I used to perceive Spring (or Winter) Training differently.
Several years ago it was synonymous with “opportunity”.
Other guys would get old or lazy or have other things on their mind while you could train indoors and get fast.
No longer the opportunist, I’m more interested in the “fun” factor of spring training and being based around the Mediterranean coast it seems like I’m well positioned.
Make no mistake about it though, I’m more interested in the scenic road to “”success” than actual results from a race. Focus on the journey foremost, everything else is coincidental bliss…
Not long also I looked in the mirror and decided I needed a long road ride to “clear” the system.
I set out on a 100 mile road ride with 5300 feet of climbing. The day was overcast and nothing special. I had a good chrono up the first of 3 cols and was feeling good enough to take the rest ride easy. On the second col I rounded a switchback and got a glimpse of a sportive rider in the adjacent turn, about 200 meters behind.
I looked at my Heart Rate Monitor which said “128bpm”.
Sensing my laziness, I decided to pick up the pace incase I was being used as a carrot.
Once I hit 158bmp I thought my pace was good enough to stave off most local aging cyclo-enthusiasts that I see everyday.
After a few quiet switchbacks my moral and ego grew even though I disregarded my official climbing adeptness or my somewhat skeptical take on training that often revolves around local wines, thinly sliced meats, and various junk food.
As I imagined that my lead had grown to insurmountable amounts and began to contemplate my joyous trip to the market, I felt a wind and a “wooshing” sound to my right.. in full out-of-the-saddle sprint style.
The speed and violence that he passed me was rather shocking.
2 thoughts shocked my brain as he passed by…
Either I was:
A: Aging so fast that younger guys seem to resemble martians from another another planet sponsored by Amogen
B: This guy was pretty #$#^# good
One glanced revealed that the latter was correct as I noted his Bretagne Schuller kit from the Tour de Mediterraneen.
His kick was so furious that I knew my feeble acceleration could never keep up. I never try to “keep pace” with guys who pass me on regular rides (seems lame) but he passed me with so much speed and out-of-the-saddle sprinting power that I noticed that if I didn’t go NOW that I’d never see this guy again…. so I accelerated. Not out of the saddle… just upped my pace a few notches…
To my surprise I neutralized the gap for a few seconds and then actually got on the guy’s wheel. We rounded a switchback and he promptly attacked again and it was clear to me at this point that he was doing intervals up the climb before the ‘Haut Var’ race the next day. I’m not much of an “interval guy”… meaning that most 12 year old girls with Barbie bikes might be able to out-sprint me.
I dug deep and amazingly I caught up just before he recovered. We rounded a turn and sure enough he launched into another attack. I remained in the saddle and gave a good effort and once again was amazed to have only a 3-6 meter gap. But this time his recovery was very sudden and abrupt such that I found myself accidentally passing him on the climb.
I took the lead and basically rolled my eyes as awaited the next sudden interval. Sure enough he attacked with 400 meters to go and I was already too deep into my reserves to respond.
School was in session, hopefully I paid attention.