January 2010


First I should qualify my comments here, I don’t really train for anything.  I’ll use the term “Cross Training” for clarity and understanding only, not as a practice that I personally use.  Training doesn’t sound like fun to me, so I see no reason to take something that I enjoy and make it “not fun.”  I do believe in being prepared however, so that is the concept behind these thoughts.

I found that in 2007 at PBP I was perhaps in the best shape I had been in for many years.  In thinking back to my preparation at that time I recalled that I had done more than just distance cycling.  I was also mountain biking quite a bit, I was getting in lots of skiing (telemark) and going to the gym regularly.  My gym workouts were weights and flexibility focused with a moderate aerobic warm up and cool down. As a result my overall condition was pretty good and I was getting some good personal results in my cycling.  A couple of highlights for 2006 and 2007 were a sub-11 hour double century, a 20 hour 300 miler and a 30 hour 600 km event, all total times.  They were not events that I raced but simply reflected personal best results for me.

After PBP I changed my plan somewhat and focused more on long distance and did less of the other stuff.  I thought that more saddle time would benefit me for the long rides. Well, the result was not what I expected. 2008 was a bad year, I DNF’ed at an early season double century and at a 600 km brevet in spring.  At other events my results were we’ll off my previously logged times for those events. I stuck with the plan though and just tried to put in more miles. Early 2009 turned out to be a bad start on the year. I put in more miles but my results were still getting worse. What was wrong, was I done, just worn out?  I was confused and decided to rethink my plan as well as my commitment to long distance cycling.

Beginning in late summer of 2009 I began a period of self examination. I cancelled any long rides I still had on the schedule and just did a few events and some favorite local rides.  I got back on the mountain bike and started hitting my favorite local trails frequently.  As fall came around I bought a ski pass and headed to the gym on cruddy days. I even started walking more!  You might have guessed by now that the conclusion I came to was to put more variety back into my preparation.  Try to have more fun and not to be so single minded in my efforts, to have less tunnel vision.  I have enjoyed the renewed excitement of these other disiplines and it surprisingly has made my road rides more enjoyable as well.

It is still too early in the season to know if I am getting back into my personal “zone” but I am encouraged.  My one event so far this year was an early January 200k (story below) and I had a good day!  My road rides are fun, I’ve been mountain biking about twice a week, I ski when the snow is good and I don’t mind going to the gym as much. My next event is in February so that will be my next gauge of how things are working out. 

 Anyway, that is my plan and I’m sticking to it!

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This is a ride I have done several times before but only decided to do this year after a last minute change in plans. I like the route which is generally pretty flat but follows great rural roads with some excellent desert scenery. If you like ancient ruins, desert peaks, saguaro cactus and 70 degree temperatures in January then this ride may be for you.

I was somewhere at the front of this group.

About 50 riders gathered for the 7:30 am start, and after RBA Susan Plonsky gave us our pre-ride pep talk we got started. Surprisingly, riders stayed mostly together for the 30+ miles to the first checkpoint. It was a pretty strong pace but not so much that you couldn’t chat with the other riders. It was great to catch up with some old friends who were also riding today. The first check was at Casa Grande National Monument whose ruins date back to about 1350 AD. The rangers stamped our cards and after a quick snack we were on our way again. We formed a good group of about 7 riders for the next leg of the route and covered the miles quickly. We pulled into the second checkpoint, recorded our times and headed out again. The next section is an out and back leg which passes through the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation. The route is characterized by gentle rolling hills covered with giant Saguaro cactus. The pavement is excellent with wide shoulders and traffic is very light, consisting mainly of Border Patrol vehicles and a few motorcycles. It is about 36 miles out to our turnaround point and once we get there we are treated to Susan’s famous homemade wraps and cold drinks. I always appreciate the extra effort she puts into providing support for her riders. Thank you Susan! Following our route back in, the groups of riders were much smaller. Most were keeping their own pace in groups of two or three and were in cruise mode. Of course my observations were from the middle of the pack. I suppose the “A” group was pressing hard and looking for a sub 7 hour time but we’ll have to wait for the results to be posted to find out how they did. I rode back in with my friend Alan from Tucson and we just missed the 8 hour mark, coming in at 8 hours and 2 minutes. I was pleased with this result, and with time included for self support and recording the route this was pretty good for an early season event for me.

Full results should be posted at www.azbrevet.com .

P.S.  For me this year, this was my Clair Jensen Memorial ride.  At the finish of the ride for me it had been almost exactly 2 years and 2 days since we lost him. Many of Clair’s Arizona friends were there and there were some fond memories exchanged.  I believe it must have been Clair that arranged for the nice weather and light winds we enjoyed that day. Thanks Clair!