"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
Henniker, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The concept of transference is an interesting topic in the field of exercise physiology. It's generally accepted that specific adaptations result from specific imposed demands (aka S.A.I.D. principle). In other words, in order to improve cycling performance you have to include cycling in your training plan. Sounds elementary, and it is. Transference suggests that there may be some carry over with regard to physiologic adaptation (ie. lactate threshold, VO2 peak, increased mitochonrial density, fiber type distribution, etc.) between different training modes. Yesterday's Pat's Peak 6-Hour Mountain Bike Race in Henniker would provide the perfect "laboratory" to see if the concept of transference actually does exist. Admittedly my focus for the past 6 months of training cycles has been running-specific (snowshoe, trail & road running/racing). I've probably had my bike out less than 15 times since the snow abated in April. No excuses, just the way it's gone. My trail & road racing since April has benefitted from the committment as I'm racing as well at age 40 than I ever have. With the 24 Hours of Great Glen mountain bike race approaching in less than a month, Pat's Peak would be an excellent gauge of my bike-fitness as well as a test of the above mentioned transference theory. Brayden and I (and support crew/family) met fellow teammate Steve Sprague on race day morning. Steve, always up for a challenge, was signed up as a solo for the 6 hour race while Brayden & I would ride it as a team. The roughly 5 mile ski slope loop included two major climbs totalling 750 feet of elevation gain. I'd estimate that 50% of the loop was very rideable singletrack with a fast twisty descent toward the finish. The RD estimated the average ride time would be 35 minutes a turn. Brayden, Steve, and I guessed we'd be closer to 45. Brayden led us off with the first lap of the event although a wrong turn (Steve made the same error as did a number of other riders) resulted in a needless descent quickly followed by a grueling return climb. His first lap clocked in around 55 minutes. While he recovered I set out for my first look at the course. The climbs were predictably brutal and with bright sunshine and temps in the upper 70's the entire field slowed to a granny gear convoy. Early on my legs felt remarkably strong and I committed myself to ride every climb. While others walked my fitness confidence grew. My first click clocked in around 41 minutes. As I entered the START/FINISH area I didn't see Brayden. Karen walked over and told me he wasn't feeling well and has requested to skip his turn. Without hesitation I headed back out for a 2nd lap. The climbs the second time around actually seemed a little shorter (as I now knew what to expect) and once again I rode each one. Although my second lap clocked in around 49 minutes, I was very happy with my physical performance...my newly repaired rear derailleur was a another story but mechanicals are part of racing. When I finished my 2nd lap Bryaden was still resting at our tech tent and I willingly joined him. After getting hydrated and fed he headed back out for his 2nd lap. By the time he returned it was obvious that we'd have the chance to put in just two more laps. With a hour of recovery my third lap felt very strong and clocked in at 45 minutes. Brayden rode our "glory lap" and finished just after the 6:00 pm horn. All in all, we rode 6 laps as a team. An excellent performance by us considering the general lack of riding each of us has done. Finally, to answer the question of transference...my lap times were as much a function of bike performance and technical skill as they were bike-specific fitness. In my mind, my running-focused training absolutely transfered to my climbing strength.
Next Up: Pemi Wild Ultra
[Photo cred: Chris riding through the finish chicane; Brayden at START/FINISH; Pat's Peak race venue; Chris riding Lap #3]
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James