Although it is self-evident that cycling is superior to other individual sports, I have to admit that those who run can at least train outdoors during the winter. Cyclists who live in northern [SNOWY] climates don’t have this option. Flesh freezes quickly at 16 mph, while our unenlightened but sincere running brethren travel at 6 or 7 mph. Snow and ice offer challenges that 23 mm tires simply cannot cope with. Our options are frostbite, hypothermia, death and being jack-hammered by a bike frame that stiffens up in the cold. And so…we train indoors until global warming turns our planet back into a prehistoric sauna.
Enter the indoor bike trainer: boredom is the operative word. Yesterday I did intervals for an hour while waching a Warren Miller ski movie. Some people read, but I find that I sweat so much that the pages get soggy. If you have some extra cash you can buy videos of roads in the French Alps and pretend you’re riding up the Alp d’ Huez stage of the Tour de France, or screaming down the Col du Galibier at 50 mph. Alas, though, the illusion is incomplete. I can see pretty pictures on my tv, but I’m still below ground in a basement. There are no cleansing alpine breezes…just the faint smell of the catbox as I pedal 17 mph while going nowhere.
A few companies have introduced virtual reality products that synchronize the picture on the tv with a computer that automatically varies pedal resistance to simulate changes in terrain. I know a guy who uses one of these during the summer so he doesn’t have to go outside. I fear for his emotional health.
When it’s all said and done we need to embrace our pain and just be bored. If I want to have a strong season next year I need to invest time during the winter building base miles. I took a look at last year’s Minnesota Iron Man [68 mile Gran Fondo event] times and found out that an average speed of 16.5 mph resulted in a top 15 finish in a field of 165.
So I put a post-it note on my handlebar which reads: 16.7 mph May 6.