training for hill climbs

i’ve now most definitely started the training  block for hillclimbs. the logical target is the national championship on october 31st. this gives me 8 weeks of periodisation, or building to a peak. on the plus side, i have a strong season’s base this year (i know this because jeff jones told me so, so it must be true) and think i’m slightly further on that this time last year. on the negative side, i’ve lost my commute so must be more disciplined and structured in getting out on the bike. something not to look forward to are the hill intervals, the endless repeats of savage short climbs, and the lingering oxygen debt.

today i went out riding with Steve. he’s full of form and confidence at the moment having come third in a road race yesterday, his first podium finish. we did 50 hilly miles with a coffee stop in cheddar. we went up burrington, goblin coombe, the gorge, and a few other lesser ‘cols’, in what was supposed to be a recovery ride, but ended up at around 17mph average. it was still a recovery ride of sorts, my heartrate stayed pretty low, which was nice after last week’s tachycardic alpine shitstorm.

one funny thing happened, whilst overtaking some chap on the gorge he all but leapt onto my wheel, steve said he practically sprinted across the gap. i was on my mercian, full mudguards, the lot, weighs around 14kg. i looked back, sensing a limpet, and he was so close i had to say something, although simply by getting out of the saddle i caused him to wobble and he nearly bought us both down. it was crazy. even beforehand, whilst catching up with him, i could tell there was something resolutely non-racey about him. (you can just tell, usually it’s the socks, hairy legs, and ill-fitting jersey, team kit is also a good indicator, but more than any other, it’s the absence of muscle tone and the presence of curves, a sort of shapelessness of form. also, these kind of judgements, as fickle as they may seem, are a part and parcel of cycling). i asked him to give me a bit of room, and told him he could follow me up the gorge ‘should he wish to attempt to do so’. i attempted to phrase this in a non-threatening manner, but i think it came across as a bit needly, however i was annoyed that he’d ridden like a douchebag. anyway, me and steve then rode tempo all the way up, and dropped the aforementioned 6th cat rider, suddenly, immediately, and without so much as a cursory glance…. one minute he was in the lift, the next minute, boom….

and it got us thinking how we’ve changed as riders due to the amount of racing we both do. when out and about you come across some douchey stuff, people latching on your wheel, not saying hello, ignoring the nod, trying to race you up a climb (and without trying to hard not to sound like an asshole, unless you came top 20 in the national hillclimb, this is probably a bad idea), and so on, and it’s invariably from people who don’t race. i’d hazard a guess that this is because it’s as close to racing as they get, without actually racing, and until they take the plunge and do a few TTs or criteriums, it will always be the case. i’m all for riding for pleasure, it’s the perfect way to spend a couple of hours, but apart from that i’m riding for a reason, today was ostensibly recovery and base, with a bit of tempo stuff in the middle just to blow the cobwebs away.

i guess what i’m trying to say is this: when you catch and pass someone looking svelte with shaven pins and a club/team jersey, they’re probably on a recovery ride from a race the day before, or they’re heading home after 40 miles of pyramid intervals, or they’ve misjudged some bonk training, so enjoy the victory by all accounts, just bear in mind the reasons for it, chiefly the fact that they’re not racing, but training.

as the eternal caveat states, there’s always a bigger gorilla. always.

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