Today was pretty all right. I did one of my favorite, and most effective training rides. This kind of ride is fun, fast, long and not for the undetermined. The best training ride is six hours long with a tune-up race in the middle and averages over 30km/hr. Why is it the best? You ride long, you ride hard, and racing cannot be replicated outside of racing.
So what is a tune up race? Back home it`s a 55km handicap road race called the Tuesday Nighter. In Vancouver it`s a 30min Tuesday Critt or a Spring Series Road Race. No matter where in the world you are, if they race bikes there`s a weekly hammer fest. No one holds back, no one conserves, and the glory is not so much in the win but in how much others curse your backside while sucking wheel. In Tucson Arizona, its called the Shootout.
The shootout is known world wide as one of the toughest "races" you can ever ride. The reason for wide spread knowledge is the same reason for the notoriety. Cyclists, including pros, from around the world come to Tucson every winter for warm weather training. So the ride is filled with lots of fast guys who would rather work hard than "win" this one.
The Shootout ride Begins at the University leaving promptly on Gord Fraser`s watch at 730am. (no one breathes unless this man says it is OK). A large group of over 60 rides real chill through town. Chit-chat, gossip and speculation. We pass through the last light on the outskirts of the city. Gord says, "GO" and it's on.
The entire ride is a false flat uphill, with a few perceptible pitches, only the finale exceeds 4% (in excess). The result is that you are working harder than the speed you are moving. We race full boar, with a cross-wind to boot. Attacks, scrum, gutter, scrum, echelon, scrum, gutter and so on. This is my first taste of the Shootout. I told myself I would just follow wheels and check things out.
Fourty Five minutes and 30km later we had ascended 375m to an undefined yet unmistakable finish at the top of a hill. I was very near to the front of the group. Having not once looked behind me I now realized that our group was less than 20. Hot dawg at least we done right. Now the pace is chill, we loop around the quarry and the group divides. Some go off to climb Modera Canyon, I and the other Canadians head back to town with a big civil double pace-line. I think next week I will ride the Modera loop as well.
Next is the part we call training. I ride home with the others, 4 hrs back to the door. I lose a couple layers and off I go again. Two more hours makes six, and a couple drills keeps the brain fuzz away. Which brings me to today\s totals. Six hours ride time, 189km, Shootout, Endurance, and Drills. Cool.
Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.