Here's an interesting picture I found on the internet. What do you suppose is going on there? I this an act of love or of malice?
Did you know that the huge majority of cross bikes sold are not bought for racing? I'm normally a fairly active proponent of non-specificity of equipment. I think having aero road frames and climbing road frames and sprinter road frames and all that shit is pretty dumb. Supposedly this year's TT worlds is on a course in which people are likely to start on one bike and finish on another (flat in the beginning, huge hill in the end). I think that's really stupid, except in the case of demonstrable mechanical incident you should have to start and finish on the same bike and even then your replacement should be substantially the same. These "cross bikes" of which the category speaks are one area where I welcome specificity.
If most cross bikes are not used for racing, then the bikes being referred to are not cross bikes. They might be "cross-inspired" bikes, but they are not cross bikes. Cross bikes are bikes for racing on a cross course. There are several areas where the intended uses of "cross-inspired" bikes will necessarily make them maladapted for life on a cross course. They will have to have fender mounts. They will have to have rack mounts. They will have to have clearance for more than a 33mm tire and fairly profound mud - probably 40mm tires and some mud, which is quite a bit bigger. They will almost certainly want disc brakes, which are better for commuting and riding hither and yon over whatever surfaces and terrains one might wish to encounter, but which necessitate a 135mm spaced rear end, which is problematic for a race bike on many levels. Disc brakes may not be desired on racing cross bikes, in which case you'll have a bunch of design compromises to accommodate something that isn't desired anyway.
So can we just please split this up into two categories and save "cross bikes" to mean bikes intended to be raced on cross courses and have "adventure bikes" or whatever kind of method, all-mountain, fakie, misty, dinner-roll designation for the kind of bikes that are inspired by cross bikes but in actual fact are destined for use in pretty much everything BUT actual cross racing on actual cross courses?
As I recall, it was about exactly one year ago when I had the same question that I had now: as your tested LT climbs up the ladder to get to whatever level of paucity it might reach in your training year, should you adjust the LT in your training tracking or should you keep it constant so that your TSS will measure against a consistent baseline? This week will nominally wind up with somewhere around 660 TSS points, which is a few more than I expected to have - Tuesday in particular was a bigger day than I'd predicted it would be. But it's not totally out of line, it's a slight overshoot not a "holy crap what'd you do THAT for you idiot?" deal.
In any case, in a week's time I will be doing another threshold test. This year's training is shifted back several weeks from last year's because of racing cross and my general wish to eat bonbons, drink quality ales, and not ride my bicycle very fast for a while. The rapidity with which one must do the left, right, hup, hup, pedal, pedal thing while racing cross if one is to have any shot of not getting pantsed causes some anxiety and agitation in my persona. Waking up every Sunday morning with naught but the prospect of putting my metaphorical junk into the metaphorical meat grinder, much more so than the physical requirements of doing same, left me unwilling to undertake the sneaking of any pork chops for quite some time.
Off track again, in any case, the test I performed one year ago was a marked step up from its predecessor - this is the time of the year for that. A lot of the usual suspect coaches say not to bother adjusting LT bases for changes of as few as 5 to 10 watts, but the jump last year at this time was about 15 points. I do change the levels at which I do LT-based intervals based on changes in LT, but it seems that changing the LT baseline for purposes of TSS measurement is kind of cruel. If your LT goes up, say 15 watts, then not only do you have to increase the amount of work you do in order to keep your CTL line going up (CTL being basically a running average of 30 trailing days of TSS), you have to do MORE more work because every increment of work that you do (kj) will produce less TSS per kj when the formula uses a higher LT baseline.
It could just be that training is supposed to be that hard. As I recall, I wound up last year in REALLY good shape right around the time of when Jeff Cup should have been (there was a memorable team ride in the great Middleburg/Marshall/Mount Weather area where my team mates expressed anger, dismay and other negative feelings about the pace at which I wanted to go), and then went through a sort of fallow period for a while which finally lifted just in time for me to get a flat and Poolesville but do well at Killington. For reference I don't really consider it to be wintertime heroics when one is merely capable of going near terminal durations at speeds which cause slight anguish and duress amongst one's companions - that is merely the sign of an effective base build, not an early peak. Half of the part from that point to when you want to actually peak being at least 90% mental, and not fewer than 60% physical training. And I know that this is perhaps the most nerd paragraph I've ever done, and I also know that if I was writing this for Red Kite Prayer I would have make this sentence its own paragraph, for cheap dramatic effect. Like this:
And I know that this is perhaps the most nerd paragraph I've ever done.
Red Kite Prayer is the most egregious practitioner of the transgression, but what is it with all of this artistry, craft, ritual, blah blah blah shit that goes on with riding bikes. Does that guy's entire life progress from one stage to the next with Morgan Freeman narrating and the Ken Burns fade-in ushering segues from one ritual to the next? Most of the time, I'm hopping around with one sock half on trying to find the f**king heart rate strap and why aren't my gloves dry yet and get me out the freaking door/onto the trainer so I can fit this stupid workout into what else is going on in the wide wide world of sports. I haven't got time to turn on the world's sepia tones and lovingly and ritualistically massage my favorite embrocation, appropriate to the day's weather and intended mileage, and coordinated with either the Rapha or Assos gear I will be curating, and mentally flog the god damn dolphin about the greater significance of this ride as it relates to my personal relationship with the arc of cycling as a greater whole.
There's a lot of this afoot these days. Wheel builders get a lot of glory for the art and craft and hoopla shit. Here's the deal, I build a metric shitload of wheels. Job number one is to get them as perfect as I possibly can, which requires diligence, focus, and following a whole lot of very simple steps that through nothing more elegant than trial and error I have learned work well. If I fuck that up, no one's calling up saying "maestro, I'm concerned that artistry of the wheels isn't harmonious with the metier I'm curating." Fortunately I haven't yet had whatever the real world that I actually live in equivalent to that conversation (knock wood) but if I should I'm pretty sure it will involve less kind phrasing than that. Job two is to get it done quickly so that I can get through the pile and we can actually gain momentum and ability to undertake more rather than just having a wonderful charity. It ain't art. And if it is, there are a WHOLE LOT of forgers out there.
When you're me, and of reasonable but far from significant accomplishment in racing results, and of slightly more accomplishment in birthday having, the world is your veritable oyster. You can race whatever race you want. An embarrassment of choice. Thus my Jeff Cup dilemma. If I race the 1/2/3, it will be an exercise in being pack fill. A lot of people come out with guns hot and are trying to win the Nature Valley thing. So, good training, but not good racing. The masters race last year kind of sucked because of one dynamic that was just stupid. That was also related to the BAR competition having progressed a bit and the race not being in its usual spot. The masters race will have plenty of talented riders and there will be enough diversity of fitness in there that there can't be too much negative racing (although last year there was actually one guy strong enough and committed enough to having a negative race for his team's benefit that it was, hence it sucked). I've done the masters race there twice, finished well once and ridden well twice (albeit shaking my head confused by wtf had gone on at the end of last year's race). That will likely be the best race. The 3/4 race is not very attractive to me. Basically I don't like doing these races where a critical mass of people have "upgrade points" as the primary goal. It makes for shitty races and dangerous actions. But, a team mate jumped the gun and signed up for it, and he, being vastly inferior of birthdays, is limited in his field choices. He's among my favorite people to race with, so much as I don't prefer it it looks like that's the field I go with. Unless I spend too long mentally masturbating with the thing and get closed out. Which may already have happened. Choosing not to choose is making a choice.
We're getting a new mattress in a matter of hours. I am giddy with anticipation.