Friday Group Ride #399

Friday Group Ride #399

I’ve never thought of myself as one of those people who races to train, which is to say, that I need an event in order to be motivated to ride. I love to ride. I ride all the time. But the thing is, without an event, I just don’t ride very hard.

So when the email landed in my inbox, the one that said I’d been moved off the Rasputitsa waitlist into the actual race, I was excited and disappointed both.

I was there last year, temperature hovering in the high 30s, steady drizzle, sand and grit spraying everywhere, so much climbing, so, so much climbing. They say Rasputitsa is Russian for ‘mud season,’ which describes most of what you’re likely to encounter there in Northern Vermont in April. They might also have called the event ‘Type 2,’ since that is the primary variety of fun on offer.

I wasn’t sure I wanted more of that.

But Rasputitsa banks on something true about us New England cyclists, that we need to rip the band-aid of suffering off at some point. We don’t want to ride around in the cold and the mud. We need to. I need to.

I’d missed the registration deadlines without thinking too hard about them, because my friends hadn’t pestered me enough. When I went to sign up and found myself on the waitlist, I thought, “Perfect!” I hadn’t chickened out, but I didn’t have to race.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

I have 6 weeks, roughly, to be ready. I’d put myself at about 30% fit today. I’m not carrying any extra winter weight, but I’m low on base miles. I haven’t been doing any appreciable climbing, and the only intervals in my life are the ones I spend warming up in the lobby of the rink between periods in my kid’s hockey games.

This week’s Group Ride asks, if you had 6 weeks to be fighting fit for a hard race in tough conditions, what would you do? How would you lay it out? Keep in mind, the winter’s not over here. Weather will keep us indoors intermittently through the end of March. Also keep in mind, I’m not really racing. I’ll go quick as I can. I’ll try to beat last year’s time, but I’ll be happy to finish, as I always am.

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  1. Winky

    It is what, a 3-4 hour effort? (It bills itself as being insanely tough – I could be out by a lot). My personal plan for 6 weeks would be focused on 6 to 8 1-2 hour hard, varied rides per week with plenty of short-sharp climbing. Nature’s intervals. A few days a week, supplement with a run or hard hike up some steep stuff with the whippets. That’s about as tech as my training ever gets. I fit a lot of that into my commute, giving me 2 x 1 hour hilly rides through the suburban cols of West Vancouver each day.

    (When I read your question, I was initially re-assured that I had a lot more time than that to train for for my not-quite-so-early-season goal of the DK200. But then I counted the weeks and I’m right on the cusp of my planned 12-week semi-structured “training plan” for that event and became very nervous. But I’m coming off a decent winter base this year and am only 1kg over “race-weight”. That’s good for early March for me.)

  2. Miles Archer

    Not answering the question – That picture of people pushing/carrying road bikes (wearing road shoes?!?) over a stream bed in winter looks to be about as much fun as a trip to the dentist without insurance.

  3. AG

    If it were me: 1 day of longish miles at tempo, and 1 day of recovery/easy ride per week for 5 weeks. Ramp up the base miles some each week. Plus, one day of hill intervals or a gut-buster hill climb each week for 5 weeks. During the 6th week, two recovery rides. Rest a couple days before the race. I like resting. Good luck!


    I would put my trust in intervals. I hate them and love them. And I tend to only do them if and when I am training for something. Otherwise I tend to rationalize that I am really working hard while not pushing as hard. For me the biggest benefit is the mental boost. Knowing I can handle an intense climbing effort for 12 minutes over and over is key.

    So I would build up week by week. Start with a week with two rides including six minute intervals. 8 minutes the next week. Then 10. Then twelve. Otherwise I would ride for distance and fun. Relax the week of. Hope for the best. Not highly scientific but doable.

  5. Aar

    I’d fall in love with my trainer. Using sound training principals of overload and rest, I’d use The Sufferfest to ramp up my fitness with 2-3 interval days each week. When weather allows, get outdoors for long rides.

  6. AC

    As much as I hate all the jargon, SST intervals are where I would focus. 2 to 4 1 hour indoor sessions and try to get out on weekends for 2-3 hours with hills.

    Then again, my first big ride of the year will be this coming weekend, and I am low on miles and high on weight. So do as I say, not as I do.

  7. August Cole

    Robot, I am in the same position and, work willing, will be riding it this year too. My winter is more surfing and a little running than cycling, so in the remaining weeks my plan is for a longer ride once a week and a day of trainer intervals at a minimum, plus usual surf when it’s good, yoga when it’s not. I think getting onto some sketchy trails too is important so you feel sure-footed at the event. With this snow, not a problem there…

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