2018.1: My “Flexible” Goals

Welcome to my other office.

A friend of mine from a former job has a life philosophy that I’ve picked up: “Always have a ticket.” It’s an elegant little inner guide; all you have to do is always have a concrete date — a scheduled happening — that you’re looking forward to or working towards. 

For him, a music lover, that usually means a ticket to a concert in a cool location a few months out. For me, it’s a significant goal event to train for. 

Those who know me intimately would be a little perplexed at this, as I’m not a goal setter in the typical sense of the phrase. 

High school, for example, saw me wearing the role of “artist” on my sleeve; and to this day, I’m far more the bohemian painter type than the corporate communicator my day job demands. Schedules just don’t sit well with me, I’m not naturally a morning person, and I can’t stand being told to be at such-and-such place by such-and-such time in order to complete a project. 

Now, If you’re a committed competitive cyclist and you’re reading this you would be well within your rights to ask, “Why the heck did you take up cycling?”

Truly, doing well in cycling demands a healthy acceptance of routine, careful planning, and devotion to suffering in order to meet detailed points along a predetermined journey. 

Why do we do this? Not only that, but why do we do it with a certain kind of hungry obsessiveness? 

Because, in the end, what we achieve is that which we completely own, ourselves. Unlike our jobs, there’s no one else to blame for the workouts we don’t complete or the races wherein we find ourselves dropped like dogs.

It’s totally selfish. We own it all. 

And that’s liberating, really; it sets us completely free to go after our prizes like the energetic opposites of dropped dogs: rabid wolves. 

Follow along with me through 2018 and I’ll let you know a little bit of everything about my training and competing experiences this year, from nutrition to trip planning to the kinds of workouts I’m doing. I’m always open to questions, comments, and suggestions from my fellow riders of every level. Just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer quickly. 

The rabbits I’m chasing (so far)

Southwest Ohio Time Trial Series — Winter / early Spring
Dayton, OH

For the last couple of years, coach Paul Rouse and his Southwest Ohio Cycling Center have sponsored a series of indoor time trials. I’ve never participated, but I understand the atmosphere can get pretty frisky. As of mid-November 2017, he’s not posted any dates for this season, but once he does, I’m planning on using these once a month events as fitness markers for my otherwise scheduled training. Why? Because you always go harder in competition than you do during your own sweat-fests on your winter trainer. 

Yours truly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, training for the Haute Route Compact Dolomites 2015

2018 Assault on Mt. Mitchell — May
Spartanburg, SC

I used Mt. Mitchell as a training ground for my 2015 Haute Route Compact Dolomites experience. For 2018, the Assault on Mt. Mitchell event will be my “big ticket” event (unless something really awesome for autumn is determined.) The thing about my personal use of Mt. Michell for training was it was all focused on hill climbing endurance. The Assault, however, has 70+ miles of rolling riding prior to the 25+ miles of climbing. Definitely a challenging ride in that it will stress my time trialing and my climbing. It’s not like the 12 – 16 kilometer climbs in the Pyrenees I experienced in 2017, averaging a robust 7 or 8% each mountain, but the final 44 kilometers or so of Mt. Mitchell at an average of 4% is just a long, steady drip of endurance agony. 

Coach Peter Wimberg of Cincinnati's Queen City Wheels turning in another sub-23-minute TT at Cleves

Cleves Time Trial Series — May through September
Cleves, OH

Ah, Cleves; the little town southwest of Cincinnati that hosts the “Cheers” of weekly time trials. Every Tuesday evening from May through September, you can come test your mettle on an undulating course with very little traffic and a rider 30 seconds ahead and behind. My PR: 24: 28. My goal that year was 24:30, and I hit it early in the season. Now, I’m gunning for 23:59. 

Part of the allure of time trialling is that the equipment is just so darned cool.

Queen City Wheels 40k Time Trial Series — Summer

Each year, the same club that sponsors Cleves also conducts four 40k+TTs, one a month, usually starting in April. I was surprised to have pulled out wins in a few of them last year. It was winning those TTs that made me realize I was best suited for longer TTs, and what made me think I might have a chance at a good placing in the Assault on Mt. Mitchell event. This year, we’ll toe the line at the 40k series again. 

TBD — Autumn

As for the end of the year, it’s hard to imagine anything as huge as a week of Pyrenean climbs. But who knows I have eyed climbing Mt. Evans in Utah, and I’ve yet to ride roads like Montana’s Road to the Sun. And I was recently invited to RAGBRAI (although that’s June.) Stay tuned. Every season needs a cherry. 

Sam Lowe

I've been a road cyclist with a penchant for speed ever since my first-ever paycheck holiday. I blew the whole wad on a turquoise Schwinn Tempo with then-new Shimano 105 indexed shifting way back in 1985. I've been a voracious consumer of racing-oriented information ever since. Training, nutrition, bike fit, racing techniques, and all manner of "kit." Between nearly 30 years of riding, racing, and reading about racing, I'm ready to help you get ready to race.

  • legestrom

    Spartanburg is SC

    • Oh, geez… Thank you for that correction. I’ll update my text.

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