On Friday 17 February, I finally got an email from Harpoon congratulating me on being picked in the lottery for the 2012 Brewery to Brewery ride. How was my training going? I must have missed some earlier notice. The drawing was scheduled for February 1 and I was starting to assume I'd not made it (something of a relief to be honest). So training started on Saturday 18 February.
I found a training schedule for completing a century, plugged it into a spreadsheet, and extrapolated it to 150 miles. Basically it added 10 miles to the target mileage each week. Half the miles in one ride, the other half how you like. It started with a long ride of 25 miles, and I knew I could do better than that, so I picked up at 35 miles (70 for the week). According to the schedule, it would take 18 weeks to train. According to the calendar, I had 18 weeks until the ride. That's all very well, but it leaves absolutely no slack in the system. There can't be any weather delays, I can't get sick, hurt, take a weekend off, or even go on the already committed vacation without figuring a way to keeping up the régime while we're away.
Although weather was not an obstacle, of course light was early in the year, but there were a couple of other reasons to use the wind trainer. At home, after holding a steady 21 mph and thinking I was going to have a heart-attack after just 55 minutes I found it was a convenient way to get some miles in during the week, and in a practical amount of time. I therefore used it for strength-building: maintaining the pace and gradually increasing the saddle time to 96 minutes, (no problem).
On vacation, no wonder you couldn't rent bicycles. The roads were narrow and so steep it felt like we were on a model railway layout. But I couldn't not ride, so I found a gym at one of the big hotels and started each day with a 36 mile 20.5mph (1:48hr) spin. Hated every minute.
It felt like the count-down to a rocket launch.
Four weeks out. Fresh back from vacation, and I had to do my first century (ever). In 1987 I rode 128 kilometers, and a couple of times over the past couple of years I'd done 65-70 miles, but ... I did the last 102 miles of the actual B2B, including the two big climbs, through Ashby, and at around the 50 mile mark (but the 90 mile mark on the day) the intimidatingly named Leviathan. This turned out to be a huge win in terms of me knowing what was coming on the day, but also with a 14.5 average speed it was a clear reminder of how tough the ride was going to be, and how lucky I would be to finish within the time limit. I was very very tired, and very close to dehydration—I couldn't drink fast enough. Out in the boonies north of Leviathan the little towns came up regularly enough, but not a gas station or general store in sight. By the time rolled up to the General Store in Westmoreland I was completely out of fluids and the temperature was by then ~90°F. I bought a quart of lemonade, a large bottle of water, and another of V8. Refilled my bottles and drank the rest of the water and V8 with a large bowl of chicken gumbo. A long stop but a life-saver. This ride's lesson: I need to be able to drink half a gallon every 50 miles, and need to stop often (or soon) enough to guarantee I don't even get close to running out. And pray it isn't as hot as this on the day.
14 days and counting. Peak weekend, rode the longest ride scheduled for training third century in three weeks. 127 miles including 40-odd miles of the actual course (again). This week's lesson: even if I'm very well-behaved, drinking alcohol the night before a big ride saps energy. I plodded the first 60 miles or so, then heeding the warning about keeping fluids well stocked, stopped in South Royalston. The little store had a griddle running at the back, and I ordered a double cheeseburger and home fries. It took a while, but OMG it was delicious. Now felt great, if stuffed, and at around the 90 mile mark hit Mt Wachusett to simulate Leviathan. No trouble at all, but again the average speed of 14.5 was a real worry.
6 days and counting. Eve challenged me to do a metric century with her. A very early start and we all (Eve, Susi, RT) needed to stop for a caffeine hit. A glorious day out, and a perfect "warm-down" ride of "only" 60 miles somewhere near the Quabbin Reservoir (we never actually saw it), "nice" and hilly. A breeze, and 15.8 mph are both very encouraging. But the caffeine was the big lesson this week, just in time. Its diuretic qualities had me stopping every half an hour.
4 days of rest. By comparison: I only had 16 other days without exercise over the entire 18 weeks. Two of those I was sick, one rain stopped play.
2571 miles on the schedule, 2572 actually logged.