Right at this very moment, you’ve got a choice to make if you’re going to enjoy the day outside because (up here) you can literally take part in almost every sport that makes Hayward great—skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, road biking, hiking, running, fishing (okay, ice fishing)—and all in the same day.
While most of our local customers are still enjoying that amazing, yet fleeting, spring skiing, Moonies Dustin and Ian are on to other adventures—training for the Hungry Bear 100, an unsupported gravel ride throughout the Chequamegon National Forest.
Training in early spring for a bike race isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be cold, damp, muddy, bumpy, and unpleasant, but these two seem like they are having the time of their lives. What is their secret? Are they just pretending have fun in order to get out of work? Let’s find out.
Turns out, for Dustin, the Hungry Bear is just the first of many races he plans to tackle this season—and he’s starting early and often.
“Basically spring training is all about getting as many pedal strokes in as possible—getting your body weathered to harsh hours on the bike—so that when you come to a 40 mile race you can sprint most of it. My training schedule this time of the year is pretty intense; its really important to put in a lot of base miles (now), so that when you come to summer riding (June) you can solely focus on improving your max speed, mainly through intervals and hill climbing. I normally do 15- 20hrs a week. It would normally go like this: Mon. 3hrs, Tues. 3hrs, Wed. 4 hrs, Thurs. 4hrs, Fri. 2hrs, Sat. rest/recovery 1hr, Sun. 3 hrs.”
Ian rode the 60-mile Snacking Bear last year and is aiming for the 100-miler this May. For him, gravel rides are special, “I think it’s really about the shared adventure, pushing mental and physical boundaries, and the whole zen of it all, riding through beautiful areas.”
He is specifically setting his sights on the Hungry Bear because, “It sort of captures the early season excitement for biking and sets an early goal to work towards. There’s a fun atmosphere around the event that really celebrates our area as well as the spirit of adventure.”
His training regimen is not quite as detailed as Dustin’s. “I just have to do it ninja style, whenever I can find a block of time to get out and ride. I’ll ride road, gravel, singletrack, and fat bike, just to get miles in the saddle. I’ve started going back to Crossfit as of this week, so I’m hoping to improve my overall strength this season.”
Dustin has quite a few tips for staying comfortable while putting in the big hours.
Nutrition and timing is pretty important, “I really try to at least eat a half bar an hour (150 calories) and drink a bottle a hour. This allows your body to stay at a comfortable energy level without bogging you down. A common mistake most people make is that they ride for two or three hours without eating or drinking much, then they feel the effects of bonking and try to quickly eat a bigger amount of food/water. When you eat a lot all of a sudden, your body sends a lot of blood to your stomach and not to your muscles, which in turn can make you bonk even worse.”
Carrying a few extra apparel pieces is also a must, “I also carry an extra set of gloves and outer jacket in case I get wet. I’ll just quickly stop and switch up my base layer and outerwear so that on my second half of my ride I can feel dry and refreshed again,” Dusty explains.
Ian also feels like early spring training necessitates the right gear and clothing. “Keep hands and toes warm. A windproof top and bottom are really helpful. Shoe covers are really helpful, but if you want something deluxe, I’ve really been liking the 45NRTH Ragnarok shoe. Gotta have good snacks and plenty of water…and beer.” Dustin also touts the healing powers of a couple special drinks, “I found that a shot of espresso followed by 6 oz. of alcohol can help with feeling the effects of bonking; it also gives you a little moral booster.” OK, guys, we know what you’re recovery regimen is… 😉
The worst part of spring training might be a dreary headwind, or it might be overcoming your own personal reluctance to get out on the bike when your body isn’t quite up to speed and the weather isn’t quite sunshine and daffodils, but working out on the bike at this time of year has a few more benefits than just being able to crush your next race or group ride.
“It is generally getting nicer out, the sun’s out, the creeks are flowing; its just a nice time to be outside,” Dusty says. And, you’re looking ahead to all the biking season has to offer.
New Moon rides will be starting up soon. Come join us work out the kinks and get ready for your cycling season. Check out our Facebook page for updates.
Get out and make the most of these last few days when everything is possible. Enjoy!