100 days, seems like an eternity away. Today (23/11/2017) marks a tonne of days until the opening day of the 2018 Racing Season. It’s still next year. Another calendar year away! And with a special thanks to Cycling Ireland, the tunnel before the light has now been lengthened by a whole two weeks because they predict a dramatic difference in weather from 18th Feb to the 1st March. If I’m not necking ice-cream and lashing on the factor 50 on March 3rd I’ll be even more disappointed than I am now.
In all honesty my issue isn’t with the good people at C.I. but with my own over-eagerness. Ignoring all advice to “take a long break” I started preparations for next year in October after what seemed like an hour or two away from racing and training to race. The idea being wheels on the line in February, ready to race. Get in early, pick up the remaining 6 points required and get out (of A4) early and reap a summer of A3 races.
I’ve nabbed a decent training plan of a highly ranked mate with a view to sticking as close as I can to it. The idea being to get myself in the best shape for 2018 and to keep the biscuits from taking over my waist through winter. It’s not impossible to follow and I’m applying his plan to my own training zones but it did come with a fairly grim & blunt warning. “I guarantee you’ll be burned out both mentally and physically by Christmas”. His plan starts November 1st 2016, I started October 1st 2017. So did he mean the actual Christmas 2017 in which case I’ve an extra month before burnout or the Christmas in the plan in which case this year comes a month early (Lucky me!).
Make no mistake trying to keep motivated for 24 weeks with zero racing is not an easy task. It’s harder when you add another month in there. In previous years the Winter has been relatively easy to get through. October’s reserved for club spins, coffee, cake and beer. Novembers fine, that’s covered by the enthusiasm of being back into training again. December is mainly seen as keeping her lit till Christmas and getting some long spins done over the holidays. January is a month off the junk, new resolutions and all that freshness that comes with a new year. Then finally by the time February rolls around you can almost smell the road and you’re back racing before ye know it.
The absence of a month arsing around in October now means that in these closing days of November the “dredge” has set in early. Peeling myself off the couch and onto the Turbo has replaced early morning spins before work as the light fades and the dropping temperatures make dimly lit road surfaces more dangerous. Also, the late Autumn solo, long & mundane sessions have been replaced by the welcoming warmth of the club spin. The club spin allows you to take your mind off your numb fingers and toes and the promise of being in a certain place at a certain time means there’s a bit of commitment there to keep ye going. Occasionally on these rides there’s a few bursts of effort to wake and warm ye although there’s no sign of it fully kicking off on the road home just yet. Any glimpse of winter warriors testing the pace are quickly snuffed out without too many complaints.
The only approach I believe in is breaking down the Winter into manageable targeted chunks as above. The “dredge” will cease on December 1st and will become the countdown to Christmas and back to business as normal.
There’s one week left of the “dredge” phase and 13 until racing.