Thursday, January 7, 2010

Le cycliste de garage

As some of you may know, my other passion is wine.  In particular, I am a fan of big red wines from California, Tuscany, and Bordeaux.  It was in Bordeaux, in the early 1980’s, that a new wine making technique came into fashion.  People would plant vineyards on very small plots of land and then make great wine that was sold at ridiculous prices.  In many cases, these wines were made in the garage and therefore became known as vin de garage or garage wine.

That’s how I am feeling these days.  I am a cycliste de garage.  For the past couple weeks every “ride” has been in a garage.  Now granted, it is winter so it’s cold and wet outside.  There is also the issue of not enough daylight before or after work.  But mostly, I think I just miss the open road. 

I know I am not alone in feeling this way.  There are a few of my fellow cyclists who don’t mind riding on their trainers.  They have Facebook debates about fluid trainers versus rollers, post how long they rode, and some even track mileage.  But most of my cycling group simply tolerates the indoor trainer as an evil necessity at best.  I definitely fall into the latter category.

The question is – Can being a cycliste de garage make you a better cyclist in general?  Wait, that can’t be the question.  Cycling pros log hundreds of hours on indoor trainers in the off season to stay strong for upcoming races.  So the answer is obviously yes.  No, the real question is – Can I become a better cyclist?  Damn, that’s not the right question either.  Of course, that answer is yes also.  But am I motivated to use the indoor trainer to become a stronger rider?  Bingo!  That’s the real question!

ESP FJ 1 Enter Coach Tim and his Tuesday Night Indoor Training classes.  In November, Tim started running these classes in his garage.  These are not spin classes.  There is no music, just Tim constantly telling you what gear to push, what heart rate zone to be in, and where your cadence should be.  And they are very challenging especially since you don’t know what’s coming next.

It is amazing to me how Tim can replicate a road ride with the way he structures the class.  We have practiced endurance rides, pace lines, and hill climbs.  In our class this week we did a 20-minute hill climb with another 10-minutes of rollers when we reached the top. I don’t want to give away his secrets but it he accomplishes this through a very strategic mixture of gearing, heart rate and cadence.

ESP FJ 2 The riding portion of the class last about an hour but don’t relax yet because you’re not done.  Next comes strength training followed by core work and stretching.  If you did it right, you are one tired puppy when it’s over.  You also can’t wait until the next class.

For the me, there are two reasons Tim’s classes are effective.  To begin with, it really helps with motivation.  It is a great group of people who take these classes so there is always plenty of banter and joking.  That is until Tim tells us to increase our efforts and we have to focus on breathing, keeping the rhythm, and not pushing ourselves to point of wanting to puke. 

This leads me to the second reason these classes work for me.  It’s all about the effort.  I work much harder at these session then I would ever push myself alone in my own garage.  Even tonight, as I do my best to cycle in Hawaii, I know that I will not go as hard as I did last Tuesday.

Is it working?  You betch ya!  This week I was feeling very strong on the bike.  It was the best I have felt since getting over my horrendous cold.  My core and upper body are also getting stronger.

When it’s all said and done, I really enjoy the classes because it brings back the social aspect of cycling that I enjoy so much.  Now, I’m not saying I’m going to turn into a fine Bordeaux wine but I will be stronger as a result of starting my year as a cycliste de garage.


1 Comment(s):

amy said...

Another reason I wish I lived in Santa Rosa! I've just been trying to avoid the trainer and tolerating the outdoors. At the very least it's not usually sub-freezing.