Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Winter Cross Training

I recently took a few days off to enjoy the mountains with my family and did not leave the bike behind. This ski trip was an opportunity how my PC training would affect my skiing. When talking to several customers it came up in conversation how much better their skiing was as a result of the PC training. Since I have been on them an average of 3.8 days/week since July I was looking forward to experiencing this firsthand myself.

As we arrived to Donner Summit, we quickly unloaded the car and headed down the mountain for a few hill repeats on the bike as the sun was just setting. The plan was to ride up as fast as I could, get back into the van until the bottom of the road and climb the pass again.

As soon as I was out of the heated vehicle, the chill in the air and fast dropping temperatures penetrated my well "insulated" body. It was time to start riding or else I would become an icicle.

I took off at a comfortable 80rpm in order to legs the legs somewhat warmed up for the ride ahead ... 3 miles of flat road surely did not help with that. Furthermore dirt/sand on the shoulder of the road made riding just a little trickier as you can imagine.

The directions to the wife were simple: "Stay behind me unless a car tries to pass in which case just go ahead and find a place on the shoulder to wait for me!" Since the resorts had already been closed for over 90 minutes the only traffic I encountered was downhill traffic; it was surprising how fast they slowed down as soon as they saw a well lit human candle pedaling a bike up the pass in below freezing temps! Luckily going uphill the body temperature was just fine.

All proceeded as planned until 15 minutes into the ride when I noticed that I was not getting enough oxygen; could it be that 6800 ft. above sea level was this difficult to manage? I slowed down the pace just and kept 265-270 watts pace for the remainder of the climb. It was not easy given the thin air.

Got back in the van and down the mountain I was taken while I was sipping water and thinking about the second ascent. Once out of the van I started pedaling and once again gave clear directions to my wife ...

The pace was going to be just a little faster as it was getting very dark very fast and I also wanted to make sure that we would get back to the cabin on time for dinner. Off I go looking at my powermeter and trying to maintain 250-265 watts for the whole climb. While the power data looked good, I was feeling the lack of oxygen even more the second time around. My pace quickly dropped to 62 rpm and 239 watts as the sky fell into night. The legs felt good, they had the strength as I found a good breathing rhythm ... and to the cabin I made it just on time for dinner!

Next morning was the first day of skiing ... all I can say is that this time around I had much better strength and endurance while downhill skiing. While I did not venture into the moguls this time to test my core strength, I can happily say that the legs were not sore and by morning I was able to hit the slopes for a second day of hard core, fast paced skiing.