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Old 07-07-09, 02:09 PM   #1
ldesfor1@ithaca
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A Shift in Perspective: The Multi-Year Plan

or, an alternate title:

Why the hell do we race bikes? an introspective:


As this, my third season of training and racing progresses, I feel as if I may have found the sweetspot for racing in my life. It's a nice place where the porridge is neither too hot nor two cold, and as a result, the fun level is damn high.
I'm training hard enough to keep racing (as a 3) fun, competitive and safe, but not so hard that I hate life, the bike and end up burning out by mid july.
More of my workouts as of late have been done by feel, as opposed to by adherance to a strict plan (ie: 370watts feels too hard? ok, 350 it is... maybe get a longer interval in at this lower power output) and the results are great. Less fatigue, similar if not better results and more motivation.

Also, I'm racing a bit less, and training a bit more. If i need to travel 4 hours for a 60' crit that I'm not attached too, then I'm not going! Local sunday crit is fine by me. Upgrade points be damned, I wanna have fun with racing, not be stressed by it.


With this renewed perspective on racing, I've really begun thinking that racing bicycles may be something I'd like to do for a few more years and as such I've started to see the bigger picture, hence: "The Multi-year Plan"

So far the multi-tear plan only includes one guideline:
1. Keep it fun, at all costs... this is the key to long term success/enjoyment.
... with a few sub-guidelines:

a. Keep the fitness moderately high, even if it means sacrificing a super sharp peak.
basically as the road season comes to a close, I hope to be fresh enough to not let hard
earned fitness slip due to over reaching/burnout. I'd love to keep my FTP with in 30w of where I'm at
now, by doing on ftp workout per week through the fall. Wheteher or not this is wise, I know not yet,
but if it works I know it will mean less stress come winter and less miles on the rollers and less burnout
for my yearly April peak. This will only work if I dont over do it in august, which may be tough!

b. Lift weights!! this help with lots of aspects of racing, such as bike position, core strength and body
composition, plus it keeps me sane when cutting back on saddle time.



well, thats all for now, from my brain.

Anyone else workoing fom a multi year perspective? And if yes, what tips/tricks/perspectives could you offer to help those trying to take this long term approach for the first time?

thanks in advance!

-Leo
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Old 07-07-09, 02:20 PM   #2
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I think you have an awesome, healthy approach to long term competitive riding.

Im only in my second season myself, and I already have begun to see the value in a) and b) as you posted above.

As far as a) goes, because I am so new to this sport (18 months) I am still experimenting with training patterns and what works for me. I'm a little reluctant to "put all of my eggs in a basket" so to speak in terms of having a couple sharp peaks a year for a couple races. It seems like putting that much importance to one or two events is likely to lead to dissapointment if things don't go your way. Sure I might ride really hard two weeks before a RR im excited about and easy the week before, but that's about it. I don't really see this ever changing until I become a pro and some races really are that important.

So basically never.


I think that b) is important too, for physiological as well as psychological reasons. I spent 3 months between fall and spring last year doing weights twice a week, all legs and abs (I do abs year round though). The benefits were very noticable. I don't have to downshift nearly as much whilst climbing short hills (at the same power) which is good because I worry less about dropping a chain and I have a greater ability to attack over the top of a hill in the big ring. I also feel that weightlifting has noticably imporved my jump. I supplement those strength gains by doing on-the-bike strength training in season (stomps, powerstarts ect.)




Im glad you posted this because I feel the same way, especially about "playing it by ear" mid-workout. I think this is a big key towards mental flexibility and staying fit and competitive for a long time. Too often ill push through a hard set of 20's when my body would've felt just fine riding longer at sst pace, or maybe not riding hard at all!

I should've read this post before I did my 20's this morning, I probably would've made it 1x50' at tempo or something.


Good stuff.
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Old 07-07-09, 02:21 PM   #3
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I would add that lifting probably helps avoid injury as well.

I think you'll look forward to one FTP workout per week in the winter if you're taking days off to lift and do other things.

Have you decided against going for the 2 upgrade this season?
Did you race fitchburg?
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Old 07-07-09, 02:24 PM   #4
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Where's your weight now Leo? Are you planning on going any lower or are you where you want to be?
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Old 07-07-09, 02:32 PM   #5
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this sounds like mid-season burn out to me.
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Old 07-07-09, 02:43 PM   #6
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+1 to the OP.

I just had a similar conversation with a teammate over lunch.

This is my first season of racing, and I'm debating an upgrade to the ultimate cat this year, or early next.

I decided to wait until sometime next season. Cat 3 isn't going anywhere.

