I’m sitting here at the airport in San Francisco, awaiting my flight to Italy, wondering where it all went wrong. What happened to my plan to lose 15 pounds? My strategy to become a climber? This was the year I was going to be raging, crushing KOMs and winning the sprint for the city limits sign. Who can I blame for that debacle of an off-season?
No matter how I slice it, the unimpressive off-season plan, once again, falls firmly on my shoulders. My training plan, or lack there of, came completely off the rails. Don’t get me wrong, I love to ride my bike and I love to mix it up with the crew, I just can’t seem to motivate myself to “train.”
Which is why I’m so excited about this Tenac trip. I’m looking forward to spending a little time around people who are bicycle coaches, and around riders who have been coached, to find out if this old dog can be taught a few new tricks. At the moment, I’m actually wondering if doing 10 sets of squats right here in Terminal 10 would be any help.
“Anything from a fitness or diet standpoint that resembles cramming for the school exam to make up for lost time will ultimately be a detriment rather than a help,” says my buddy and former World Tour rider Ted King. “Relax. You’re riding your bike. You’re not curing cancer. Have fun, that’s the whole point, right?”
Of course, Ted’s right. It is too late for me to “cram” for my training week. But Jason Tullous says you can do mental rehearsal for the days ahead.
“Practice the event in your head,” suggests Tullous. “You want to visualize as much detail as you can. What you will eat. What you will drink. What gears you will use. Where you get your feeds. What you will wear. And any other strategies that you may use through the event.”
There are a few other things you can do to make your transition from your daily life to life with inGamba:
1. Relax. It sounds simple, but every time I get around those Pinarello F10 carbon fiber beauties and group of new lycra-clad riding partners my heart rate escalates, my testosterone surges and I, literally, lose my mind. I just try to remind myself almost everyone around me is having the same sensations and I just need to breath.
2. Stay hydrated. You should need to get up once in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. “Sure, have a beer or glass of wine or two the night before,” said Ted King. “But I’m talking one or two servings, not bottles.”
3. I would suggest you double check your bike to make sure everything is functioning, clean and the tires are filled, but if you are traveling with inGamba you never, and I mean never, have to worry about your bicycle. The inGamba mechanics are world class and your Pinarello is serviced like a Formula One car.
4.If you think you are going to need it, or if you think it will give you peace of mind, put it in your rain bag. I usually stuff extra socks and a jersey in my rain bag, plus arm and knee warmers, my glasses, a hat and gloves, and my rain jacket. I almost never need any of this stuff, but I feel better knowing these things are in the follow car.
5. Fuel up. Carbo-loading has lost favor, but a good clean meal of real foods, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates the night before a big ride will give you confidence and keep the system tuned.
6. Finally, control your urge to rage from the gun. Find a nice quiet spot in the middle or the back of the group and feel things out. How are the fast guys? How are the good climbers? Who is riding over their head and writing checks their body will not be able to cash later. Start the climbs easy and if you are feeling strong, start to rage in the middle. There is nothing worse than dashing out at the base of the climb and fading like a pair of worn-out Levis.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Lecchi with my checklist in hand. Only time will tell if I’ll be able to heed my own sage advice …