The sky is blue, the pines are green, the snow is still here. To those inexperienced with life in Michiganâ€™s Upper Peninsula, one might think it is still winter. Look closer, and one will see that it is over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the snow is sliding off the roof.
A good sign of the spring thaw, icicles forming as the snow melts off of the roof.
Many of us have already started riding. All we need is a cleared off road and sunny sky to motivate us. With spring in the air, many of us are thinking about the dreaded â€œTâ€ word – training. Ok, this early in the year, most of us are enthusiastic about the â€œTâ€ word, and weâ€™re very much looking forward to it.
This is the time of the year when we map out our goals and decide how we are going to meet them. I had already verbalized my goals for 2008 by the end of last yearâ€™s cyclocross season. I started out with the bigger goals, then I moved onto the little goals that will help me get there.
My Cycling Goals For 2008
â€¢ Podium finishes for all my races in my age group; first place age group finishes for the Keweenaw Chain Drive, Great Deer Chase, and Fat Tire Festival
â€¢ Lose fifteen pounds
â€¢ Become a stronger climber
â€¢ Use the bicycle as my primary mode of transportation
â€¢ Include cross-training to balance it all out
I had podium finishes for all of my races last year except for Ore to Shore, when I took seventh. It is difficult to improve when your goals are the same as your results from the previous year, so instead of stating â€œI want a podium finish for all of my races,â€ I raised the bar to achieve first place in all the races I previously placed in. Realistically, I may not achieve the second part of this goal this year, so itâ€™s a great goal to carry over to next year. I am certainly off to a good start.
Last year, my goal was to lose twenty pounds, and I did it! I gained five back after about a week, and I gained ten more while on antibiotics this winter. Iâ€™ve lost the antibiotic weight already, so Iâ€™m still down fifteen pounds. In a nutshell, I am at my 2007 cycling weight.
My goal for 2008 is to lose an additional fifteen pounds. My goal was originally twenty pounds, but I feel fifteen is a much more realistic weight loss goal. I currently weigh 170 pounds, and my body loves this weight. Fifteen pounds would bring me down to 155, a weight I havenâ€™t been for over ten years.
Losing this excess weight will do a lot for my cycling. This has been my greatest motivator. Iâ€™ve found that putting in at least eight hours a week on the bike helps me to easily achieve weight loss.
Become a Stronger Climber
Most places are fairly flat with some hills thrown in. The Keweenaw is the opposite: many hills with a few flats here and there. It is difficult to find a flat section of road to train on. For this reason, most of the cyclists in my area are very good. Even the mediocre cyclists are good by other peopleâ€™s standards. We get a hill workout every time we ride. How we use those hills is what separates us.
This year, I plan to tackle the most difficult hills with enthusiasm and gratitude.
With rising gas prices and my goals of become a better, stronger rider, it makes perfectly good sense to ride my bike to work (6 miles) and school (11 miles). School will automatically give me four twenty-two mile road rides per week. With careful planning, I may lengthen that commute a couple times a week.
Even though there is still snow on the ground, the weather is warmer and some have already begun riding to work and school.
Balance My Training Regimen
Cycling alone can help you achieve a muscle imbalance thus setting you up for injury. This winter, I began incorporating a regular yoga routine along with weight training into my week. The yoga promotes muscle balance by maintaining flexibility while minimizing the possibility of pain and injury. I began an upper body weight training program to strengthen the muscles that tighten the most while cycling. I figure that a stronger upper body would minimize the muscle-tightening that is throwing my body out of alignment, because the added strength would minimize the stress (this is my own theory). It also makes climbing easier.
Thatâ€™s a lot!
It may seem like I have a lot of goals for 2008. However, I really only have one pinnacle goal, while the remaining goals serve as the plan for achieving that goal. It is much easier to achieve the bigger goal in little steps. The best part? Iâ€™m making positive lifestyle changes that will benefit me not only physically, but financially as well.