My Battle with the Summer Slump.

 This is a picture of my own performance management chart from 2014.   Every winter I'd start my season with a strong steady build in fitness and I be feeling great and riding fast during the Spring Racing Season.  Generally my overall training load would plateau in the spring due to the reduced volume that accompanies racing, but I'd also often see new peak power numbers.    Then, the weather would get hot, my kids would be out of school, I'd have a few vacation weeks planned and my riding would suffer.   I'd  hit a lot of group rides but focused interval work would go out the window and my numbers and racing results would suffer.    In 2015 I was training for the Green Mountain Stage Race in September and I simply couldn't afford my usual dramatic drop in fitness in July and August.  To fight the slump,  My coach and I decided to put in  a 2 week VO2 max intensive training block. Actually, if i'm being honest it was really Marianne Holt's decision (thanks coach) and  I did everything I could to wiggle out of it.   We gave in to the fact that I would be riding reduced hours in the summer so we kept rides short but raised the intensity of every ride.  For 14 days straight I didn't ride longer than 75 mins, but each ride included  15 - 20  mins of killer intervals.  Unwilling to do it solo I browbeat some teammates and clients into joining me and for two weeks straight we basically tried to kill each other.   It was rough,  and at times depressing as my legs were so tired I was limping though intervals.  But we tested 5 min power before and after and EVERYONE saw an increase of at least 3% (some as much at 8%).  Even better I had top 5 results in three of the 4 races I did prior to Green Mountain and  I was top 10  there going into the final day.     Ever since 2015 I've kept playing with my personal summer slump buster program and it's now become a full 6 week training cycle that I use every July to put some new snap in my legs.  This year, I'll be starting it on June 25th, the day after BSG 100, and I'm hoping it'll keep me from slumping as I'm planning on doing Pisgah Monster Cross in September!  I'd also rather not do it alone so I"m making it available to all in the Training Peaks Store.    All of us at Betera Challenge you to join us in this 6 week 35 ride adventure.  I'll be coaching some of the sessions as Uptown Cycles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and riding with members of the RCC Team at Huntersville Business Park for workouts in the evenings.    Misery love company, so I really hope to see you out there!  You can find the  Workouts in Training Peaks  Here, or if you'd like to join a session or two in the studio at Uptown you can  Book Your Trainer  Here.   Coach Sarah

This is a picture of my own performance management chart from 2014.   Every winter I'd start my season with a strong steady build in fitness and I be feeling great and riding fast during the Spring Racing Season.  Generally my overall training load would plateau in the spring due to the reduced volume that accompanies racing, but I'd also often see new peak power numbers.  

Then, the weather would get hot, my kids would be out of school, I'd have a few vacation weeks planned and my riding would suffer.   I'd  hit a lot of group rides but focused interval work would go out the window and my numbers and racing results would suffer.  

In 2015 I was training for the Green Mountain Stage Race in September and I simply couldn't afford my usual dramatic drop in fitness in July and August.  To fight the slump,  My coach and I decided to put in  a 2 week VO2 max intensive training block. Actually, if i'm being honest it was really Marianne Holt's decision (thanks coach) and  I did everything I could to wiggle out of it.   We gave in to the fact that I would be riding reduced hours in the summer so we kept rides short but raised the intensity of every ride.  For 14 days straight I didn't ride longer than 75 mins, but each ride included  15 - 20  mins of killer intervals.  Unwilling to do it solo I browbeat some teammates and clients into joining me and for two weeks straight we basically tried to kill each other.   It was rough,  and at times depressing as my legs were so tired I was limping though intervals.  But we tested 5 min power before and after and EVERYONE saw an increase of at least 3% (some as much at 8%).  Even better I had top 5 results in three of the 4 races I did prior to Green Mountain and  I was top 10  there going into the final day.   

Ever since 2015 I've kept playing with my personal summer slump buster program and it's now become a full 6 week training cycle that I use every July to put some new snap in my legs.  This year, I'll be starting it on June 25th, the day after BSG 100, and I'm hoping it'll keep me from slumping as I'm planning on doing Pisgah Monster Cross in September!  I'd also rather not do it alone so I"m making it available to all in the Training Peaks Store.  

All of us at Betera Challenge you to join us in this 6 week 35 ride adventure.  I'll be coaching some of the sessions as Uptown Cycles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and riding with members of the RCC Team at Huntersville Business Park for workouts in the evenings.  

Misery love company, so I really hope to see you out there!  You can find the Workouts in Training Peaks Here, or if you'd like to join a session or two in the studio at Uptown you can Book Your Trainer Here. 

Coach Sarah

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Beech Mountain Metric Musings

A few thoughts on the Beech Mt. Metric. This is a hard ride and it is essential that you know your limitations and understand the demands of the course before you show up. 

