I can't say enough about the hard training sessions our team coach, Mark Edwards, has talked us into doing. My current weekly schedule looks something like this:
Mondays: "L4" workout ride with 2x20-minute intervals.
Tuesdays: "L7" workout ride with 10x10-second jumps.
Wednesdays: "L5" workout ride with 5x6-minute intervals.
Thursdays: "L3" or "L4" workout ride with 1x20-minute interval, with "L7" 10x10-second jumps after.
Fridays: Very easy bike-commute, or preferably day off.
Saturdays: "L4" workout ride with 3x20-minute (or 4x15 or 5x12) intervals at FTP (my 1-hour power).
Sundays: Day off, or very easy recovery ride.
Works for me; I'm in my best shape ever, 47 years of age notwithstanding! I may switch things around leading up to some of my priority races, but for the most part this will be my program for the next few years. Keeps things simple... simply terrible! Well, it ain't so bad; the 20-minute intervals are fairly easy, and even the 6-minute intervals. It's just 1-minute intervals that kill me, and I won't be doing those very often, thank goodness!
I can learn from my races too, both in terms of how I comppare with the competition, and in how I respond to the way the race unfolds (i.e. tactics and my focus). Here is my own analysis of my races to date this year:
CCCX Cross-Country Series Race #1, Expert 45-54
Not much to say about this one; mountain-bike racing is much like a time-trial where you simply go out and ride at the fastest pace you can sustain for the length of the race (1 hour and 45 minutes in this case). I did get 3rd, but might have been able to grab 2nd with a bit of luck, but I jammed my chain while I was drafting the guy in 2nd. Oh well. I did have fun, and still got a neat medal!
Cantua Creek Road Race, 45+
This road race was mostly easy-paced on a nearly flat course, so there weren't a lot of hard attacks. But the finish was on a moderate uphill, and that final climb really separated us - but it was too long to be ideal for me. Even so I got 9th, which is my first ever top-10 finish in an open-category race Master's race. Very cool!
Snelling Road Race, 45+
This road race was really hard and exciting, and a lot of the area's best racers were there. Yet I still got my first Cat. 2 upgrade point when I won the field sprint for 6th place! The strong winds and slightly rolling hills provided opportunities for guys to create gaps, and we had a winning breakway on the second lap... that I missed getting into. I didn't immediately notice they'd split and by then the gap was too big to close, then I learned the big teams were all represented in the break and the rest were blocking us. I have been wondering whether I could have stayed with the break. But I doubt it. Had I managed to stay with the break from the start, they would likely have recognized that I was just going to sit in (by necessity!), and then worked hard to drop me, as they did with the guy who got 4th place. They would have succeeded! And I don't have the high sustainable power that would have allowed me to bridge the gap to the break by myself as the guy who finished 5th did.
My friend Steve Rosen wasn't so sure I was doomed, and had a good analysis that I sort of want to believe:
I think you might have been able to hang with the break - once they got away, they really didn't go all that much faster than you - and since you were spending time at the front of the field, trying to lead the chase, you were most likely burning quite a few matches - if you were in the break, you would have had every reason to work with those guys, as it would have guaranteed you a top 5 place - and with your awesome sprint, you might have easily had a shot at
a spot on the podium!
It's true that you wouldn't have *had* to work with them, since they all had good-sized teams, and you only had me (who was no longer with the field at that point anyway!) - so I suspect you would have worked well with them to keep the break alive and away from the main field.
The only time you wouldn't want to work with them is the case where one of your teammates back in the field has a much better chance of sprinting to victory at the end of the race.
Well, he's right that trying to work with them would have been best for me, but I question whether I could have held on with them. Well, too late now!
So, I guess I would have to say that things are looking good for the remaining season. There's plenty of room for improvement, and my continuing workouts will help (especially with my sustainable power for longer efforts), as will better focus on tactics during the races. But for now I think I'm headed in the right direction.
My next races will be at Menlo Park on March 8th, then Brisbane on the 29th and 30th. I'm looking forward to them!