Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Closing Out 2012

Most years I establish a plan of attack, how I'm going to train, which events I will focus on. That didn't really happen in 2012. I aimlessly muddled my way through the season. It felt great. My fitness was abysmal last January. I bought a power meter to bring focus back to my intensity workouts. By summer, I was pushing PR power numbers and times on a few local climbs.

Did I squander this fitness as I bumped up into the 50+ age group this summer? Me thinks not. I've reached the point where I don't need race results to affirm anything. Sure, it is fun to win a race once in a while, but fitness is a valuable asset that can be spent many ways. I went on three cycling trips in 2012 that demanded good form. I dearly love epic rides in areas I haven't visited before.

My fitness is becoming a much more complex thing to gauge. Several years ago, I cycled. Fitness was measured by how quickly I could bike up Mt Washington. Today, I bike, run, ski and do some basic core exercises. It is in these other areas that I continue to improve. In fact, my most satisfying accomplishment from 2012 was running a sub-18 minute 5km with very modest level of training. I continue to improve technique on skate skis too, where improved efficiency will make me faster when age dictates I should be getting slower.

I'll share a couple quantitative charts from my training log. The first breaks down my total aerobic activity volume. I generally strive to train about 600 hours per year. This used to be all cycling, over 700hrs one year in fact. I got in a lot of junk miles that year! In 2012, over 75% of my hours were on the bike. I would have liked this number to be lower, but we had an abysmal ski season last year, so ski hours were replaced with bike hours. I've been running two years now, and 2012 saw many more hours than 2011. The most notable change from recent years is how many cycling hours were spent trail riding, about 50%.  There are many reasons behind this. I've had some very close calls the last couple years riding on the road with cars and semi's. I still have low bone density, and hitting pavement is not an option for me. This is the primary reason I didn't do a single road race this year. I get better stress relief from mountain biking off-road. Will this trend continue in 2013?

This next chart gives my total volume and cycling miles for the years I've kept a training log. Note the total volume hasn't changed much in 11 years, while cycling mileage continues to drop. This is due to other activities displacing time on the bike and increasing time mountain biking, where miles accrue much more slowly than on a road bike. It is interesting to note that I can still hit five minute power numbers on 6000 miles per year as I could at 9000 miles per year. Skiing and running can be even more effective in maintaining the cardio engine than cycling.

Enough quantitative analysis. I'll close out with a set of photos from 2012, one per month. The photos were chosen for diversity of activity rather than artistic value. Hopefully this set conveys how 2012 felt to me. Some of these photos have appeared already in various places, but a few are new.

January: Limited snow season. One of only two times I was able to ride my new fat bike on snow.
I nearly sold it. 2013 is looking like a more traditional winter, so the Mukluk will remain in my
quiver for now.

February: Despite a skimpy snow winter, Waterville Valley held on to a base for most of the season. I'd
ski here on the weekend and then hit the machine made snow at Weston near Boston on Tuesday
nights for crazy 10k races.

March: Mountain biking trip to Arizona. Dave on the Arizona Trail between Picket Post Mtn and village
of Kelvin. Probably one of my top three trail rides of all time, although Dave and I thought we were going
to die of dehydration at one point. Extremely remote and very warm for March this day.

April: Dave, Isaac and myself on a FOMBA/Bear Brook 50 miler MTB ride. This is a loop that I have
become fond of and ridden many times this past summer. When I was still in my 30's, I thought 50
mile trail rides were over the top epic. In 2012, I probably did more 40 and 50 mile trail rides than
all other years combined.

May: Running repeats up Pack Monadnock, training for the Mt Washington foot race in June. Mt.
Washington didn't happen for me, as I developed a calf injury the week before the race. I had high
expectations of suffering mightily and doing well. I may have to try again in 2013, if I can make the lottery
to get in.

June: Another FOMBA/Bear Brook ride that didn't go so well. Dave and Isaac, with Isaac's
bike sans rear derailleur. 20 miles from cars, but luckily his parents house was just a few miles away.

July: Newton's Revenge, a Mt Washington bicycle hill climb race, approaching the summit. Didn't do
quite as well as I expected, but still faster than many attempts over the last 12 years. I was not disappointed.

August: The D2R2 (Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee) ride. Easily the hardest thing I do on a bike at
180km distance and 13,000ft of climbing, mostly on dirt roads like the one pictured. Alex and Bill
keeping a close eye on a loose cow.

September: White Park cyclocross race. I do a traditional cross race every now and then.
There were many injuries at cross races this year. I suck at the unique bike handling skills
cross requires and wouldn't be competitive enough to make risk of injury worthwhile. White Park
had very small masters fields that spread out quickly, so I controlled my level of risk, not some guy
way ahead of me in the pack. Photo by Beth Penney.

September (again): Ok, I said one photo per month, but I didn't want to leave the CX race photo above
out. Dave, Isaac and I hit Salida and Durango, Colorado for some long days of trail riding. Some day
I'll retire to Colorado. This photo was at Kenosha Pass on our drive back to Denver airport when we
took a break for a short hike. Next visit to Colorado will have me putting tires to this trail. Reports are
it is a fabulous ride.

October: I've long financially supported organizations like NEMBA and IMBA, but in 2012 I ratcheted my
support up a notch by helping build new trails in two parks. This was a build day in Bear Brook State Park,
my favorite local place to ride. It is quickly become a destination riding area, and NEMBA has permission
to build more trails in coming years.

November: Mt Watatic hike with Cathy. I go on a few hikes per year with my wife and/or son.
On this crisp, clear day with nothing else planned, Cathy and I drove to nearby Watatic, which
pays big rewards with a modest hike. This summit was nearly developed but spared after people who cared
launched a campaign to save Mt Watatic.

December: Solo trip to the heartland of the USA. This is Landahl Trails near Kansas City, MO.
I biked in three new states on this trip. I try to get away for a solo extended weekend trip most
years for solitude on the mountain bike.


davep said...

Nice look back on all your adventures..bit disappointed no token pic of you pigging out at Sonic/etc. Keep the body in motion.

The Warrenator said...

Doug - enjoy the blog, more so than rummaging through FB or Twitter. Keep up the good work on the road, trail, and keyboard!

mkr said...

Looks like another excellent year was had. Best wishes for the new year. Hope to see you on the trails, both ski and bike.

bikesmith74 said...

Looks like I'll need to step it up in 2013 if I want to see my Merrimack 50 make the highlight reel!

Dino Piskopanis said...

Looking good neighbor very inspiring!