Training, impending gaps, goals

This weekend coming up will be my second in a row not racing. Theoretically I'm building some kind of base fitness so that I go fast later. More realistically, I'm hoping to build enough base fitness so that I can actually train harder and more often in future without becoming overtrained and cooked, like seemed to happen last year.

In the spirit of that, this weekend is THE GAP RIDE which is just your average Vermont trip -- 130 miles and 12,000 feet. Alex did it a few months back and survived, and I made the mistake of telling my insane long-distance-cycling-specialist dad about it, so here we are. The big question of the day is whether or not I can turn a 38x27 over Lincoln Gap -- the steepest climb in the Northeast US. The last 1.2 miles average 17.1%, with an extended section above 20%! I've looked at some ride reports and there are many, many accounts of people with triple cranks walking. Alex got over with a 34x27 earlier this year, so I think I can do it -- but on the other hand, I have yet to see a single ride report mention someone with a gear bigger than 36x27 riding it.

Linnea is rocking the triple (32x28) and my Dad is currently scrambling to find something lower than a 39x27.

I've been doing a lot of 3-hour solo rides, mainly because I have no friends, but also because it's nice to kick back and think about stuff for a few hours. I'm always surprised by how fast time passes when I ride alone and how slow it passes when I ride with a group. Anyway, out of all my time thinking I've formulated some "goals" for the next few months.

1) Descend harder on my mountain bike. I realized that I haven't crashed descending in over a year now. I do tend to make up time on technical downhills, but I think I could be getting more -- I must be riding well within my limits if I'm staying upright for so long. Watching the super-tough descending at Mount Snow, I was astonished by the number of expert level riders who descend slowly on full-suspension bikes. If you're gonna pay the 4-lb weight and pedal-bob penalty, you really should make the most of the descending advantage. Just stay loose and let the bike run, you'd be amazed at what you'll roll through.

2) Learn to cross mount correctly. Yep, I still have to stutter-step to get on my bike. There's some kind of mental block that prevents me from hurtling my crotch at my seat while running -- I think it might be an evolutionary reflex, but everyone else seems to do it, so at least we'll be sterile together. More importantly it's probably worth a few seconds and looks far more pro, so I have to learn eventually.

3) Win a non-Verge B race. The race season is long. I race a lot. Just last year, I was 6th and 10th in the two non-Verge B races I did. There's no reason I can't win one if I ride a bit faster and get a bit lucky (aka no Thom P). So every time I line up with the 3/4 group, I should be thinking about making the front group and trying to win.

4) Top 15 at a Verge B Race. I was running 25th last year before I crashed and hyperextended my knee. If I'm as much faster as I want to be this year, should be no problem. Lynn Bessette, look out!

5) Upgrade to Cat 2 Cross. A season of consistent top-5s at non-Verge B races should get me enough points to move up to Cat 2, which would mean I could join the crowd of guys that ride A's most of the time and B at Verge races, because they are terrified of Tim Johnson. This is definitely a stretch goal, but possible if I can be consistent. And being able to say I'm Cat 2 would make me all warm inside, which is pretty much all a guy can ask for.

6) Beat Josh more than he beats me. Ok, that's not really a sensible goal. But I will definitely be trying for it :)