I’ve mentioned before that recovery is not only important, but something many athletic adventurers seem quite bad at. I only have a layman’s grasp of how connective tissue and muscles interact, but my sense is that strength in the former often caps the extent to which the latter can be used. Last week, I was increasingly concerned that the run of activity starting with the Craters trip had left me behind the recovery curve, with little time remaining. My calves and ITBs were creaky and tense and in need of regeneration. I pointedly dialed back the weekend, only riding hard for around 2 hours that Sunday, and only rode to work all week (with an extra opener ride on Thursday evening to make sure my legs hadn’t fallen too deeply asleep). The strategy worked, though I put off the substantial soreness in my legs today in no small part to imperfect recovery.
The next question is then how much recovery I’ll need in the next ten days, and when can I start ramping things back up again. The first two weekends in May will be crucial, with the Bob Open on the 26th and a taper weekend before that. Another ~10 day recovery period leaves three weekends in the middle of June before a taper for the Classic in early July. This sort of simplicity in athletic progression can be both reassuring and frightening; I’m nowhere near acceptable Classic shape, but I know that six well-placed weekends and enough rest is all I need to get there. So long as I can make those trips count.
Nutrition is a big part of the recovery that will let that happen, but the mental game will be even more important in the next two months. The forthcoming trips will be really stressful, and without sufficient mental recovery maximal physical effort, the cornerstone of this whole process, will not be possible. For me, having a happy and satisfying leisure and work life outside of training is critical, and something which needs to be planned along with everything else. The other side of the mental game is that I’m immensely excited to get out and do these training trips, which will be destination events in their own right. One huge benefit of living where we do.
All that said it’s worth mentioning a few nuts and bolts from the race this weekend, for the record. I ate 8 gels, 3 snickers (1 reg and 2 peanut butter, which are more moist and thus faster to chew), some jerky, and a redbull. I had a bit of Heed in the 3 liters I started with, but drank straight water for the second half. A few more gels would have been welcome late, but overall this got the job done.
I carried water, spare food, clothing, and mandatory gear in the Black Diamond Bbee (left), which has fast become my favorite little pack of all time because it fits me so well. The effect of pack width and the subtle shaping of the pack bag and shoulder straps isn’t given enough voice, no doubt because much of it is highly individual. A lot of it isn’t, and having a pack that sits between the major upper back muscles and isn’t cut along a straight line will predispose it to carry well, across load sizes and weights. In addition to that pack I used a brand new Osprey Grab Bag as a fanny pack, which held map, food, and our race passport. I spun it around towards the back on the go, and around front when I needed stuff. In the past I use less convenient and secure ways of holding the map and passport, nerve wracking when loosing the later would earn a DNF. I’m looking forward to seeing how grabbie functions when attached to a pack. My hope is to use this as a substitute for hipbelt and side pockets, which can also be used for side hikes, fishing, and worn while packrafting just in case a swim separates me from the boat and the pack tied to it. The combo of the two packs made for a fast, dialed race setup I’d use again unchanged.
Race day started coolish (40s F) and drizzling. I wore Patagonia Speedwork tights, synthetic boxer briefs, an Icebreaker 150 LS crew, a Pertex Equilibrium vest, Rab Cirrus hoody, Specialized cyling gloves, and a buff. The tights were great, and we didn’t have enough continuous bike miles to make cycling shorts necessary. The upper body system was good the first part of the day, I was always damp but never cold. I used the wool, contrary to my usual habit, when recent home tests revealed that it outperformed the entire Capilene range in terms of water absorption as a percentage of dry weight. Later in the race I was reminded why I don’t like pure wool, when the warmer temps and slow drying shirt gave me some nipple chafe. Next time I’d ditch the wool and keep everything else the same. It’s worth noting that the Cirrus just nails pocket placement; they’re both big and totally useable with a waist strap, a concept many makers find hard to grasp.
Lastly, Bill and I both rode geared hardtail 29ers and agreed they were perfect (both having used fullys last year).