In August of this year, I’m going on a week-long bike ride with Bike The US For MS. We’ll be circumnavigating Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. In six days of riding, we’ll cover a little over 360 miles and something over 20,000 feet of climbing.
So yesterday, I started the formal training for that ride. I’m not really starting at zero, since I ride year-round. But in the winter, the mileage and climbing is quite a bit less than what it is during the spring, summer, and fall when the weather and road conditions are more conducive to safe riding.
Yesterday’s “first” ride was a modest 25-mile jaunt and, with only 700+ feet of climbing, it was also relatively flat. Today’s ride was even shorter—a little over 18 miles—but had a bit more climbing—just under 1,300 feet. So these are modest beginnings. But I’ll soon be stretching out the length of the rides as well as the number and height of the hills in order to get my legs, lungs, and mental focus prepared for what we’ll encounter on the peninsula. I’m fortunate in that the area in which we live is hilly, so it’s pretty easy to get 2,000 to 4,000 feet of climbing in a single 35-50 mile ride. That’s a big advantage when we get to riding consecutive 60-mile days in and around the Olympic Mountains.
I’ll also be adding weight training 3-4 days a week. This will strengthen my core and boost my overall conditioning, helping me to stay healthy and adaptable to the changing conditions and terrain on the road.
January may seem a little early to begin training for a ride in August, but one of the things I’ve come to accept now that I’m in my seventies is that ramping up conditioning is a more gradual process than it once was. Conversely, losing the edge of that conditioning is a quicker, slipperier, and more precipitous slope; so I’ve found that a slower, steadier, consistent approach works best.
It also gives me a good excuse to be outside on my bike for longer and longer periods on more and more days. And to quote Martha Stewart, “That’s a good thing.” Really, this whole process—building the conditioning “base miles” during training and the actual immersion riding during the week in August with Bike The US For MS—is a joy.
I get to do this. I get to ride my bike through some of the most beautiful country in the world with 30 other cyclists. And our adventure gets to bring financial and emotional support to people in need.
What’s not to like?
Over the next few months, I’ll post periodic updates on my training rides and experiences. And I’ll post daily journal entries from the road when we’re riding through the rain forests, across the rivers, along the ocean, over the mountains and through the valleys of the Olympic Peninsula.
Come along for the ride, if you’re so inclined.