The gradient is about five percent, a road I know ever so
well, one of my favourites. It lopes along, never strenuously, however
continuous none the less, slowly winding up the mountainside. Except as I look
down, the only thing slow is my speed. My heart thumps, my breathe chases
itself around my lungs and ‘200watts’ is firmly displayed on my screen.
Everything feels unfamiliar. It is too hard.
My training partner’s wheel edges ever further infront. I
feel sweat when there should be none and the fluidity of pedalling that I had
taken for granted a mere month earlier, has disappeared.
The first training ride after the end of season break is
I had to look up the date, the 14th
but the feeling, the panic at my state of fitness, I can remember poignantly. There
is nothing quite like that initial shock to kick start the winter. Thankfully
though, it comes whilst thoughts of racing are still but a distant blip on the
horizon. The mantra this time of year is undoubtedly ‘anything is possible’.
Patience and belief are the name of the game. One step, or
pedal stroke in this instance, at a time. I follow my programme methodically,
clocking in for a day in the office as I leave my apartment, rolling down the
small cobbled street outside, and semi-clocking out as I press stop on my
Garmin any number of hours later.
I say ‘semi’, for in some ways this job simply never turns
off. October is free, November is somewhat relaxed, but by December training
camps loom or even occur and with January comes the racing season. Long gone
are the days of teams meeting to Après-ski on the slopes in late January and as
such the winter is no longer the six-month break it once was. So whilst the
Garmin stops every afternoon with a jingle of countless beeps, the extra
ballast each rider carries this time of year, the need to recover from the days
exertions and the following training session, loom large on the mind. Being an
athlete must be the most enjoyable twenty-four hour job on earth.
And like everyone else, it all seems to pass in a blur. It’s
February now and with it the days are lengthening, the temperatures rising and
me? Well I’m back on my favourite climb ofcourse. Thankfully back with the
feeling how it should be. It’s no easier mind you. For over the past month structure
has crept deeper and deeper in to my programme, gradually at first, before
becoming a near daily occurrence. Manifested in the form of Intervals and set
efforts, specific sessions target all aspects of my physiology, preparing for
the races now firmly in sight.
Some long endurance days do however remain, albeit with a
little more pace. And I really enjoy them, heading out to try to find some new
roads, stopping for my favoured café con leche and bocadillo tortilla. Here in
Catalunya where I have lived the last few years there is almost always friends
to catch up with and a beautiful view to glance at. So no matter the day at the
office, I find myself feeling lucky and the days, as ever, passing in a blur.
Day1: Gym session – mix of core training, mobility training
and strength work using both body weight and machines. 2-3hr bike ride in the
Day2: 4hrs endurance ride in the Hills, most likely in a
small group, 4x8mins Strength (low cadence) on a climb.
Day3: 4-5hrs general endurance ride. Maybe with some
nutritional tricks to work the bodies efficiency a little.
Day4: Easy recovery ride, 1-2hrs.
[I say ‘typical’, but this doesn’t exist! Not in this line
of work anyway… Also note ‘block’. This is what I work in, it’s similar to the
average persons working week, however they are normally 3 to 4 days, and
bookended by an easier day. Where you might say, what day is it? Oh it’s
Tuesday. I would reply: Its day 3!]