Thursday, March 11, 2010

Readying For Death Valley

October 12, 2009, my trigger finger hovered over the “register” button on the Adventure Corps Death Valley Cycling Camp web site. The next four and 1/2 months till Camp would begin in late February would seem like an eternity given yet another Chicago winter before being able to feel the wind through my helmet once again.

There was, however, recovery work to be done from the rigors of my 3,500 mile PAC Tour Transcontinental from Portland, OR to Tybee Island, GA completed August 3, 2009.

First would be recovery for my body which would take about a month--regaining the 12% loss of body weight due to food allergies, muscle fatigue, and sleep catch up. Oh what a glorious feeling to go to sleep in my own bed and know that tomorrow I didn’t have to face another 120-150 mile day of riding.

Soul recovery would take longer, maybe two months.

Having fallen short of my personal expectations of riding in the middle of the pack; having lost the joy of riding on about Day 8 (with 22 more riding days ahead); having my mood tank abysmally on a regular basis (due to inadequate fueling) found my head believing that I was totally washed up, that I was indeed old and could only look forward to a steady decline in cycling performance.

In my head I knew my performance struggles were the result of my huge nutritional deficit. But head knowledge gave little comfort when my mood regularly descended to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Soul recovery goal #1 would be to find a Spring Cycling Camp where I could be challenged and that would hub someplace, rather than being a point-to-point tour. I needed to be somewhere where I knew I could refuel at the end of the day; Adventure Corps Death Valley Camp met those criteria.

Soul recovery goal #2 would be to seek a performance evaluation at Vision Quest Coaching with Robbie Ventura. I needed to know how far my performance numbers had fallen in the 3 intervening years from completion of my 2006 transcontinental ride and performance evaluation with Robbie. To my surprise my numbers hadn’t changed at all, AND I was at the 75th percentile of all the women, regardless of age, who worked out at Vision Quest.

That piece (or peace) of knowledge was HUGE validating with hard data that my struggles were nutritionally grounded, not age related.

Computrainer workouts at Vision Quest during the off-season was goal #3. Beginning in November I would work side-by-side with amazing cycling athletes building strength, endurance, and raising my V02 and lactate threshold, those personal numbers as valuable as weight and cholesterol, numbers that determine your ability to go harder and longer before grinding to a a halt.

Accepting two Ultra Marathon Cycling Association Year-Rounder Challenges was goal #4. The first of those challenges is riding a century each month in 2010, not hard to do except that I live in Chicago, don’t ride a mountain bike, and get cold very easily. So, getting a January, February, and December century in would take a little creativity. The second challenge is riding 3,000 miles in 2010 where each ride would be 90+ miles in length. Again, not hard to do except that there are several months in the year where getting those miles in will require creativity.

Our trip to Hawaii in January enabled me to get my January century in on my Bike Friday Tikit; I found two centuries in Arizona in February while visiting our son, Daniel; and I scored two centuries in March at Adventure Corps’s Death Valley Camp.

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