Dear TR forum,
this post is to share some reflections on a successful and challenging 2022 season. Those who make it through it will hopefully find value - be it for entertainment, motivation or how to combine (family) life and training.
From the onset, I knew 2022 would be different than any other year since I started cycling more competitively in 2018. I was starting a new job in January, expecting my first child in March and hoping my wife would be able to start residency in the city we already live in, so I could avoid moving. Besides these major life events, I was aiming to place in the top 10 of one of the most competitive hill climbs in North America - the Mount Washington Hill Climb. With all these (competing) priorities one could say I was asking for it.
The year was off to a great start. I liked (and continue to like) the new job and my daughter was born healthily. End of February my daughter was born and priorities shifted from cycling to family life. I quickly noticed that my previous training structure of six days of riding, two strength workouts and a couple of 10 min yoga sessions per week were not compatible with being the dad I wanted to be. I reduced the gym sessions to once per week and skipped the recovery / base rides more often than not. The trainer rides mostly started at 5.45 am, so I would be finished by the time my wife and daugther were up. Once it started warming up in April I continued to do most of my riding on the traininer, as it was a lot more time efficient.
Thanks to AI FTP detection and adaptive training, I was on the way to hitting my second goal: 320 watts at 64kg for 1 hour. While on parental leave in July, I was also able to get in a few 2 hour sessions during the week while my daugther was asleep which was invaluable. The most important factor in the slow but steady progression was consistency (nothing new to TR podcast listeners).
End of July / beginning of August, with only three weeks before the hill climb, I knew the consistency was going to take a hit. I was going to Europe to a wedding where I was the best man. Needless to say, a bachelor weekend (which included some riding, but also too much food and a bit of alcohol) as well as the wedding were not the best preparation. This was a conscious decision as my best friend’s wedding took priority over the absolute best performance at a bike race. It was totally worth it!
I came back with only a week to go to the hillclimb. The taper sessions felt good and the bike was ready. Only my weight was not were I was hoping it to be. I had aimed for 64kg (secretly hoping for 63kg), but was at 65kg. Besides that, the race preparation went as planned. The day before the race the bike was ready (32 tooth cassette, rear brake and bottle cages removed, chain waxed), the rental car was packed and all family members were aboard. On the morning of the hillclimb, I possibly made one of the most embarassing and dumbest decisions of my life. In order to save space with all the baby stuff in the car, I packed a smaller, what I then thought was, chamois creme (I had won it at a local cat 5 criterium). Saving the weight and space was absolutely unneccessary and the chamois creme was also unncessary for a one hour ride. Putting on the chamois creme was simply part of my race prep. On the morning of the hillclimb, after rubbing in the previously untested chamois creme (completely dumb), I noticed a sudden burning. It turned out the chamois creme was not what I thought it was. It was a message creme containing: capsaicin (chillie). These were possibly some of the most painful 5 mins of my life. I feel safe to say that this was more painful than the following hill climb.
After getting most of the supposed chamois creme removed and with my private parts still completely numb we made it to the race venue - Mt Washington. What a beautiful mountain - I was stocked. I got to chat with Phil Gaimon and some local legends, e.g. Erik Levinson and John Jantz. The race went perfectly: I let the top contestants ride ahead and quickly lost sight of them. I stuck to my plan of riding my own pace. For the first 30 mins power was above target at 322 watts. The second half I started to lose power but was able to keep it close enough to target at 318 watts. In the end, I clocked in at 59:49. Hitting both my targets:
- I averaged 319 watts for close to one hour.
- I placed in the top 10 the Mount Washington Hillclimb. I was breathless (literally) as I hugged my wife and daughter. I could have not wished for more.
Somehere along 2022, I decided to sign up for Green Mountain Stage Race again where I was hoping to upgrade to cat 3. I placed top 3 on GC and upgraded to cat 3.
Until fall, 2022 had gone perfectly. Despite all the changes, my race results exceeded my expectations.
Then on an rainy weekday in October while bringing my daugther to day care before hitting the gym the season took an unexpected turn. Carrying my daugther I missed the last step of the staircase and fell. Luckily, I was able to turn to avoid injuring my daugther but I immediately knew something was wrong. After limping to daycare and finishing up work before noon I went to the hospital. X-rays confirmed my biggest fear. I had broken my foot in two places. The good news was that I did not require surgery but I was told I was going to be non-weight bearing for at least six weeks.
Since then, training and being healthy has been a challenge. While my foot recovered well, I feel like I lost all conditioning. I knew I had to keep my appetite under control, but did not quite manage. Despite knowing what the right thing to do was, I did not quite manage to stick to plan. Since October, I have lost muscle mass and gained fat. Today I clocked in at 66kg.
After breaking my foot and then being sick with RSV (thanks to daycare) today was my first one hour ride on the trainer. It felt great. This week I managed to ride every day, with the other rides all being 30 mins.
It is crazy how quickly your goals and priorities change. Riding 320 watts for one hours seems unfathomable at the moment. My near-term goal is to get back into a consistent training regimen. At first riding 4 days a week (no matter how long) and go to the gym twice. Then I hope to add intensity and start extending rides. Getting my eating under control is a second priority I will work on. The first step is to weight myself every day (which I accomplished this week). The next step will be to cut suggary snacks and keep a food journal. Then hopefully my weight will also come back down. I know this will be a slow and gradual process. The most important factor will be consistency (am I repeating myself?) and to not be too hard on myself when things slip.
Maybe some of my learnings from 2022 will also help you:
- Priorities may quickly shift from riding to getting healthy or being a good partner or parent
- If you want to achieve your goals you need to have your partner on board
- Chose two: be successful at work, be a good parent and partner, get the most of your athletic potential
- Avoid getting injured, sick or whatever it may be that keeps you from moving entirely
- Consistency is key