I've hit the transition point in my training. The focus will shift from strength training in the gym, to speed and stamina on the bike.
In theory, I've built up my strength and recovery capability, and can now pivot and use those aptitudes to quickly build speed and endurance.
I can feel that I've gotten stronger. I can feel that I'm riding better. But I'm also slower. That's expected-- when I focus on strength, chronic training load goes up, cumulative fatigue goes up, and speed and stamina on the bike go down.
Last week I did a lap of the Santiago course to see where I'm at. My target time was 45:00.
Final time: 48:17.
That's not good. Worse: I was pretty cooked. The Santiago race is two laps. No way would I have managed a second lap in under 50 min. Judging from last year's finishing times, that puts me near the back of the pack.
That's enough for me to feel a little panic start to creep in. I haven't been training like this to finish last.
I have eight weeks to build a faster pace, and build the endurance I need for two laps.
This is where I either have faith that my training plan will work, or I panic and just "ride hard" for the next few weeks, and end up shelled on race day, rolling in DFL and wondering what the hell happened.
I have to remember that I'm working a different kind of training plan. An explicitly, intentionally experimental plan. One that layers in stamina at the end, instead of as the "base."
I have to remember that I thought this through months ago, and I'm right where I expected to be: matching my old race pace for one lap, but turning bigger gears and setting PRs on downhills and short segments.
What should happen now, if I know what I'm doing, is that I'll start posting new PRs on short climbs like Cholla, then move up to bigger stuff like Mathis, Coachwhip, and Mountain Goat.
And if that's not happening, well, then I know I did something wrong, and need to reevaluate. I don't plan to do any racing next year (plenty of other stuff should be taking up my time), so I have plenty of time to play the long game, build general fitness, and pivot back to mountain biking in 2018.
But the experiment continues: How to finish mid-pack while training just 3hrs/wk.
But I had a nice thought the other night: even if Santiago doesn't go well, I still have Caspers in four months.