Part of my success this season has been a simple and enjoyable approach to riding and racing... Be competative, ride hard, train hard, but keep it fun. Lose the enjoyment and it's over.
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Old 07-07-09, 02:43 PM   #7
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this being only my third year racing i am still searching for the right balance of training, racing, and just riding around.

the one thing i have learned is patience. i try not to get too keyed into my performance on any given day or week. Even at my age I still have plenty of years of racing ahead of me so I dont need to rush any goal.
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Old 07-07-09, 03:00 PM   #8
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this sounds like mid-season burn out to me.
possibly
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Old 07-07-09, 03:24 PM   #9
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Ha!

Not yet... nearly burned out in April, though!

Legs are on fire, actually and riding is super fun so I'm actually trying not to over do it this week/month as I dont want to burn out.
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Old 07-07-09, 08:06 PM   #10
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I think the OP's ideas make for a nice, sane approach to racing.

Someone today asked me about "when were you your best?". I thought about it and it was when I was working for a shop (i.e. not the owner). I'd work all day in the shop, change as soon as we locked the doors, and head out on a 1-2 hour training ride with the guys (some shop guys, some teammates, some random friends/riders). We'd come back to the shop and detail our bikes - degrease, clean, then go over everything. I think I was replacing tape as often as once every few rides (yes I paid for it - in fact, after one full summer of working, I'd saved all of about $300, and that was when I was living at home). We were building wheels left and right, gluing tires all the time, finding stupid time-inefficient ways of making the bike "better" (swapping stem binder bolt caps because one was a nicer looking aluminum, for example, or heading to one of the guy's dad's garage to drill out chainrings on a drill press). We worked on leadouts on Tuesday nights (SUNY Purchase sprints), do Gimbles or a race on each Sat and Sun, and even venture into the city for some Floyd Bennett Field races.

I was dying to race. I'd get ready for our non-race Shartkozawa Classic in February, and I'd be jonesing to race the whole year. One year a teammate and I drove 5-6 hours to Baltimore to do a Bobby Phillips race in November (we won some merchandise and a turkey). And we raced as much as we could between those dates. (I never did cross so it was crits, road races if necessary, or group rides). I took time off when I was sick (usually 2 weeks in the winter), and I was riding motivated, fresh, unencumbered, for the other 50 weeks of the year. This went on for probably 5-6 years.

But, I added, as I explained the rest of the scenario, I had no other life. I drove a smashed up car (parents hand me down) with a pushed up hood held down by a toe strap (I eventually got a second head light but never fixed the hood nor the missing grille, graduated to a $1 car, then finally another parents-hand-me-down), ate terrible (we looked forwards to Tues night sprints because we'd go to the Wendy's SuperBar afterwards and load up for $4.99 all you can eat... and if we rode really hard, we'd get a soda even), and had a non-existent social life.

Now, 40-50 lbs heavier, with an essentially standard, off the shelf bike, I am way below that ephemeral level of fitness. I don't wear 28" jeans anymore. Heck, I don't have cheekbones anymore. I can't hit much more than 40 mph in a sprint, a speed that would make me stop riding for the day because I must have been feeling "so bad". I can't bridge 10 second gaps at 35-38 mph. I can't place in a 3 race then contest the finish of a P123 race. I can't hang with Gimbles on the long ride. I sometimes can't hang with them on the short ride. I haven't gloated for 30 laps while figuring out exactly how I'll demolish the field; instead, I ride, waiting for the inevitable attacks, praying I can make it through them.

Equipment-wise I'm extremely mellow compared to my old days. I used to pore over catalogs, trying to figure out if this rim would be faster than that rim. Or if a rim was reliable enough at a crazy light weight. Etc etc. More recently, when I started thinking of a power meter, I waited literally years before I bought a PT. Then I waited about a year before I bought the SRM (too many wheels for a PT user). When I wanted a set of carbon clinchers, I waited about a year before I bought them. I never felt the need to pay more to get them earlier - it simply wasn't worth it to me. What's a year or three to me? No big deal.

I have other things in my life. And I know that being a professional Cat 3 isn't the end all. I mean, c'mon, I've been a 3 for 20 odd years. I know what I can do, I know what I couldn't do, and I understand my place in the "peloton", so to speak. So, for me, it's all good.

Yes I have cycling goals. They remain within reach, require a bit of effort, but aren't crazy involved. I'm not worried about trying to stay with the climbers, nor the time trialers. It's a great success if I can bridge a gap, even if I just make it to the end of a race, and anything beyond that is just bonus.

