Traditionally, based on the XC racing I do from May to September (with an odd race here or there in April and October), things time out that my low point bike fitness wise is December. I think I timed everything just right this year in terms of the fall fun riding I did, tapering off the time on the bike from many hours to as little as 2 hours a week, taking some much needed time off the bike, and lifting weights for a month to arrive at my desired "low point" in mid-December (bike fitness wise).
If I needed any convincing I had reached that point, it was affirmed this morning when I drove out to Banner Pits to get a lap or more in before the ground totally thawed out. Maybe it was the not so solidly frozen ground. Maybe it was the reality of pushing the big meats (Ardent 2.4's front and rear). Maybe it was the volume of low base I put in this week to start things off (5 hours of base). Maybe it was a combination of all of that, but I felt like a weak little turtle out there. A gear I hardly use when XC racing (27 x 34) on anything but the longest, steepest climbs - I was using on every climb and wondering where my power was. I could hardly turn over the cranks and had to get out of the saddle to survive the short steep climbs. Of course, I've packed on some fall/winter pounds - so that never helps. In any event, one full lap was enough to cook my goose and have me pack it in while laughing at the measly 45 minutes it took me to do the full loop in the frozen, crispy trails with a few sluggish mud spots. Remind me to ride pavement this time of year, it's not as humbling. ;-]
It's still a little too early to ramp up the base training so everything times out for peak number one in 2012. I only ramped up a bit of base this week so I could pedal the bike next week out in the Black Hills without passing out. I got about 6 hours on the bike this week which is about 3 hours too much for this point, but I want to be able to climb some of those Black Hills. If I continue with those hours and add to it from here - I'll peak way too early and have a mid-season burnout. After the week in the Black Hills, I'll back things off again for a few weeks, lift some more weights before slowly ramping up the base training period to have everything time out correctly for the 2012 season.
December low point reached. This may sound incongruent, but that means success!