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Base Building for non-racers?

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Base Building for non-racers?

Old 10-25-05, 01:31 PM
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Ok,
I have some questions regarding base-building and periodization for non-racers? I've read a lot about these things and understand their importance but not terrible sure if they apply to my situation. I'll try and make this as brief as possible and really appreciate any insight.

I've been riding for several years and am in descent shape but have only really became more serious this past year summer, primarily due to having more time available and finally buying a new bike. I logged a couple thousand miles this summer but most of it was at mild to moderate intensity. I plan on joining a club next spring and my goals are to get fast enough to ride comfortably with the faster groups. During the winter, I will be able to put in some miles on the road on weekends without snow/rain but I'll be on the trainer during the week.

My question is if I should just keep building base for a few more months staying below 75-80% until Jan-Feb although this becomes increasingly difficult(boring) on the trainer or should I start doing some higher intensity workouts now, maybe one per week and just increase the % of high intensity workouts as Spring approaches.

Thanks,
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Old 10-25-05, 06:18 PM
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Definitely base building is for everyone. If you want to be able to last longer and be stronger during longer, sustained efforts, and if you want to be able to do hard efforts and still be strong at the end of the effort, then base building is for you. In fact, I can't think of a time when you don't base build.

When you can do 2 hours of sustainable effort at sub-max, then you're ready for higher intensity workouts. Aim for a cadence of 90- 100 rpms for two hours at 75- 80% HRM.

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Old 10-25-05, 06:24 PM
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In my own non-racer opinion, the "base" concept is frequently overblown to the point of fetishism. I'd say unless you have a professional coach instructing you to the contrary, you don't need to hew closely to any artificial guidelines as to when you need to go easy and when you can open it up. Pay attention to your own body. Don't push so hard you're likely to injure yourself, and if you feel overly tired take it easy or give yourself a day or two off.

You're riding for your own enjoyment. Don't burn yourself out mentally by restricting yourself to a workout style you find boring.

On the other hand, if restricting yourself to low stress and low exertion for several months makes you confident you're doing what's required to avoid injury and overfatigue, that's fine too. If you're already in half decent shape I doubt it's really necessary, but you're your own coach and your own body will usually tell you well enough what you need to do, unless you're an elite athlete trying squeeze that last couple percent out of your genetic potential.
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Old 10-25-05, 06:32 PM
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I agree Koffee it is for everyone but I guess what I am saying is I feel like I have been building base milage for 6 months now and my weekends rides towards the end of the summer were in the 75 mile range, 4-5 hours sustained effort. Now that i want to start working on speed, is there any reason why I should wait until later in the winter/spring? There isn't really anything specific I need to "peak" for so what I am confused about is why everything i read has this autumn season as base building. That is what i have been doing all summer is it not? Perhaps racers need this time to go back to LDS workouts to recover and rebuild endurance again but I have been doing that for the past 6 months without the super high-intensity workouts. Does my question make any sense? If I start adding intensity now, will I be burned up by the Spring just when the going gets good?
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Old 10-25-05, 06:43 PM
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I think base building is for those who have a defined season or event and want/need to "peak" at the right time. If you are a year-round rider or are not training for any particular event I think periodized training is overkill.

I fall into this category myself (both year-round rider and not training for any particular events). My approach is to vary the intensity of what I do from day to day, e.g. if I have a hard day (tough hillclimb, intervals, sprints) one day, I will take an easy day the next (flat "spin" ride or maybe just take the day off, depending), and evaluate daily whether I'm sufficiently recovered or whatever.

Edit: a relevant post by terrymorse from a similar thread:
Originally Posted by terrymorse
Check out this article:

http://www.biketechreview.com/performance/base.htm

It's a bit detailed, but it effectively debunks the myth that "base" training must include long hours of riding a slow pace.

Edit 2: yet another similar thread of interest: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=141438

Last edited by 'nother; 10-25-05 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 10-25-05, 06:47 PM
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Have you been tested for your heart rate percentages?

Where did I get that recommendation from? Joe Friel. He was at a seminar I attended for the last three days, and he spoke about base building.

My recommendation is exactly what Friel said- get tested. For the most part, endurance riding is neither consistently one heart rate- it's a mostly endurance ride of low heart rates.

If you can do a week of riding for two hours at let's say 80% of your true heart rate max at one speed nonstop (one speed, one gear, etc), then you're definitely ready to move on to higher intensity.

Before you do that, perhaps you should evaluate what your goals are. Are you going to strength train at all this winter?

