Training Days

Into a solid week of training. Nothing like a few hard back-to-back days to keep the pistons firing and the brain alive.

On Wednesday I set out for a longish road ride with a bunch of different intervals. Tempo intervals. Start intervals. More tempo intervals. A good hard ride. Love those start intervals. They’re getting better. Now just need to translate this to the race. This will come as well. Back to the house for some food and a bit of a sit down. Then it was out for the afternoon ride. ‘Cross ride in the woods was on order. Perfect. Put the trusty Stevens Super-Prestige in the back of the car and made my way to Kasterlee. Kasterlee is the cyclo-cross training mecca. So many trails. A specific cyclo-cross training loop that has everything – fast descents, tight twists and turns, sandy climbs, a definite run, some power stretches. Really everything. My goal was to go out and push my limits.

You see, Kasterlee and I have some history… Last year I cracked at Kasterlee. This was the scene of my second crack of the season. I scared myself at Kasterlee last year. Convinced myself that I couldn’t ride the trail. Was all over the brake. Was super stiff. Then I crashed into a tree. That did it for me. I put the bike and the car and told Marc I was done. But that was last year…

Well, yesterday I rode at Kasterlee… And I loved it. Had a blast. Wish I could have gone there again. I started out by just getting a feel for the training loop. Then I started to test my limits – working on staying off the brake, taking corners faster, pedaling more, looking ahead. You know – really riding. I was having a blast. I could feel myself getting better. Then the best thing happened. These two old guys adopted me…

I was running up a sandy climb and about to hop on my bike when the two guys started talking to me. In my broken Flemish and their broken English we managed to sort out who they were and who I was then. They then both gave me lots of tips. The one guy (provincial coach of the little little kids) tested my tire pressure for me and then told me to come out every Wednesday at 2:00 for training. The other guy looked at me and said “you follow me – I’ll show you how to ride”. Well, what a fast couple of laps – it was awesome. This guy was most impressive – I don’t think he touched his brakes once and man can he run! After the two laps we stopped – he gave me more tips and then said he would follow me. Alright. Off we went – I was doing my best and he was riding behind me shouting at me and giving me tips. It was awesome. Rode around with him for a bit more and then we parted ways. I really had a good hard training session. I was able to break the course down into sections and practice specific sections and just keep trying to get faster and more smooth.

It was a great training session. I could have stayed there all afternoon practicing. But my legs were pretty wiped out and there was the small matter of a broken front derailleur. Yep, snapped the front derailleur when I tried to shift to the small ring. Ah well, who needs a small ring? I rode around for a while with just the big ring and then called it a day.

Funny, this ride really showed me how far I’ve come. I had a blast. There was no fear. There was only – how much faster can I go? Get through this section without touching the brakes. Put your wheel in the track and pedal. Look up – pedal, pedal, pedal. Here comes the hill – sprint into it, hop off and run.

So that was my Wednesday. A most excellent day of training on all accounts. Great time in the saddle for my legs, lungs, head, and heart. All translating into some improved skills and a bit more confidence. Can’t ask for much more from a day of training.

Today was another day of intensity. But with only one session on the bike. Today was all about threshold intervals. Ya, exactly. Threshold intervals. Suffice it to say, I’ve pretty much just lazed around since that ride. I had intended to get out on my bike for a little roll in the woods because Marc replaced my chain and brake pads on my “red Hudz” bike. But it was raining pretty hard this afternoon… So I’ll take it tomorrow for a nice ride along the river in Westerlo.

Marc and I hit up the bike shop in Geel for some bike bits. New black bar tape for me and new leg warmers for Marc. (Couldn’t convince him to take my red ones!)

All in all, a couple of pretty darn good days of training. Next week is a bit of a heavy week as well. Good. I love heavy weeks. Have to get them in now because soon enough I’ll be back in the UCI C1 and C2 races and World Cup mode. This weekend I’m chasing the junior boys around in Lotenhulle and Averbode. The Averbode race is literally a ten minute ride from our place. It will be nice to stay nice and close to home on Sunday. I’m thinking this will leave me some time to go chill out at the cafe in the afternoon…

I have a new article up on Cyclocross Magazine. Click on over and give it a read…

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