The Mt. Washington Autoroad Cylcing Race is in late August. I decided to take this on last December with the realization it may be too much for me, or maybe not. One of those goals which seem just out of reach. And the truth is I have only so many more years left that I can consider this kind of effort.
After a few months of, what was in hindsight, some psychological preparation, I dug in on December 14. That is when I stepped on the scale.
Biking up mountains is the arena of the light, skinny, very fit cyclist. I am old (66), and fat. There may be 15 of us (out of 450) who are over 65 in this event. If I make it I will be one of the last folks.
After five months I dropped 35 pounds – actually below my high school weight. (It is possible!) Does it make all this easier? No. You just go faster which is significant because you have to keep the bike moving or you fall. My speed will be around 3 mph. It is hard to balance the bike at that speed. So it was no sugar to speak of, very limited fats, primarily plant based, fish for the extra protein to maintain muscle and recover from the strains, no dairy which is liquid meat.
My age is an issue. You lose lung capacity over the years. Doing short efforts which leave you gasping is helpful. This is called VO2 max training. Once a week for these 8 months I have been at the Brattleboro Ski Jump running the metal steps, I have gone from walking up once to running 12 times. This is not recreational.
That age thing again. You get weaker as you age so I added strength training, especially since I was losing weight and did not want to lose muscle. I added body weight exercises for chest, arms, legs and midsection. That is once or twice a week, until I strained my elbow. There is always some glitch.
That age thing again! As you age you do not recover quickly from anything strenuous. Seems like I am always sore. The curse – I am helping my son with his house painting and he has had his hands full with family issues. I had to stop training for almost two weeks to get a house done. The blessing? Two weeks off is a good recovery time for the final 8 week push to the race.
Training – Any road with real steep hills (South Mountain in Northfield, Mt. Ascutney,) I try to get to Ascutney every two weeks. I did Ascutney twice (great!) but the next time could only manage once and barely (not so great).
Will I make it? Who knows. 8 weeks away. My mantra is “go, go when you can.” God has provided an opportunity. One day we do not have such choices.