Those of you that subscribe to my Twitter feed know I was riding in the mountains last week, with the primary purpose of climbing anything I could find at altitudes above 9,000 ft.
This year there are two events I will attend that require good cycling fitness in order for me to have fun. The first event is a week-long tour in France that includes climbing and Mont Ventoux. This bike tour is not at altitude, but it does require climbing strength.
The second event is the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race which requires altitude fitness between about 9,200 and 12,600 feet. I've written about using altitude training and acclimatizing to altitude pre-race in past Active newsletters.
While I normally use a week-long bike trip, organized by someone else or me, to boost my fitness; this year the week-long tour is not at altitude. That is both good and not-so-good.
The good news is by climbing the hills in France, I'll be able to build power that is hard to build in Colorado due to the altitude. (See the altitude training link above.) Is it possible for me to keep my altitude fitness AND get more power in my legs with a trip to France?
I think so.
In my past personal training experience, I know that taking a trip to higher altitude only once per week to workout improves my ability to ride and run at higher altitudes. I wanted a block of training at an altitude above 8,000 feet last week so I could use this week as a recovery week at low altitude while I am coaching at the Hy-Vee Des Moines ITU World Cup race.
When I return home to the front range of Colorado (5,000 feet of elevation), I will aim to get to higher altitudes once per week prior to leaving for France in late July, then for a couple of rides after returning home from France and before Leadville.
With that strategy in mind, I decided to base out of Frisco, Colorado. Frisco sits at a crisp 9,000 feet and offers a large variety of choices for both road and mountain bike riding.
Day 1 - With a late start, I tried to climb Mount Evans from Idaho Springs. Due to high winds, I only made it to Summit Lake. Ride time 2:37, 5,300 ft. of climbing. The snow on Evans is more than I've seen in past years. One of the big treats on this trip was seeing a mountain goat.
Day 2 - I met a friend, Dave Newman, in Breckenridge and we climbed Boreas Pass on mountain bikes and descended on really nice single-track from Baker's Tank toward Breckenridge. We also did some of the Breck city single-track. I rode back to Frisco. Ride time 3:16, 2,501 ft. of climbing.
Day 3 - Ride the Ten-Mile Canyon bike trail from Frisco to Vail and back. I always forget that the climb from Vail to the top of Vail Pass is harder than going from Frisco to Vail Pass. This is just a great ride, with a mix of bike trail and old highway. Ride time 3:10 with 3,910 feet of climbing.
Day 4 - Because I wanted to ride towards home and I had not ridden up the back side of Loveland Pass, I decided to ride from Frisco to Keystone (over Swan Mountain), then over Loveland Pass. Ride time was about 2:30 with 3,170 feet of climbing.
The four-day total was 11:33 ride time and 14,890 feet of climbing. Recall from an earlier blog post that for climbing events, I aim to complete a minimum of 50- to 80-percent of the event time (and elevation) in a block of training.
The parting shot is of longboarders getting ready to descent Loveland Pass. Seems that the same hills that attract cyclists, attract longboarders.