Friday, October 23, 2009

The Off-Season

So what does this look like? Well after about 4 weekends at home between March and October I relish the opportunity to stay put at home. My nesting instincts kick in and I become a cooking machine pickling the cucumbers and beets from our garden, making pear/apple sauce from our fruit trees, and salsa from the abundant cherry tomatoes that seem to keep growing even though I deprive them of water much of the time.

For me the off season is about living life like I hope to when I retire from racing professionally. This means keeping active and enjoying the great weather, but broadening my activities to hiking, running, swimming…frisbee, whatever. It means if it’s rainy and cold I can sit on the couch or bake muffins instead of riding. It’s also the time where I can do some learning, like take a french course, put in some volunteer hours with local community groups and catch up with friends and family.

I don’t like to let my fitness drop too much however. Aside from the fact I would go crazy if I didn’t keep fairly active and the fall is the best time for exploration mtb rides, getting back into shape after getting out of shape just hurts way too much. I found this out when I did the ClifBar Epiphany ride October 3 in Napa Valley (See Epiphany post). It seems that tapering for about a month and a half isn’t conducive to great endurance when it comes to 240km bike rides!


For those that haven’t heard of it. This is the day Clif and Luna folk get together to ride our bikes for 30-150miles to have fun and remind ourselves why it’s so important to have good quality tasty biking food! Terra, Katerina and I joined about 35 others at 6am to start the 150 mile ride (That’s 240km for us Northerners). It was dark and cold for the first 45 minutes with ¼ riders having lights, but the camaraderie and sense of adventure were great.

The weather was warming with the sunrise as we finished up the first 55miles and joined up with the 100 mile brisk ride group. About 23 miles later I was done. We had just finished up a fast revolving paceline in a cross wind and were heading into what I had remembered as a “nice” climb when my quads completely gave out and I had no power. Luckily at the top of the hill there was a feed station where along with some delicious Clif goodies a coke also helped to rejuvenate me. I convinced the group to just drop me and settled into a slower pace with some friends.

25 miles later, I had cracked again and was seriously asking myself why I had chosen this ride distance. Asking for mercy at the next food station did nothing to help me get home faster so we pedaled off again with Terra, Cathy and Alex keeping me distracted from my humbled suffering. Luckily the last 70ish km seemed to be primarily flat or downhill so we made it home in one piece 8hrs and 40 minutes of riding and over 4200m of climbing later. Phew.

Gary and Kit then threw us a wonderful feast and provided comfy beds which we were settled into before 9pm. This event is such a neat way to get to know the ClifBar company and staff and experience Napa Valley. Riding the 150 miles was a great accomplishment… and now I can say I’ve done it I might sign up for 100miles next year!