I've been working with my coach, Tim from QT2 Systems since mid-March. After about six weeks of solid base training, my training has really ratcheted up. The last four weeks have been tough. I raced the Florida 70.3 and trained right through St. Anthony's triathlon and have been building since then.
This has been one of my most solid training blocks in, let's see…years. The training has been different than what I've done in the past. Each of my workouts has a purpose and a specified intensity. The hard days are hard, which makes it essential to go easy on the easy days. Long days (we're talking 6-8 hours of training), used to be something I did by accident or if I jumped into a friend's Ironman training day. Now they are woven into my week with all the other workouts. I can sense that they are becoming the norm and less of something that takes me four days to recover from.
I had one of those long days - a 5 hour ride with a 50 minute transition run - scheduled for this past Sunday, Mother's Day. Since I had to "work" on a holiday, I decided to make it fun and test out a new bike route. And to make it even more of a special occasion, SJ agreed to meet me at the end of the ride for a pancake lunch.
New Paltz to Phonecia via Sugar Loaf and Frost Valley
distance: 82 miles
time: 5 hours, average speed 17.4
This is a ride I poached from SJ's Ironman NY training log. I decided to add the Sugar Loaf climb to make sure I got to my 5 hour goal, forgetting how hard of a climb it is. When I got home I looked up the grade and elevation and discovered that it's the second longest/steepest climb in the Hudson Valley south of Albany. And, I got a little lost around at the top of the mountain and ended up doing part of it twice. I'd still do it again though.
After descending from the Sugar Loaf climb, the route starts gradually climbing again on Frost Valley Road. After the steep grade on Sugar Loaf, I actually didn't even realize I was climbing and was pretty shocked when I was rewarded with a huge downhill down to Route 28. Frost Valley is a road that cuts right through the Catskills. It is beautiful and remote. Thanks to Irene and a rough winter, the road surface isn't great, but you can still do a lot of it in aerobars. There were very few cars and the ones that did pass cheered at me or gave me thumbs ups. I guess they were surprised to see a bike rider so far from anything.
I did this ride solo; just me, myself and my heart rate monitor. I never got bored because it was so beautiful and because I was so focused.
And thanks to my ISM saddle and a bike that fits perfectly (Cervelo S5), i was never uncomfortable. I followed my QT2 nutrition plan and finished the ride feeling strong. When I rolled up to our trailhead meeting spot just outside of the town of Phonecia, SJ and Amy were there waving me in. They had been waiting awhile so we all decided to postpone my run and go right to Sweet Sue's for lunch.
Finding a natural spring for water bottle refilling on Sugar Loaf Road, where a ramp forager was cleaning his haul of this coveted wild veggie.
Right in the middle of Frost Valley Road there's an old mansion that's now part of a YMCA camp. It is in good condition, but is big and stone and has a bell tower. It spooked me because it was so out of place and so far from anything. And because big stone buildings with bell towers are spooky.
Yuck Factor (stop reading if you like frogs)
Near the Rondout Reservoir, I thought I was riding over a bunch of smashed apples, but looked down to find that the road was covered with hundreds of smashed frogs.
Maybe when I see a 6 hour ride on my schedule, I'll do the round trip loop back to New Paltz - like SJ did when we has training for the Ironman.