Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 Season Starts: Camp in West VA

The Viking and El Presidente

For three days in mid-March, twenty six of us amateurs and our one pro rode through the mountains George Washington National Park. Four rides, 168 miles long, 12,000 feet up, mostly in rain and with temperatures in the mid 40s.

This is our second year as a club. Last year there were about 15 of us, only one with racing experience, and he was too busy to do anything other than give us some advice (e.g., don't wear underwear under your bib shorts). We were naive, enthusiastic, fitter than most CAT 5s, but also dumber. We caused our share of accidents and committed tactical blunders. We did do a lot of attacking, not knowing any better, but at least we did more than cluster together and hide from the wind.

By the end of the season, we'd had a number of CAT 5s ranked in the top 100 nationally, and the top ranked local CAT 4s. And we had a few riders with real potential: young guys like Tony Abate, Tim Rugg, Tim Brown, Lance Anderson, and Sam McCadney.

I hadn't ridden much since October, so camp was my attempt to jumpstart my training year. Clearly, others had been riding hard all winter. The sixty mile afternoon ride with 8,000 feet of climbing killed me. Miles of uphill grades steeper than 10%, my cadence at <50, speed around 6 mph, and I was absolutely roasted. I got dropped with about 5 miles (and 2,000 feet uphill) to go.

I nearly gave up. If I hadn't seen Dennis climbing in his 42/21 on his ancient cast iron Bianchi, I might have called it quits.

When I finally made it back to the cabin, I reminded everyone that I'd gained 20 lbs since last year, and that I'd ridden exactly six times since October. I made the rounds, explaining this to everyone. Repeatedly.

Truth is, it's awesome seeing the improvement in those who trained with dedication. Some guys hired coaches, others read Friel's Cyclist's Bible and created their own plans, guys bought Powertaps and Quarqs, guys rode through snow and on Christmas Day and got up from warm beds (leaving their SOs cold), guys stopped drinking beer (unbelievable, huh?), guys went to bed early, guys ate vegetables.

Now some guys have the watts/weight ratio of CAT 2 riders. Knock on wood, they're going to tear some legs off this season.

After Mt. Weather and Naked Mt.

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