I'm now in Chicago for work this week. Luckily there are better machines for training at the hotel I'm staying at, but do I ever miss riding on a real bike. Every time I visit Chicago I can never get over the fact that most of the Midwest doesn't have mountain ranges like the West/East Coast does. It's so flat. Too flat. I do like elevation gain and sweeping views of valleys and trees below. How do people ride out here? Well, that's easy considering there aren't any hills, but I guess I should ask how do people train out here?
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Pictured above is Mount St. Helens after it erupted in 1980, which was the year I was born. I've been mountain biking on the Plains of Abraham, the blast zone, which is an incredible ride. It's like riding on the surface of the moon with it's pumice single track and barren landscape. The outlying trees are all blackened from the blast and swept to the side as if mother nature took a comb and parted the south face of the mountainside. It's so epic and easily seen for miles.
Living in New York you have a fair share of mid-size mountains, but nothing like out west. I took it for granted, and completely miss it. The biggest peak I've ridden so far was an out and back ride to Bear Mountain north of New York City along the Hudson River, with a total round trip of 120 miles. The most I have ever ridden on road. With a name like Bear Mountain you'd expect it to be a 'bear' of a peak to conquer, but it really didn't take me long to get to the summit. The other peak I've done is Blue Mountain, just on the other side of the Hudson River, but that's all mountain biking. I know I've only seen a fraction of what New York has to offer, but I do miss living in a city with real mountains nearby.
As I settle further into my training schedule I often get concerned that I'm not attacking climbs like I ought to. It's hard when you don't have mountains as easily accessible as you would in the Northwest. I remember my rides in Portland and Seattle as a constant hill climb. I'd ride down a massive hill to school, then back up; back down the other side to work, and all the way back up. It was never easy, but I prided on my ability to get anywhere in Seattle in 15 minutes or less.
My trainer tells me the lack of climbing isn't an issue in the sense that regardless of hills or not, it's about training your body's energy system to accommodate stress levels for long periods of time, resulting in doing a lot of intense interval training. I'm about to launch into my second block of training which is supposed to be really demanding with the intervals becoming shorter and more intense, and it's only december! Regardless, I'm looking forward to the change of pace and hopefully some good results.
See you at the top.