For Indy Bike Rider, spring training has begun with tips from Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100
Most aggressive bike riders, as I used to think of myself, ease up during winter months, which means that when daffodils and red bud trees are blooming it’s time to begin spring training for the season’s first big event. For twenty years my season opener was TOSRV—the Tour of the Scioto River Valley—210 miles in two days, from Columbus, Ohio, to Portsmouth, on Mother’s Day weekend.
In more recent years, while I lived in the Pacific Northwest, my early spring training began in February when I visited my bicycling son in Florida and prepared for a 500-mile week in southern Arizona riding with PAC Tour, one of the nation’s elite cycling organizations.
Living on the edge of Portland helped me keep in shape because on mild winter days, I could take a three-hour spin through downtown to Portland State University, up Montgomery Drive to Skyline Boulevard for several miles of short uphill sprints, and then drop back down to the St. Johns’ Bridge for a few more flatland miles back home.
Now that I live in Indiana again, where the world is flat and winter is real (although gentler than it used to be), and there is no big event to pull me forward, getting in shape for summer requires a deliberate plan for spring training. Furthermore, I keep getting older and my orthopedics are increasingly troublesome. Despite the counsel of two sports medicine doctors and the guidance of physical therapists, I ride slower and hurt more than I used to. Here’s where Roy Wallack and Bill Katovsky’s counsel in Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100 is helping me now that plants and trees are blooming again in central Indiana. Two of their ideas are shaping this season’s program.
Goals: In chapter one, they profile three cyclists (ages 45, 60, and 60) “who are getting stronger and younger every day” because they have established goals for their cycling. “Goals give you a reason to get on the bike. They give your training purpose, urgency, and excitement.” All of this I really need!
Periodization: Periodization, they write, “is a series of methodical, progressive physical challenges, peppered with variety and punctuated with rest.” Each period can last from four weeks to several months. Looking forward, I see two periods for this season.
The first is early May, about six weeks from now. In keeping with my TOSRV tradition (if this were an ordinary year), the logical goal would be a two-day ride out and back to an interesting place that is far enough away to challenge but close enough to be within my capabilities. One of Indiana’s state parks would be my first choice. Because of the corona virus, however, staying in public accommodations makes little sense. I’ll probably settle for two 50-mile loops from by bachelor pad—my Zionsville triangle for one and another still to be decided.
My second goal is for something more challenging near my 89th birthday on Halloween. One possibility is to do my traditional birthday ride—a mile for each year of my life—but as I grow older and diminish in strength these birthday rides are ever harder to do. An alternative is to ride a second, but longer, two-day out-and-back—maybe Indianapolis to Richmond, seventy miles distant, near the Ohio line. I have not made this trip since returning in Indiana and there are interesting byways and historic sites to visit along the way. By then, we can ardently pray, the pandemic will be over.
With these reflections in mind, I began my spring training on March 23, an overcast day with a temperature in the low forties, and only the slightest whisper of a breeze. Following my guidebook’s advice, I chose a route that I’ve done only a couple of times in the past rather than one of my regular rides. A short distance from my downtown apartment, I ventured forth onto Massachusetts Avenue—Mass Ave—a diagonal that parallels train tracks running toward the northeast and continuing far beyond the city’s outermost boundary. At Thirtieth Street, I cut across to Arlington Avenue, a north-south arterial, and then turned back toward the city on Pleasant Run Parkway, cycling on familiar streets the rest of the way home.
It was not a very long ride, even for me right now—only 14.27 miles, and slow, averaging 12.1 miles per hour—but it’s my first ride for this year’s spring training. Two more rides this week will complete the 50+ miles per week that are on my training docket from now until income tax day.
During these troubling times, when safety calls for keeping one’s distance, I had only one moment of social interaction. On Pleasant Run Parkway, as I cycled about 15 mph, a youngish couple were walking hand-in-hand along the sidewalk about twenty feet away. “Nice Waterford,” he called out, referring to my twenty-year-old touring bike. “Thank you!” I yelled back, hoping that he could hear even though we rapidly were moving out of earshot. For Indy Bike Rider, spring training has begun.