Carpenter’s worlds prep? Long, hot SoCal rides

Robin Carpenter spent the last month going on long, hot rides in the desert east of San Diego.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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Holowesko – Citadel rider Robin Carpenter will make his debut on the U.S. elite men’s world championship team during Sunday’s men’s road race in Doha, Qatar. Carpenter, 24, earned a discretionary spot on the USA Cycling roster thanks to his overall wins at the Tour of Alberta and Cascade Cycling Classic, and his breakaway stage win at the Tour of Utah.

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Being named to the worlds team meant Carpenter and the rest of the U.S. team had to commit to an extra month of training. Carpenter originally planned to end his season after the early-September Tour of Alberta. Instead, he has spent the last month logging long, hot miles in the desert east of San Diego, where he lives.

“My SRM was reading 105 degrees all day, so I’ve been getting used to the heat,” Carpenter after a ride last week. “The funny thing about eastern San Diego is there are no trees and no shade. It’s just hot all day long.”

Throughout this week, various cyclists have revealed their unorthodox preparation for the Doha worlds, where desert heat and humidity have presented a major challenge. Jim Miller, USA Cycling’s vice president of athletics, said that the American enacted a “sauna protocol,” which had riders train in long sleeves and then follow each training session with 30 minutes in a dry sauna. Ireland’s Ryan Mullen went so far as to haul his turbo trainer into a sauna, spinning intervals in the heat.

Carpenter says he didn’t need a sauna. His prep was boosted by Southern California’s recent heatwave, which kept temperatures above 100 degrees in some areas since late August. Carpenter lives along the Pacific coast, but he ditched the routes along the ocean due to their cooler temperatures.

Instead, he headed east, into the dry, hot roads between the inland communities of Alpine, Santee, Lakeside, and Ramona. The Great Western Loop, a popular 40-mile loop in the area, is revered by San Diego-area cyclists for its open roads and challenging terrain. But in August, cyclists often head west, toward the ocean, to avoid the heat.

Carpenter said he logged multiple training rides on the hilly circuit. His training simulated breakaway riding — long, hard miles at a stiff tempo, with a few surges thrown in to simulate attacks. One recent ride, he said, was basically 200km at his maximum tempo pace.

Carpenter says he’s happy to be a domestique on the worlds team. But if an early move goes on Sunday, Carpenter wants to be present.

“I’m hoping that I’ll be given a shot to try to get in an early move, if there is one. I’m hoping to show my face because I have the fitness to do that,” Carpenter said. “I don’t want to just go there. I’m there to do it right.”

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