, but its still an example of me pushing the issue: everything pointed to me taking a month off, I had the R12 bagged up, and yet there was the pressure (self imposed) to keep doing the same thing every month, just because. A good lesson to remember, as once again I find myself looking for ways, in the next 72 hours, to squeeze it in unneccessarily. I laugh at myself, even as I write this: Badgerland's comment rings so true...I just try too hard sometimes. But, I know better, deep down, and I will flip the calendar over to July and relax about it, without a 200k in the books. I will make sure that my commute efforts are balanced, and that at least once every two weeks I get some sort of "bagless" fun weekend hammerfest under my wheels, to shake things up and keep an edge on things.

Come 2010, things will start to ramp up I have a feeling, things like revenge on a certain 20 mile loop down south, perhaps. Should I even announce such things? Well, I thought about that. Its hard to know where I'll be next year, honestly. I can't divulge too much in these pages, but I have to be honest about things: the econony has been hard on everyone, including me and the family. While I won't lament my personal situation, there is the fact that focus has been pulled back to more immediate concerns, so I really hope the cards are aligned right over the next 18 months. Let's just say that The Tejas-500 in 2010 is a legitimate hope and goal - the wife and I already have a roadmap to make it happen, but there are a lot of unknowns. The only thing I can guarantee is my own fitness and personal readiness for it. If I was worried about appearances, I wouldn't have mentioned this at all, and financially its the same for the whole country right now....so there you have it. Heck, I can only hope the event itself still happens, because many rides have simply not shown up on the calendar this year - which is sad. Aside from those 'secondary' concerns, the difference this time is I will prepare myself physically and mentally as-if my attendance at Tejas is a guarantee. That will be the contrast between 2010 and my first two attempts.

Looking back, while my intentions were good, I wasn't really ready either of those times. Cutting right to it, that makes the preliminary training goal similar to what Jeff W. was aiming to pull off last month, and that's a sub-24 hour 600km brevet. I defer to the old Byron Rieper standard for things like RAAM and Furnace Creek preparations: "if you're not on pace to ride 400 miles in 24 hours, go home." A tall order? You bet...but they don't make cyclists like Byron very often...guys like Danny Chew, Dan Jordan, Mark Metcalfe, Sam Baugh. Not to be a name dropper, but these are the folks whose training journals and accolades I'll be studying carefully. There is a lot of work to be done. I've been privledged enough to have ridden close to or talked with riders like this over the years, and there is a formula, unique to each, yes, but consistent in many ways. Speed and endurance comes with patience, good nutrition, focus, drive, and proper training. My usual trick of
starting fast and ending up slow has to stop. I need to find my 400-mile pace early and train to stay there, stay predictable. I need to train to eliminate the 'lap factor'. Just affording the entry fee truly is a secondary concern right now.

So, these last ten pounds are toast. Tomorrow is a new day, and I put focus back on the diet and really get 'off vacation'. Will I have fun on the bike and smell the flowers? Of course! It won't ALL be heads down hammering...but if I'm talking about it, I need to make it happen: either do it, or shut up about it already. My choice is made. I've made good strides since that last struggle of a 200k in February, so its time to make the rest of the journey. Let's do this.


O. T. said...

I know, I know, preaching to the choir and all that....but taking the month (or 3) off from clicking down "K's" is really good for the soul. I did not realize how horribly burned out I was and how much damage I had done to my body over that 24 months stretch. I am the guy who was seriously considering finishing that last 100 miles of a 600k on one leg, surgery or no surgery. You are on the right track. It is all still in front of you in terms of cycling. Most of those guys you name hit there prime in their 40's....you got some time in that respect. Me? I am really starting to feel the itch again. I have made it an official year off now. My LSR buddies have been popping me up. It is getting harder to say "no". :-)

O. T. said...

I have a low-cost, burn out proofing idea - Hike the Talimena parkway in Oklahoma. This fall. You interested?