Yesterday's group ride was the monthly trek to Estes Park. Though the weather looked threatening in the mountains before our departure, we lucked out and had great conditions. My buddy Ed noted, "Gale's Group looks for the biggest, darkest clouds around and then rides into them. Geeze." (Note Ed was leading the charge more than once.)
On Twitter I noted a fair amount of time riding at lactate threshold (LT). Though I am training for an event that will take me some 10-11 hours (if all goes well) I include LT training. For some of my Ironman event athletes, I include very fast group rides or bike racing. Why?
I have written about this issue before and it is worth repeating:
The Ability to Recover From Short Efforts at Lactate Threshold and Above
Most of a seven- to 12-hour race is done at an aerobic effort. However, in a mountain bike race that involves altitude and time cuts, efforts above lactate threshold intensity are necessary. (Lactate threshold (LT) intensity is roughly the intensity and associated heart rate that you could hold in a one-hour, all-out time trial.)
One method to improve performance in an ultra-distance event is to build a solid base of fitness over several weeks or months, followed by six to eight weeks of increasing LT heart rate as well as power at LT without building much (if any) training volume. Follow this block by returning to building event endurance to a peak, while allowing enough time for a good taper.
Why increase LT to be competitive at an ultra-distance mountain bike event? If your lactate threshold moves from 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate, you've increased the capacity of your aerobic engine. For example, if your maximum heart rate is 185 and you can move your lactate threshold from a heart rate of 148 to 167, you've got more aerobic engine. All of this takes time and a reasonable progression.
Athletes who try to do everything at once
build training volume, increase strength, and increase the volume of training intensity at LT or abovewill often end up ill or injured. The body takes time to make the physical adaptations to training. Cramming for race day, unlike cramming for a college test, doesn't work. Athletes who cram will only build enough endurance to complete the event, instead of enough to be competitive.
Moving from training topics to fashion topics, the group ride was ooohing and aaaaahing over Ryan Lewandowski's Blue Sky Velo kit. The photo doesn't really do the kit justice, but the attention to detail on this kit is outstanding. (Colors, arm and leg warmers of differing colors blending into the jersey and shorts, print design, chevrons, sublimated print on the back of the vest that makes the print look 3-D when riding behind Ryan...)
Ryan did an outstanding job of modeling the kit and upholding his reputation of being a cycling fashionisto. (I did note he wasn't wearing his extra-cool pearl-finish cycling shoes yesterday.) Anyway, people did want to know who designed the kit. Ryan?