Saturday, February 1, 2014

Training quandries...looking back and moving forward

2011's Chinook Pass Ride just
before Team Mang was born
When we were a much smaller group, we sort of had the same cycling goals and we were around the same fitness level and we all did the same events. After more than two years, we've grown and some things have changed and we have to face new challenges.
The ride that gave birth to the barkada - Tiger Mountain

In terms of fitness, some of us have grown a lot and naturally want to maintain a level of riding that's consistent year round (pace, elevation and length). Others have different priorities and view cycling as an enjoyable fitness activity but don't have any desire or need to go 20 mph for extended periods of time.  And then there are those who are just busy with life and cycling takes a back seat most of the year, except when training for a special event. In spite of these differences, we all still love our bikes and we all still love hanging around each other and we all ride on Saturdays. And one goal most of us still have in common is the Seattle To Portland Ride in July.

That means there are 2 realities we cannot avoid:
  • We cannot always ride at the same pace all the time. The fast/strong ones will get frustrated and the slow ones will get left behind. This is the reason we have timangan-paced rides, averaging 18 - 21 mph on the flats (which is where we all want to be at when we're peaking). And we also have the easy-lang-mama (ELM) rides, which are geared toward those building up to timangan pace.
  • We cannot and must not force anyone to ride at a pace they're not comfortable with or that's too slow for them. We're all in this for the fun but it's no fun when you're being forced to go too fast and you feel like you're holding the group back; or you're being forced to take long breaks waiting for the slow ones when you're itching to go, go, go.

This shows the approximate fitness level we're shooting
for among the 3 groups
But...we still have to train at least for the STP. So at some point, we have to ride at an acceptable pace for 200 miles if we want to finish in Portland by 8 PM in mid-July.

The way I see it, there are approximately 3 sub-groups right now in Team Mang (see the chart):
  • those who have been riding throughout winter and are strong right now - these are riding at the Timang pace.
  • those who are aiming to be able to do 100 miles by April (that includes me), who only started riding in February - let's call them ELM-1 - and are building up to be able to keep up with the Timang group.  A few more rides and we should be able to.
  • those who have not even started riding yet and are expecting to train for the STP starting in late February (that's a typical training schedule, kicked off by the Chilly Hilly ride - it was my normal schedule last year when we didn't have to train for the Sea Otter Classic). This is the ELM-2 group.
  • Actually, you can add a fourth group - those who don't want to train even by March but think they can make it to Portland by starting their training in April.  We'll call that the ride support :). 
Last year's May Day Metric brought many of us out
on our first major ride of the year
This brings us to why I am writing this entry. You see, we've already got Timang ride-arrangers. These are the guys who plan rides every week and you see their emails. We also have a few who are regular ELM-1's...including me (and those who attempt to keep up with Timang and get left behind - which is perfectly fine).

What we need right now is for someone to take the lead in training with the ELM-2's to make sure we have rides and routes suitable for a late February startup and building up for peaking in June/July. Obviously all 3 groups cannot ride together all the time. If everything goes well, by late April, ELM-1's should be riding at Timang pace and ELM-2's would have caught up by June/July.
2013 STP Ride, at the Longview stop 

We do not have any hard and fast laws in Team Mang - we only try our best to be considerate to each other and keep it fun and push us all towards our training goals. But it ain't fun when you're suffering and the best way to beat suffering is to get fit for the goals you're trying to reach. Every now and then, we can all purposely ride together at a decent pace just to keep it real.

So anyone training for the STP and you haven't started riding yet?  Maybe it's time for you to take the lead.