Training for the Iron Horse ... in five days

K, I’ll admit it. Technically, it may be too late to use this “training guide” for anything but house training a puppy. That’s all right. You can use it next year. Or, more likely, you can dismiss it completely, citing “expert” recommendations that you begin preparing for the Iron Horse weeks – even months – in advance.

Nevertheless, here in its entirety is my “Guide to Training for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic … in Five Days.” And yes, it is based on years of personal experience. Two of them.

NOTE: Do not attempt this.

Pre-training prep (optional)

Ride your mountain bike in the desert several times in April. Ride a few more times in May, if you have time.

Day 1 – Monday before the race

After work, pull your road bike out of the basement and dust if off. (Dusting is not necessary, but it does mark a symbolic start to your training program.)

Take the pedals off your mountain bike and put them on your road bike. This shows your road bike the commitment you’re making to it. (Why don’t you have pedals for your road bike, anyway? Now is not the time to question yourself.) Drive to Hermosa, park, and ride up to Purgatory and back. Don’t stop at the Old Schoolhouse for a beer. Wear a helmet.

Day 2 – Tuesday

Congratulations: you’ve made it to Day 2. Plan on riding to Purgatory again, from Hermosa. If, by chance, you have to stay late at work to fix an entirely self-created mess, forget about the ride. (There’s really nothing you could have done.) Have a drink and dinner with a friend to ease the stress of training. No more than three drinks tonight. Remember, you’ve got a goal. At this point you can practically taste success. Note: some people may want to quit at this point in

the training program. You should. You’ll enjoy the weekend more, and you won’t be at all sore next week.

Day 3 – Wednesday

This is basically the peak of your training program. Make it count. Ride from Hermosa to Coal Bank Pass and back. The valley certainly isn’t going to kill you, and you’ll probably black out a lot of Molas Pass anyway. (If you can complete this ride, you’ll do just fine on the big day. If you can’t, at least you can still say you weren’t planning to ride the Iron Horse anyway.)

So, at this point in your training, you’ve pretty much got the race dialed.

Day 4 – Thursday

Rest day. As any coach worth his or her salt will tell you, rest days are an important part of any serious training regimen.

Visualize success. This may be the only time you see it.

Day 5 – Friday: “Race Eve”

At this point your training is winding down. The important thing now is to avoid getting injured. To keep your muscles loose, join the Cruiser Parade through town. When everyone goes to Steamworks for more beer, remember: you’ve got a Goal. Don’t stay out too late, and NO hard liquor. Believe me, your sacrifice will be rewarded.

Important Note: Do not spill beer on some woman’s Harley outside Steamworks. When the police come, if they happen to come, do not argue with them. If you are out late, then at least stay away from the liquor.

The BIG DAY (do’s and don’ts. Mostly don’ts.)

You’ve worked hard for this, or at least you would have if you really needed to. It’s your moment – enjoy it. Do NOT get an egg muffin with sausage and hashbrowns and a large coffee for breakfast so close to race time that you nearly miss the start. This is important: Do NOT leave yourself extra time to stretch before the race. Stretching now could easily upset the delicate imbalance your muscles are familiar with. During the ride, do NOT complain about how “tired” and “out of shape” you are: this training program is not for whiners. Do NOT try to “ride with your friends.” If they were really your friends, they’d be cheering you on from the side of the road, or planning a barbecue for later – not hammering past you up some hill. Do NOT stop pedaling until you reach Silverton, or until a race volunteer asks you to stop pedaling and offers you a blanket and medical attention. If for some reason you don’t finish, do NOT blame me. I told you to quit on Tuesday. •

– Dave Welz

The author acknowledges that this is a terrible way to prepare for a truly classic event. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic does not endorse any of the author’s opinions. In fact the organizers don’t even think he’s funny.



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