The only thing worse than being two months from peaking and too fat to climb is being two months past peaking and in the middle of the season of rapid weight gain. At least with the former there is something to look forward to as you measure the incremental gains of your training as the almost daily rides of the season accumulate on your Strava profile. The latter can seem like a long dark tunnel that leads only to fat and slow. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, on the tundra and ice-covered roads, with only 8 1/2 hours of daylight, a proper road ride and last season’s gains can seem like a distant dream. The juxtaposition of climbing well for your weight and expanding into a larger jersey size before your very own eyes is a cross the Velominatus must sometimes have to bear.
2012 was perhaps the best season I’ve ever had on a bike. It actually began on the trainer on New Year’s Day as I started training for the Keepers Tour. After returning from the trip of a lifetime riding the cobbles of Norther France and Belgium I was able to hold momentum at the start of the season at home. Next up was the Almanzo 100 in May, a very hard gravel race in which I was happy with my result. Then, the guys began gathering for our Tuesday group rides. On the whole, the group really got after it this year and we pushed each other to some great levels of fitness. Coupled with my almost daily solo rides, I was seeing progress early and often. Then the season was punctuated in September by a 15th placing in the Heck of the North, another gravel race. I had timed my peaks pretty well for an amateur and as my Strava numbers got bigger La Volupte and I had become closer acquaintances.
Then November happened. I hold about as much appreciation for November as I do for March in this part of the world. That is to say none. November and March are the shoulder seasons and the only time of year when running actually seems like a plausible way to stay fit. In November the Rule #11 chickens start coming home to roost, the roads can turn to shit and aren’t safe to ride, and graveling becomes an exercise in survival as half the month is slotted for deer hunting. Mates that haven’t been seen all summer start to wander into town again for Happy Hour beers at the local micro-brew. Food becomes laden with butter, chocolate, and carbs. This November was exacerbated by the fact that I went down for two solid weeks with a viral infection. I was so fucking sick I shit the bed one night. For Merckx’s Sake it took a lot of the V to recover from that one. Now I know how Thor must have felt about this year’s Spring Classics campaign. The only difference being my spring was better than his and my fall was his spring.
So let me have it. Tell me to Rule #5. Tell me to get out and ride my bike, set up the trainer, stop whinging. I probably deserve it after all this. I’m banking on the fact though that there are others like me out there. Others who have witnessed their own precipitous descension from peak form to shit in the matter of weeks. It really is incredible, the difference in how long it takes to build that form and how quickly it disappears. So please, grant me this one confession. Share your own despair if you like but then let’s move on. Let’s share in the fleeting catharsis that being a little bitch can offer and then begin the long, painful, and awesome slog back to the V together again.