So, the last race I did was the Lumberjack. Due to work circumstances, I will not be doing another race until the USA Cycling MTB Nationals at Mt Snow Vermont. This is an uncommon occurrence for me. Typically, I race just about every weekend. I do races whenever I get a chance not only because I enjoy it, but also because I think it is an excellent way to keep ones fitness near peak all season. I am sure many will argue that it is also a good way to burnout, but it does seem to work for me. Since I have this one month hiatus from racing, I am now in uncharted territory and I am not sure if I will be either flat or fast by the time I head to nationals.
I have developed a pretty specific training plan, though, to keep my fitness high and to hopefully reach my peak by nationals, but without testing myself out at the races I think that it will be hard to actually gauge my progress. I have also included two elements into my training that I do not usually do at this time of the year, or at least not at the amount that I am currently doing. Over the past few weeks, I have added core body strengthening and running into my training program. Almost daily I do sit-ups, push-ups and other calisthenics to build my core strength. In addition to this, I have been running a few miles about every other day.
Last year at the MTB Nat’s I was third and truly believe that it was because of my lack of preparation for all the running that was required at the race. Mt snow, when it is muddy, does require a lot of running and if you are not prepared for it, then a win there is not possible. Additionally, I believe that Mt Snow requires a strong upper body because of the long and technical descents there. Basically the course consists of climbing for three miles and then descending for three miles. Overall, I definitely think it will pick the strongest overall mountain biker because of the demands it makes on both a riders fitness and bike handling skills.
In addition to my preparing for a full-on 2 hour mtb race, I am also preparing for the next 100 mile NUE Series Race, the Wilderness 101, which is held near Penn State. Chris Scott is the promoter of this race and in my opinion does one of the best jobs at putting on a 100 mile race. I think this is because he is also a racer and understands what the proper support of an endurance race needs to be. The aid stations at his race are the best around. But, even with all of the good support, the 101 is not made any easier. It is tough course with a combination of long climbs, fire roads, technical single track and long climbs…I know I already said long climbs, but they seem almost to be never ending here. To help prepare for this race, I have been doing one longer ride every week since the Lumberjack. I consider a long ride as being anything over 4 hours.
Speaking of long rides, I celebrated the sending in of my entry fee for 101 this past Tuesday by doing a 5 hour single speed ride on a combination of trails, roads and rails to trails. I ended-up with 75 miles for the ride by pounding my 36x16 single speed gear for the day. This Tuesday, on my one day off from work this week, I am planning to do about 5-7 hours of riding…but with gears this time. I consider my single speed to be a weapon that must be used cautiously and wisely.
Well, that is my update to the blog for now…sorry I did not have any good race details to provide this time. - Gerry