Mary & Mike diary: Making the most of winter

Mary and I spent the majority of the winter in my hometown of Chilmark, Massachusetts, kind of by mistake. We came off a huge year of travel and racing in 2006 and were talking and planning as if we were ready for more. We dreamed of an incredible winter off-season in New Zealand or Hawaii, certainly somewhere warm and beautiful, until we made the trip to the quiet island off the east coast of Massachusetts and rediscovered how much we enjoy not traveling. Having a full size kitchen complete with breadmaker and ample room to do yoga was enough to keep Mary occupied between cold training rides and body ball workouts. For me, the lure of my own semi-set-up bike shop along with my family's metal and wood-working shop was a welcome chance to tap into some creative energy and get involved in a few crazy projects.

The highest point on Martha's Vineyard island is 311 feet--actually more like 305--but someone piled a bunch of stones up on the top of one of the local hills to edge out another for the bragging rights. So the climbing is a bit limited, but we found plenty of ways to keep ourselves occupied and in good condition throughout our longer than anticipated winter stay (November to February). Global warming was kind enough to keep things mild and snow free through the end of December before the frigid temps came.

At this point, we enjoyed a rare chance to skate the local ponds, break out the carbide studded Kenda winter tires and do some performance testing in our Adidas cold weather cycling gear. Though it was a bit brutal, the training was always possible, and we made the most of it. Luckily for us (and for all those who live in the flat lands), it seems that it is possible to stay in shape without the huge climbs and radical trails that you read about and crave to ride. Just plain old hours of suffering on the windy flats and hours and hours on the knobbies on the same old trails seem to work.

We made the trip out to northern California for a two week training block in early February and only there realized how tough things had been out East. It was so much easier to put in the long rides without the limiters of frozen feet and icing water bottles. Here the mountainbiking is so good that most of it has rules, restrictions, speed limits, and etc. attached to it to keep people from hurting one another or themselves. Although this tends to limit some of the enjoyment, Mary and I were more than happy for the transition to the balmy 50 degree weather.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

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