Monday, January 12, 2009

Dreary Pennsylvania Winter Weather Leads to My Recent Love Affair with Coach Troy Jacobson

I’m a mountain biker, but due to time and seasonal trail restraints I do most of my training on the road. I also own a trainer, but let me say that like most avid cyclists I despise my trainer. My hatred for static rear wheel trainers and rolling trainers alike is a bottomless pit of loathing and abhorrence. Prior to this year I considered trainers to be the dainty tools of fair weather riders, and would only hang my head in shame and not ride outside (on the road) if it was torrentially down pouring, sleeting, there was snow or ice actually on the roadway, the wind was enough to knock me off of my bike or into oncoming traffic, and/or the temperature was sustained below 15 degrees F. During the 2007/2008 winter, I thought that trainers were for riders who lived in subarctic or arctic areas where snow was prevalent more than 180 days a year and riding outside during the winter not only was no fun, but presented a liability both to one’s safety and sanity. I looked down my proverbial nose at people who could ride outside but voluntarily chose not to because it was too wet, too cold, too windy, or their winter bike was in the shop. My mindset has changed somewhat for the 2008/2009 winter.

While I have toughened my dedication to cycling for 2009 I’ve also simultaneously softened my approach. I don’t need to ride if its only slightly raining, I don’t need to ride if its only blowing sustained winds of 17 mph and only gusting to 25 mph, and I don’t need to ride if its only 17 degrees F (I’ve raised my road riding temperature limit 10 degrees to a balmy 25 degrees F). You may ask, what has caused this change, this apparent softening, this base erosion of my previous training habits, after all for the bargain basement price of $639.99 I can own an Assos jacket (and bibs for an additional $450.00) designed for riding in temperatures from -7 degrees to 4 degrees, is waterproof yet breathable, dead sexy, and capable of girding me for riding in any inclement riding conditions mother nature can throw at me? One name, Troy Jacobson and his Spinerval workouts.

My buddy Chuck has for years told me that Spinervals provided a way for him to stay sharp throughout the “off season” (Chuck lives in Seward, Alaska, if we were to look at a year of weather in Seward, Alaska I’m fairly certain we would conclude that there isn’t really an “on season”). Anyway, chuck would laude the difficulty level, power generation, and overall conditioning that the Spinerval workouts would provide. He told me that he couldn’t finish the first Spinerval workout he’d tried, an important tidbit that I unceremoniously ignored as he is an endurance racer. He “enjoys” 24-hour races, 100 milers, and other such insanities. I’d tell him if I wanted to live like a hamster, I’d round out my house’s hallways, build a giant wheel in my bedroom, sleep on wood shavings, or buy a treadmill.

However, I recently succumbed to the peer pressure of two fellow teammates, dusted off my trusty loathsome trainer, and met them for a training session. I figured what the heck, I’ve already ridden once today, how hard could it be, at least you’re riding with people, you can talk. In retrospect there wasn’t very much talking. We popped in Spinervals 1.0 – No Slackers Allowed and spent the next 50 minutes thrashing our legs into pulp. I was able to do all intervals as instructed (barely), complete the workout (again barely), and I didn’t throw up (threes a charm now, barely). Since then I’ve done two more Spinerval workouts. I don’t admit being wrong easily, especially when it concerns Chuck, but I hereby stand corrected. Spinervals are great and they make the trainer not only bearable but transform it into a winter training asset.

In light of the recent change in my training mindset that allows me to avoid the weather and still ride hard, I’d like to thank Coach Troy Jacobson for the extremely hard interval workouts that make me feel like I’m on the high school track team again, and for the quasi knock-off, eighties glam band elevator music that numbs the conscious mind (while piercing the unconscious mind with the equivalent of an acoustic ice pick) making the tough intervals that much easier. Here’s to you Troy.



1 comment:

  1. Coach Troy has that effect on people..... you will have to try the CTS video I have. The "host" is a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Earl at the Shop.

    PS. Kath - the Hill Climb Spinnervals has all lady athletes.