I have been riding a bicycle seriously for almost thirty years now, racing on and off in the middle of that time span and riding the Assault for a personal best time many of those years.
But, I don't train.
I ride my bicycle because I love to be outside (and I need to be outside). I ride my bicycle because, as an existentialist, I embrace "suffering" and "living" as synonyms; if Sartre or Camus had been athletes, surely they would have been serious cyclists. And I ride my bicycles because my cycling friends—the riding and the social time connected with our riding—are hard to beat (in several cases, I mean that literally—I can't beat them on the bicycle).
So I want to offer what I consider the basics for getting ready for the Assault, with the caveat that I don't train, and likely won't be offering anything on this blog about power meters, heart rate threshholds, or intervals. . .
(1) Ride with other riders, and ride in large packs as much as possible. And while doing so, learn how to ride well—holding your line, talking, contributing to the pack. One of the reasons I do Upstate Winter Bike League each winter is that the A pack is like the ride to Marion each year in the Assault. Simply put, if you are not adept at riding your bicycle in large aggressive groups, you are a danger to yourself and others—no matter how strong you are.
(2) Know yourself, and work to push beyond yourself (not other people). One of the great elements of the Assault is the event is like the running world; it is about PB (personal best). I like to see my finishing place each year (and I enjoy finishing ahead of some of those friends I mentioned above), but most of all, I am riding against an aging Me.
(3) Commit to riding regularly (X number of times per week from now until the Assault), and commit to one long ride per week that you extend with purpose and design to fit the climbing ride the Assault is. Look for extended climbs and build your base.
(4) Ride with variety in your efforts; don't ride the same pace ride after ride. It isn't good for your growth as a rider and it isn't good for you mentally.
(5) When you do climb, consider focusing on how you will climb at the Assault. Attacking every climb on training and then climbing at tempo on the Assault ride. . .well. . .that just doesn't make sense.
(6) Find, befriend, and coerce stronger riders than you to tolerate you on their rides. They are invaluable. . .
And, finally, realize that we are primarily recreational riders. The training must be recreational, and the day of the event may confront with you with many things out of your control.
Paul Thomas, EdD, Associate Professor
Furman University, 3300 Poinsett Hwy, Greenville SC 29613
"If education cannot do everything, there is something fundamental that it can do. In other words, if education is not the key to social transformation, neither is it simply meant to reproduce the dominant ideology" (Freire, 1998, p. 110).