Around the middle of October, Tina and I acquired two Wahoo Kickrs thanks to our local bike shop, Boulder Bicycle Works, having a couple used ones to sell. While they were definitely a couple years old and well loved, they were only 40% the cost of new machines. Since COVID was still raging and snow storms here can be a bit intense, it seemed a wise choice to have a way to exercise throughout the winter.
This led us to doing our first FTP tests, completing all of the Zwift Academy workouts, and even participating in a Zwift races. As the rabbit hole deepened, Tina signed up for Basecamp, an online winter cycling training program, for three months and dedicated herself to not only keeping her biking fitness but improving it.
Challenge-focused individual that I am, I focused primarily on things like the Thanksgiving Groad, the Rapha Festive 500, and doing 350 miles in a single week. Yes, I still spent time on the trainer–mostly attempting to improve my climbing abilities–but I was not nearly as dedicated as Tina.
My outdoor fun over the winter convinced me that I was finally willing to invest in a dedicated gravel bike. While my lovely carbon road bike can handle quite a bit, after a particularly rough ride that left a couple decent scrapes in its frame, I decided it was time to stop beating it up and get a real gravel bike. So, on my birthday I got a Giant Revolt. It's pretty darn spiffy.
If this blog post has a point, it is that escalation is a very real thing in biking. I came to Boulder with an 11 year old aluminum bike, and 18 months later I now own four bikes and easily spend 12-18 hours a week riding. Crazy.
What's even crazier is that for the first time in my life, I have signed up for a bike race! Oh, but not just a single bike race. No siree! I am currently signed up for three different gravel races in 2021. And some seriously challenging ones too:
- Ned Gravel, July 31st, Tungsten route: 66 miles and 8,200’ of climbing.
- Rebecca's Private Idaho, Sept 5th, Baked Potato route: 102 miles and 5,295' of climbing.
- Desert Gravel's Rexy, Oct 30th: 208 miles and 11,400′ of climbing.
Is "audacious" the right world? Seems like it might be.
An FTP test last weekend showed that I not only kept my fitness over the winter but actually got a smidgen stronger since last October. And I did a 350 mile week at the beginning of March, so the distances are not too worrisome. Gravel riding over long distances is more jarring and exhausting, but a recent gravel-filled weekend makes me think it is manageable with the right tire size and additional training.
However. Part of me would like to do really well in these races. And, I would definitely like to be so fit that finishing (barring a mechanical problem) is a foregone conclusion.
And so, I have started my first structured training program. It is an 8-week plan written by one of the leaders of her Basecamp group and is meant to improve my strength, resiliency, and ensure I can survive a long, hard day in the saddle.
I am only four days into it and boy oh boy has it already given me a couple decent workouts. Today is a rest day with a relaxing one hour ride before a delightfully hard weekend of climbing and endurance riding, and I very much need this recovery day. Many of the more structured workouts will probably be done on my Wahoo Kickr, but I just bought my first power meter to allow workouts to be performed outside too.
Feels a bit weird to take exercise this seriously, but with races on the calendar and a partner who is kicking ass with her own cycling, I thought it was time to up my own game a bit.