A few years ago, one of the cycling magazines ran a cartoon entitled “First Hill of the Year”. It showed a steep, serious looking hill dwarfing a tiny anxious cyclist at the bottom looking at a sign which read, “You are here.”
Not that we have any hills to speak of where I ride, but I was smiling and thinking about that cartoon a couple of weeks ago when we had one of those rare warm Saturdays in January that makes you reach for the bike and head out on the roads you ride regularly in season. I was smiling because that usually means that although I’ll enjoy the ride, I’ll be doing a little whining later on when I encounter some inclines and headwinds. But that didn’t happen this time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t feel a whole lot different than I feel in the middle of the season.
A week prior to that, I had ridden two back to back long rides in Maryland. Granted, it was dead flat there, but I rode in two days what I normally ride in about a month in January. No whining there, either.
Holy cow, Batman! It works! “It” being not something I bought on eBay, but a structured, cycling-specific off-season training program. The little “testers” Mother Nature allowed me really brought the point home. Just hopping on the trainer and plugging away is better than doing nothing, but not much.
In an earlier blog I wrote about the importance of core strength and flexibility. I put that to the test this winter by committing to one of Graeme Street’s twelve week off-season programs. It was written by “Coach Al” Lyman. It’s where Graeme’s Cyclo-Core and Cyclo-Zen programs meet you and your bike on your trainer and encourage you to have fun and get fit for the season ahead. Just follow the simple instructions, stay hydrated and keep smiling.
Well, I’m sold. And I still have six weeks to go. Just how good is a ride going to feel by the time spring comes? I’m more convinced than ever that a good fit and good performance on the bike can’t be left to adjusting saddle and stem and hoping for the best. Your body needs some tweaking too.