"You can do more than you think you can.” This is how Daniel Matheny started his email response to my panicked message last Friday, the day before my first big training weekend's back-to-back rides. I knew right then I had chosen the right man for the job to be my biggest motivator and wise coach for this special journey.
I met the super-lean, sweet-faced, 31-year-old pro cyclist in person when I did this awesome climbing camp with Carmichael Training Systems in early June. Since New York City is pretty flat (most local cyclists roll out to New Jersey to find more challenging elevation gains), I flew out to Colorado for a three-day camp to learn from the pros how to conquer my fears of climbing steep hills without, you know, rolling backwards, tipping over when I can't pedal anymore, or simply having a heart attack.
There, I rode twice a day with Coach Daniel and a handful of other talented pro-level cycling coaches who work at the Colorado Springs-based training center founded by the world’s most famous bike and endurance coach, Chris Carmichael (he's worked with legendary Tour de France riders, including George Hincapie and Lance Armstrong). Under their guidance, I was able to take my biking to new heights—literally. One of my fave mental tricks that I learned at camp: Counting to 10 backward over and over while climbing to distract my mind from my screaming calves, quads, and glutes. I try to match each pedal stroke to a count to steadily pace myself to the top.
When the opportunity came up to do this 200-mile ride for YSC's Tour de Pink, I instantly thought of Coach Daniel as the man who could help me get ready—even from all the way in Colorado—for the nearly 13,000-foot climb ahead of me. When we spoke on the phone about it last week, his you-can-do-this attitude and calming Southern drawl (he's a Kentucky native!) was just what I needed, along with the right amount of positive pressure to step up my game. With him in my corner—ready and willing to answer my most burning questions about how to physically, mentally, and nutritionally prepare for the ride of my life—I do believe he's right, especially with his kickass six-week training plan. It's a perfect mix of interval training to increase my lactate threshold (I call these days my “speedwork”) and consecutive days in the saddle so I can get used to sitting on a narrow, rigid, unforgiving bike seat for three days straight.
Follow it with me even if you don't have a multi-day bike event coming up in October like I do. Biking is a great way to lose weight, stay in shape, burn off some steam, get outside, and push yourself to go farther (and faster) than you ever expected.
READY, SET, RIDE: Six-Week Training Challenge
To best understand the training plan, which is written in very concise shorthand, check out this document, “The Train Right Guide Workout Descriptions."
Follow me @XstinaGoyanes for live training updates.