For the last month, ever since my debacle at the mid New Hampshire road race, I have been training hard and properly, with the goal of having a good showing at the Jamestown, RI road race on October 8th. So far the training has been going far better than I could have ever hoped. Last Saturday I once again did the Tim Horton’s ride, a 40 mile loop that the Brown Cycling team usually does on Saturday mornings. On this particular day there were about 8 riders there that are either current or former racers, so it was a great opportunity to get a sense of the state of my fitness. There are 6 sprint areas throughout the 40 mile loop where people race to a designated line–usually a sign post indicating a new town. I’ve never really sprinted before, so the first couple of sprints were hard for me.
First of all, I didn’t quite know when the sprints were going to happen, but more importantly, I seemed to always be in the wrong gear going into the sprint and I wasn’t comfortable changing gears mid-sprint. Luckily the other riders are really helpful and gave me some great tips, so that by the second to last sprint I was finally able to put in a good, hard effort and finish second in the sprint. The ride went so well that I immediately went online and signed up for the Jamestown race, because I finally felt confident that it would be worth it for me to try another race.
Yesterday I did a two hour recovery ride, which consisted of slow, easy spinning to help flush the lactic acid out of my legs. I kept my heart rate low and just enjoyed the feeling of moving forward through space with the power of my own muscles, lungs, blood and tissues–and that is a wonderful feeling, believe me. Then today I did the Tim Horton loop again, but this time with only two of the Brown racers, and instead of sprinting we did a good, hard tempo the whole way. Well, I felt fantastic throughout the entire ride; in fact, I felt the best at the end, which is definitely a good sign for my fitness. What was most encouraging was that, apart from the fact that I have regained my confidence when descending and cornering, and that I can easily keep up a hard pace for 40 miles, I have only been training for one month and I have about 5 more weeks to go before the race. In other words, barring a crash or other mishap, I should be able to place high in the race, especially since the cat 5 race course only covers 20 miles. I know that I can ride really hard for 20 miles!
This Thursday and Friday I have orientation at Brown, and then next week I start my new life as a grad student! Of course the challenge will be finding ways to keep up my training even as I study hard, work on my website, create new videos and take advantage of all that Brown has to offer. Hopefully I will be able to work my training into my overall schedule. I realize that cycling is truly a chance for me to both get away from pondering profound intellectual, social and environmental problems and to stay healthy, fit and energetic. I feel so good about myself when I ride my bike and, more importantly, I absolutely love the sensation of riding my bike. Especially when I am feeling strong, cycling makes me feel smooth, powerful and free. My recommendation? Go out and ride a bicycle! The best part is that the fitter one gets, the more enjoyable cycling gets.