January 15th 2015. That was the day I got my official invite to the race, that was the day of no turning back, that was the day I realized I was going to riding my bike a lot this spring and summer, a whole lot!
Up until that day I had been riding a little bit to say the least, twice in December and three times in early January, I mean it was the dead of Winter, right?
I knew I had to start building base miles and lots of them before I could start training in earnest. Riding base miles is like cooking good bar-b-que, you’ve gotta go slow and low, slow steady pace and keep your heart rate low. My first ride post invite was a 41 miler through the rolling hills just north of my house that went well, Chris, a friend of mine is also racing this year was with me on the first ride as well. I checked my weight that morning and actually made a note of it because I knew that was going to eventually change and I wanted to keep track of it, 170 lbs., not bad for a middle aged guy in the middle of winter but not exactly what I would refer to as my ideal race weight. Your power to weight ratio is basically the science and numbers behind how fast you can go and how fast you can climb. I knew that due to my CMT my power output would go up in the following months but not like it would for a more able bodied rider, so I need to get my weight down to help with my climbing.
Train in the Rain
As January turned to February I continued to ride as much as I could but it wasn’t easy with the short days, so many rainy days and the cold. Oh, the cold! CMT sufferers often have trouble keeping their feet warm even on a cool day, much less 40* and raining with a constant wind of 14 to 20 mph blowing on them. To try to keep my legs and feet from freezing I would start with a fairly warm embrocation on my legs (embrocation is a balm type product that usually has capsicum which is the main ingredient in pepper spray and super heats your skin, wool knee socks, toe or foot warmers stuck to the bottom of my socks, gore-tex over socks, my cycling shoes and then a fleece lined shoe cover or “bootie” and would still come home with frozen feet and legs that would take hours to thaw, but it is what it is.
Despite the weather and trying to have a life I was able to ride on the road 10 days, my mountain bike 5 days and 3 days on the indoor trainer ( I loathe the indoor trainer).
I have a training plan that I am borrowing from my friend Brian who raced the LT100 2 years ago. The plan was put together for Brian by a very respected cycling coach in our area and is designed specifically for the LT100. Brian finished the race and brought home the finishers belt buckle so I figure that if I stick to the plan I will be bringing home my own buckle in 5 months.
It will take more than just me
When I first told my wife my plan to enter the race lottery let’s just say she was not quite on board with the whole idea. Thinking back I believe her words were “Are you crazy!!, what if you get hurt!!” or something along those lines. But what I also knew was that she knew from my friends Brian and Randy’s past training schedule for this race that I was going to be gone a lot. There was going to be this year a whole lot of sorry I can’t do this thing with you and the kids or sorry I can’t do that thing with our friends because I have to ride and nobody wants to hear that for 8 months, can’t say I didn’t blame her. But after seeing what this meant to me, and her just being her, she jumped in with both feet and is behind me every step of the way. She has yet to complain about the piles of smelly cycling clothes that seem to reproduce and multiply overnight, or the perpetual collection of sticky water bottles that we have on the counter in our kitchen, or the 7:30 dinners 5 nights a week (yeah, she waits on me to get home!) I’m sure by mid June her enthusiasm may wain, but I know she’s still behind me all the way to Colorado in August.
No problems, yet..
As far as my body is concerned I haven’t had any major issues to this point and my body is changing a little, my jeans are a little loose in the waist and my watch spins on my wrist now and I’ve lost 4 or 5 pounds. Some days my legs are a little stiff or tired but that is to be expected as I’m riding 6 days a week and averaging around 150 miles per week, but those numbers will soon change as I start riding 7 days a week with higher mileage this week.
As far as CMT issues the only thing I’m having to deal with now that it is warming up (no more cold feet, yea!) is I’ve been having some nerve pain in my left leg that has been hitting me about 3 times a week that comes and goes. The best way to describe it is to imagine sitting on your leg until it falls asleep and then just as it starts to hurt like hell because it’s not numb anymore you put a huge clamp around your calf and tighten it as much as you can, you know, basic everyday pain that you’ve come to think of as normal if you’ve got CMT.