My training for L’Etape continues on track – only 2 weeks to go as of Monday. This past weekend was my 3rd straight with a 100+ mile ride, basically a repeat of the prior Sunday’s route with extensions in a few places to bump the miles up to ~115. Unlike that previous Sunday, however, I did the ride coming off a TT threshold workout the day before. That was a pretty intense workout with a fair amount of wind, which I had to go against starting each interval – ouch! I do intervals of fixed distance rather than time (10k at this point), and amazingly I ended up with exactly the same time for all three intervals. Hopefully that means I’ve found that ‘zone’ where I need to surf. Waking up on Sunday, my legs felt a little tired, and I wasn’t convinced that I would feel as good as I did the previous weekend – I thought maybe I should take the climbs a little easier. Once into the ride though I was fine and, like last Sunday, felt great all the way to the end. Jose did the entire ride this time and stayed a lot closer to me on the climbs, so he’s doing a good job of whipping himself back into shape. It was another marvelous day of moderate temps and low humidity, so part of me was still wondering about how I would handle that kind of distance with that much climbing when hot, humid conditions return.
I found out Wednesday, when I accepted Justin’s invitation to a 4th of July ride. Now, forgive me if this sounds like name-dropping (which it is), but I was more than a little excited (and apprehensive) when I showed up and saw not only Justin, but riders like Josh Carter, Anthony Dust, Derek Louderman, and Mark Nagy, along with a few other strong Cat3s, getting ready in the parking lot. Not a big deal for some of you guys, but for an old(-ish), not-nearly-as-distinguished Cat3 who’s only been doing this for a few years, I was pretty excited about doing a training ride with such a quality group. Not that I haven’t done plenty of Tues nite ‘A’ races with these guys, but that’s different somehow – more anonymous. We ended up doing ~70 miles – with lots of climbing – and it was hot and humid from the start. Justin wanted to do the BugMan “long” route, so at least I was on familiar terrain with these guys. All I can say is the pace was “considerably” faster than what I am used to doing on this route. I’m sure the size of the group and greater drafting opportunities it provided contributed to the greater average speed, but despite that and despite the heat and humidity I felt good to the end. One thing I noticed was they didn’t really take the climbs any harder than what I typically do (and may, in fact, have been ‘pooching’ them for all I know! I know I wasn’t!), but their speed on the flats and rollers tended to be much faster than what I’m used to on a training ride of this length. Anyway, I tried to pick their brains for training/racing tips as much as I could without becoming too much of a pest – hopefully I pulled that off.
This coming Sunday I’ll do my fourth (and final) 100+ mile ride (shooting for ~120) before heading to France later in the week. Jose is taking me on a JeffCo route he knows, so it’ll be plenty of big climbing to go along with the big miles. The weather forecast is calling for sunny skies with a high of 95 and humidity, so this should be a good test to see if I am fully prepared for L’Etape – it’s do or die at this point! I only hope Jose knows where we can get a turkey sandwich by mid-ride!