Monday, October 01, 2007

Training vs. survival

Date: Oct. 1
Mileage: 27
October mileage: 27
Temperature upon departure: 47
Rainfall: .94"

I think cycling is good physical therapy for an injured foot. I get all of the benefits of warm blood flow without any of the motion that sparks pain. That is my theory, and I'm sticking with it.

So I have this idea about training to be a faster rider. It is loosely based on ideas I culled from magazine articles and blogs, minus the necessary gauging equipment and coaching: intervals, climbing, and in general more riding near my perceived lactate threshold (i.e. sucking as much air as I can tolerate without passing out.) While ramping up my effort on the bike to improve my fitness seems like a great theory in abstract, I think it is going to be much more difficult to achieve in actual practice.

I rode an easy spin with a tailwind out to the glacier to check out the new slab of bright blue ice exposed Saturday during the largest calving in years (I couldn't see much of it behind the detached chunks of ice floating in the lake and blocking the view.) Deciding that my foot was a nonissue, I resolved to work on my speed by riding all-out for a mile, then recovering for a mile, than going all-out again, etc., all the way home.

The first interval went well. I was riding a bike path, huffing audibly and peeling off layers in the 47-degree dampness of the afternoon. Shortly after my first recovery period ended, however, I turned to face the brunt of the headwind. The rain kicked up a notch and, because I had stashed all of my rain layers away, needled through my jersey and stung my skin. I was hot and cold at the same time, unsure what to do about it, and already committed to the hard pedalling. I decided to tough it out.

By the beginning of interval three, I was just plain cold, and wet to boot, but I was nearing home, and it was time to ride hard again. As I launched into the pedals, the fountain of snot that I had been fighting back through my sinuses suddenly gushed into my throat, leaving me choking and sputtering and slowing my speed just to catch my breath. The horizontal rain was moving fast enough now to force my eyelids into rapid blinking. In the confusing midst of strobelight vision, I caught a long line of jarring potholes just as traffic was really bearing down. I regained my composure, put my head down, and spun the pedals. I no longer had any goals in my mind. I was in survival mode ... conserve energy ... keep eyes open ... move toward home ... move toward home.

I feel like I can rec ride in this stuff forever. But speed? There's got to be an easier way.