It’s always thrilling when a gift we have secretly wished for magically appears under the tree or on a birthday, bestowed by a thoughtful friend. Even more rare and dear is the gift a friend thought to give you before you were aware you wanted it.
Such is the case with my new “The Cyclist’s Training Diary” by Velopress (with an introduction by Joe Friel).
My heart leapt with glee as I peeled back the paper to see cycling helmets in the picture on the back cover. It was a BIKE GIFT! I gasped when I turned it over. A training diary! I didn’t recognize the kit but that even looked like my fave, Robbie McEwen on the cover (now know it’s Tim Johnson).
You see, what is so remarkable is that the friends who gave it aren’t into cycling. I’m usually the only one in our circle who talks about it. You know the feeling, you’re rattling on about Disco and Astana vs. Chipotle while eyes glaze over and you think ‘oh jeez, shut up already, no one cares but you…’ But no, this meant that they had been listening, listening to how important it was to me. Those are real friends.
When I set big goals I normally keep them to myself and prepare quietly until I’m reasonably certain I can make them happen – then I tell everybody. But this fall I decided that I would race in 2008. This goal scared me. I’ve participated in endurance events where the only challenge was to raise money and finish alive. I’ve never tried to compete and be fast. This would be a BIG stretch. So as a counter measure I started telling everybody because I knew it would prevent me from backing out.
I was so excited as I began leafing through the crisp pages. Then I started seeing things that confused me. It spoke of setting goals for hours per week, measuring distance in kilometers and logging my maximum heart rate… I always set training goals in miles and distance – 50 miles on the flat on Monday, hills on Tuesday, 60 flat on Wednesday…If my heart was beating and I didn’t feel like I was gonna throw up or die, I was doing great!
I closed it sharply, put it down literally on the floor and circled it warily as if it were a porcupine with PMS. I was suddenly struck by how different a world I was about to enter into. Just who in the hell did I think I was? How presumptuous of me! How NAIVE! I took a few deep breaths and picked up the book again, sat down. It says: ‘500-700 annual hours of training for Masters 35+…’ Yeah, OK, not so bad, I’ve done that in a year before. Another deep breath. I guess this is real.
I started making friends with it and found it has spaces for every possible notation. There are grids in the back if you want to graph your progress and charts to note how you’ve modified your bike as needed. It doesn’t just say ‘log your heart rate’ it tells you how and what you should be looking for. In fact it’s not just a logbook it’s full of tips that although not the same as a live coach take a lot of the mystery out of developing a comprehensive training program for yourself. Most importantly it introduced a notion that hadn’t occurred to me before: tracking my progress in detail after the ride, as opposed to just making a check mark on a list that, ‘Yeah I did my fifty miles and I feel pretty good. Time for a trough of lasagna!’
I have a feeling I’m going to grow to love this little diary. And what’s really awesome is that every time I look at it I see my friends who cared so much about me and my goals that they searched for something that would help me achieve them. Now when I ride I roll with an invisible posse of friends who believe in me and are already proud of me just for getting out there. COOL!
For those friends I represent spandex and toeclip cycling. I won’t let them down.