BaseCamper Gregg Salsi shared his experience at the 2023 Garrett County Gran Fondo in Maryland.
This past spring I set some goals that were quite different from my previously-accomplished long biking events. I wanted to conquer some rides with more mountainous climbing, but I knew that I needed to train differently. When Base Camp ended, I partnered with Coach Jim for some individual training (lots of VO2max, sweet spot training, tempos, hill repeats, etc.). Additionally, I added a power meter to my bike to do the workouts outdoors.
Last weekend I participated in the Garrett County Gran Fondo at Deep Creek (western Maryland). The event offered multiple rides: 125, 100, 63, 44, or 25 miles. The land is very hilly in western Maryland, as some of you may know, so every ride had lots of elevation. This ride is not a race, but it does have KOM competitions. Winning KOMs was not my goal; my goal was to complete the ride, conquer all of the hills/climbs, and feel as good as possible at the end of the ride. I wasn't sure how it would all play out and how far I would actually be able to ride, so I talked it over with Coach Jim. Talking with Coach Jim helped me to set my goals and to know my decision points. I decided to shoot for the 63-mile metric route and then see how I feel at the 53-mile divergent point for the 63/44-mile route or the 100/125-mile route.
The strategy for the hills/climbs was to keep a steady tempo power range and stand up/stretch the legs for about 5-10 seconds periodically. For the other parts of the ride, keep it in the endurance/aerobic power range.
It was only about 2.5 miles into the ride before I encountered the first KOM --- not much of a warmup! As I was going up the first hill, I remembered to perform the plan, and when I got up to the top, I felt good and was ready for the next hill/climb. The rest of the hills/climbs and ride went very well. On one of the longer/harder hills/climbs, 1.7 miles, as I was going up and looked ahead in front of me to the other riders, some of them were zig-zagging up the road, and a few actually had abandoned riding and were walking their bike to the top. Thankfully, with all the Base Camp workouts/training, I was able to make it up that hill and all the other hills in the route without stopping and while keeping a steady tempo power range. Yes, there were some riders that passed me going up a hill, but I did not chase them because I did not want to burn myself out. The other item that I kept reminding myself of as I was going up the hills/climbs was, as Coach Jim told me, don't burn any matches!
At the end of the ride, my legs were sore, but I was able to complete the 63 miles (7743-foot elevation) route, and I felt better than I have ever felt at the end of any long ride that I'd done in the past. Overall, I was happy with the ride, and I know that my success is due to the BaseCamp program and the coaches! I especially want to thank Coach Jim and his encouragement, guidance, and expertise in helping me to train for this ride!