Ode to the trainer

I did something different this past April - while I didn't raise any money doing it, I challenged myself to partipate and complete the #30daysofbiking during April. Why? After all, I usually have my well throughout out balance between running, cycling and rest days. I've never done a streak and have really never had the desire to do a streak of anything. But with my eye, I wasn't going to be running for the first half of the month at least - so I would need to do something to maintain the fitness that I would loose without running. Riding a little more sounded like just the plan. That meant it couldn't just be spin around the block or a jaunt to the bar. It had to be a worthwhile, meaningful ride that would actually develop fitness and strength. And there was another kicker - I was also still on limited mountain biking or riding outside when I started this. I would be doing many of the rides inside, on the trainer. And out of the 30 days of biking, 12 were inside. My shortest inside ride was 40 minutes - I ran out of time when Nick had company over. My longest ride was 3 hours, covering more then 50 miles on the trainer. Perhaps my next challlenge will be the 100 miles of nowhere....

After this, I might still be calling the trainer time fake miles - but I won't badmouth the trainer. Without it, I wouldn't have ridden every day and the riding I did do wouldn't have been quality. When my eye first started flaring in March, I was able to get on and pedal, keep the HR low, but still do something form going stir crazy. On the second flare, I was able to get the workouts done when I wasn't allowed to go outside yet. And I quickly became good at the power hour after work - instead of a jaunt through Stratton, some subthreshold intervals and cadence drills to emulate the work of riding outside. I never used Zwift - just the workouts as written and the display on my Garmin. If I was doing a workout, either music or an audio book. No computer set up to stream movies, no smart trainer dictating what I was going to do - just me and the mental energy required to focus on the workouts and the rides. For easier rides or during my warm up and cool down, I read - the kindle is great for that. Would I have rather been outside - of course! But when I was cleared to start riding outside, I could tell I hadn't lost anything for my hours on the trainer.

And hours there were - most days were between 1:30-2:00 as that was the best duration for a solid workout. What I was lacking in long rides, I was making up for in simple accumulated fatigue. I did get one three hour ride and a few 2-2:30 rides in however, but the goal inside was always quality over quantity. When I have to go through three water bottles and use two sweat bands on my head, that's a solid set of fake miles I also noticed that the mental distraction that lured me off the bike earlier in the month was easier to keep at bay near the end of the month. Since the mental focus is a big part of the ultra endurance racing, that is an added bonus.

But with that said, when I was able to get back on the mountain bike - it wasn't a smooth transition. I was hesitant at first, not wanting to really get after it. Afraid of the jarring and afraid of crashing, with my bike handling skills less then ideal due to the stationary miles. I was far from smooth on the rock gardens, bobbling all kinds of things. A lack of the body English needed to maneuver the bike and just out of practice. I was also slow on the descents - I wasn't used to the speed of trees flowing by or the split second processing to choose my line. Those first few outside rides on single track were a little offsetting. I hadn't slowed on the climbs, but I wasn't myself on anything else. Wow. A strange feeling for sure. It's taken a bit to start working though some of the hesitation and to remember how to read the trails. If that's the only thing I have to regain following the forced sessions on the trainer, I'm fine with a little slower to start on the singletrack and rocks. It will come back. And I also won't be as quick to judge the trainer. While nothing replaces the actual feel and body mechanics of riding outside - both for balance and bike handling - if its a choice between not riding and the trainer, I know where I'm going. To the basement!


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