A case study of base face.

Ace of Base

by / / 42 posts

It’s still a month away. You’ve got plenty of base.

If those words were being spoken about an upcoming DJ set, then I’d probably not take them completely with a grain of salt. When they are in reference to a 160km event with a shitload of hills, and the sum total of post-KT riding can be counted on a couple of hands and half a foot, then the magnitude of them becomes a little bit greater. A lot greater, actually.

Having a base of fitness to call on isn’t something to be sneezed at. Years of riding does give you an in-built reserve of muscle memory and hopefully some leftover cardio capacity, but being match-fit will only ever come from actually playing the match. I can comfortably jump back on the bike and into our group with not too much trouble, keep the pace and take my turns. But the false sense of security is quickly wiped out when there’s a rise in the road, or someone decides they want to ride twice as fast and the rest start chasing. I’ll usually be smart enough to sit back and not try to mix it up, and be thankful that at least the head is still operating at acceptable levels. I mean, they have to wait for me anyway. Right? Guys?

FRB‘s are pretty frequent at this time of year (in the lower half of the world at least), and the mix of emotions they cause can be as painful as the riding. You make it through in fairly good shape, not having maxed anything out, and you feel like this is not so hard after all. Then in the middle of the night the cramps hit, legs reminding you that they’ve been criminally neglected as they protest at the shabby treatment they’ve had to endure. The lungs do their best to eject the phlegmy detritus that an almost forgotten dose of clean, fresh air is attempting to overpower. Sweat oozes from pores with an aroma of sweet victory mixed with bitter defeat. The Head has it’s usual “ahh, she’ll be right, couple of weeks you’ll be flying” spiel down pat, and you are duped into the scam with an overly agreeable “damn straight, buddy.”

You know that’s not true, but you persevere, because eventually it does come back. The base has served you well, layed the foundations, poured the concrete around the reo and now only needs the bricks to be placed on top, one at a slow, tedious time. By the end of summer your temple is standing proud once again, yet just waiting to be covered in tarpaulins and plastic over the windows when the skies grey and the cold war is lost once again.

Still a month away, you say?

// Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. Yes Brett, nothing is definite until it is definite.

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  2. Beautiful, @bretto. I’m going through this now; end of August, I was flying, just amazed at how easily I was chomping up even the steepest local climbs. Then it was off to South Africa to write, back home to start a new job, and next to no riding over a six week period of time. The Cogal of the Fallen Leaves was a big fucking bluff from start to finish, and the pain of watching the group go up the road on the last quarter of the route as steep punchy hill followed steep punchy hill. The only honor was that as I caught back up to the group as they refueled at a service station, I decided to head up the road instead and hold onto whatever rhythm I’d managed to fall into, certain the group would catch me back. Turns out, the support car missed me taking the turn to complete the route and the rest of the bunch bailed on the rest of the lap, making me the only one to complete the route. Painfull, but that’s what those rides are for.

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  3. Two weeks, that’s the mental cliff that I fall off when trying to keep on the #1 If away from it for the two weeks then the brain starts writing cheques that the body cant cash !

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  4. I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

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  5. @frank

    Beautiful, @bretto. I’m going through this now; end of August, I was flying, just amazed at how easily I was chomping up even the steepest local climbs. Then it was off to South Africa to write, back home to start a new job, and next to no riding over a six week period of time. The Cogal of the Fallen Leaves was a big fucking bluff from start to finish, and the pain of watching the group go up the road on the last quarter of the route as steep punchy hill followed steep punchy hill. The only honor was that as I caught back up to the group as they refueled at a service station, I decided to head up the road instead and hold onto whatever rhythm I’d managed to fall into, certain the group would catch me back. Turns out, the support car missed me taking the turn to complete the route and the rest of the bunch bailed on the rest of the lap, making me the only one to complete the route. Painfull, but that’s what those rides are for.

    So that’s where you went. At least you finished. I’ve got all year to meditate on the V and to start riding hills instead of flats.

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  6. @EBruner

    I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

    That sounds… amazing, actually.

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  7. @EBruner

    I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

    What are you, a Pro? Jobless? Definitely single and no kids… or at least not over 40.

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  8. You should be ready for race 3, @brett, includes 5 x 1100m gravel sector. http://www.cyclingseriesnz.co.nz/race-three or race 4, nice finish up Admirals- 20mins of pain.

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  9. Circuit profile Masters

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  10. @piwakawaka I might have a crack at the gravel race, always wanted to do that one. But Admirals can fuck off!

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  11. I’ve been building base since the start of August and will continue to do so until the start of December (after getting my arse handed to me at a Crit at the end of July and deciding it was time to Train Properly). 2000kms so far, about 1500kms to go). Despite the weather closing in and losing the light, I am managing to fit in my rides as extended commutes and supplementing with club track nights, so I’m pretty confident I can maintain this mileage through the winter. The once Christmas is out the way I’ll be building to the first 10m TT’s and Cat 4 crits of the year. Where, hopefully, I will reap all the rewards. Muhahaha.