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Old 10-25-05, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 'nother
Edit: a relevant post by terrymorse from a similar thread:



Edit 2: yet another similar thread of interest: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=141438
Thanks for this info. This is pretty useful stuff and I tend to agree with you and Big Helmet as it sounds like your situations are closer to mine. Koffee, to answer your questions, the answer is yes to all of them and my "goal" was stated in my OP. There is however, no way in he77 I can spend two hours on the trainer everyday all winter (or even for a week straight which I assume you mean every day) without going insane. 60 minutes is about all I can handle. My questions are really tied more to base as it relates to periodization rather than the the somewhat arbitrary log xxxxx number of miles before you shift to a higher chainring mentality.

I do like "structure" as it helps keep me motivated so I believe I am going to start doing ONE of the Performace Zone (most intense) workouts from Sally Edwards Workbook for Indoor Cyclist every week, with the balance of the rides in the lower zones and doing a longer ride outdoors when weather permits. As late winter/spring approaches, I will up the number of "Performace Zone" workouts to 2-3 per week pending how well I can recover from them and then transition back to my 60-75 mile weekend rides when nice weather rolls around again, hopefully much faster than the 15-16 or so MPH I averaged last year on 60+ mile rides.
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Old 10-25-05, 08:54 PM
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I don't think you're understanding.

When Joe was talking (Friel), he said "you will know when a person is ready to move out of base training when they can consistently do 2 hours of steady state riding at sub max- at one cadence the entire time". So, if you can't do it right now, you're not ready to come out of base. If you can do it, and you can do it consistently, then you're ready to move out of base.

I'm not saying spend 2 hours on the trainer every day spinning the legs. If you were doing that already, you'd be ready to move out of base. Since you said there's no way you could do it right now, you're not ready to move out of base. Not yet. but it's something to work towards.

While Friel was talking, he also mentioned Coggen's training program as very similar to his ideal. I think when people think of base training, they think of just spinning the legs easy and staying at a very low heart rate the entire time. This is NOT so. Then they throw around studies like Coggen to debate something that perhaps they don't truly understand. Again, it's not about sitting on a trainer every day for two hours. It's not about spinning the legs at a very low heart rate. It's about doing two hours consistently, maintaining one cadence, and being able to do it at sub-max for the entire time.

If 60 minutes is all you can handle, and you want to ride in groups, be faster, and be able to ride longer, then you MUST work towards that 2 hour sub max spinning, and be able to maintain it.

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Old 10-25-05, 09:37 PM
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You are probably right with me not understanding but it seems like you are missing some of what I am saying or not reading my posts. Not that you are required to and I appreciate the time and energy yourself and everyone contributes. To clarify, I will simply quote myself.
"I logged a couple thousand miles this summer but most of it was at mild to moderate intensity"
I am defining mild to moderate as around 70% of max
"my weekends rides towards the end of the summer were in the 75 mile range, 4-5 hours sustained effort"
that is at said average heartrate averaging around 15-16 MPH. Not pancake flat.

Were those rides at exactly the same speed, gear and cadence? No, of couse not, they were outside with wind, hills, traffic, etc. According to Friel, unless someone has a trainer, they will never get out of base because that is the only way to do what you are suggesting.

Just because I get bored in my living room after an hour on the trainer does not mean I am not ABLE to physically ride 2 hours, as I believe should be evident in the above quotes. According to Friel, if I do a 2 hour ride and sprint up a hill, I am not ready to move out of base because I increased my cadence? I know that is overly simplistic but that is what these very rigid "rules" end up if you follow them to their logical conclusion.

Can you give a more specific definition of "sub-max"? To me, that translates into "below maximum" and if that is correct, my ability to do it should be evident in the above quotes. If "sub-max" somehow means 85% or 90% of max, then we may have found our mis-understanding. That, I can not do as my LT/AT is only around 85%, which I hope to increase through these more intense workouts. To do this, as I understand it, requires riding "at, about, and around" LT/AT which is what I am about to start doing, apparently without Friel's permission. If it helps put this in perspective, I have run 4 marathons and have been "riding" for about 7 years. I have had to quit running though and am trying to get faster on the bike. The distance is not what gets me, it is distance above a certain speed.

Last edited by bhh; 10-25-05 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 10-25-05, 11:40 PM
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Sorry- I wasn't specifically meaning you, just in general when it comes to understanding.

