I had the opportunity to go over my training journals from the last couple of years recently. I think keeping a very simple training journal can be a useful thing......whenever mine became overly complicated, I would bail on it. The simpler, the better: "Rode for 2 hours, up a hill; felt good, not great." The end. Yep, just simple. I heard Chris Horner had something similar he utilized, but can't vouch for it. Makes sense though - you can go back through your journal at a later date and find out how, or what you did, to have such an amazing ride/race/climb/sprint/Fast 50, etc.
Anyway, last year around October, I had hit a peak. I didn't mean to - I wasn't aiming for a peak.......it just happened. I was climbing better than I ever had in my life. I had more flat-land power than ever too. I could just hammer away, at will, and felt awesome. And oxygen debt? Well, that was getting pretty hard to reach. In short, I felt great - and I couldn't believe how fun it was to go riding! It was awesome. And confidence was at an all-time high.
Today, my cycling is not doing as well. In fact, it is 180 degrees different from that point in time.....and not for the better. The main culprit has been my diabetes - and the fact that my bloodsugar levels are all over the board. It's sort of like herding cats - you try to corner it, and something throws it off and it runs haywire. No energy - even short rides take it out of you. It sux.
So, I looked back - I studied my own history in the form of my cycling journals. And I found the one missing link: Tom's classes.
Tom is a local cyclist who is also a great friend. His knowledge of the sport of cycling is astounding - he's been involved in it for some 35 years or so. He's one of those Mr. Miyagi
types.....you know, you can't quite understand the wax on, wax off stuff.......until you need it - and then it hits you......this crap really works!! Tom's knowledge of the sport goes way beyond what you would find in a normal "coach". He speaks from a lifetime of experience on the bike......and he simplifies it to it's grandest form. "Hey Tom, how can I improve my climbing???" And Tom's response: "Uh, how about going out climbing???!!!"
Anyway, Tom taught Spinning classes at our local gym
two nights per week for the last I-don't-know-how-many-years. I began taking his classes a couple of years ago and I thought the dude was a lunatic. First off, his music was totally funky. Next, the way he would instruct us in class was wild! And finally, after years of taking different Spinning classes at different gyms, I had never ever ever run into a Spinning instructor that had the class do the drills he was having us do. In short, they were intensely insane. Hardest classes ever. 2 days per week - sometimes 3 days per week. Out-of-the-saddle for 45 minutes straight, cadence changes, torque sessions, 1234 counts, 8 counts, 20 RPM drills, just crazy stuff.
I started taking Tom's class religiously last July(I was taking them only semi-religiously prior to that) - 2 days per week, without fail. After a month or so, I was seeing heart rates I had never seen before. I was developing muscles in places I had never seen muscles. But best of all, our regular hill climbs in the area became......well......easier. And when I say easier.....I mean WAY easier. It was scary fun.
I kept going to Tom's classes, kept doing outside rides, just kept moving..........kept consistent. It's like he told me one time......you get better with consistency.....that cycling is cumulative. Keep at it.
Earlier this year, unfortunately, I stopped going to Tom's classes. Things got in the way - work, chores, life. I kept telling myself I would get back in there any day now.......just have to get this done tonight, so I won't be able to make it this one night. I'll be back at it again next time. Next time would roll around, and I would have this to do or that to do. I'll make it to Tom's class next time.
Well, you get the idea.
Sadly, Tom is not teaching Spinning anymore. And sure, people tell me all the time - Why in the hell would you wanna go to Spinning when the weather is like this outside???!!! I agree. I really do.
But, at the same time, I miss those torture sessions in Tom's classes in the gym........ the 2003 Tour de France on the big screen TV in the Spinning room, Tom's funky music playing obnoxiously loud, Tom yelling strange things at us......and during the middle of our 25 cadence change nights(aka - hill sprints), with my heart rate pegging 190 DURING recovery and my semi-digested lunch about to end up on the floor in front of me........well, I miss those pain cave visits. And I think my body does too. I've become soft.
If you enjoy your cycling - even if it happens to be in a sweaty gym a couple nights per week - keep at it. Focus. Find a way to make it happen. Don't let others persuade you otherwise. Fun, effective, useful??? That's a good thing.
As for me.....well....Tom is now riding everyday outdoors.....which can mean only one thing:
Those two-nights-per-week-candence-change-hell classes will be held outdoors from here on out. Oh, I can almost smell the torture.