My body craves stillness I said to my husband, totally deadpan and completely unironically. Stillness that comes in the form of power naps, savasana, yoga nidra, and sleeping in. It’s luscious and beautiful and so satisfying. (Pete just looked at me dumbfounded, like I was some wellness influencer trying to tell him he needs to take the dog for a walk to have “Me Time”)
Yet 2023 has big plans for me – or more specifically, I have big plans for 2023.
After the absolutely soul-satiating bikepacking trip with my sister and my oldest adult child, I went back to chillaxing. I talked to my endocrinologist to adjust my thyroid medications and my entire being has returned to the fun, chill person I know I am inside. It’s been a game changer for feeling like a real human.
I joined my friends for a 36mi fat bike ride on Cape Cod a few weeks ago, which was really freaking fun. I just don’t understand people who don’t have fun on a fat bike. We were on beaches, in the woods, on rustic rail trails, and quiet backroads.
Which in turn helped me feel motivated to put some new events on my radar for next year. Make my goals to see more places by bicycle. Break out of this location rut I find myself in after 5 years of riding around the Northeast.
On a whim, I put my name in the lottery for Midsouth Gravel Event in Stillwater, Oklahoma. And a week later got the email saying my credit card had been charged and see you in March 2023! OPE. The universe is calling my bluff. 100 miles of red-clay dirt that will either be a dream or a nightmare to ride in all day based on YouTube videos from 2020 and 2022.
I also signed up for the 100-mile Long Wall Rollin’ Coal Gravel Grinder in Shinnston, West Virginia in September 2023. I wasn’t able to go this year but I’m super into the idea of checking out West Virginia’s rolling hills. Plus their logo is absolutely fire! If I can do 100 miles in March, I will be super set for a hilly 100 miles in September!
After several coach interviews, I settled on just paying for a TrainerRoad subscription and buying a smart trainer to help me prep for a literal All Day Epic in a totally different state I’ve never been to. I thought about Zwift and while the community aspect really appealed to me, the gamification didn’t. Everyone I talked to said TrainerRoad is boring but effective; Zwift can be effective but is more social. It’s going to be hard enough to want to be on the trainer (mostly because I’ve avoided riding a trainer in the winter for nearly a decade), but I’m motivated to be effective. Social hour can happen outside on the weekends.
I like that TrainerRoad uses your data to adapt your training plan based on the timeline to your event(s) and your goals. Mine don’t involve racing so I can focus on building endurance, power, and maybe some speed. I’m not afraid of being out for 10 hours – that’s a difficult bikepacking day when I’m riding up big hills with a full load. But I would like to finish in less than that if possible.
But let’s talk for a minute about how super noob I am about indoor training.
mostly because I’ve spent so long avoiding the trainer. My philosophy has been to figure out the distance and elevation profile of the event and then practice pieces of the final event, building up to an approximation of the event. This has served me pretty well – I’m not the fastest but that’s not my focus. My happiness comes from the experiences my bike allows me to have, not specifically for fitness. Plus, I also can get very competitive and really need at least one place in my life where I’m not striving to achieve more/better. Bikes are a way to move through time and space and find happiness.
I plugged in my stats and was assigned a fairly low FTP. Having no real clue about FTP, I decided to try the Ramp Test. I made some assumptions that the test was capped at 20min and while it kept telling me to ride until failure, I didn’t quite “get” what that meant.
The first 20min were very chill, just spinning a very high cadence with an increase in resistance every minute. After 28 minutes, I was starting to feel fatigued, but nowhere close to failure. So I decided to try to shift the gears, which is apparently a very big No-No as my cadence went from 115 to 34 as the resistance instantly ramped up. After a few minutes of fiddling around with this, I decided to call it quits and cool down. So 36min of ramp test.
My FTP was adjusted, but it’s still pretty low. I had some time today to do an actual workout and selected the recommended interval workout. I feel like I shouldn’t be able to sing along to my playlist during the intervals. Midway through the workout I increased the targets to 115% of FTP and it started to feel more like a workout. But still not as intense as I assumed a VO2 max workout should be. For example, my recovery power typically ended up around 70-80, not the 50-60 target. I literally had a hard time getting that low of power output for the recovery segments.
Anyway, the actual training plan doesn’t start until I’m back from my vacation. Already planning to retake the Ramp test to kick it off and see if I can get to an actual FTP and right-size my training plan.
What else will 2023 have in store? Hopefully more bikepacking. More mountain biking (I really, really like mountain biking even though I am very, very mediocre at it). More camping with friends. Seeing more places.
More to come, friends. See you out there!