I am currently "training" for another event, this time the Wiillamette Gran Fondo. My brother, Brian, and I have been planning on doing this event for some time. While this event is probably no more difficult, and is actually shorter than the weekly long ride, I try to be prepared the best that I can for each event I enter. I don't believe the plan for either of us is to go hard, rather to ride together to honor the passing of his wife, Sharon, last Christmas, and Brian's determination to keep "living" life. I know that this has not been easy, and returning to our house will be difficult. Yet I also know that he has trained for this ride, and continues to live his life with grace and enthusiasm. I salute that.
So training for me, now that I am older, and I hope a wiser cyclist is not what it was 10 years ago. I don't do formal intervals as I once did, in fact I often say that rather than training, I am practicing. When I was a golfer I always practiced. I never trained. It's funny how terms in different areas mean different things, when in fact they are the same. It seems the older I get, the more I just know how and when to go hard as a means of increasing my aerobic threshold, or the ability to go a little faster at a given heart rate. My main method for this is usually to climb a lot of hills. This is far less formal that doing prescribed intervals, more intuitive.
For several years I actually followed a training plan, day by day for a full year. It was a very scientific approach, and it worked. However, while it was designed to be very accurate, still I often found that I could not pinpoint the exact time that I would be at my best. At times, I found that if I wanted to be ready for a given event, I would actually be at my best a week later. Over time, I realized that it really wasn't all that important that I be "at my best" for any given event, and let fall what may. It's all pretty relative.
I've talked elsewhere of "being on the verge of the impossible." This was several years ago, when I found myself with great form on my so called "default" ride. I felt that I could not do this 100 mile ride with 6200 feet of climbing in under 7 hours, and yet I was so close. I contemplated this state of mind, this abyss of impossibility that I stared into, did it in 7:15 and then 7:05, and still considered under seven as impossible. I had a talk with a co-worker who asked me if it made any difference whether I thought it was impossible or not. Of course it did. I went out the next Friday and did it under seven. Form is intangible. What we believe to be possible does make a difference. And yet on an absolute level of reality makes no difference at all. I do these things to move one step further along into an understanding of what this experience of being me is all about, if anything, It is one large science experiment.
So I am currently practicing for the Willamette Gran Fondo, which I may chose to ride at a very slow pace. I don't know. It's all just practice anyway.