For our sins, Suz entered us in the 2014 SaltyDog Enduro mountain bike race in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. The way this race works is rather than a set distance, the race takes place on an 11km mountain bike course and you must cycle as many laps as you can in 6 hours. We’re entered in the team category so when Suz crosses the finish line, she tags me and we alternate. Checkpoints along the way record the final distance.
Above: From the 2013 Enduro. (Not my picture)
Since the race is May 11, which is still skiing season here, we have to do some dry land training to get ready. And well, we just have to train in any case! So Suz hit upon the happy thought of hiring a trainer to get us ready. Suz selected her spin instructor Betsy, who is also an accomplished biathlon athlete and coach. She sat us down at the gym and did an assessment and then built an individualized, daily training schedule for each of us.
So far, training has been a good experience. Last Saturday night Suz and I were getting our cardio credits by going cross-country skiing up at the Nordic Centre. It was a full on blizzard with driving winds but we were committed to fulfilling our training obligations. We met the wall of wind and snow and as we were putting our skis on, two girls approached ready to hit the trails. One laughed and asked us about the weather. I thought it was typical of this town that we weren’t the only ones out for a ski in the blizzard but Suz noticed it was Liza Pye who I’ve run into in the mountains before (see post here) before doing insane feats of endurance.
To get my biking legs seasoned, I went to my first “spin class.” Suz is a veteran of this torture but for me it was all new. The class consists of being on a stationary bike and you must maintain a specific rpm and gearing. Betsy then commands you to increase the gears and up the rpms on her cues. There are no rest breaks other than a half minute cycling at low gearing between the ramp ups. Interestingly, four people out of the ten in the class are training for this same race. It’s incredibly grueling.
Above: This is our instructor competing at a biathlon race. I found this image hard to get out of my mind when she was yelling to “Add another gear!! Increase rpm by 10!! One more minute!” when I was rubber legging an hour into the class. It’s hard to ignore a girl who can shoot your eyesballs out from a hundred yards.
I’m finding it an interesting challenge. Out in the world, I can look at a headwall or some other obvious obstacle and tell myself to push hard and get up it. My efforts are a function of my environment and are very tangible. In the spin class, it just gets harder with no visual clues or spatial reward. I found it much harder to dig down and find that extra energy without any obvious purpose for summoning it other than to complete the ambiguous task of obeying the instructions of a firearms expert!
The experience is a win-win as it’s hopefully paying dividends in all my mountain activities. I’m off next week on a multi-day, mountain climbing expedition on the icefields so I’m hoping to notice some early benefits. It’s also given me even more respect for Suzanne who is soundly beating me in several training exercises!