What Joe was talking about was the feeling of being uncomfortably comfortable. He was describing it as the point in exercise where it's a hard, sustainable effort, but at the end of the two hours, you feel relatively fatigued in the legs. You'll feel slightly out of breath during this effort, but not be fully out of breath. It was this intensity that he said you should be able to maintain over a two hour period. It's not easily done, but when you are able to do that for a two hour period, then he said you'd be ready to come out of base and work on harder interval efforts (3- 10 minute intervals at 110% of VO2 max, though there is a method to the madness).

It would also help if you had a power meter, since heart rate can be subjective, while power is totally objective, and the more accurate of the two. But if you don't have a means to measure power, going by heart rate is totally legitimate.

I still would recommend getting some kind of test if you're serious about training so you can find out what your heart rate training zones are.

If you're wanting to do longer rides where you're riding faster, doing hard, interval workouts won't get you to that point. Doing longer rides means you should be working on developing your abilities to ride at a steady, consistent cadence. Once you get to that point, you can start working on the intervals so you can work to increase your VO2 max/aerobic capacity and work to increase those short bursts of energy you'll need for quicker accelerating and short bursts of power.

I'm sure you're no slouch... 7 years of riding is a long time, but now you want a clear, concise training plan that takes you above and beyond the easy riding you did over the summer. I'm sure the ideals I laid out for you will put you one step closer to your goals (though you'll need to develop a strength training plan to compliment your cardiovascular training program).

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Old 10-26-05, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by koffee brown
What Joe was talking about was the feeling of being uncomfortably comfortable. He was describing it as the point in exercise where it's a hard, sustainable effort, but at the end of the two hours, you feel relatively fatigued in the legs. You'll feel slightly out of breath during this effort, but not be fully out of breath. It was this intensity that he said you should be able to maintain over a two hour period. It's not easily done, but when you are able to do that for a two hour period, then he said you'd be ready to come out of base and work on harder interval efforts (3- 10 minute intervals at 110% of VO2 max, though there is a method to the madness).to increase those short bursts of energy you'll need for quicker accelerating and short bursts of power.
This is making more sense to me and I very much appreciate your help. I do a kind of personal TT of 4 laps around Central Park (24 miles) every few weeks that takes right about 1:20 to complete (~18 mph) and I typically average right around 80% of max. I work at pacing myself to maintain a very consistent effort through all 4 laps and feel very similar to how you describe at the end. It sounds like what you are describing is getting to where I can push this same effort out another few laps to the 2 hour point. This makes sense and I guess the best way to do that it is to just keep riding at this same effort for a little longer each time until I can tack on another 40 minutes or so in this 80% range. I am just worried about spending too much time in that no-man's land that DannoXYZ talks about. Anyway, thanks again and it was a fruitful discussion that I hope others can take something away from as well.

Cheers,
B
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Old 10-26-05, 10:24 AM
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If you have adaptations that you want to keep, the following is applicable:



Maintaining Training Adaptations During the Off-Season



Written by:


Bryan C. Bergman, Ph.D.


Many athletes are taking a break from training in the current off-season, as the competitive calendar ends in October or November. Even the most elite athletes take a break from the rigors of in-season training. However, how long should that break be? Should athletes perform other types of activity to "stay in shape" during the break? How much of fitness will be lost if from a 1, 2 or 4-week break? These types of questions are vital for an off-season training program, as the current off-season is where next year's success will largely be determined. Take Jan Ullrich as an example - what does he do in the off-season? Clearly, not enough - and his performance every season is hampered by an unorganized off-season.

The off-season could be argued as the most important time of the training year. Have a great off-season, and an athlete will likely have great success the following season. Have a poorly planned off-season, with too much time off, emphasis on the wrong types of training and other pitfalls, and an athlete may be mentally broken, or in such poor shape at the beginning of the season that he or she must play catch-up the rest of the year.

Off-season programs should be designed to allow athletes to mentally rejuvenate, while minimizing the loss of physiological adaptations gained during the season that just ended. Detraining is defined as the partial or complete loss of training-induced physiological adaptations due to reducing or stopping training. Detraining is important to understand, as minimizing detraining in the off-season is important for maintaining adaptations and building upon the previous season's gains. Thus, by preventing dramatic detraining in the off-season, athletes can build upon training adaptations and become stronger every year. How do you think Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Walker Ferguson (just to name a few) become stronger every year? They minimize detraining in the off-season, relax after a hard season, build upon their weaknesses and come back stronger the following season. This is the basis of organized, periodized training employed by CTS coaches - progression and improvement from year to year.

