Well we've arrived at LOTOJA week again. Last year at this time, in an attempt to answer the oft posed question "Are you ready?" I posted a retrospective training blog reviewing what I had done to prepare myself. Since that time I've come to realize that you can never feel 'ready' for LOTOJA. Well, maybe some riders can, but I'm not one of them. I know what to expect this year and it was more than I could have imagined. More hill climbing, more fellow similarly suffering cyclists, more hours in the saddle, more mental gymnastics to cope with the tedium of pedaling all day, more pain in more parts of my body than I would have ever anticipated (even after reading multiple blog accounts and talking to various veteran riders). So armed with personal knowledge of what to expect and knowing how ill-prepared I felt by the end of LOTOJA 2010, I adjusted my training regimen accordingly. The following are the hard figures from last year's training log vs 2011:
Total Miles Logged:
2010: 4180 miles, 2011: 5537 miles, or as La Canadienne likes to think of it, I rode coast to coast across every Canadian Province (Except Prince Edward Island ... cuz it's an Island).
I was a little shocked by this statistic. I knew I had put in more miles than 2010 but wasn't sure how many more. Last year it seemed I rode further on each ride but not as consistently. The difference this year has been the 'Ride to work every day for 6 months' pledge. A promise that seemed fool-hardy back in April when it snowed every other day and through May, when early AM temps stayed near the freezing point but became much easier to keep in the summer months. Those 20-30 mile rides in to work and 10-15 mile rides home added up. Throw in a 75-100 mile ride on my day off and it was a rare week that I didn't ride at least 200 miles, most weeks closer to 250.
Time In The Saddle:
2010: 251 hours, or six weeks of full time work (plus 11 hours OT) 2011: 321 hours, or eight 40 hour work weeks.
Again, I wish somebody would pony up some cash for this effort. Even at the minimum hourly wage I would be sitting on about two grand. That pile of cash would just about pay for the two sets of wheels I've gone through, the half dozen tires La Canadienne and I have managed to harpoon on random pieces of scrap lumber, metal tailing, broken bottles and roadside gravel.
The more you ride the more it costs you. I use to crow about the savings in gas I got by not commuting by automobile. My best guess is I've spent at least 3 times the cost of petrol in tires, wheels, tubes, cables, tune-ups, race fees (and yes, a new bike for La Canadienne).
Yeah, it's been an expensive year for riding.
2010: 16.5mph 2011: 17.25mph
.75mph faster may not seem like much until you've ridden the same route several days in a row and tried to increase your average mph by even half a mile per hour. If you haven't tried that, trust me when I say it's an accomplishment. To put it in perspective vis a vis LOTOJA specifically: last year's average speed including stops was 17.2 mph and a 12:01:18 finish. If I can bump that average mph to 18 that will translate into a finish time of about 11:15:00, meaning more than 45 minutes less time sitting on that savage bike seat* and hopefully less chafe, less hot foot, less bum-numbness.
*back to bicycle expenditures, I purchased a very gently used San Marco Mantra bike seat from Dr Roger 'the Maharaja' Ivey.
with the hope that the extra large cut out will take pressure off the perineum (taint, gooch) and result in a bike race free of saddle block anesthesia and the inevitable anxiety that goes with it. Also, it looks really cool, like a functional piece of art, makes you want to jump out of the saddle so fellow riders can pay appropriate homage to the polished aluminum tipped saddle betwixt your legs.
2010: 25lbs Race weight ~ 192lbs -- (I managed to gain about 10 of that back over the winter hibernation period)
2011: 15 lbs Race weight ~ 186 lbs
My bike went on a diet too. The venerable Fuji Team RC* with 56 cm frame tipped the scales at a trim 17 lbs.
*currently residing in Nigel's garage, hope he's putting it to good use.
Saxo bike with a 58 cm frame (a larger bike, that's how, along with my reasoning that if I was going to be riding for 6 months straight I needed a rain and a race bike ... and the race bike should be my correct size) weighs in at 16.15 pounds.
