By now you have heard of the story about the woman with the old mountain bike, the call from Coach Tim five or six years ago and the whole Tour of California affair. It is a story about progression, commitment and delegation. Well, it actually works in the reverse order.

I have been on bike rides with a lot of people over the years and I have kicked butt a number of times and have gotten by butt kicked many times too. Whenever I am having a good day and someome asks me about my training I always have the same answer: “I delegate the whole thing to the best in the business. I have the easy job, I just do what I am told to do and watch the results. My coach has to do all the planning, analyzing and making last minute changes to my training program to accomodate every day needs.”

When Chris Carmichael called me in October of 2010 and proposed I join him to do the entire Amgen Tour of California I immediately said yes. Once I got passed the excitement at the thought of kicking his butt on the mountain stages I reflected on my progression of the last few years and felt I was ready to step up the training a couple notches. I love training and I love the challenge of training – the long hours indoors, the boredom, the brutal cold outside and the pain of the intervals.

Once I was done with training reality set in. I was in a hotel room by myself in South Lake Tahoe facing the challenge of a lifetime. On the last day of that epic challenge Chris gave everyone a big talk on our week as “pro racers” and told us that after the appropriate amount of recovery we would enjoy a great boost in fitness. I never doubted him but even that talk didn’t prepare me for today.

In the last few weeks leading to the Tour of California I had to do Climbing Repeats, uphill efforts at an intensity just below lactate threshold. My weekly routine called for five efforts of six minutes (total of 30 minutes) at around 300 watts. I dreaded these. Those efforts are 9s on a perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10. I struggled through each one.

Struggling through each effort

I am now training for my first hill climb race of the season which takes place in Wilmington, NY on June 18. It is the climb up Whiteface Mountain and it is the first race of the BUMPS Championship.

As part of my training for the Whiteface race, today I went out to the Eastern Township with fellow rider Fred R and headed for the hills in Shefford. My workout called for 3 hours with climbs in the 275 – 285 watts range. I quickly realized that I was having a good day and decided to do my old “30 minutes of Climbing Repeats work” in three efforts of ten minutes as opposed to five times six minutes. Not only did I do it but my power was higher than in the shorter March intervals and my perceived exertion was way lower.

Longer, better, easier.

 So I guess Chris was right again (validating my decision to delegate the coaching to pros). That way all I need is a commitment to follow the training plan and the progression follows. Heading out with the boys in the morning for a three hour group ride. Expect fireworks.