Sunday, January 22, 2012

To Train in Spain

As I peruse the cycling websites on a nearly daily basis (just like you do...admit it), I get a little jog down memory lane when I see the articles and pics of pro teams training in Spain.  I never paid much attention to these articles/pics until I ended up in the Costa Blanca region of Spain a few years back.   This year has been a lot of memory lane trips as the camps for the pro have recently included numerous Costa Blanca locations:
  • RadioShack-Nissan in Calpe
  • Vacansoleil in Benidorm
  • Astana in Calpe
  • BMC in Denia
  • Garmin-Barracuda in Calpe
I ended up in Albir (located between Benidorm and Altea ) at a low key resort just a short walk off the ocean.  The area was advertised as a cyclists training mecca...warm weather, great roads and varied terrain.  I rode everyday for 2 weeks straight .. sometimes with a group of others (mostly from the U.K.) or sometimes just solo.  The riding was quite amazing as you'd imagine with varied cyclist all over the place.  The acceptance of cyclists on the road surprised me as a paceline of 12 riders could occupy a lane of a major street city street (similar to an Erie Blvd) without being run off the road or cursed out.  A bonus while I was there was a second tier pro race started in Benidorm where we got to see a handful of top pros including Oscar Friere, some Postal/Discovery guys. 

So now seeing pics of the pros in Calpe, Benidorm, Denia, etc. makes me long to get back there and ride.  Almost every ride I/we did while I was there went through Calpe or Benidorm or Denia as they were only a few miles in either direction and were the main routes to get up into the mountains.

I know this winter has been rather nice to us thus far but short sleeves and shorts are sure beginning to sound nice about now.   Spain anyone?

Friday, January 20, 2012

There's snow way you wanna miss this . . .

Sorry about the snow way thing. Probably lame but my middle name isn't "Danger." It might be "Lame."

Anyway, as many of you know I spend every weekend riding outside regardless of the conditions. I'm not going to spend 3 or 4 hours on the trainer . . . ever. I tend to ride my CX bike in the winter, but there are some drawbacks. Cars, sketchy roads, wind chill from riding faster, did I mention the cars? Oh yeah, snow plows too. The three people that read my posts are well aware that being swept up in a snow plow is the most likely way that Mrs. Skinny will become independently wealthy. Maybe danger is my middle name, but I digress. I may be stupid, but at least I am well insured.

Last Sunday I left the house at 6:15am and it was -7 in Manlius. When Tim O. was in Caz is was -12. I'm no stranger to sub zero weather, but last Sunday the roads were clear so the bikes were moving fast. -7 with a riding induced windchill becomes much colder. I'm no weather man, but it must have translated to somewhere in the neighborhood of -82 . . . give or take 60 degrees. Fast forward to Monday morning when I'm shaving for work, I have a little frost bite, and boom I shave off most of a frost bitten mole. Apparently I'm a bleeder . . .

So you must be asking yourself, where is story going, and why would you ever share something so gross with the general public. Actually the mole thing is nothing, the weekend before I was cold and needed to . . . um relive myself during a ride and peed all over my mittens in a bulky clothing induced accident, but that's another story for another time . . . or not.

Right right, I had a point and the point is this, I'm an idiot. Don't be me. If you want to ride outside safely and at a speed that won't cause you to ultimately freeze your face and lose a "character defining mole," BUY A SNOW BIKE. How would one go about purchasing such a thing? What's it like to ride one? What size would I need? All great questions, I'm really glad you asked. You would go the Syracuse Bicycles Snow Bike Demo of course. Hope to see you there and here's a link to all of the pertinent information:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Rise and Fall - aka Groundhog Year

For me, it's always about 'cross. Road season is simply a way to kill time and maintain fitness en route to 'cross season. Every year as 'cross season comes and goes the range of emotions and behaviors are similar. With few exceptions, I finish the season strong and on something of a high. Fitness is high, motivation is high and generally speaking there's a high from hanging out with like minded friends every weekend. Work travel is scheduled around racing and training whenever possible, food choices are generally healthy, and despite the fact that no one pays us to race, we generally lead a better lifestyle because we race.

The end of the season always brings a range of emotions. I remember being a kid at summer camp, and on the last day you were sad to see your friends go, but you were also excited to go home. Pick-up might be from 10am-2pm and as it got closer to 2 and more and more kids were gone, it was sort of a bummer. For me, the 'cross race on the Friday after Thanksgiving was like being picked up at 1:30. Some people's seasons had ended a week or two ago, and although some people were headed to New England or Nationals, for all intents and purposes it was time to go home. I was bummed, but on the other hand, I welcomed a break in structure.

Structure has always played a pivotal role in my life . . . as Mrs. Skinny will tell you. To some extent, I've come to realize that the lows encountered at the end of the season are simply part of the process and as a byproduct, part of the structure. I can try to fight it, I can try to train through it, but ultimately what goes up, must come down and that's part of my baggage in life. In my case, lack of structure tends to ultimately end in a bad food/booze induced bender followed by the realization that I need to promptly get past "that" kind of devolved structure and back to the more conventional structure. Frankly I'm not sure that sentence even makes any sense, but hopefully the two or three people reading this get my point.

At a recent "social mixer" I was talking to a local triathlete that was essentially describing a similar range of emotions and experience after completing a 70.3. You train with your friends, you're hyper-focused and boom it's over. Sure there will be next year, but "summer camp" is over this year. During our discussion it pretty much occurred to me that although the post season low I experience after 'cross season is a downer to say the least, it's simply a means to an end and with winter comes long training rides in the dark and snow with Tim O., and before I know it we will be driving to Albany for the early spring races. Next stop Black Fly on the CX bike, MTBing, TNTS races, rinse, repeat, and back to 'cross season. Did I mention I like structure? I'll keep experimenting with ways to diffuse the post season low, but knowing that the post season high is inevitably going to lead to a post season low is half the battle. It's a merry-go-round that's worth riding.

Now if we could just get some snow on the roads so that the pure roadies will be stuck skiing or on the trainer for fitness, then I'll be truly happy.