Only fifty days left. Fifty days before the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge CTS Race Experience on August 20th in Durango, CO. This is how Carmichael Training Systems describes the event:

Join Chris Carmichael and a team of CTS Coaches for seven of the most challenging days you’ll ever spend on your bike! (underline mine) The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge travels over some of the most beautiful and arduous terrain in the United States, including high-altitude mountain passes, deep river valleys and wide-open prairie. Exclusively available through our partnership with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, you’ll have the opportunity to eat, sleep, ride, and live like a pro cyclist:

 •You’ll ride every stage just hours before the pros, and the CTS Team will only reach the finish line if we’re fast enough to stay ahead of the pros!

 •You’ll enjoy VIP Access to all Stage Finishes!

 •You’ll stay in the team hotels and dine with the pro teams after each stage!

 •You’ll have professional mechanics working on your bike during and between stages!

 •You’ll have professional soigneurs providing post-ride massage therapy!

 •You’ll get three CTS Cycling Jerseys included with your registration!”

 I particularly like this part:

“Due to demand and the extreme physical requirements (underline mine) of the CTS USAPCC Race Experience, riders must apply in order to be accepted onto the 2012 CTS USAPCC Race Experience Team.”

Having already completed the 2011 and 2012 Tour of California CTS Race Experiences, the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge CTS Race Experience will be my third CTS Race Experience.

I woke up this morning, had a coffee with breakfast and I then watch the Prologue of the Tour de France. I then watched the videos put together by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge describing every stage. “Time to get in the mood for my second week this year of living like a pro”, I thought.

You will find the links to each video below:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 1

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 2

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 3

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 4

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 5

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 6

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 7

Watching these videos reminded me that no matter how difficult the Tour of California was in May, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be way harder. There are more long climbs and more importantly we will spend a ton of time at altitude. I have no clue how well I will recover sleeping at 8,000 feet. I guess we will find out soon enough. All I can do now is to train right and make sure I show up in Durango fit and rested.

And that is a key point for me: “Showing up at the start line knowing that I have done the preparation”. There isn’t much else I can do.

I have recently read a lot about Bradley Wiggins’ preparation for the 2012 Tour de France. There are several good articles about his training for the Tour including this one. Although I like watching bike races, I am even more fascinated by what it takes for a pro to compete at the highest level of the sport and reading about Wiggins’ training really put in it in perspective for me.

I really liked the following quote from Wiggins:

From April 1 this year to the day I line up for the Tour de France prologue on June 30, I will have done 100,000 metres of high-quality climbing. There is no other environment that can beat Mount Teide. We ride our bikes, get a massage, eat and then sleep. Then we get up and do it again.”

Sounds pretty much like the old CTS motto “Eat, Sleep, Ride (repeat)”, doesn’t it? Pro riders live that life and time crunched athletes like us get a chance to experience it a week a year by participating in a CTS Race Experience (or two weeks this year for me, or three weeks for Scott F this year, as he is also doing Tour of Utah).

The other key point to keep in mind about preparing for an event such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is that there will always be set backs along the wayWe have all heard about 2011 Tour de France 4th place finisher Thomas Voeckler’s recent knee injury. He had to take time off the bike but he still made it to the start of the Tour this morning. I have personally been off the bike for a few days this week and I didn’t do the twenty hours plus of training I had on the calendar. Reading the following about Voeckler helped me get through the week:

He knew he had to listen to the advice of the doctor,” Bernaudeau said. “I know that it wasn’t easy for him to go eight days without riding, but I’m happy that he kept his word and stuck to the break that was prescribed.”

I am really looking forward to getting to the start line in Durango and meeting my teammates. I already know some of them pretty well: Rick (ToC 2011), Paijee (ToC 2011 and 2009 Etape), Charlynn (wine drinking and bike riding), Dave (fellow Canadian, Tucson neighbour, 2010 Tour of the Gila partner and many other rides) and Scott (ToC 2012). I hope they have all watched the videos I posted above and that they are “getting in the mood” themselves.