My name is Boyd Johnson and for 2011 my main goal for Mt. Mitchell is to cross the finish line in less than 5 hours (and maybe even ahead of everybody else!). The distance and climbing involved for the Assault makes it one of the toughest events I'll complete all year. Training and preparation for an event like this doesn't start the week or even month before, I am currently in the pre-season portion of my training. During this part of the year I am focusing on raising my threshold level (sustainable wattage). The workouts I am doing currently are intervals of 20 or more minutes, usually performed around 88%-93% of what I can maintain for an hour.
One of the things that really helps gauge this effort and track my progress is my iBike power meter (www.ibikesports.com). If you are not familiar with power meters, they are a way to monitor at all times the amount of pressure you are putting on the pedals. The output is expressed as watts. For an event like Mt. Mitchell the final climb is all about watts per kilogram, or how many watts you can maintain for every kilogram of body weight. The other benefit of doing longer specific intervals is that you can optimize your time available to ride. Most of us don't have 4-6 hours available to ride during the week, by doing these specific intervals you can accomplish more in an hour and a half than if you were to go out for a normal 4 hour ride. Keep in mind though that the Assault is a very long and gruesome event, at some point you will need to get out and put in some long mileage rides.
For a lot of you with the normal 9-5 jobs this winter will mean a lot of trainer riding. The trainer can be boring and hard to take, but it can also be a great way to improve. With no factors such as wind, hills, stop signs, etc you can really hold a steady wattage and optimize your workout. Over Christmas time I went back to my hometown in Western, NY. I had the time to ride, but the 2-3 feet of snow outside made it pretty hard to get outside. Instead I hopped on my rollers and in one hour had my warm up, 2 twenty minute intervals, and a cool down finished. It wasn't easy but because of how specific the workout was I was finished before riding the rollers got to be too much to handle.
Keep checking back here as I'll have some tips on good workouts, updates on my preparation for the Assault, and even advice on equipment selection for race day. Many of you stopped by the booth that we had last year at the expo. We definitely plan on being back at the expo the day before the Assault. We'll even have some new goodies on display and you'll get to see the exact selection I'll be making as I try to be the ride rider over the finish line.