Swedish Matt will tell you that unless you are a tour rider, the weight of the bike has very little to do with how fast you ride. He may be right to a point in comparing Fuji to Saxo (essentially 1 lb difference) but I've proven to myself without a doubt that the difference in performance between Saxo bike and the Fezzari (about 20lbs of journeyman, commuter bike. Still love riding it, still ride it all the time) is stark and obvious, even to a rank amateur like me. Is that performance gap worth the premium price tag? I guess that's a personal decision. I answer with a tentative yes (and ask me again on Sunday, September 11th).
One thing that has not changed from 2010 to 2011 is the enjoyment I derive from simply riding my bike on a daily basis. I still enjoy the cool calm of a bike ride on a summer morning, the feeling of stretching your muscles and filling your lungs with air, of moving at speed under your own power. I enjoy the spectacular evening skies that span the visible color spectrum from cobalt to burnt orange that only show up in summer and can only be fully appreciated from the seat of a bike. I love the smell of outdoor BBQ's, the sounds of neighbors chatting, of kids laughing and enjoying their own bike rides. I love the feeling of absolute accomplishment when all of those sights and sounds are part of the last mile victory lap through the 'hood after a six hour bike ride that included a 4000 vertical foot canyon climb. I don't think I necessarily forget how much I enjoy that when I'm suffering through the dark months of winter but somehow it all still feels like a revelation when it's happening. I catch myself thinking, and perhaps even mumbling to myself out loud: "This is so good, I love this."
What was different in 2011 was the number of family members, friends and neighbors I shared all those great cycling moments with. 2011 was the year of the group training ride, the team relay, the multi-participant bike race. In LOTOJA orientation they implore you to enjoy the race, to not lose sight of the point and purpose of such an event because you're so focused on making your split time, or staying on the wheel that's immediately in front of you. Take it all in and enjoy it before it's all taken away from you. I think I/we did a pretty good job of doing just that in 2011. Some moments of note, some rides of renown, some highlights (but in no way an exhaustive list) of 2011 cycling season:
Rockwell Relay training ride and late winter/early spring Millcreek Canyon ascent:
La Canadienne conquers Suncrest:
Emigration Canyon, a ride that would become a favorite of La Candienne.
The first Team Sons of Perdition (complete roster present) training ride:
Memorial Day: The gang's all here:
A ride that was so much fun and so well documented it prompted La Canadienne's brother to comment: "I thought training was supposed to be torture, you guys look like you're having way too much fun." And we were.
Fourth of July: Emigration Canyon with the Red-Zillas:
Pioneer Day, Big Mountain with Swedes:
The same weekend, Millcreek Canyon (no snow to keep us from the top this time) with my bros, dregger and Nigel:
This was supposed
This was supposed to be Nigel's baptism into the congregation or amateur cyclists. It remains to be seen if he's found religion and embraced the faith. The ride was a good one though, steep challenging and beautiful, in other words, a typical Northern Utah canyon ascent. We stood at the top complimenting each other and congratulating ourselves for conquering what turned out to be a kick in the seat of your bibs ride, only to discover that Rodzilla and Red Rider cleaned this canyon ride two days earlier. (skinny) Nigel says the ride nearly broke him; one more arrow for Rodzilla/Red Rider's quiver of confidence.
Let's not forget the races:
Rockwell Relay (men):
Rockwell Relay (ladies)
and all the pre-post-prep for ride activities in between:
It's been a summer full of good times and great memories. Last year at this time the question on my mind and most often voiced by my friends was: "Are you ready for the start of LOTOJA?" The answer was yes and no. This year the question is "Are you ready for LOTOJA to be over?" The answer is the same. I'll be glad when the burden of that race is off my shoulders but I'll always look back fondly and with genuine nostalgia on the 2011 cycling season. It's been a great one and it will be hard to let it go.