The slow season comes in four weeks blocks, until a total of 12 weeks has been completed. Over that time rides begin to take on more focus. They are shaped to get my body ready to race. Each week I up the time spent pedaling: 14.5 hours, 16 hours, 17.5 hours. Then comes a dip in the hours. Week 4: 10 hours. That’s about the time I spend riding to and from work. So I take a day off. I take in the smells and sounds of Portland’s public transit system. Without this rest week my body would crack under the strain. I haven’t taken a day off in three weeks.
By the time this week rolls around I’m ready for a break. Mentally and physically. In a light gear. This week breaks the rhythm. Over the last three weeks I’ve ridden two hard days in a row, followed by a day of recovery riding, repeating that pattern through out the week until my long meandering rides on Sunday. Monday starts the cycle again with an easy bike day and an hour under a stack of weights.
Not this week. This week I will ride easy with a high cadence and low heart rate. Slowly my ability to think clearly will return (such as it is) my body will start to feel fresh again. I will spend the extra hours sitting with the lady, stretching my sore and tight muscles and write. I will reacquaint myself with the lower end of my cassette. Cogs 26 through 23 will get a full work out.
All this leads up to a test. Thirty minutes, all out. How far can I go in a half-hour? How is my body responding to the stress I’m putting it through. Am I getting closer to achieving my goals? All questions that push me toward what I want. Questions that point me toward the person I’m becoming.