So, okay, it sounds like a bit of burn out, yes. And I'll readily admit that it's really, really hard mentally for me to do any effort longer than, say 20-25 seconds. But I reached that stage maybe 10 years ago, and I've been noodling along fine, more or less, since then.

Heck, I've even racked up a few points this year. lol. It's fun racing. I intend to keep it that way.

See you at the races,
cdr
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Old 07-07-09, 09:29 PM   #11
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Nice post CDR.

Slash, I wear 28 jeans. Though, I can't hit over 40 on a good day let alone a bad day. Heh, I don't think I've ever hit 40 in a flat leadout sprint let alone one without a leadout.

There's a balance to be found, and I've been looking for that lately. Being in college makes it easy to be training and working all the time while still having a bit of a social life because I live with friends and around friends. Since next year is my last year at school, I'm a little worried for the 2 following years that I want to spend playing the 'broke bike racer'.

I'm pretty sure there will be little social life, which is a bummer. I wish more young people were involved in the sport. I'd enjoy it so much more if I could hang out with a few guys and girls who liked to train and race as much as I do. That's why it's so crucial to have a junior racing scene, so we can produce sane bike racers.

My collegiate team is small, but I'm pretty good friends with a bunch of the people who ride. I can see why schools with bigger teams are more dominant. It's because you can actually live a reasonable life as a young adult while training and racing.
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Old 07-07-09, 10:02 PM   #12
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R U sure that you only wear 28" jeans? Didn't u say you were 150lbs right now?


I wear 30" or 32" w a belt and I weight 145
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Old 07-07-09, 10:26 PM   #13
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Nice post CDR.
I'm pretty sure there will be little social life, which is a bummer. I wish more young people were involved in the sport. I'd enjoy it so much more if I could hang out with a few guys and girls who liked to train and race as much as I do. That's why it's so crucial to have a junior racing scene, so we can produce sane bike racers.

My collegiate team is small, but I'm pretty good friends with a bunch of the people who ride. I can see why schools with bigger teams are more dominant. It's because you can actually live a reasonable life as a young adult while training and racing.
Sane? Reasonable life while training and racing? Crazy talk...
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Old 07-07-09, 10:57 PM   #14
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Sacrifice is something to be truly admired but I think everyone knows that guy obsessed with going pro who should spin the lab ergometer for a reality check

Everyone's balance is different but sadly our passive-aggressive society will not inform you when your training commitment carries you over the edge
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Old 07-08-09, 12:20 AM   #15
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Sacrifice is something to be truly admired but I think everyone knows that guy obsessed with going pro who should spin the lab ergometer for a reality check

Everyone's balance is different but sadly our passive-aggressive society will not inform you when your training commitment carries you over the edge
What about those truly obsessed that are in check with reality and realize they will never be pros? Alot of us are like that.

How can a society inform an individual when they are riding too much, acknowledging that everyone's balance is different? Is there some sort of criteria based on hours/week, miles/week or simply a mentality? How do you quantify that.


The only reason I ask is because I am one who is obsessed to a certain degree with racing and training, but I realize that ill never be pro. I hope riding/racing is a part of my life forever but I realize that my current level of commitment and energy spent on it is just a phase.


Having said that I consider it a largely irrational pursuit. As a 22 year old college student I should be spending more time on: good grades, working, socializing and getting laid.

But aren't all paths to nirvana irrational?




ANyways the point of my post is that you seem to have a very finite conception of sacrifice, social norms and what is acceptable.
Care to elaborate?
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Old 07-08-09, 12:26 AM   #16
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R U sure that you only wear 28" jeans? Didn't u say you were 150lbs right now?


I wear 30" or 32" w a belt and I weight 145
My jeans from when I weighed 142 and even 135 still fit. All my weight gain has been in my legs and abs. Skinny climber no more

Though, I might have to move up a jean size because my quads don't fit in the old jeans anymore without being terribly tight. Oh well.

Quote:
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What about those truly obsessed that are in check with reality and realize they will never be pros? Alot of us are like that.

How can a society inform an individual when they are riding too much, acknowledging that everyone's balance is different? Is there some sort of criteria based on hours/week, miles/week or simply a mentality? How do you quantify that.


The only reason I ask is because I am one who is obsessed to a certain degree with racing and training, but I realize that ill never be pro. I hope riding/racing is a part of my life forever but I realize that my current level of commitment and energy spent on it is just a phase.


Having said that I consider it a largely irrational pursuit. As a 22 year old college student I should be spending more time on: good grades, working, socializing and getting laid.

But aren't all paths to nirvana irrational?




