It is less than 5 weeks to the 2015 Pan Mass Challenge, leaving you closer to 4 weeks to train, since you should taper in the last week to have fresh legs. You want to train like you ride, so every week you should be adding another 10 miles to your longest ride. The problem is that this can leave you able to go the distance, at a slow pace.
Many of us train in he “death zone”, that is between 70-85% of our max heart rate, never really pushing to the top of our abilities. Next time you are on a group ride, sprinkle in a few challenges. An obvious one is the King of the Mountain, where you push yourself to climb hills, trying to pass your fellow riders. Last weekend on a Team Lick ride we went up West Bare Hill Road which hits 15% at its worse. I was about even with 2-3 other riders when the climb had a “dip”, dropping for a few feet to just 12%. It was enough for me to up my cadence and accelerate ahead. My heart rate spiked at its highest level this year and I felt like I was about to turn inside out. It was marvelous!
Another Team ride featured several town line sprints. What are these? Here in Mass, there are often large white signs to let you know when you cross from Our Fair City to Their Fair City. Any decent ride crosses between several towns. When you spot a sign, go for it! After you become familiar with a route, you will learn tricks, like not pulling a paceline in the last half mile, and taking off early for a downhill sprint. My favorite sprint is on Rt. 62 between Boylston and Berlin. The sign was at the top of a hill so there is a climb both ways. The sign is missing so you have to look for the change in the pavement – sort of a virtual finish line.
In the end, you won’t win any prizes, so keep it safe. The real reward is being able to push yourself a little harder and increasing your depth. So even at mile 99, you know you can give that 105% for a few seconds, and hold your head high.