The off-season! This really is one of my favorite times of the year. Not only is it fall, which I love, but my cycling takes on a whole new dimension. Gone are the hammerfests of summer where the name of the game is racing to the next regroup point. Gone are the mid-week hill repeats. And gone are the rides where heart rate average is more important then scenery.
The funny thing is that there is no official start to my off-season. For my friends who race it’s easy. The off-season starts after the last race of the year. For me, well, it kind of starts when I want it to and that’s typically once the days become too short to ride after work. Yeah, nothing says off-season to me more then climbing on the trainer for my mid-week workouts.
There is one more key indicator to the start of my off-season. I completely lose almost all motivation to ride. I typically log over 3,000 miles on the road by fall, with many additional hours on the trainer, so I am mentally ready for a break. This makes it hard to find my mojo for wet conditions, high heat, big climbs, or long rides. I simply don’t feel the need to push it this time of year and so far, my off-season is off to a great start.
It started 2 Saturdays ago with the West County Revolution Soup Spoons & Carbon Forks ride. We all headed out to climb Pine Flat as high as we wanted to go. I was feeling very good but instead of pushing a lifted pace I settled into a very gentle rhythm that took me all the way to the top. I also refrained from all of the pace lines on the way out and simply enjoyed the ride and chatting with friends.
On Sunday, I woke up to the first rain of the season. It was a very light, and warm, rain so it really wasn’t a big deal. In the spring or summer, I would have easily cranked out 40 or more miles in those conditions. However, on Sunday I simply reached for my coffee cup and settled in for a nice relaxing day. That was the first day of an impromptu break where I was off the bike for eight days. I just didn’t feel the need to get on the bike and that’s got off-season written all over it.
Last Sunday I was finally back on the bike to ride with friends. We were supposed to climb to the second peak on the Geysers and then climb Pine Flat. It was a beautiful day but it was also going to be very hot. We roll from The Flying Goat in Healdsburg and head straight to the Geysers and once got there I headed straight for my triple ring. I took it slow and steady with my friend Carmen, who raced the day before, and we chatted all the way to the first summit.
As we reached the top of the first summit it was already pushing 90 degrees. That’s too toasty for me so I bid my friends good bye and headed back to town. As they continued climbing to the second summit I did my own version of a second Geysers stop. I stopped at the Geyserville Mud Cafe for a quick espresso before heading home. The ride should have been around 50 miles and instead I got in a grand total of 31.
There you have it. In the span of 8 days I started the off-season, wimp out on a ride in the rain, bailed early on a ride in the heat, and my trainer has a slight coating of dust on the seat. I am supposed to head to the trainer right now but somehow I already know that I won’t get any further then the coffee pot.