Season/Training Recap: 2023

This was my first year where I consider myself really back at it. Taking cycling seriously again. Training regularly, cleaning up my diet, targeting at least a few events.

I knew back in January that I had to get my shit together and I was wanting a new bike, so I ordered a custom titanium Northern gravel bike and began the interminable wait. Compared to a lot of builders, the wait wasn’t as horrible as all that, but I was wildly impatient.

I registered for the Filthy 50 and for the 40th edition of the Tour de Tucson. They were going to be my primary foci for this year.

After a spring of riding outdoors on my old Salsa once-in-awhile, I finally reached my “shit I gotta get squared away” moment and ditched Zwift in favor of TrainerRoad after a conversation with Pete at the bike shop.

A quick FTP test made me realize I needed — desperately so — to get my ass moving. And so I buckled down. Rode the trainer at ridiculously early hours of the morning. Got out and did some hard road rides with friends.

Things were tracking great starting in about mid-July. FTP was jumping like crazy, I was noticeably stronger on the bike. I had a three-week break coming up in the middle of my build phase, a pre-planned European vacation that I’d scheduled long before anything else on this list, and that was looming in my mind. I was worried about losing all my form.

And Things Went to Shit…

The Sunday before departure, Di and I took the kids mountain biking at Lebanon Hills. She rode the beginner loop and I took the kids to the intermediate. I assured her that I’d be safe, that I’d ridden the trail a hundred times.

I still don’t know what caused the crash. I know that the walk out of the trail to meet Di, who brought the car around, I was definitely in shock the whole time. Cold, sweaty, shaking, nauseous. I went to the ER. Nothing they x-rayed was broken, but severe contusion on the left thigh, screwed-up shoulder, and I’d later discover the possibility of bruised/cracked ribs that I never got looked at. Lots of mystery bruises, though.

There was some good in this wreck, though — it happened just before we left for Europe. I was going to miss the time on the bike anyway.

In Europe, Di got a bad case of bronchitis. By the time we were boarding the plane in Rome to head back to home, I was showing symptoms.

Then the Filthy 50 went down right after that. My leg hurt, I couldn’t breathe worth a fuck, and I struggled to finish. Realistically, I should have DNF’ed the ride, but I opted to soldier on to the end of it.

Turning the Corner

By the time early November rolled around, my bronchitis had gotten worse. I was losing sleep, unable to finish training rides, and just generally miserable as fuck. I focused on the mods to the bike 1 and tried to ensure that I was fairly well-rested. About 10 days before the ride, I could finish my training rides, get through a night of sleep without waking myself coughing, and ride without back or leg pain.

I bought a bunch of recovery gear from Therabody, which I’ll review here at a later date, but the short of it is: yes, please. These things are awesome.

Tucson didn’t go as-planned. We managed to finish 75 of the 100 miles and at a decent pace. My back, again, was a limiter. I did feel strong, though, and on the opening climb (28 miles total), I felt really fucking strong. The drive home was brutal, and my recovery week rides start this week. My motivation is up because, even with the bullshit, I still did far better than I had anticipated.

Next Year

Training for next season starts next week. I was going to bump my Base 1 to mid-volume, but I think I’m going to stick with low volume and add 2-3 days per week of gym time. Base 2 will definitely bump the volume up considerably. During Base 1 and 2, I’ll also be spending a ton of time focusing on rehabbing the lower back.

Additionally, I’ve already started building my list of events for next year, and the Tour de Tucson and the Filthy 50 are both on it. I’m going to ensure that I’ve got a few century-length rides on the agenda that I bash out before I get to Arizona. Which, now that I think of it, was probably what Public Enemy was singing about. Or maybe not.

(Featured image created with/by Adobe Firefly Beta 2. Prompt: Paris-Roubaix race in the rain.)

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