A good friend of mine is an officer in the LAPD, the po-po as they are affectionately known on the street. The LAPD have a term they use to describe a situation when something escalates to a physical level: "going tactical" or going hands-on. I love this term and I have morphed it into a term I use in cycling. At this early point in the season, there are some really strong riders bringing the pain on the group rides. Many already have logged thousands of miles, opting to ride outdoors and indoors or in some cases, locations reached by flying off to warmer temps. I was not able to get away this year and, in turn, have looked to running as a way to beat the cabin fever. My fitness at this point in the season is a couple notches below the fast guys and, as a result, I have be smart on the group rides. I have to "go tactical". Saturday's ride was an awesome, Belgian-style, slug fest. All the hammers were in attendance, the skies were grey and the rain had just moved out; things were reminiscant of the 1998 Valkenburg Worlds. Yesterday, the mind was stronger than the body. I made every effort to stay near the front of the ride and I paid for it. Just shy of the halfway point, I was ejected from the group and the resulting alone time gave me the opportunity to reflect on my mistakes.
Sunday was a different story. The sun was shining, temps were a record 15+ degrees C, and there was a sneaky southwest wind blowing in Belgian-style. On the way out, I played my hand close to the vest, I repeated the words of Brunyeel at the 2006 PR: "Eat, drink and stay in reserve". At the end of the ride, my body was tired, but not as tired as my mind. Trying to ride smartly takes a lot out of you─hiding from the wind, picking the good wheels, and doing everything to avoid opening a gap. When the fitness is good, I can take more risks, ride with less upstairs, and more from the legs (robot style). I think I need to take some time off work and schedule some super-secret training miles at an undisclosed location in an effort to bring the fitness as fast as possible. Maybe this season's late start will allow me to make it through to cross season with my body and mind remaining fresh through the fall season? Or maybe I will just be burnt out and get my ass kicked again like last year.
My father, who has spent his life in the cycling world, would say "it is only April!" But the new training styles seem to neglect the time off and, if I want to hang with the group I so love, then I need to follow suit. Right?