So what happens when a highly trained athlete stops training during the winter season? The following section summarizes scientific studies that have examined physiological and biochemical responses to detraining.

VO2max
Following complete cessation of training, VO2max decreases in previously highly trained individuals after as little as 4 weeks, with the decrease in VO2max varying between 4 and 14% (19, 22, 43, 59). The decrease in VO2max during the first 3 weeks of detraining is due to a decrease in maximal cardiac output. Subsequent decreases in VO2max are due to decreased oxygen extraction, likely from a decrease in mitochondrial density (see figure below).

Blood Volume
Detraining of 4 weeks has been found to decrease blood volume by 12%, mostly due to a 9% decrease in plasma volume in previously well trained athletes (19). Thus, most of the loss of blood volume was due to a decrease in the water compartment of the blood, however 3% of the decrease in blood volume could be attributed to a decreased red blood cell mass, which contributes to the decreases in VO2max and performance. Plasma volume will decrease after 2 days of inactivity, and decreases proportionally to the total time of training cessation. The decreased blood volume can also largely explain decreased VO2max and increased submaximal heart rate seen in the detrained state.

Endurance Time
Endurance performance of previously highly trained athletes decreases during a period of detraining by as much as 25% in as little as 2-4 weeks of inactivity (44, 55). Decreased endurance performance may be explained by the increased use of carbohydrate as a fuel during submaximal work following detraining (22, 55, 59).

Lactate concentration during submaximal work and lactate threshold
Lactate concentration during submaximal work has been shown to increase after as little as 1 week of detraining in previously highly trained athletes (15, 21, 62). However, the mechanism for the increased lactate concentration cannot be determined from the detraining studies. It is likely that the increased lactate concentration arises from a decrease in lactate clearance, which is the main adaptation during endurance training responsible for decreased arterial lactate concentration (6).

Lactate threshold also decreases progressively during 56 days of detraining in previously highly trained individuals (21). However, decreases in lactate threshold stabilized after 3 months of detraining to values significantly greater than untrained controls. Lactate threshold is the most trainable factor influencing endurance performance. High lactate threshold is one of the most important predictors of endurance performance. It takes a lot of time, even years, to increase lactate threshold to an athlete's genetic potential, so it is vital to prevent a large drop during the off-season. Only by building upon the current season's gains in LT, will LT increase from year to year to an elite level.

Muscle Glycogen
Glycogen is the storage form of glucose in the body. An increased amount of muscle glycogen improves performance and is an adaptation to endurance training. As little as a week of detraining results in a decrease in the body's muscle glycogen storage capacity.

Capillary Density
Capillaries bring blood and oxygen to muscles. Increased muscle capillary density is an important adaptation to endurance training. Cessation of training in athletes has been reported to decrease or not change capillary density in well trained athletes.

Mitochondrial Volume
When training is stopped, mitochondrial content of the skeletal muscle decreases (12, 34, 49, 59). Athletes who have been training for many years experience a rapid initial decrease in skeletal muscle oxidative enzyme activity in the first 8 weeks of detraining, followed by a stabilization of enzyme levels 50% above sedentary controls throughout the remaining 4 weeks of detraining (22). Upon further analysis of single muscle fibers, it is found that in these well trained athletes, the elevation of enzyme activities above sedentary controls is mainly due to the maintenance of enzyme levels in fast twitch muscle fibers. After 12 weeks of detraining, oxidative enzyme activity of fast twitch muscle fibers remained 50-80% above control values, while slow twitch muscle fibers had decreased to control levels (12, 22).

This effect may be due in part to the large amount of training time that it takes fast glycolytic fibers to adapt to the stress of endurance exercise and take on characteristics of fast oxidative glycolytic fibers. Thus we are seeing minimal fiber type conversion with detraining, possibly due to the length of time the adaptation originally took to occur.

So what should be done to minimize the loss of training adaptations during the off-season?


Reduced Training
The answer is to decrease, but not stop training. But by how much should training decrease?

It is impractical and mentally very difficult to maintain race fitness year round. Thus, during the off-season, training should be reduced in such a way to maintain fitness gains from the current season, allowing the athlete to become stronger every year.

Of the many components of training, the most important for this discussion are Frequency, Intensity, and Time (or volume). How much can each of these components decrease?

