Coach Rob has Team Midlife Crisis off the indoor trainer now and into the great outdoors, which is a great relief and rather intimidating (far more obstacles outside the living room..) at the same time. He wants us to take the leg speed and power that we have built up over the winter/spring (our training mainly consisted of short, explosive intervals) and transfer them into longer efforts on the road.
He has also added a ‘benchmark course’ to our weekly program. The benchmark ride is a route of 45km – 50km that we are meant to ride at ‘race pace’, which, in Rob’s own words means:
…where you race anything that’s moving on the road. If someone is behind you, you should do everything possible not to be passed and if they catch you, ride as hard as possible not to be dropped. And it’s not good enough to just catch someone, you have to catch and drop them. Riding with this type of “race mode” aggression will prepare your mind as well as your body for race day.
I didn’t see any cyclists going my way, so I had to chase down cars instead.
The course, obviously, should be identical each time you ride it, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a ‘benchmark’. Again, in Rob’s words:
You should become so intimate with this route that you will know every pothole and bump along the way and be able to identify the 5 stages of road kill decomposition.
As luck would have it I rode past an unfortunate cat that had been run over recently. I’ll now have the chance to discover those 5 stages! I’m saving you from the photo of the roadkill, but here’s a stretch of road close by.
Another condition for the benchmark route is that it should contain some ‘moderate hills’. The ones in the photo below (the beginning of the Cévennes range) are more than moderate, so they’ll be reserved for another ride.
This one, however, fits the bill nicely and is just long and steep enough (9%) for me to nearly blow a lung out on, while being short enough to be able to ‘dance’ my way up it.
All of these photos, by the way, were taken at, or near, zone 4 (somewhere north of 160 bpm for me). I hope you’ll forgive me for the dodgy quality of shots, like the blurry picture of the village of Vic-le-Fesq below.
Here is the graph to my first benchmark ride. It’s Lap 2. Benchmark #1 01.05.2012 14:23.
Rob has promised a whole new series of fun for the last push towards the Etapes (only 2 months!), so stay tuned – if I have any energy left I’ll be sure to blog about it.