My Tour challenge is a bit different than your average office pool. Instead of betting on who might win the actual race, I challenge my own fitness to keep up with them in a virtual stage race. I have a long history of such nonsense. Beginning back in ’98 with “Le Cog Corrode.” I’ve often used the Tour, Giro, and Vuelta as a template to concoct very difficult 3-week training blocks. With a race coming up at the end of July this year’s early Tour start (it’s still June fer crissakes) was tailor made for me.
Though my ’98 challenge mirrored the race almost identically it’s not necessary. Your own personal goals should/need to be on the horizon and you can do a Tour challenge even if you never ride on the road. In fact, you could do one without riding at all but non-cyclists would likely find a different form of motivation more effective. Three weeks, however, is the perfect amount of time for a very hard block of training. Not only does it make good physiologic sense when you analyze the “specificity of adaptation” but it’s a mental window that psychologists seem to agree is an ideal amount of time to induce long-lasting habitual changes.
As serendipity would have it two factors led to a “bingo” moment in designing a Tour challenge this year. After last week’s breakdown I’d just happened to take a recovery week leading to today’s “grand depart”. I’ve also been struggling with motivation on the bike this year and very much questioning my ability to be ready for my upcoming race. I needed to ramp things up somehow and the Tour, one of the most exciting athletic events in the world, has come at just the right time.
As in ’08 I’ll start and finish with a time trial to gauge fitness.
I’ll ride everyday they ride in the race (so only two days off the bike in the next three weeks)
One day per week will be full distance of the race (this will be by far my longest days of the year on the bike so far)
Time trial days will be time trial days (100% effort)
I’ll mimic the days course to some degree—though mainly on dirt—-especially the mountain days
So that’s it, though it is more like IT. This will be hard it’s the motivation that I sorely need. And can really only be heightened by doing Le Velo.