Wow – Saturday was a most excellent day on the bikes. I got in a large amount of riding and was able to work on so many key components. Really for me, Saturday was all about focusing on my weaknesses. We all have them, those areas of our fitness or riding skills that simply aren’t as sharp as other aspects of our fitness and skill set. The easy part is to kind of push this to the side and do what is “fun”, i.e. focus on the areas we are good at. But this simply does not translate to long-term growth.
So Saturday started off with two hour session on the road bike. On the schedule were VO2max intervals. I so struggle with this range. During my critical power tests I dread the 3 – 5 minute all-out effort. And I typically crash and burn with little to no style during these intervals. But yesterday I took a new mental approach to these. I realized that there is a reason that I’m doing them. I also recognized that I struggle with these intervals. So my goal was simply to focus on banging out one solid interval. I concentrated on not going out super hard at the beginning only to flame out 1 minute later. The first interval was really good. I verbally congratulated myself. (Roll your eyes if you want but positive reinforcement, however it comes is critical to confidence and success.) I gave myself a good rest period and then hit up the second and third intervals. Guess what? Each one got progressively better. I wasn’t all over my bike and panting like a dog. I was in the drops, turning the legs over and in control of my breathing. Better yet, the wattage numbers were bang on to what I was “aiming” for. Sweet. And yes, I did verbally congratulate myself again. I was able to finish off this ride with a feeling of satisfaction and success. Don’t get me wrong, those intervals hurt like nobody’s business. But the pay-off will be huge and I know the next time I do them, I’ll be able to approach the work-out with more confidence and “fun”.
Got in the door and after a quick super smoothie, I was out the door to meet Sheri for a ‘cross ride in the Gatineau Park. I’d been wanting to get out in the Gatineau Park for so long on my ‘cross bike but I don’t know very many of the trails in the park. So Sheri was generous enough to give up her afternoon to take me out.
This ride was the second part of focusing on areas of improvement. I’ve written in this space many times about how I’m determined to improve my technical riding skills. So the only way to do this (in my opinion) is to put myself in challenging technical situations. Yesterday’s ride fit the bill. The trail we rode was technically challenging but also offered sections that I was confident on and could ride. This was perfect – I was able to get comfortable on the terrain so when I needed to really take a deep breathe and trust my skills and the bike, I could. We got in a solid two hour ride of climbing, descending, navigating rocks, roots, singletrack, loose gravel, etc. Great ride. I must admit there were a few moments where I was quite scared and my heart was in my throat – but the good news is, I survived it and nothing “bad” happened. For me a lot of the uneasiness with the technical riding of ‘cross is not “knowing what’s coming up” – hence my over use of the breaks and non-aggressive position on the bike. Well, one of my goals was to work on this yesterday. I’m happy to say that I think I improved as the ride went on. Thanks again Sheri for taking me out and showing me around. Looking forward to the next time out.
There you have it. A very solid training day. I got in everything I wanted to. Learned a few lessons. Reinforced some skills. Picked up a few new skills. Gained some confidence. And most importantly, I had a blast doing it. Great day on the bike.