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  12. I forget who exactly said “No matter how you feel, be it good or bad, it won’t last,” but that pretty much runs through my head when I’m struggling on the bike. I also think of the many post race interviews with the winners who recount having been dropped at some point or had cramps or some such during the race just before battling back for the win. This is opposed to running which unless is towards beer, feels just completely awful all the time.

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  13. @Ccos

    This is opposed to running which unless is towards beer, feels just completely awful all the time.

    This. Fuck running.

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  14. Very Timely Brett Took a month off after last event in September. Set goals for next year, objectives to deal with limiters, outline of events and when to peak etc for A events. Now working back from that I have my first 5 week plan focused on endurance, speed kills and strength. Only problem is my chest starting hurting on Friday riding home from work! Made some calls to my uncle the surgeon and friend the pharmacist – long story short I spent yesterday and today in the hospital here in Dublin getting ECG, EKG, Bloods, X-rays etc. Pain gone since yesterday. So far it looks like just some inflammation aka Pericarditis. Could be mold in the VVorkshop where I keep the bikes and did a turbo session on Wednesday. Scared the bajayzus out of me thinking I would have to go back to playing golf!! Still waiting to talk to consultant for final opinion but a word of warning – ease back into it lads and make sure the place where you keep your bike is a pristine as the noble steeds that live there.

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  15. @rfreese888 Jeepers, hope all turns out OK. Just back from my WFH Coffee and Cake run (my favourite “local” cafe is a mere 28 Km away). Chilly Autumn ride in the sun but found a couple of those warm patches that feel 5-10 Deg warmer than the surrounding air. I love coming across those patches in the Autumn.

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  16. @brett

    @EBruner

    I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

    What are you, a Pro? Jobless? Definitely single and no kids… or at least not over 40.

    Ha, Far from a pro! I am married, 46, and own a business, and work 40 hours a week. I just make time to ride. I don’t waist time on nonsense like television. Bad weather, that why they make Fat tire, mountain, and CX bikes. We travel often, and I find it easy to rent a bike, grab a boris bike, or some other option. If you want to do something, do it. Excuses come easy.

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  17. I thought every ride was a FRB? At least that what it feels like sometimes when you’re the “old guy” riding with all the “youngsters.” :-)

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  18. @EBruner

    @brett

    @EBruner

    I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

    What are you, a Pro? Jobless? Definitely single and no kids… or at least not over 40.

    Ha, Far from a pro! I am married, 46, and own a business, and work 40 hours a week. I just make time to ride. I don’t waist time on nonsense like television. Bad weather, that why they make Fat tire, mountain, and CX bikes. We travel often, and I find it easy to rent a bike, grab a boris bike, or some other option. If you want to do something, do it. Excuses come easy.

    And pro’s take breaks… >>> If you want to do something, do it <<< Obviously you want to ride a bike as much as anyone ! That’s cool. When it comes to wearing out bikes, components, wheels/tires and gear I’m guessing you have as much experience as anybody. Cheers

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  19. Absolutely spot on Bretto. I spent the bulk of 2014-2015 opening and doing the day to day running of a new business- I didn’t have time to sleep, let alone get on my bike. I kept thinking to myself “it’s always the same, 1st ride back sucks, 2nd and 3rd are even worse, but in a couple weeks, it’ll slowly start to get better”. This last Saturday was the 1st day on a short, dead flat out n back. The joy of being on two wheels again quickly devolved into how horribly out of shape I am, and how far I have to go. I’m praying to Merckx the muscle memory from distance running as a teen, racing hard in my 20’s and early 30’s might shorten the trip to some semblance of fitness for a near 50’s married with kids guy. We’ll see.

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  20. I’ve never done LSD, or at least not on a bike. I’ve always been a bit short on time and of the view that I don’t have time to ride (that) slowly so rides have always been at the highest speed and intensity I think I can get away with. Now I’m trying to work out how to do it properly but the problem with long steady paced rides is spelt out in the title. The internet has a bunch of suggestions from shorter slow rides (slightly faster and more intense than the long ones but whilst still being able to maintain a conversation) through to short intense sessions that have fewer longer intervals (2 x 20 hell anyone?) rather than HIIT. 2 x 20’s at 90ish% makes sense but so do longer rides but it may take a bit of trial and error to get the intensity right which isn’t great as by the time you’ve worked out that you’ve got it wrong it’ll be spring and everybody will be wanting to ride full gas again.

