Last week I was in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York on vacation with the family. I still had to train since I still have races coming up and feel, as most people do at some point in training for an Ironman, that I am way behind and can't afford to be a slacker. Swimming was out but I brought my bike, kicks, and a separate piece of luggage just for the workout clothes along.
I found, though, the biggest challenge was where to ride in a land that you normally do not ride so had to "invent" some routes. This was rural riding as compared to suburban which I do most of. Some obvious problems with rural riding are lack of cell phone coverage if lost or if in need of rescue, being able to describe where you are in case of need of rescue, not knowing places to refuel along the way, and being able to know how long it would take to get back from somewhere remote (someone was late for dinner one day). During these rides I noticed:
1) Cemeteries are normally at the top of a hill that you've never gone up before. If you don't see one, keep climbing.
2) The first rule of cycling ("what goes down must go up") seems to apply more when you don't know where you are heading. This is even more relevant if you are in an area with "mountains" in the name or heading back.
3) There was a lot of dead varmint on the road. I saw dead snakes, porcupines, deer, raccoons, squirrels, birds and skunk. Note that you taste dead skunk before you smell it before you see it.
4) But not all the varmint were dead. On one ride I was just biking along minding my own business and I heard heavy panting that wasn't coming from me. I looked behind me and saw a German Shepard sprinting at me only a few feet away with saliva dripping from his fangs. I dropped the hammer to get away from him and was successful. My coach looked at the power file later and commented that I almost joined the 1000 watt club on that sprint. See what motivation can do? I'm expecting next week's workouts to build on that power level though - "Dude, you proved already that you can do it!"
5) The second rule of cycling ("the wind is always against you") is especially relevant when you are returning (hopefully) via an unknown route.
6) Riding along county roads seems better than state roads since they have less traffic and seem in better shape. I think these points may be related. I did ride into a road work crew finishing up some new asphalt one day. Really local roads can turn to dirt at any time.
7) We did sneak away one night and saw Yo-Yo Ma with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. With two kids that are string players, it seems like I'm going to more and more classical music concerts. No, the crowd didn't hold up lighters at the end. (note that they don't do that anymore so I'm showing my age - they hold up cell phones instead).
I was able to ride about 125 hilly miles (5500 ft climbing) including an uphill threshold test (2x20' @ 267/258w np) and include 4 short "runs." Today I was completely tired but we had the travel home as a rest day. I get to celebrate my return to civilization with a flat 4 and 4 Sunday (4 hour ride followed by a 4 mile TT run). We'll get the hour glass out to time that run.
Part of me wants to sleep in before that workout tomorrow but part of me wants to get in done before the heat kicks in. Think I'll take a nap today and decide in the morning. Maybe even take a nap afterwards too. After all, vacations are tiring.
So is Ironman training but, as my wife keeps reminding me, "it is supposed to be hard." Tired now will lead to success on race day.