Our goal this season was to do a one-day STP faster than 20 mph average. We figured that was possible since we’d been around 19 last year. But we also decided to get some help in making that goal a reality. We hired a coach.
Thomas Chappel is a bright, fun, intelligent guy who is now a Joe Friel-approved trainer. We chose to work with him because he seemed to know his stuff and had a good sense of humor.
He set up a program for us which included more rest days than we were used to taking each week (2). The overall schedule was set up so that we trained hard for 2-3 weeks, then rested a week, then trained hard again. It is called periodization. He gave us weight workouts as well as cycling routines. He rode with us while we were in Phoenix in the spring. He gave us pointers about pedaling motion and drills to improve our technique.
It was a lot of information. For the most part, we did well on the stationary bike. When we got on the road, we continued in our old patterns of Spencer working too hard while Sheila barely got out of zone 2. We were pretty frustrated having to watch our heart rate monitors all the time. By May we were ready to quit the program.
A long talk with Thomas changed that. We lightened up our expectations on outdoor rides. We allowed ourselves to start enjoying the riding again. That was more important than meeting training goals. Not surprisingly, when we were having more fun, we rode better.
Part of our training this year was aimed at putting together a good paceline group to ride the STP with. We had Dave and Kelly (shown right) and Jay (our tailgunner on a single, above) from last year, but wanted a couple more teams to make a strong line. We gained Monte and his son Christian from a note we sent to Portland riders. We only were able to train with them on the Ride Around Clark County in May and the NW Tandem Rally in July. Dennis and Louise Fugier said they’d like to try riding with us. We included them in a couple of training rides. A couple named Bonnie and Vince said they wanted to ride with us. They couldn’t make any of our scheduled practices. So the entire group never got together before the STP.
Dave and Kelly, Dennis and Louise, Jay and we went out for a 100 mile ride in late June. Dennis had been ill the week before so they dropped off early. Then, when we were at mile 80 (after a fast day of riding), we crashed. We were going around a corner in downtown Puyallup when our front tire folded. It had a slow leak we hadn’t noted and we were thrown to the ground.
Sheila suffered a lot of road rash on her right side (as seen a week into healing in the accompanying photo). We went to a neighbor’s house and got first aid, then continued home. It took almost 3 weeks for the wounds to completely heal. She used Tegaderm patches which allowed the wounds to breathe, but sealed them off from the environment. Her rash cleaned up quite nicely, except the little one on her ankle that the doctor only used a regular bandage on. New technology works!
A week later we rode at the NW Tandem Rally. We made the first day an easy day of riding. We actually spent more time socializing on the ride than riding the ride! But that is what rallies are all about. The second day we connected with Dave and Kelly and Monte and Naomi. We cruised through the day at a splendid clip. It was fast and fun. We felt ready for STP.
Looking back on our training, it almost feels like we didn’t train enough. It seems we did very little hill work. That showed when we got to Tour BC, which was all hills. It is so hard to know if you are getting maximum benefit from the drills, etc. We did two time trials during our training, but that wasn’t enough for us to gauge our improvement. I’m sure we’ll refine our techniques next year as we continue our quest for the perfect season.