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  21. @brett

    @piwakawaka I might have a crack at the gravel race, always wanted to do that one. But Admirals can fuck off!

    if you want a start we have a spot available…

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  22. Ugh. The FRB is worst after a forced break. I just spent a weekend with a stomach virus, completely disabled . I reckon in 72 hours I ate less than one decent meal, and I still haven’t filled up properly. I dread tomorrow’s “back to fitness” easy spin. More than that, I dread Saturday’s 180km charity ride that I can’t bail out of. At least it’ll be slow and easy… After peaking perfectly for my A-race at the end of August and achieving my best fitness yet, I took a month of traveling and starting a new job. Coming back was hard. There’s nothing more depressing than running out of steam 2 hours into a simple, easy weekend ride with the girlfriend. She’s in good shape and climbs like a daemon, but riding with power puts a pretty ugly mirror in your face after such a break. And just as I was starting to regain shape that virus came along…

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  23. F R B Please don’t. I’m trying to forget that day. 2000, end of a long run. Still a Cat 1 at 40. Racing since I was 15. Decided to hang ’em up. You know, take a break. This year. 2015. After 15 YEARS away. FRB. Fuck me. Never seen such a red face. Thank (?!) I didn’t own a HRM. 2RB. 3RB. . . . I knew I just had to make it 8 weeks and then it would be okay. But it all came back and I hated myself for ever stopping. Always loved this. Always will. I’ll never stop again.

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  24. Similar situation in my little corner. Was really hitting a good stride mid-summer. Then we started looking for a house. Well, there went a bunch of evenings. We bought a house and moved in three weeks ago today. Took a week off to address wallpaper and paint and now darkness is setting in earlier. Weekends are more or less forfeit for the foreseeable future due to more projects and family/social commitments. I can get in 20-40 km rides a few times a week and I’m grateful for that. And as I started to look towards next season and started setting goals in abstract, my wife brought up the oft discussed notion of starting a family of our own. Should that come to fruition, who knows when the next FRB will happen.

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  25. @Joe Cline In the EXACT same boat, @Joe Cline. 39 yrs old. Live on top of a 12% climb ±1K long… and I find myself 1) communing with butterflies; 2) considering installing something bigger than a 23T for the first time ever; 3) wondering why my head knows exactly what it should feel like, but my legs say “fuck you.” Shut up legs! Oh… and don’t get an HRM. Ever. My heart isn’t responding like it used to (180 bpm hard rides, >200 bpm peak power), so last thing you need is some LCD display flashing “110 bpm” at you when you’re laying down the V. Or trying to.

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  26. @Joe Cline

    F R B Please don’t. I’m trying to forget that day. 2000, end of a long run. Still a Cat 1 at 40. Racing since I was 15. Decided to hang ’em up. You know, take a break. This year. 2015. After 15 YEARS away. FRB. Fuck me. Never seen such a red face. Thank (?!) I didn’t own a HRM. 2RB. 3RB. . . . I knew I just had to make it 8 weeks and then it would be okay. But it all came back and I hated myself for ever stopping. Always loved this. Always will. I’ll never stop again.

    So, did you jump on your old bike, the No 1, and hit it or did you check out what’s new and pick something up to help get ya motivated? I’m thinking there are some good stories here!

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  27. @Litvi A 25T was really depressing at first, looked like a pie plate, the 39 wasn’t so noticeable. I got over both of them shortly. Spring sucked. Summer was good. Fall is very nice. Winter will be weights and more base. Can’t wait for next Spring.

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  28. Eight days off the bike included 5 rounds of golf, more than a few steak dinners and countless bottles of red wine shared with friends. And a little whiskey. One cigar. A little break smack in middle of CX season and in front of state champ race this w/e. My FRB yesterday for the Tue club ride I quickly thought to myself, heck with this, my season is over… and this w/e I’ll be spectating while the kiddos race and I’m really looking forward to it. And I’ll look forward to some long winter rides. But not just yet… cheers all

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  29. @wilburrox Since I was now: Old. Fat. Slow. And completely bereft of Power, I pulled down my most appropriate tool. My old, slow, pink Torpado fixed gear that was No 1 in the 70s and got to work on getting my form back. I knew that efficiency and remembering how to suffer was probably all that I had going for me after all that time off. I was right, I was going uphill and into a headwind no matter where I went.

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  30. Living far up in the northern hemisphere (51N), and still feeling the last remnants of the VVhidbey Island cogal in my guns, I’m not at all about to head into FRB territory. What I am looking at is my first ride back on the trainer, as I accept the ever looming arrival of sub zero temperatures and snow/ice/sand covered roads which will persist for the next 5-6 months. I’ve been trying to increase my fitness over the past couple years with the goal to complete solo 150km rides with ~1500m climbing at an average speed in excess of 30kph. Two years ago I was at 28kph, this year I was just over 29kph. With running a business and having a young family, time is sometimes in short supply. A very understanding VMW goes a long way to letting me get some distance in, but I just can’t crack the 30kph barrier. I’d love for there to be a magic solution to getting over that goal based on my time constraints, but as I write this, the voice in the back of my head says ‘Just ride more. Build the base. If you must watch TV, watch it while on the trainer.’ I know in my head what I can do to improve, it’s just the execution that fails.

