In 2020, I had big plans: The Tour Transalp, together with Pascal. Then came Corona.
For a long time the organizer had been coy to cancel the Race. When Austria’s chancellor Kurz banned all major events until the end of July in early April, and a little later the German government followed suit and added another month – the Tour Transalp still remained quiet. Even when the Tour de France, which takes place later in the year, was moved to autumn, the organisers remained calm. Until the beginning of May, according to the “Update Covid-19” on the website, the Italian authorities wanted to decide on the event. It may be a coincidence, but then it is a difficult one: as of May 2nd, 90% cancellation costs would be incurred. Some participants have probably already canceled at a level of 50% cancelation costs. However, I consider the arrangement now made to be very accommodating: Until January 31, 2021, you can decide whether you want a refund or take off for 2021.
To be honest, the optimism spread by the organizer for a long time was exactly what I wanted to read: They should do everything they can to make the stage race happen. Since November I had neglected my house, yard and family in order to get my body, which had been shaped by beer and pizza over the years, into racing format in over 288 hours of work. 17,795 meters of vertical altitude meters would be waiting for us on the Transalp. That made pretty much exactly one minute of training for each of these damned meters since November.
But why should Northern Italy, of all countries, which had been so badly affected by Corona, tolerate a multi-day event with about 3,000 participants already at the end of June?
When I was little – I mean really little – , I was for many years absolutely sure that Santa Claus would exist. The organising agency had claimed exactly that every year. But it wasn’t true, and in the Year of Knowledge it led to the first flagrant disagreement between me and my parents. I was four, and looking back, nothing was the same after that.
Thus, simply believing that the tour will take place would probably not help.
By mid-April at the latest, it could have been clear to everyone that the Tour Transalp would not happen. But the agency is probably fighting for survival, and of course it would be great to be able to get Italian tourism going again a little bit. So there was still this faint hope that in a few weeks it might really work again. Rationally speaking, it was emotional nonsense.
As of today, the Transalp 2020 is finally off the table. And the question is: What now?
First of all the politically correct stocktaking:
My family has remained healthy so far.
I am also healthy.
No Corona. So far. Or at least not that I know about.
I’m not on short-time.
My job’s pretty safe. I hope.
I could do a lot worse. A lotlotlot worse.
And I’m honestly grateful that that’s all the way it is.
What the fuck!
I have repeatedly trained my butt sore for nothing and again nothing.
More than 18,000 TSS since November, nearly 9,000 kilometres in the cellar, in the rain, in snow and – well – sometimes in the sun.
I have been able to increase my Threshold Power by 10% since the beginning of the season.
I can now ride for KOMs, which I wouldn’t even have dared to synch to my bolt last year (which actually means nothing).
I have a better grip on my new bike than I ever had on the last one (which means even less).
In short: I’m in pretty good shape by my standards – but because in China someone had bats for dessert, all the work was for nothing. Everything was cancelled. So once again:
What the fuck!
Well… That’ s enough whining. Straighten up, true your wheels, adjust the brakes. Here are my 10 insights on half a year of useless training:
- The most important: Threshold power increased by 10%.
Fact. Measurable. Thanks to Xert, TrainingPeaks and my power cranks. Xerts Progression Chart makes it clear as hardly any other instrument:
You can only increase your height if there is still air left at the top. Obviously there was plenty of room at my place…
- Xert worked.
Not as clear-cut as point 1, but a correlation must exist after all. In winter I mainly kicked my turbo on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the intervals specified by Xert. Almost every week, except during recovery. Outdoors, especially the smart intervals with increasing or decreasing wattages were very difficult to maintain, but on the Turbo it worked perfectly. I would do it again anytime. Xert saved me a coach and gave me much more freedom in training.
- My self-made training plan was bomb.
Well. Yes, I think it was quite good. Except for one week in the middle of March, when I completely lost my motivation. Otherwise I always stuck to it. Quite classical structure 1-2-R-2-3-R etc. Thanks to Joe Friel. Great guy. And pretty easy with TrainingPeaks.
- I am no climber at all.
I always thought I was. But I’m zero. In order to be one, I would perhaps have to pay attention to my diet, and that is as far away from me as Sidney is from Munich. Beer, Coke, Gyros and Marzipan are my best friends. I resigned from the Facebook group “Nutrition for Cyclists” because the members only posted photos of legumes and other health food treasures that were not suitable for me to eat. And then in all seriousness they claim that it would taste soooooo delicious. I should have taken a picture of my typical lunch plate when I was on a business trip to Dortmund: French fries, Curry Wurst, Coke. I would have been stoned to death.
So I’m not a mountain climber, as I’m too attached to my poor diet for that. With 60 minutes of constant, high load I get along much better. I didn’t know that before. So I was lucky that the Transalp was cancelled.
- Fast means happy.
I know it’s corny. True anyway. And the interesting thing is, the harder you train, the clearer becomes your head. After two hours of “Hour-of-Power” intervals (e.g. this number here) I’m as satisfied as I am usual only after I had two pieces of butter cake with cream. Of which I can then treat myself to four. So I’m twice as happy.
- A recovery day is worth a million.
With usually five days of training per week, I have learned to really appreciate every single day off. Mostly it was Thursday and Sunday. Thursdays often had other obligations in the evening, but Sunday belonged to me and the family. And when the other days are fully booked, you enjoy a day off much more.
- I can eat like a monster.
And nothing happens. I don’t weigh a gram more than last year, even though I eat everything. I’ve already mentioned that before. I really do drink a beer every night, I love Coke, I can easily suck in half a pack of chocolate crossies per “Stranger Things” episode with Netflix and I love Nutella on white bread. All this is only possible because cycling with about 12 hours of training burnt about 11,000 extra calories per week.
With that in your legs you can cope with a good fried schnitzel, a cream puff in the afternoon and two beers in the evening. Probably I will get ridiculously fat when I reduce my training now.
- Colds are for pussies.
I wasn’t even sick that winter. No cold, no sniffles, no flu. Nothing. Could be a coincidence, but it could also be the training. And I take nothing: no vitamins (on the contrary, see points 4 and 7), no medication. And I don’t use public transport to get to work either, but:
- Cycling to work is awesome.
Because it saves resources, because it is training, because it only takes a few minutes longer than by car or public transport. I have been cycling to work all winter, I can count the trips by car on one hand. In the meantime I even find it unpleasant when I have to take the car. Munich is certainly not a showcase city for exemplary cycling infrastructure, but it’s getting better. And since Corona, the bicycle is without doubt the most sensible means of transport for me to get to work.
- There is more to it than meets the eye.
One likes to read it in these success guides, but it always seems to apply to the others. But not to yourself. But for me it was true: More power, more kilometres, but above all more time than anticipated at start of season in November. Mind you: I still have a job and family. And, to be honest, both come first.
What the fuck!
Well. Maybe it’s not so fucked up after all. It could have been worse. I just trained for nothing.
It was still fun.
I’ll get myself a beer now.