My Tour de France legs have left me. The legs that could climb the Galibier, Telegraph, Croix and Mollard the day after hammering up Alpe d’Huez are gone.
But that’s ok. This year I have different goals. I don’t want to ride mountains all day long; I want to win a bike race. I want to be able to ride fiercely for just two or three hours and have enough at the end to win.
This occurred to me as I was pedaling up Palomar Mountain with Mark last Saturday. I could feel that I’ve been out of the mountains. I wasn’t as smooth as I remembered. This brand of suffering was a little sharper than I remembered. I still beat my record up South Grade Road by 16 seconds.
I coasted back down to Mark and thought I’d pootle up the last 3/4 mile with him. Mark would have none of it. He started heckling me immediately. “Go. Time to go. Attack. Don’t you want to win? Do you want it bad enough? Maybe you should just watch Boulevard on TV. Go. Go.”
I had no choice but to go, but I didn’t get far before the body gave up. I tried to gather my sensibilities until I could hear Mark behind me again. “Don’t let me catch you. I’ll pass you.” So I went again. Recovered and went again. And again. I’m going to start calling Mark, “Coach.”
The cool thing was how fast I could recover. In about a minute, I went from feeling pukey to wanting to attack again. That’s the result of interval and threshold training. My Tour de France legs never had that.