The Angel and the Devil: Loren Rowney on classic-style training

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Loren Rowney was the first professional cyclist to reach out to CyclingTips upon learning that we would be launching a women’s specific site. I had yet to be hired, and the site had not been named, but Loren knew she wanted in – and in she is. Loren joins Chloe Hosking and Mara Abbott as regular contributors to Ella. The piece below is her first – written from her European base of Girona, Spain.

Even seasoned pros that move across the globe in pursuit of the Spanish sunshine still find themselves contending with less than ideal riding conditions. In Loren’s debut column she writes about an internal battle sparked by the battle of the elements during a recent training session.

Jessi Braverman

It was a classic style training day in Belgium.

Wait what? I mean Girona.

(You’ll forgive my confusion when I explain)

We’ve all had those days. The ones where you look down at your Garmin and think: “Oh dear God. I’m not even one hour in to this ride…and I still have a very, very long way to go before I’m sipping on coffee back home.”

Yup, this past weekend produced one of those days – two times over but for completely different reasons. We were thrown Belgium/Holland/Qatar style conditions by the cycling gods here in Spain (who would have thunk!?). I mean come on! Don’t we move to Girona to escape those crazy conditions?

The positive side of me (we’ll call her Angel) said: “Loren, the cycling gods are just trying to prep you for what’s to come. So when you’re battling it out in Belgium next week and it’s two degrees, cold, wet and windy, you can say, pffff this ain’t got nothing on last week in Girona.”

The devil inside me said: “Ha. Hahaha. You’re looking at your Garmin now? Well guess what? You still have a lot more of this hell to come, and these conditions ain’t letting up.”

Ah yes, the internal battle within. You know what I’m talking about, right? When you are in a world of hurt, and you have your angel and devil throwing all kinds of positive/negative thoughts at you.

The crazy thing is, I think most of us relish these epic training days. Because they will forever be imprinted in your memory, almost like a good ole fashioned war story. There is nothing better than sharing those terrible tales at the coffee shop among other passionate cyclists.

But let me tell you, during these epics, when you ride past a café or restaurant and you can smell lunch cooking and laughter spilling out of the windows, you will think: “what the hell am I doing here!?” Isn’t that why we love it? Because what “normal” (I use the word normal loosely, because what is normal?) person thinks going out for six hours in 50 kph winds on Zipp 404s is a good idea when there’s a perfectly good wind trainer sitting in the corner?

And these rides are always full of funny. The abs hurting, please stop making me laugh moments. I think the highlight and amusement for everyone was in fact me. Between my random squealing every time the wind caught my front 404 to getting blown off the road multiple times to honestly wondering “if it was perfectly acceptable to pee in my chamois in the rain?” to the stay away from Loren while she descends (because of the whole wind factor), I would like to think I made the epic a little more entertaining, and bearable.

Five hours into the six hour ride, my Norwegian friend who rides for Lotto Soudal won quote of the day with: “I’ve never ridden in this much wind before.”

We later found out we encountered guests in excess of 145 km/hr.

I would say this is one time where using the word “epic” is perfectly warranted.

Loren Rowney is a professional rider for Velocio-SRAM. With the team since its inception (as Specialized-lululemon), the South-African born Australian lives in Girona, Spain during the European cycling season

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