It is hard to believe, but my ascent up Mount Mitchell is a mere 25 days away. While the training has not been easy, it has mostly been a good time. I have thoroughly enjoyed pushing myself during rides, trying to stay with the lead pack and/or rider. This has been the case on large organized event rides and small weekly group rides. I have met some great people who have been working towards the same goals. We have exchanged a great deal of tips and encouragement throughout the last few months. The best part of the training has been the mountain rides. I have enjoyed those so much that I hardly think of them as work. There is nothing like the thrill of descending a steep mountain into a series of downhill, rolling hills.
So where to from here?
There are still a couple big training rides remaining. This weekend I will be doing the Tour de Lake century ride. It will have a few hills, but will seem relatively flat compared with the roads I have been climbing in the past few weeks.
The next weekend will be the Tour de Cashiers. Of all the rides, this will be the most Mitchellesque. I am told there are a couple massive climbs along the century route. They will undoubtedly be tougher than anything Mitchell throws at me, but the overall elevation will be a tad lower, around 10,000 feet climbed compared to the 11,000 up Mitchell. A good friend of mine did both Mitchell and Cashiers last year and he felt that Cashiers was more difficult. In fact, his ride time for Mitchell was 30 minutes shorter than his Cashiers time. To top it off, there is a time cutoff to complete the century, so there will be no easy riding next weekend.
With just a few weeks away, the major training period is pretty much over. These legs are what I have, and hopefully they will be strong enough to get me up the mountain.
A few weeks ago I talked about weight management and how I was really trying to maintain weight, while building muscle mass and properly fueling myself on rides. That will change in the next few weeks as the peak training subsides. Now I am going a bit lighter, trying to shed a few pounds to make climbing easier. I am at 149 now and would like to get around 145, if not lower. The more I lose, the easier Mitchell will be. For now I am using weekday rides to shed weight. I still fuel myself, but with lighter calorie options. With my normal eating habits, this results in about a 500-800 calorie deficit each riding day, which should translate to at least 1 lb loss per week.
Aside from the remaining rides, I am going to be taking it easy. I will still participate in weekly rides, even in the week prior to Cashiers and Mitchell, but the hammerfests are over. I will just concentrate on easy spinning and not speed. I will want my legs to be fresh when needed.
The clock is ticking, but I am ready as I can be.