Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taste of VQ Week Two

I think I got the nerves out of my system after my first Taste of VQ both in completing that baseline test and checking out the crowd I'd be riding with for the next eight weeks and sizing up the competition (yes, I get competitive when it comes to sports). When I knew I wasn't as behind as I feared, I felt better and in turn was more relaxed when I arrived for week two. Instead of fear of the unknown, I was calm and collected when I entered, even after slipping on some black ice outside my car--and on my bad hip that killed all December from marathon training--and seeing several new faces in the room. Not only do I spot the same guy I tried to beat during last week's time trial, but the entire half of the room that was for make-up classes is filled with new bikes and cyclists.

Hook up the bike onto the trainer--I'm even in the front row this week--and set up my station with my water bottles, towel (yep I remembered this time) and shoes. Then I start pedaling while waiting for others to arrive. But this week before the cycling starts, Dave has us gather on the floor area to show us the core moves will be doing in addition to the cycling. Squats, lunges and plyometric jumps. Then it's back to the bike to start the ride. Dave reminded us again that if we go balls-to-the-wall now, we'll max out in June or July, the prime of racing season. So tonight's mission is to strength train--on and off the bike.

How do you strength train on a bike? It's easy, relatively speaking, once you know how, but it'll definitely max out leg capacity. Or at least it did to me--between lunges, squats and one-foot jumps onto a platform, and the bike work in the same gear for 50 minutes, my legs were fried. No bouts of nausea tonight but when the hard strength sets came up on the CompuTrainer course I couldn't wait for them to be over. This course looked more like a bar graph than a workout. After a warm up of building intensity, we had bouts of low intensity speed racing, followed by a push, bigger push, push, bigger push, push, back to speed racing. On those bigger pushes, you could feel the leg muscles going into overdrive. We had to keep our speed between 12 and 14 mph during the intervals, check our average wattage and our heartrate (if wearing a monitor) to guage how we felt to then translate onto the road later. Well, sort of. While it felt like we were pushing up a hill, this exercise wouldn't improve our hill climbs, Dave explained.

Now this wasn't just 50 minutes or so of riding, we had to get off the bike after two of the intervals and practice those conditioning moves. Then on two flats we practiced drills to check our leg strength--alternating pedaling with only the right foot then the left--and pedaling all-out with increasing speed up to 26 mph. Talk about time flying by. I couldn't believe it was nearly 8:30 when the cycling ended, although I was relieved. But the class wasn't complete: We still had another off-bike manuever to tackle. Think crab walk but standing and moving from side-to-side as we worked our hip muscles with ankles bound with stretch bands. I could feel my hip and butt muscles screaming at me, but after an assessment at the Training Bible workshop that I have weak hip muscles, I was happy to already be working them and not having to rely on my willpower to incorporate the moves into the fitness regime.

And I know it helped too. That good soreness you get after a tough workout was evident the next morning. Now I'm looking forward for what the next class will bring. Not just for the race against the larger group that came for week two--and a varied mix of sizes, shapes and ages--but the challenge. But I also better get a start on my race calendar before I have all of this cycling knowledge and no place to apply it but my usual Lakefront haunt. Photo grabbed from Kenny Holston 21 at flickr, semi-illustrates the jump-up drill we performed. Posted by Kate

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