Monday, June 15, 2009

Things to make you feel better

No, we haven't given up the ghost on this blog. In fact we're all still very excited about riding, but life in general has been hectic for all three of us lately.

This weekend, for the first time in something like a month, we linked up for a ride together. Quicksilver is flying. Good for him.

I suffered mightily at times, and Rider 3 experienced a bonk so deep that I'm pretty sure he met Allah.

Our State Championships are in a couple of weeks. Like I've written about before this is a race I had initially hoped to prepare for and do well in, until life got in the way. Lots of business travel and a less than fun sinus infection conspired against saddle time, so I'm off to my bag of tricks.

No, not THAT bag of tricks, although I'm sure you could fill one of Rapha's fancy soigneur bags with all kinds of illicit substances. Although if you buy one of Rapha's fancy soigneur bags you probably won't be able to afford many illicit substances. Maybe some No-Doz.

Anyway, this weekend I started stewing on the things that give me motivation and potentially help form come along. Quickly.

I know some people go for retail therapy: Buy, buy, buy your way to better fitness. Good for them. It actually makes me feel worse though. When I'm suffering, I just get angry and feel undeserving of new equipment. What can I say? I have issues.

So, here's my initial list of the things and stuff I do in a pinch. Most are obvious, but hey, it's my blog post, right?

  • New bar tape. Clean, white bar tape always makes me feel better. Put it on two days before your big ride or race. Fresh cork is a good thing.
  • New chain. I guess these first two bullets are sort of retail therapy, but they're pretty minimal. Anyway, a new chain always feels smoother. Plus, it's time. Has anyone else noticed how quickly 10 speed chains wear out?
  • Eat right: Even I can focus my diet for a couple of weeks. It's amazing how much better I feel when I'm strict about what I eat. The low-glycemic trick works every time for me, and I usually lose a few pounds to boot. Brocolli is your friend. Chocolate chip muffins are not.
  • Be consistent: OK, this is a no-brainer for most in the chamios-sniffing set, but life often makes it difficult for me to ride as consistently as I need to. But when I ask, my family tends to be really supportive. 6 days a week for a couple of weeks does wonders.
  • Ride when your competition isn't. There's something about small compromises that go a long way. If you know your friends are at home watching the Dauphine or the Tour, ride then. Watching races when my form is bad just makes me feel worse.
  • Play to your strengths: Are you a sprinter? Go do a sprint workout. Downhill with a tailwind, preferrably.
  • Leave your computer/HRM/SRM at home. Numbers don't help when you're not feeling snappy. If I've been off the bike for a while and know I don't have good form I ride alone. At my own pace. No computer, heartrate or wattage numbers for reference. Even better, ride a course you don't know well. Just focus on riding a pace that works for you and enjoy yourself. After an hour or two of feeling like I'm riding someone else's bike, I almost always find that my legs start coming around and finish the ride feeling mentally refreshed.
Tomorrow night will be the first training race for me in a long time. We'll see how it goes.

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