Monday, October 24, 2005

Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plains...


I find myself in Oklahoma City. I had previously planned to race in Tucson, AZ but after Moab I couldn’t seem to stand the thought of another hundred miles on my mountain bike. Besides, my Grandmother has traveled all the way from Alabama for her birthday. What’s a good son to do? Riding is not totally out of the picture for me. I am putting together an end of year base session and Oklahoma is the place to be for base.

Base riding is like a house. It is all about long, slow miles on the bike. It builds the muscles, the central nervous system (if done properly) and the blood vessels. Basically, one is taking the sand, water and rock to form concrete riding. One has to mix the ingredients carefully, though. I learned about Base from Matt Shriver. His coach Rick Crawford, one of the premier endurance coaches in the country, is a strong supporter of base riding. The rules are fairly simple: build up slowly, keep your heart rate in a moderate zone and end the base season riding 30 hours a week. Many riders that I have spoken too are real fans of base riding. I’ve also talked to many cyclists who would rather shove tooth brushes up their noses. I’m in the middle on this matter.

I feel that base has its place. One should ride base. However, I feel it should be interspersed throughout the year, and combined with other sports. Otherwise, one would lose his/her mind. During the fall, I also run race, rock climb and lift weights. I believe a well-rounded approach to training will create a better athlete. I am inserting a base session now to prepare for the inevitable colder temperatures, which is why I’m in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma riding is actually pretty descent. The road conditions are nice, the country scenery is easy to access, the rolling hills are constant and the miles can go on forever. The only drawback from this paradise is the wind. My GOD the WIND!!! My usual route in Oklahoma City takes me out to Luther, Oklahoma and back. The ride takes about 3.5 hours. To be perfectly honest, I enjoy the long miles. The small country stores at the center of town offer a nice rest and good place to refill your water bottle. Furthermore, the country folk who drive by yelling obscenities create a real sense of love for the proverbial “salt of the earth”. It’s not their fault, I say to myself.

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