The mercury’s a-droppin!

After a record warm and dry January, which brought about worries about environmental ramifications and the horrendous fire season it seemed to be promising, western Montana has finally plunged headlong back into winter, complete with lots of snow and sub-zero temperatures. Here’s the view from my back door this morning:

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It’s colder than it looks, too. I was just getting used to being able to ride outside, too! Now I’m just trying to remember that it’s for the best in the long run.

I decided to take the year off from skiing (at least downhill) in order to work more in town, have more training time, and save some money all at once, and January worked out really well in that respect. Now that we’re back to winter, though, I have been doing my best to head indoors for my training opportunities. Since I don’t have a gym membership anywhere, I lack a treadmill to run on, so bad weather gives me an excuse to work more on my swim stroke and ride inside. Luckily, I have a new toy to help out with that. Enter Cascade Fitness and their Fluid Pro Power Trainer:

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There it is, with my trusty Kona all ready to go!

This trainer marks the first tool in my training arsenal that has included a power meter, which, after a little initial confusion about getting it set up and synchronized with the display unit on the handlebar, works splendidly. Of course, I have only had the thing for a few weeks, and at this point I have little understanding of how to incorporate power into my regular routine, but what I have found is that it really keeps me honest about how hard I am actually working. More importantly, perhaps, it allows me to find a specific benchmark on the trainer that I can define as “race effort” or “tempo” or “being lazy”…I mean, “recovery”.

Other benefits of this specific trainer: it’s quiet! I can watch movies and the volume doesn’t have to be at an outrageous level. I like that. Also, it is extremely stable. I really don’t like feeling like my wheel is going to fall out at any moment, and my pedal stroke isn’t the smoothest when I’m riding hard (I’m working on it though!), so trainers that are a little loosey-goosey can be a real bummer. Lastly, the resistance is very consistent and smooth. This is the result of a very heavy flywheel, which makes it a little more cumbersome to transport, but I’m just considering that some extra weight training, which I can always use.

All in all, this really is a great tool to have, and since I feel less bummed about riding the trainer than I have in the past, I’ve been riding a lot more, which means, guess what: spring riding will be a lot more fun!

After putting together a few solid weeks in the pool, I am starting to feel pretty solid in the water as well, which is very encouraging. I’ve been working on form drills, trying to speed up my turnover just a little, and taking shorter, quicker breaths, and I think (hope) that it’s finally making some difference. Many thanks to Jen for the tips!

I am looking forward to a breakthrough season this year, and with the rebirth of Team Stampede in Missoula, I am hoping for a whole arsenal of triathletes from our fair city who will be out in full force come spring.

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