Today was a double day in more ways than one for me… The training was double. The drinking was double.
Since it is Wednesday, coach Steve always gives me a big day of riding. Today featured a two hour session in the morning with four 10 minute threshold intervals with eight minutes of recovery per interval. Yes, this got the juices flowing and gave me some pretty serious race sensations in my legs. Oh did I mention that each interval started with a standing ‘cross start? That’s right – so spring for 30 – 60 seconds and then pound out the threshold block. I love these types of work-outs. I love seeing the number on the power meter and feeling the ache in my legs and the fire in my lungs. Reminds me that I’m alive and keeps me wanting more.
Since I’m in Belgium, it only makes sense that the bulk of this ride was done in the rain. Ah well, I had my trusty Sealskin gloves on and my toasty bib tights. Besides I’m Canadian, a little bit of rain isn’t going to slow me down. The only bummer about the rain is this means my bike gets extremely dirty. Quick wash and wipe down and my trusty Stevens Super-Prestige is good as new.
For the double part of this training day, I went out to Kasterlee to ride the cyclo-cross course. This is an amazing course. It has everything – two sand run-ups, some descents that really test your will to not brake, fast sweeping corners, mud, climbs. It has it all. The best thing about Wednesdays at Kasterlee is there are other ‘cross racers out training. Today I followed around some juniors and a couple other women. Then hooked up with my training pals from last week for a few laps. And then I got to ride with Bert Vervecken. If you follow the Masters ‘cross racing scene in Belgium, you know Bert. He wins a lot of the races. Any type of race, Bert is at the front or on the front. So he rode with me for a couple of laps – just following me to see how I was riding. He then gave me some great advice on how I can improve. Number one “don’t grip the bars so tightly”. I guess when I grip the bars tightly, this makes my upper body stiff, which then causes the bike to do crazy things underneath me, causing me to get a bit nervous, then I stop pedaling, etc. So this is something I can fix. He also said to not brake in the corners. Now I know this. But it is so hard not to do, especially when the corners are darn fast – but I’m working on this. I got some great feedback from Bert. He also said “it is not easy to change what you’ve been doing”. Interesting comment. He also told me I need to do some mountain biking this summer. This is the second person to tell me this – I’m starting to take the hint! I rode around with Bert and some of the other “regulars” on the Masters circuit – okay more like followed/chased/tried to keep up – for a few more laps. Ended up riding at Kasterlee for a solid two hours!
So a great day of training. Great road ride in the morning to work on fitness, mental strength, and perseverance. Awesome afternoon session in the woods to focus on skills, mental strength, nerve, and confidence. To top it off, I got to hang out with some cool people. Really can’t beat that for a training day!
Now for the second double part of the day… So in my race reports I’ve been writing about my issues with the starts. How I lack the killer instinct and just can’t seem to get amped up for the start. I did receive a few emails and comments about the starts (thank-you). And everyone suggested the same thing – caffeine. As you may know I’m strictly a decaf cappuccino drinker. I don’t ingest caffeine. So after talking with my coach, we decide to test out the caffeine today. We had concerns about how I would react and primarily how, if at all the caffeine could impact my ulcerative colitis.
Question is where to get the caffeine? I don’t even know how to make coffee. Well, I’m in Belgium, so the obvious a cafe. Six minutes into my morning ride I roll over to a really nice cafe. Cool. There were a few people inside all relaxing with some coffee and the newspaper. This is a nice cafe and it is on a cycling route so very used to cyclists. I walked up to the bar and ordered a double espresso. Yes, a double. I told the waitress I didn’t want to sit down – I’d just drink it and go. This seemed to stimulate a lot of conversation – I felt like I had all eyes on me while I drank down my double espresso. Boy was it ever tasty! I’m starting to like this coffee thing. First time having espresso. Good news is, I didn’t experience any ill effects during my ride. The big question – did it help – did I feel more “jump”? Hard to know. I had a great ride. Felt awesome. Legs were on fire. Is this just me or did the coffee help? Regardless, I felt good during the ride, didn’t feel sick, etc. Time will tell how the caffeine affected me – I suppose if I’m still awake at 3 a.m., we’ll know. Curious to read your thoughts on caffeine – do you use it – do you notice a difference?
So there you have it – this was my day. Two good rides. Rode both bikes. Did two loads of laundry. Now ready to flake out on the couch and get caught up on The Amazing Race. Pretty darn good Wednesday. Tomorrow I’ve got a 3 hour endurance ride on deck. I think I’ll then end up at Cafe Libro for my decaf cappuccino and some quality time with Sony eBook Reader.
Caffeine (i.e. coffee) is synonymous with aqua vitae for some of us! Decaf often gives me a headache.