A must read … 😃

Santa was good to me.

I awoke Christmas morning to find a copy of Lorraine Lambert’s How to Cycle Canada the Wrong Way in my stocking.

Ms. Lambert has a cycling blog named Cycling in a Skirt that I have followed for several years. I have enjoyed her insightful, diverse posts, and knew she had cycled across Canada, but had no idea she wrote a book about her adventure. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it done.

I have read numerous cycle touring books, and am usually gravely disappointed. Too often they are unimaginative accounts documenting daily mileage, routes, and insufficiently detailed maps. Helpful, perhaps, but devoid of drama, suspence, or comic relief.

Not this one.

Ms. Lambert is a skilled wordsmith, recounting her daily adventures, of which there were many, in a personal, humorous, and insightful way. She did everything wrong. She had no previous cycle-touring experience, purchased a used bike without even a test spin, and cycled across Canada from east to west, battling the incessant prevailing headwinds the entire trip. Hence, the title of the book.

But this is not simply a travel memoir. It’s about personal development. Ms. Lambert, a “40-something” social worker, grew disenchanted with her daily commutes, and lac-luster work. She wanted something more. She decided to do what any single, young woman would do in her place. She quit her job, sold her house, bought a used bike, and headed to Canada to cycle across the country 😃

This story is as much about personal development as it is about cycling. Ms. Lambert did this alone. That’s right. She did this by herself, without any previous experience, partner, or plan. On a whim, she packed up, boarded a plane, and headed west.

At first, I thought this was absurd. What kind of fool does this? No preparation. No experience. But then I realized that is the point of an adventure. To test yourself. Face your fears head on. For, it is when we live on the edge that we reap the biggest rewards. It’s when we push ourselves to the limit that we realize our full potential.

Ms. Lambert did just that. She faced incessant winds, tortuous climbs, sweltering heat, bone chilling cold, long, arduous days, and an insatiable appetite. And, despite her inexperience, she made good time, made life-long friends, and experienced Canada as only you can from the seat of a bike.

What I liked most about the book is how Ms. Lambert interspersed email exchanges with her younger sister, who was beginning an adventure of her own, with her daily struggles, disappointments, and victories. They clearly missed one another, yet supported each other completely. This thread, this contact with her family, became a central theme. She also develops a special friend, a fellow countryman, another solo cycle tourist pedalling the same route, along the way to help with the gruelling, daily effort. Their on-again, off-again relationship fuelled an internal struggle to support one another. Or not. And, like the email exchanges with her sister, had her questioning what she was doing.

The book has everything. It’s informative. I have lived in Canada my entire life, travelled coast to coast several times, and yet managed to learn things about the country’s history. It’s dramatic, full of long days, epic climbs, inclement weather, and a few tears. It’s insightful. It’s not just about travelling on the road, but in the mind as well. It is as much about personal development, as it is about the incessant headwind. And, it’s suspenseful. The reader is continually wondering if Ms. Lambert will ever make it. Does she have the physical, and mental strength to succeed?

She does! In spades.

And then, after reaching the west coast, the book ends abruptly, leaving the reader hanging. What happens next? Is there another adventure? What happened to Tom, her sometimes travel companion? Will there be a sequel? I was left yearning to learn more.

For me, the measure of a good story is whether it moves me emotionally, and intellectually. Does it make me laugh? Cry? Rethink my priorities? Cycling Across Canada the Wrong Way certainly did. There is even a surprise ending that literally brought me to tears.

So, whether you are a cyclist or not, this book is an enjoyable, must read. If you are a cyclist, the book will challenge you to set new goals, and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

The book is available on Amazon in both electronic and paper formats.

This is the plan … 🤔

Next week is a rest week.

I’m not good at this. I know why I need them, but it’s hard to hold back, particularly on the bike, particularly in these parts. There are too many hills to relax.

So, this is the plan. Instead of getting on the bike, I plan to get on the spinning bike at the gym for 30 minutes Monday through Wednesday, and do recovery rides. And, I’ll also do a 30 minute weight workout afterward – 1 set of all exercises I usually do but just 1 set instead of 3-5 sets. Thursday I’ll take off completely except, for a walk or hike. And then on Friday complete the 5 minute aerobic capacity and 20 minute lactate threshold test on the spinning bike when I hope to be fully recovered from the last 3 weeks of training.

This is different than I have done in the past.

Stay tuned.

Rest / Recovery / Test week coming up …

Next week is the 4th week of this Base Mesocycle, and it’s a rest week. A recovery week. An adaptation week. A test week.