ANyways the point of my post is that you seem to have a very finite conception of sacrifice, social norms and what is acceptable.
Care to elaborate?
As a first generation immigrant, I have to say that the american society very much believes in individuals rights to do whatever.

If I choose to spend my time training training training even though I won't go pro and I know it, they'll choose to just loose touch instead of confronting me about it. By they I mean most friends and acquaintances. The 'wanting to get involved' quota is lost.

That's fact.
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Old 07-08-09, 12:32 AM   #17
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unfortunately it seems one of my friends has lost his connection to the fun side of riding when he got into racing
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Old 07-08-09, 12:36 AM   #18
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unfortunately it seems one of my friends has lost his connection to the fun side of riding when he got into racing
Ill bet you he has fun when he's racing or immediately before/after atleast
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Old 07-08-09, 12:39 AM   #19
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My jeans from when I weighed 142 and even 135 still fit. All my weight gain has been in my legs and abs. Skinny climber no more

Though, I might have to move up a jean size because my quads don't fit in the old jeans anymore without being terribly tight. Oh well.



As a first generation immigrant, I have to say that the american society very much believes in individuals rights to do whatever.

If I choose to spend my time training training training even though I won't go pro and I know it, they'll choose to just loose touch instead of confronting me about it. By they I mean most friends and acquaintances. The 'wanting to get involved' quota is lost.

That's fact.
How much of this is a factor of societal norms and how much is up to the individual's personality is subject to debate.

But even then in other countries (of which I am admittedly naive), who's criterion for "wanting to get involved" warrants a valid intervention? Is is just one outside of one's self? (someone else).

Anyone?

There are plenty of people who think that any time spent riding a bike for "racing and training" purposes is an irrational waste.

I know its irrational and largely wasteful that's why I don't need anyone to tell me that I'm wasting my time ! (atleast in my case )

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Old 07-08-09, 12:52 AM   #20
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My jeans from when I weighed 142 and even 135 still fit. All my weight gain has been in my legs and abs. Skinny climber no more

Though, I might have to move up a jean size because
my quads don't fit in the old jeans anymore without being terribly tight. Oh well.
Guad pics or it didn't happen.

Until a couple of weeks ago I was 5'10, 142#, and 28" waist...
Running makes my legs skinny, cycling makes them thick... I haven't found the right balance. That, however, will be a post in this thread for tomorrow.
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Old 07-08-09, 01:04 AM   #21
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Guad pics or it didn't happen.

Until a couple of weeks ago I was 5'10, 142#, and 28" waist...
Running makes my legs skinny, cycling makes them thick... I haven't found the right balance. That, however, will be a post in this thread for tomorrow.
Yeah im 5'9", 147 lbs (to be exact) and 30" waist....

Was around 135 lbs when I started cycling (came from running), I wish I could still be that light but my calves are friggen huge since I started riding! Quads not so much for some reason.

Mayb I shud try running once or twice a week to stay slim.


....Nah
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Old 07-08-09, 01:07 AM   #22
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There's a difference between training, and losing touch with reality to train even when you know you're not going to 'make it'.

It's difficult as students since we don't have a family to support or a spouse to yell at us. Because of that and the fact that we enjoy it, we can get too easily enamored with it. It can be a 'disease' instead of a passion.

Balance in all things.
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Old 07-08-09, 01:08 AM   #23
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Guad pics or it didn't happen.

Until a couple of weeks ago I was 5'10, 142#, and 28" waist...
Running makes my legs skinny, cycling makes them thick... I haven't found the right balance. That, however, will be a post in this thread for tomorrow
.

Maybe he's one of those hipster dudes that wears girl pants?


JK rtc
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Old 07-08-09, 01:09 AM   #24
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Ill bet you he has fun when he's racing or immediately before/after atleast
Maybe but he's taken on some hardcore attitude about cycling the seems to suck it dry
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Old 07-08-09, 01:14 AM   #25
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There's a difference between training, and losing touch with reality to train even when you know you're not going to 'make it'.

It's difficult as students since we don't have a family to support or a spouse to yell at us. Because of that and the fact that we enjoy it, we can get too easily enamored with it. It can be a 'disease' instead of a passion.

Balance in all things.
Yeah I really feel ya on this reply here as a student. It's easy for us to loose context.


Balance in all things? Come on man save that for when your old, grey, frail and meditating in the mountains somewhere!

JK though really I believe that part of living a complete life is being sick, diseased and unwell (literally and figuratively); it's part of life and it gives you perspective.

While we're young right? I know someday Ill have a real job and a wife and children and they will be worth the sacrifices I once maid to be reckless with my involvement in cycling.
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