Frequency
The frequency of training sessions plays an important role in the retention of physiological adaptations during a period of reduced training. Most studies suggest that when submaximal endurance performances were negatively affected during a reduced training period, training frequency was reduced by at least 50% (42, 62). However, studies that observed no change in athletic performance only reduced frequency by around 20-30% (15, 40). Thus, in order to maintain physiological adaptations to endurance training, frequency of exercise bouts should not decrease more than 30%. In other words, if an athlete currently trains 6 days/week, training should not drop below 4 days/week during reduced training periods.

Volume
As long as training frequency does not drop more than 20-30% during a period of reduced training, it can safely be assumed that training volume can be decreased up to 70-80% with no decreases in submaximal exercise performance. However, performance is only maintained when the intensity of training is not reduced from pre-reduced training levels. Considering training intensity will drop during the off-season, volume should not be allowed to drop by 70-80%. The exact amount volume can decrease in the off-season is individual, and influenced by training intensity and the age of the athlete.

Intensity
The specific effect of training intensity has not been isolated and studied in highly trained endurance athletes. However, Neufer (62) reported that in previously untrained individuals, training intensity must be maintained during a period of reduced frequency and/or duration in order to maintain training adaptations. Similarly, in the previously reported studies where frequency and volume were reduced, training intensity was maintained or only reduced by 10-20% from pre-reduced training levels (15, 40, 42, 46, 62). Therefore, it can be speculated that exercise intensity must be maintained or only decreased by 10-20% in order to maintain training adaptations during a period of reduced training. Greater drops in training intensity will results in proportional decreases in fitness.

Conclusions
During a period of training cessation, VO2max, endurance time, and lactate threshold will decrease rapidly in highly trained athletes. Capillary density appears to be maintained for as long as 12 weeks in highly trained endurance athletes who have been training for many years. In highly trained endurance athletes, mitochondrial volume decreases rapidly in the first 8 weeks of detraining, but stabilizes at 50% above sedentary values for at least 4 more weeks of detraining.

Thus, much of an athlete's performance potential will be decreased after 8 weeks of exercise cessation, yet their capillary density and some of their oxidative enzyme adaptations will be retained through at least 4 more weeks of detraining. Thus, after 2 months of no training, highly trained athletes will lose much, but not all of their physiological adaptations for endurance activities.

Highly trained endurance athletes must stay active in the off-season in order not to lose their training adaptations over a period of reduced training. They can decrease training volume by up to 70-80%, but the frequency of the training bouts can only be reduced by 20-30%, or in other words taking 2-3 rest days per week instead of one. While scientifically unstudied, it is speculated that training intensity must be maintained at close to pre-reduced training levels to prevent a drop in performance. However, maintaining training intensity year-round is impractical. Thus, less of a fall in training volume may help prevent the loss of physiological adaptations in the off-season with decreases in training intensity.

Bryan graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999 with a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Health Science Center, studying the interaction of exercise and nutrition on weight loss and obesity. Bryan is a Coach with Carmichael Training Systems. For more information on personal coaching packages that fit your lifestyle, goals and budget, please visit www.trainright.com.

References
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Chi, M. M., C. S. Hintz, E. F. Coyle, W. H. d. Martin, J. L. Ivy, P. M. Nemeth, J. O. Holloszy, and O. H. Lowry. Effects of detraining on enzymes of energy metabolism in individual human muscle fibers. Am J Physiol 244: C276-87, 1983.
Costill, D. L., W. J. Fink, M. Hargreaves, D. S. King, R. Thomas, and R. Fielding. Metabolic characteristics of skeletal muscle during detraining from competitive swimming. Med Sci Sports Exerc 17: 339-43, 1985.
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2005 :: Carmichael Training Systems

Last edited by NoRacer; 10-26-05 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 10-26-05, 10:42 AM
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bhh
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SWEET! Thank you. Excellent read.
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Old 10-26-05, 11:06 AM
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I think that you *do* fall into the periodization situation even though you may not have just completed a full season of all-out racing. Those fast club rides that will start in the spring would be the same as your upcoming "season". You (like many of us who live in the Northeast) will not be able to train all-out because you aren't going to be able to ride 75 miles through snow drifts and slush, and I agree -- the trainer is better than nothing, but it gets old fast.

Let's make believe that you are a pro cyclist and that you have just recovered from a catastrophic illness last Spring, do some riding over the Summer and Fall but not competing in the Tour. Wouldn't you re-synch yourself to the "normal" schedule"? Do weights, etc. Nov-Dec and then start building up the base again in Jan-Feb-Mar?

Then again, maybe I am just rationalizing winter
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