Most sports have an "off season." This is when athletes kick back and take it easy, maybe cross-training some, but basically recharging their batteries for the next season.
Ultracyclists don't really do that ... or, at least, I don't. This time of year, my average mileage goes down some, but most of that's due to the weather. A polar vortex comes to town, and your only choice is ride short, get on the trainer, or get frostbite. I've had frostbite, and let me tell you: It bites.
So, instead of riding 250 miles a week like I do in the summer, during the winter I ride 150-200 miles a week. And trust me that those are really, really hard miles, usually into nasty headwinds pushing bone-chilling cold.
Why don't I back off some? Mostly because I've finally built up sufficient calluses in my nether regions that ultra-distances don't bother me, and I don't want to have to rebuild those calluses.
Simple? Yes. And a little sad.
That being said, my training for the upcoming season of brevets has begun in earnest. And what a season it should be.
Of course, I'm doing most of the local brevets in January, February, and March. Somewhere in there I will stop drinking coffee and get off of caffeine, since in April we will be riding my old Cookeville 400K, which means riding through the night.
May starts with a tandem rally for me and RandoGirl, and ends with a 600K to complete my series. Then, in June, I'm going to finally ride the Cascade 1200K.
July and August will be less hectic, but in September I will be busy volunteering for the Natchez Trace 1500K Grand Randonee. Spending a week of vacation helping other people complete what it easily the longest event on RUSA's calendar sounds kind of dumb, but I know that it will be tons of fun.
In October, RandoGirl and I are renting a villa in the Italian countryside with some of our friends, riding hither and yon and eating way too much pasta and drinking extraordinary wine. Then November comes, and December, and it will get cold again.
This probably means another 10,000-mile-plus year (2013 ended with 10,425 miles), but I believe that I am ready for it. Also, it should put me in good shape to ride Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015. After that, it may be time to hang up my randonneuring helmet.