This past week I have increased the training load. Heavier weights. More reps. More sets. More time cycling. And, no rest days.

So, what do I do next week? I know rest weeks are important. It’s when the body adapts to the training loads. But how much rest do I need? I used to think rest meant no training, and found the time off difficult. Now I know better. Rest means a lighter training load. Less time training. So, what do I do next week?

Joe Friel recommends 2 rest days, and several recovery workouts, followed by an aerobic-capacity and lactate threshold re-testing session. He also says it’s an individual thing. Some seniors only need 3 days rest. Others may need 4 or 5 days.

I’m not sure. I am sleeping well. My morning RHR is low, despite the increased load this week. And, I don’t feel sore, or tired. I’ll rest/recover for 3 days, and then see how I feel.

3 weeks in …

I’m 3 weeks into an 8 week base training block. That means 3 weight lifting sessions in the gym, and 3 aerobic threshold rides every week. The purpose of this block is to build strength specific to cycling, and an aerobic base in preparation for more intense cycling workouts in the next block.

For now, the intensity is in the gym where I lift heavy weights. That’s relative isn’t it. It means 3+ sets of 3-5 reps of the heaviest weight you can manage with a focus on the core and leg muscles. That means squats, leg presses, hamstring curls, crunches, hip raises, leg lifts, windshield wipers, and a variety of planks.

3 weeks is not long, but I already notice strength gains in the gym. And my cycling skills are improving. While on the bike, I focus on maintaining a more aerodynamic position – I have even lengthened my reach by moving the saddle back and the hoods forward – when on the flats and descents. It helps. I’ve seen marginal speed gains with the same effort.

Next week is a rest/recovery week. This is the time when adaptations are realized. I’ll still train but reduce the load – fewer sets, and miles on the road. This week, I have increased the load – heavier weight, more sets, and longer rides.

I’ll welcome the rest next week.

Base Period Update

This was the first week of an 8 week Base Training period. It included 10 hours of training – 4 in the gym lifting weights, and 6 on the bike with Zone 2 efforts.

This is the start of a 5 month cycle in preparation for the first of 3 century rides I have planned for 2020. This time of year, I spend more time in the gym building strength, and less time on the bike building a solid base, or foundation, for harder, longer rides.

Since returning from Camp PedalWORKS in September, I have made considerable strength gains in the gym resulting in easier, faster climbs, and a number of PR’s on local Strava hill segments. This Base period lasts until Christmas where I will focus on strength training, and long, slow rides.

Movember

https://ca.movember.com

It’s November.

It’s time to grow a moustache. It’s time to call on all men to look after themselves. Get a medical checkup. Get a PSA test. Check your testicles. Stay active. Get help it you need it. And, if you can, grow a moustache, talk to your male friends, co-workers, and family members.

Where to start … 🤔

Where do you start when preparing an annual training plan?

You start at the end, and work backward.

I have 44 weeks before the 2020 Whistler Gran Fondo. What is the best use of that time?

The chart above, copied from Faster After 50, details how to organize periods of training based on the length of the event. You don’t train for a TT the same way you do for a mountain Fondo. What I like about the chart, not only does it separate different event durations, but prioritizes the type of training to complete in each period.

44 weeks is a long time. Too long to remain motived, and focused. The Whistler Gran Fondo is my main event for the season, but I plan to complete 2 additional century events beforehand, one the first week in April (Pacific Populaire), and the other the first week of July (Canada Day Populaire). This way, I have 3 training cycles, each with base, build, peak, and race periods. The first cycle is 22 weeks, the second 13, and the third just 9.

I have just begun an 8 week Base period focusing on strength, aerobic threshold (AT), and aerobic capacity (AC) workouts. This is my weekly plan for the next 4 weeks –

Monday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Tuesday – AT ride – 2 hours

Wednesday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Thursday – AT ride – 2 hours

Friday – Weights – 1.5 hours

Saturday – Rest

Sunday – AC ride – 1 hour

The plan starts with 9 hours of training each week. As the month progresses, workout loads, and durations increase. The purpose of this period is to build strength and improve overall fitness.

It is also time to work on “economy”, the ability to cycle faster and further with less effort. This topic deserves a separate post. For now, suffice it say there are a number of factors that improve economy – aerodynamics, conditioning, pedalling technique, climbing, descending, and drafting skills. There is always room for improvement, and during Base training periods it is an excellent time to hone these skills.