In the late fall, when I'm pretty exhausted and ready for some rest, RUSA and UMCA publish their event calendars and I begin to build a structure for the season ahead. First, I add the dates of all of the events that are remotely possible for me to ride into my personal Google calendar. If you do not use this free web-based calendar system yet to organize your rides, you should check it out. After creating an account, you can add individual events or upload existing calendars to your profile. The software allows users to create and overlay multiple calendars simultaneously so I have one for brevets, one for training, one for family events, one for work commitments, etc. Using this function, it is easy to spot conflicts and made adjustments.
After entering all possible events, which in my case involves brevets and races within a 2-5 hour radius, I subtract those in conflict with birthdays and other family and work commitments and begin to look for patterns to optimize my training. As an ultracyclist, I will ride centuries and 200K permanents all throughout the year, but need to start working rides of longer distance and greater intensity into the plan starting in March.
For a successful riding season, a randonneur should:
1 Identify the main events and negotiate to get them onto the family calendar as early in the season as possible. What events do you want to build your season around?
2. Train in a progressively more challenging manner. What other events do you want (or need) to use to prepare for your main events?
3. Develop a careful training plan based on the principles of periodization. What training will you need to do on a regular basis to be in top physical and emotional condition for your big events?
Luckily for me, unlike for P-B-P, there is no formal qualification needed for L-E-L so while I will ride more than the equivalent of a full SR series, the particular events are mine to choose, so they will include sanctioned brevets, permanents, solo training rides and ultra races. Other important events in my calendar include the Connecticut River Double Century (April), the Saratoga 12-hour race (July), and two laps of the Adirondack 540 course (275 miles) in September in addition to various brevets and permanents along the way. I will repeat some this year, like the Westfield 600K and ride others for the first time (perhaps a brevet or two with Eastern PA Randonneurs). Living where I do in the Mid-Hudson Valley, we are blessed with several great options within a 1-3 hour drive.
I am also very excited to ride the new 600K brevet Doug and I are designing to follow Henry Hudson’s 1608 route from the Battery in Lower Manhattan to Waterford, NY just north of Albany and back sometime this spring. Sadly, I will be unable to join the Fleche-tones on the New England Fleche in May due to family obligations.In all, I hope this will be my best year yet. I will ride longer and harder than ever before and I hope to achieve more than seems possible as I type this post in my warm January bed.