I'm back in Boulder, Colo for the summer. Have been for about a month now. It's always a great pleasure to return to the Rocky Mountains. My winter home is now in Scottsdale, Ariz because after 30 years of living in Colorado I grew very tired of snow and ice. Frozen water bottles and riding long indoors is just not for me. But I also am not crazy about 110F degree weather. Hence, homes in Ariz and Colo.
The mountains are great for getting back in shape, also. I live at the top of a one-mile climb in Scottsdale but it just isn't the same doing hill reps there as climbing non-stop for several miles here. Two weeks ago I did the Colorado Bicycle Tour in the mountains in southwestern Colorado--440 miles and in the neighborhood of 15,000 feet of climbing. Last Saturday I did the Triple Bypass--123 miles over three passes with 10,600 feet of vertical gain. Two more centuries in the mountains in the next 5 weeks with intervals and tempo workouts in between and I should be in decent shape again. Hopefully, fit enough that my son, Dirk, won't drop me on his easy rides.
There is nothing like climbing for building force and muscular endurance. I've coached many athletes who live in flat places like the coastal areas of Florida. Their fitness would have progressed much faster if they had gotten some mountain time in their late Base periods. Unfortunately, that's not a possibility short of taking a vacation to ride some place like here.
The downside of living here is the altitude. I know that everyone thinks coming to Colorado for a couple of weeks will make them aerobic animals by the time they get back home. Personally, I don't think there's much aerobic advantage unless you go to places like Vail, Winterpark, Breckinridge or some other place above about 7000 feet. Boulder is about 5500 feet. There isn't much to be gained aerobically from being here for a few weeks. It's actually kind of a "limbo," if you will. It is high enough to slow you down when training which means the muscular system doesn't get worked as hard as it would at sea level. And yet the altitude is not high enough to produce much of an aerobic benefit.
Riding in the mountains makes up for a lot of this downside. The other thing I like about training here is the number and quality of athletes. There are people out running and riding every where you go and at all hours of the day. Boulder has to have one of the highest aerobic capacities per capita in the country, perhaps the world. There's always someone to train with who is in better condition.
I'm here until late September when it sometimes snows in Boulder. When that happens I'm outta here and back to the warmth of Scottsdale where I can continue riding in shorts year round.