Cycle September is something I came up with after my buddy Jeff Irvin decided to ride approximate 440 miles in one week. Was that the smartest thing he could have done? Not a chance but it taught him a valuable lesson and that is that it is possible to do. As endurance athletes we are always chasing the question: What if? What if I went this way? What if I ate this? What if I drank that? What if my bike wasn’t as heavy? What if, what if, what if? In asking that question Jeff pushed himself and came out the other side a stronger cyclist for Ironman Florida coming up in November.
Right now I am still in the no training plan, training plan so I am coming up with challenges to keep me engaged. I am a self-motivated person but when you are chasing that carrot that ride on a Wednesday evening in the 100* weather takes on more meaning and you are less likely to skip it. With Jeff’s feat in mind I set my goals out for September, in this blog post, one of which was to cycle 650 miles in the month. The miles had to all be outdoors as no trainer rides or spin classes would count. This was going to be a big test for me because if I don’t want to do it what do I lose? Nothing. This would be a game of mental strength to see if I could hit those goals.
There are a couple of things that would prevent me from hitting 20+ miles per day (on average) and so I have to plan accordingly. First off, we will have my step-son for two of the four weekends and Karen runs on Saturday mornings. This means I can start my ride at 11am in the sweltering heat or just go for a one hour run as a recovery run and skip the bike. If I do that then I am only putting in 65-80 miles on a weekend when we have Chico. The other factor is that it is HOT here in Texas in September. I mean sweltering hot so if I don’t get out early I will not get out for a ‘long’ ride. Since I take Chico to school at 7am then the morning ride it out. Factoring these items into my, so-called, plan I would have to get 200+ miles during two of the four weeks and then another 100-200 during the other two weeks.
The first week resulted in 216.5 miles or approximately 1/3 of the goal miles and that is a great way to start but more importantly a few things have happened along the way and I am thrilled about those lessons more than the miles.
Cycle September Lessons
- My bike handling has gotten tremendously better in one week. I am now cornering in the aero position rather than sitting up and applying a gentle squeeze to the brakes. I am taking more risks on the turns than I have before and I have come away better for it.
- Instead of getting weaker in terms of being tired I am noticing that I am stronger today than I was one week ago. I have undergone a regiment of 10 to 15 minutes each night of either foam rolling or using the stick and that seems to aid tremendously in my recovery.
- I am also on a No Sugar Added challenge this month and I have been drinking nothing but water on my long rides and this has helped me to use fat for fuel. My Body Fat % has gone from 10.5%-11.0% down to 9.6% as of today. My weight is also down 2.4 pounds.
- I am a liquid nutrition rider. I have taken nuts and dates on my two long rides this past weekend and consumed a total of one date while riding. This obviously is not a great way to get through a long ride but I forget about the food in my jersey and thus have to come up with a way to get calories into my system without added sugar while riding.
- Soccer Moms in mini-vans are worse drivers than 18-year-old boys in Mustangs. For whatever reason the soccer moms like to get really close to me and yet the Mustangs/Muscle Cars give me plenty of room. By the way, if I can spit and hit your car while I am riding you are driving too close.
- I can spit to my left while riding with no problems, but spitting to my right and I am covered in saliva.
- My tan lines are ridiculous. There are three shades of tan on my arms and now on my legs too. I started this challenge with the typical bike short tan line but have now added the compression sock tan line and my knee caps are brown, my calves are tan and my quads are white.
- Riding around the airport makes me happy. It is 4 miles on open road with planes flying directly overhead. In the past two days I have seen 1 British Airways, 2 American Airlines and 1 UPS plane touch down and it was more amazing each time.
- 18 wheelers on the airport road love when I race them. They let me keep the lead for about .25 to .5 of a mile then smoke me and blow their horn when they pass and it is a great way to get interval work in.
- My base when I start training for the 2014 Triathlon Season, which will most likely include 70.3 Galveston, 70.3 Buffalo Springs and Ironman Chattanooga, is going to be sky-high. That makes me happier than a pig in mud.
Here are some of the maps from the Cycle September Challenge from the past few days.
What Are You Challenging Yourself To Do This Month?