Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dodging Bullets

During my geekiest years, my early teens, I delved deep into the realm of electronic gadgetry. Not the stuff you buy, but the stuff you could scheme up and build from scratch. This was back in the 1970's when environmentalism was not yet part of our vernacular. The township dump was about three miles down a dirt road from my house. It was nothing more than a side of hill that people just dumped their trash over. To me, it was a gold mine of electronic goodies. Many a small television set came back with me balanced on the bars of my bicycle down that bumpy road.

One day I'm up on the hill rummaging through the rubbish when a deafening blast and shot pelted my surroundings. Somebody just out of line of sight from me fired a shotgun in my direction. Amazingly, not one pellet hit me even though the thousands of Campbell's soup cans I was standing in were sprayed. I hollered, some dude around 20 years old with two hot chicks comes running up all apologetic. No idea what he was shooting at, but it freaked me out a little. Think all I went home with that day were soiled shorts.

A few years later, I matured into the west Michigan redneck party scene. Ever see the 90's movie Dazed and Confused? This movie precisely portrayed the late 70's in rural Michigan. I remember late one night, maybe after emptying a second keg, the guns came out. Little guns, big guns, even tiny Derringers. Guys and gals were shooting at everything.  What, you've never been to a party where everybody brings their guns out for a little fun at 2am? You missed out!  Actually, that weirded me out a little, and I didn't stick around much longer.

Seems everybody carried a gun back then. They probably still do in those parts today. I grew up with guns in the house. My dad to this day is an avid sportsman. I respected his guns and had one of my own when I was old enough.  The guns were never securely locked up.  Nobody ever thought this was reckless. It wasn't back then.  In fact, you were a freak if you didn't own guns. Kind of like iPods these days. My geeky colleagues tell me I'm a freak today because I don't own any type of MP3 player, iPhone or Crackberry. It is amazing how culture shifts over distance and time.

So this has been a big aside. The bullets I've been dodging this week are viral bullets. I've been training hard since the beginning of the year. Rigorous intensity four days most weeks. Last weekend tipped me right up on the edge of over-training I think. A general feeling of malaise took over my body. My voice was hoarse and it was hard to focus on my work. Couple this with half of the office being sick right now, I was highly vulnerable to picking up whatever was going around. I thought for sure Sunday night I was coming down with full-blown head cold. I started popping Airborne (not sure if this is anything more than a placebo) and made sure I got at least 8-9hrs of sleep. I decided the last Tuesday night Weston sprint race was not in my interest even though I started feeling better. But wouldn't you know it, it was like 50F and sunny and calm out at lunch. My planned recovery spin turned into an 80 minute stiff tempo ride. Couldn't resist. Bad Doug. But after a few nights of extra sleep and mega antioxidants, I think I dodged a bullet here. Let's hope so. I have high expectations at Rangeley on Saturday.

My first bike race of the season is just a few weeks away, then Battenkill a couple weeks after that. Last year at this time I was fretting over my fitness with so few hours riding logged. I may have similar hours this year, but more intensity. It is a quality vs. quantity thing. In my book, there is no sense in base miles. I have a 12 year base. I don't take a month off, and I can't put in 35hrs saddle time per week like Todd Wells does right now. 8-10hrs per week is about all I have time for.  Riding 8-10hrs per week at base miles pace, whatever that is, would cause me to lose hard earned fitness. I do much better if I get a few one-plus hour bouts of intense efforts in. Half of these have been on skis.  If you can't get the volume, you have to at least get the intensity in. That alone can get you 90% of the way there.  This routine produced a satisfying season last year, and I have confidence I'll come into this season in good form. Still no metrics to back anything up. No power meters, no hillclimb benchmarks, no HRM stats, and no coach. Quite liberating.


rick is! said...

last year I did really well in endurance events with almost no long rides under my belt. good doses of intensity really do the trick. of course, long rides AND intensity would be great but intensity always wins out if time is short.

gewilli said...

it is liberating not being slave to a machine!

time to start the Ride Free campaign!

Jonny Bold said...

Great post Dougy. Imagine all the nice bikes or other things a person could buy instead of an SRM and a coach.

That being said, if people are feeling good about riding, through working with a coach, and they can afford it, then it's all good. The more strong racers the better.

Next time you're coming to the Cape for a ride, let me know. I'd love to ride with you.

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