The Climbs:

  • Old Beech Mt. Rd (begins about mile 4).  This is a steady straightforward climb figure 25 - 35 mins for most people.  It’s about 5 miles long with a false top approximately 1.5 mile from the top.  The average grade is around 4% and there are no really steep sections.   

  • After your first descent you’ll make a hard right on 321 and immediately start going uphill again.  You climb about halfway up this hill (maybe 3 mins) and then there’s a left hand turn down over a bridge and a short hard popper of a climb - you go from descending to a 7% 6 min effort and it’s very easy to get yourself in trouble and there are always a lot of dropped chains here from poor shifting decisions.  The hardest part of this climb is that it’s steepest at the bottom and it keeps going beyond the turn at the top.  So if you overspend yourself in the first 200m you’ll be going backwards after you make the turn at the stop sign. 

  • You then spend about 20 mins winding through the valley with a  few rollers but nothing crazy before hitting next climb. 

  • Mountaindale Road:  This is another steady little 3-4 mile climb much easier and shorter than Old Beech Mt. Having a group to work with would be nice here as you can find a nice steady rhythm and you shouldn’t run out of gears.  15 - 20 mins bottom to top. 

  • Stone Mt.  Road;  This is a nightmare of a 2 miler with an average grade around 10%. 10 - 15 mins and unless you’ve got a 32 and weigh nothing you’ll be standing for much of it.  The biggest mistake folks make here is hitting the bottom too hard.  Up until the second switchback -  ride as easy as the grade allows.  Just be patient and wait for it to get hard - you don’t want to be making it hard at the bottom. 

  • After Stone you loop back around through that same valley you already did riding past the turn on  Mountaindale and straight on to George’s Gap. 

  • George’s Gap:  Another steady 15-20 min consistent climb - it starts quite gradually and builds to about 6% grade in the final 2 miles.  I love this climb - it’s beautiful and just when you start to feel tired of it you’re at the top. 

  • You’ve got about 4 miles to go from the base of Georges Gap until you final big efforts.  Most of this is flat and fast except for Mast Gap which is a 1 mile long nightmare of a hill that is straight and steep and not super fun on tired legs.  Just suck it up and get over it. 

  • 194 form Vaile Crucis - A long steady 30 - 40  min climb (maybe more for some people)  with a false flat about 2/3 of the way up.  This one is hard with mixed grades and some sections over 8%.  It’s hard to find a steady rhythm here.  You’ll descend about 5-7 mins and then you’re there… 

  • Beech Mt - a super hard 3 mile climb again averaging almost 10% with some sections much steeper.  Again unless you are a tiny climber or running climbing gears you can expect to be standing for much of this climb.  

 

The Goals: These are the things you need to figure out before your ride. 

  • Your Gearing - the moment you hit Stone Mt. is not the time to decide if you want that 32.   If you are frequently out of gears riding at grades under 6% you should think about changing your gearing for this outing. 

  • Your ability to stand!  If you can riding standing for several minutes at a time now is a very good time to start practicing this! 

  • Your fueling - it’s hard to eat when climbing and descending - this course does offer a few short sections of flat terrain through the valley and you should make it a point to fuel during these times. 

  • Your pacing strategy - you need to figure out how slow you need to ride the front half so you can stay strong in the final two climbs.  Those are very big asks of anyone and there is real danger in overriding the front part of this course.  If you are worried about you ability to make the elevation demands you must purposefully ride super easy on all the climbs that allow you to do so.  Stone Mt. and Beech will force you to the max no matter what so save your big efforts those moments.  

  • Your brain - you need to be prepared for the mental low spots when the going gets hard. 

 

Suggestions:

  • The ride has a shorter route and it’s  very easy to cut off sections of the course without getting lost.  The first is to cut off Stone Mt. Rd by just staying straight on Mountaindale.  It will reconnect with the ride at Bethel Rd and you’ll effectively cut off about 8 miles  and the hardest climb prior to Beech Mt.   Doing this  will not be as short as doing the 43 mile route but will avoid the really steep pitches of the course prior to Beech itself. 

  • The second is to skip both  the Mountaindale and Stone Mountain climbs by riding straight past Mountaindale Rd and heading right to Georges  Gap.  You’ll end up skipping about 20 miles of the course and cutting off about 2000 feet of elevation.  

  • Park in Banner Elk rather than at the top of Beech Mt.  This will allow you to skip Beech altogether if you get there and are really wasted.  You won’t have to wait for a sag wagon and you’ll still have banked a great climbing day.    Please use the information below so you know where to park in Banner  Elk so as not to annoy the town. 

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