For me, November and most of December are rest months. That doesn’t mean that I don’t ride my bike – I use my bike for daily transportation – but there isn’t any “training” on the bike. I worked on my core fitness and went for a few short runs. Taking time off the bike allows my body to recharge, so it can build its fitness again to a peak during the season. Trying to carry that fitness through the winter may result in fatigue. There is a risk of getting slower and slower, and to have one’s riding go “stale.”
Now that the new year has started, it is time to ride again. Our little band of friends has been eager to get back on the road, even though the famous rain re-descended on Seattle just in time for the start of our rides. With the right equipment and the right attitude, every ride can be fun.
Ten days ago, we rode the first half of the Seattle International Randonneurs “Mountain 100 km” course, minus most of the mountains. It is hard to believe that just 5 months ago, we flew along these roads at speed, as we fine-tuned our shape for PBP. Not anymore. Our pace was slow, and on the hills, we took it easy. Riding on backroads allowed us to chat and enjoy each others’ company while working on our base fitness.
We had intended to bypass Tiger Mountain, but while I took a photo, my friends were so engrossed in conversation that they continued on the “usual” route. So we went up Tiger. It’s January, so there was none of the impromptu competition that usually happens on this long and gradual hill.
Even in January, we could not resist the temptation to let the bikes roll on the downhill. We found that the first corner was a bit slipperier than we thought – we were closer to the limit than we wanted to be.
After the ride, we had lunch. While our friend Steve was visiting from Portland, we took the opportunity to evaluate our PBP rides. We compared our times at various controls and average speeds in between. Where could we have been more efficient at controls? When did we slow down at night? The conclusions we drew will help us with future long rides.
The conversation became more animated when we recounted our individual experiences. PBP always is an epic ride, and we enjoyed reminiscing about last year’s particularly epic edition.
The conversation quickly moved to our plans for the coming season. January is the time to make grand plans for all the rides we would like to do. The SIR brevet series. A Flèche team ride. Perhaps another Cyclos Montagnards Challenge. A tour of the scenic gravel roads in the Cascades. The Cascade 1200. The cross-state S2S race from Seattle to Spokane. It’s a long list, and of course, we will have to pare it down as the season progresses. For now, it is fun to dream. Two rides are firmly on the calendar for most of us:
- Cascade 1200: This year, the Cascade 1200 will accommodate and encourage riders who plan to ride non-stop, like PBP, in addition to those who prefer to ride in stages from one “overnight” control to the next. The Cascade 1200 uses a wonderful route that circumnavigates the State of Washington with its amazing scenery. Crossing the mountains between the volcanoes of Mount St. Helens and Mt. Adams, you reach the mighty Columbia River at the southern border of the state. Then you cycle through the hills and deserts of central Washington all the way to the Canadian border and the lush Methow Valley, before crossing the Cascades again, and returning to the start via the dense forests of the Puget Lowland. It’s one of the most scenic and most challenging courses I have ridden.
- Fall 600 km brevet: The Seattle International Randonneurs Fall 600 km brevet climbs up Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens and then crosses the Cascade Range twice. Most of the course is on empty backroads with stunning scenery. This year, it will even include a gravel option for the last leg into Enumclaw for those who prefer to avoid the highway. We are organizing this event, and we look forward to it. If you like riding in the mountains, it may be worth a trip to Seattle.
What are your plans for 2012?