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New Mexico Training Camp

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Now that I’ve had time to unwind a bit and let my legs settle down, I’m ready to write a little synopsis of training camp in New Mexico. Last Wednesday, Joe Pa, Nick Cressey, and I headed down to Santa Fe for the start of a 4 day camp. The plan was to ride two days in Santa Fe and two days in Taos. We would eat, ride, eat some more, then sleep.

My initial thought about going down to New Mexico when Joe first mentioned it was, “the climate isn’t any different down there than it is here.” I double checked the weather data and sure enough, their average temps down there are nearly identical to ours. Despite the similar dry climate, Joe’s idea made a lot of sense. During winter training here around Denver, we generally ride the same routes over and over again. In order to inject some variety and experience a nice change of scenery, we’d go down to NM and explore their best rides. And that was it. I was sold.

New Mexico here we come.

The drive down to Santa Fe went super quick. We were amped to get down there and put some work in. We had a celebratory dinner on the first night and toasted to better fitness. The following day we rode a popular route called the Santa Fe century. The winds were howling outside from the very start of the ride. Good. More Gila preparation for me. Nick also provided some Gila preparation by attacking us early and often. If there was a headwind, Nick would surge into it. If there was a crosswind, Nick would put in a massive surge that would put me on the rivet. From mile marker 3 to mile marker 101, we surged over and over into the wind. I know I was not the only one to notice these efforts. Even Joe called the first day “race simulation” when entering the data into his WKO software. It was probably the best race prep I’ve had all year. (Despite the fact that I won’t ever do a 100 mile road race). With the high pace and constant attacks, we were able to pull the Fred-tastic 100 miles in 5 hours goal. I felt really great the whole day. My legs had endless amounts of pop in them and I had the mental strength to dig deep 1,000 times to go with the surges. All in all it was a successful first day.

Day 2: On day two, we had to check out of our hotel in Santa Fe and drive 15 minutes up to Espanola to start our route. This day was going to be a few less miles, but many more feet of climbing. We did sort of an out and back with a loop in between the start and finish. There was one major climb in the middle that we’d hit from both sides and would take us over 9,000 feet in elevation. I had really bad legs this day. I’m not sure what the deal was. I ate well (Joe would disagree with that) the day before, I napped for 25 minutes after the first day’s ride, and slept okay the night before. Something just didn’t click and my legs hurt like hell. I could immediately tell it wasn’t going to be a great day when going with the early morning surges was becoming nearly impossible. By the time we got to the main climb I was struggling to stay in zone 3. I managed to limp my way up the climb finally, but was disappointed that I didn’t have the ability to really go after it like I’d wanted to. We continued onward after regrouping at the top and somewhere along the line I lost those two again. I decided to go my own pace and do what I could. I worked on staying upright in the wind and dealing with fatigued legs. (something that would come in handy the following day).

On the way back to the car, we found ourselves descending on a freeway really fast. I looked down and saw 45, 46, 47 miles an hour. All of the sudden, my rear wheel started fishtailing like crazy. It felt like a flat. It also felt like sheer terror. I was doing nearly 50 mph in the middle of a highway fishtailing out of control on what I thought was a flat rear tire. As I attempted to slow down, I thought to myself, “If I fall, I’ve got to fall to the right – away from the left lane and towards the shoulder. If I crash over the yellow line, I’m going to go into oncoming traffic and die.” I somehow managed to slow myself, stay upright, and get over to the shoulder. I was still wildly bouncing up and down and side to side by the time I came to a complete stop. I hopped off my bike and felt my back tire. No flat. What the… No flat? How is that possible? What just happened? I didn’t know, but what I did know was that I did not want to stand there in the shoulder for too long. I jumped back on my bike and went much slower back down the descent. Joe ended up getting scared when he looked behind and suddenly I wasn’t there. He waited up for me and we both rode the tailwind back to the car. Oddly enough, upon getting the bikes in the car and beginning our drive up to Taos, Nick noticed that I did indeed have a flat rear tire. I guess my tire was nice enough to wait until after the ride to go flat on me. We did 92 miles and around 9,000 feet of climbing that day. *My Garmin says we did 8,000 feet of climbing. Joe’s Garmin says 8,500 feet. The Training Peaks software says 9,900. Therefore, I say we did around 9,000 feet.*

After checking into our hotel in Taos, we hit up and amazing Mexican food place in a hotel up the street. We got an incredible amount of food for super cheap. I thought for sure all this food would give me a stomach ache and a great ride the next day. Wrong.

Day 3: Terrible. Night. Sleep. I barely slept a wink the whole night before day three. I started the Taos century with horribly tired legs. Fortunately, this day would prove to be the most scenic of the whole trip. The views on this day were gorgeous and enough to keep me motivated and pressing forward. At around the 44 mile mark, I let Joe and Nick go to ride my own pace the rest of the route. I just didn’t have it in me to climb hard or go with the surges anymore. I did however climb probably the coolest climb I’ve done in my life. It was a really narrow road with no yellow line on it. The grade was mild for much of it, but shot up to 12 and 15% at a few points. It even topped out at 9,500 feet of elevation at the end. It was the cherry on top of a beautiful route. I kinda got lost on my way back to the hotel and went the wrong direction into town. That put me over 108 miles on the day with around 8,000 feet of climbing. Not too shabby considering I pushed through tremendous fatigue the whole day.

Day 4: I slept much better going into day four, however I still wasn’t sure how I’d feel this final day. The route planned was a loop involving US Hill. It would be 60 miles and around 5,000 feet of climbing. As soon as I got on the bike, my legs felt better than they had since day one. We braved the cold and wet on the ride out to US Hill. Once again it was a vicious headwind on our way out. At mile 22, we turned left onto the climb. After making a few efforts on the way out and feeling the climb roll underneath me after the left turn, I knew it was time to jump ship, turn around, and ride the tailwind home. At mile marker 24, I turned around and rode the tailwind back to the hotel. I felt okay. Sort of a false sense of good legs because of the tailwind. I was happy to clock 50 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing to cap off the trip. I sipped bad coffee and watched the news for 25 minutes as I waited for Joe and Nick to return.

Overall the trip was a success. I only wish I knew then what I know now about day one. I ended up digging myself into a hole on day one that I was never able to recover from (literally). Maybe I didn’t eat enough after that first day. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough on the subsequent nights. Whatever it was, it did not allow me to fully go after the climbs the rest of the trip. If I had to do it over again, would I sacrifice decent days two through four for a great day one? Probably not. But I’m glad I had a great day one.

Trip totals: 4 days. 350 miles. 19.5 hours ride time. Around 25,000 feet climbed. 1 near death experience.

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Written by jlongo12

February 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Posted in cycling

2 Responses

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  1. I think you eat very healthy food, just not nearly enough. Want to put 4,000 kJ into your bike? A banana for breakfast isn’t going to cut it. Figure this out and you will be untouchable at the Gila, Dead Dog, and Steamboat.

    You did great man, other 4’s aren’t doing anything close. I think in a week or two you’ll see a big improvement in fitness.

    Joe P

    February 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

  2. […] feel going into Worlds. Would I still feel some residual fatigue in my legs from the voluminous NM training camp? Superficially, I have to admit I felt pretty good going into the weekend. I took Monday through […]


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