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  31. @piwakawaka

    @brett

    @piwakawaka I might have a crack at the gravel race, always wanted to do that one. But Admirals can fuck off!

    if you want a start we have a spot available…

    Cheers, but I’m not gonna be the weak link with you guys! I’ll be the weak link with my other less weak links and roll around in pain and hide. If I had KT form, then fuck yeah! I might have to work at the shop anyway, dudes are off having children and getting married… WTF is up with that?

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  32. @TheVid

    Living far up in the northern hemisphere (51N), and still feeling the last remnants of the VVhidbey Island cogal in my guns, I’m not at all about to head into FRB territory. What I am looking at is my first ride back on the trainer, as I accept the ever looming arrival of sub zero temperatures and snow/ice/sand covered roads which will persist for the next 5-6 months. I’ve been trying to increase my fitness over the past couple years with the goal to complete solo 150km rides with ~1500m climbing at an average speed in excess of 30kph. Two years ago I was at 28kph, this year I was just over 29kph. With running a business and having a young family, time is sometimes in short supply. A very understanding VMW goes a long way to letting me get some distance in, but I just can’t crack the 30kph barrier. I’d love for there to be a magic solution to getting over that goal based on my time constraints, but as I write this, the voice in the back of my head says ‘Just ride more. Build the base. If you must watch TV, watch it while on the trainer.’ I know in my head what I can do to improve, it’s just the execution that fails.

    Well if the two of us were to ride 100mi (upstate) South Carolina, then you would break that barrier. No drafting either. It certainly will happen with more riding. All shapes of riding. Let us know when it happens too! I can only offer this extra reminder, whether dealing with a race or personal goal, “races or won and lost over very small differences.” Never give in. Don’t give it away. It all counts.

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  33. races are won and lost over very small differences.

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  34. @TheVid one word, intervals.

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  35. @brett

    @EBruner

    I fight off the FRB like it is death. I have not taken more than 2 days in a row off the bike in over 5 years. I absolutely refuse to face that feeling.

    What are you, a Pro? Jobless? Definitely single and no kids… or at least not over 40.

    Hey… I’m full time employed, married with three kids, and just turned 40 and can say the same! My post season break is two weeks off but I do a 1hr recovery ride every third day. What do you think 4am-7am (-8:30 on weekends) is for if not riding guilt free whilst the family sleep? Besides… I can’t go any longer off the bike, I go batty. Even at the end of two weeks I am chomping at the bit to do a “real ride”! I get all sluggish, bored, fed-up with no activity and lack energy, tired even despite the copious amounts of sleep. This body needs to be active man!

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  36. As you get older, you lose form faster, and it takes longer to get it back. The result is time off is shorter and the build phase is longer. Just because I ride every third day during my time off doesn’t mean I am doing any work on the bike – just keeping a hand in – keeping the system moving to limit any de-training the body decides to do. I’ll take it easy again at the end of December before ramping up full and well for the season start in March.

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  37. @Puffy

    As you get older, you lose form faster, and it takes longer to get it back. The result is time off is shorter and the build phase is longer. Just because I ride every third day during my time off doesn’t mean I am doing any work on the bike – just keeping a hand in – keeping the system moving to limit any de-training the body decides to do. I’ll take it easy again at the end of December before ramping up full and well for the season start in March.

    I hear you. I can roll out at 5am and get 30 miles before shower and opening my store for the day. I just don’t feel right without riding. At 46 nothing make me feel more alive than riding 6 days a week.

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  38. @EBruner I remain to be convinced that 5am actually exists.

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  39. @wilburrox

    Eight days off the bike included 5 rounds of golf, more than a few steak dinners and countless bottles of red wine shared with friends. And a little whiskey. One cigar. A little break smack in middle of CX season and in front of state champ race this w/e. My FRB yesterday for the Tue club ride I quickly thought to myself, heck with this, my season is over… and this w/e I’ll be spectating while the kiddos race and I’m really looking forward to it. And I’ll look forward to some long winter rides. But not just yet… cheers all

    Love that there’s more to life than cycling! Golf and wine are right up there for me too.

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  40. @Teocalli

    @EBruner I remain to be convinced that 5am actually exists.

    As do I. But one should take inspiration from @EBruner‘s dedication. I need to drag myself out at that time of the morning or there’ll be precious little riding between now and March.

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  41. @Teocalli

    @EBruner I remain to be convinced that 5am actually exists.

    My son (13 months) remains to be convinced that he can actually sleep past 5 a.m.

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  42. @chris True @KW Ooops! I guess from recent posts there are a few more folk around here in that court or heading that way.

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