When planning my season I begin with specific goals. For example, my goal this season was to cat up to 3 in the first half of the season (which I've accomplished), and then try and do well at TTs, especially the state time trial championships (July 30th), and try to help my cat 3 teammates get results in the RRs.
Then I come up with my plan of attack. The best way to cat up was to rack up top 10 finishes in 30+ starter fields. The races I do best in are hilly races - worst, flat races. So I needed to be at peak condition at hilly races. Also, because of obligations on the home front I need to avoid races more than 1hr drive away, and also leave large breaks between racing if possible to have time to devote to house projects.
Then I see what races best fit these criteria and when they are; as well as when the state TT Championship is. Ends up there are three spots through the season that I'd like to be strong: mid Feb to late March; early June; late July. So about two months between peaks.
So then it's time to get to planning. I think the most crucial thing is figuring out how much rest is needed to make sure I can actually hit the third peak. Assuming there's two months between each 2-3 week period of racing, I think there's plenty of time to rest up a bit, and then to also to build up (including using races to build up to peak).
Because my base endurance is in good shape, I think 4-6 weeks recovering from a period of racing will be optimal, and 4-6 weeks building back up is optimal.
Following the first three weekends of racing, I recovered for 4 weeks with 2 weeks slow, recovery pace riding (I was pretty gassed and needed it), followed by 2 weeks of base pace riding, with active recovery the day after long rides. I plan to recover similarly following the next two sets of racing this season.
During that time I didn't do a single hard effort, and by the end was feeling strong.
Did it work? On my first hard workout following this 4 weeks I PR'd on a climb I've trained on many times (Stonewall Wall in Stone Mountain Park). I'm surprised to have that much speed in my legs after a ton of base riding, but was pleased!
My plan for building back up race speed is pretty simple. 4 weeks before the event I'm aiming for I begin doing the same sort of efforts that will be needed in that race. Building for the beginning of the season I focused on 20min TT efforts a month or so from Tundra Time Trial, and began doing hill intervals on hills of a similar length and grade as the hills at the Tour of the Southern Highlands and the GA Tech RR about a month before those.
That ended up being about 8 weeks of building and then racing, which was a bit much and I was pretty exhausted by the end and in bad need of recovery. So I'll shorten this period for the upcoming peak periods.
Stuff always happens - vacation happens and you have to take a week off training. You get sick. Or, a race pops up you didn't know about and you want to do it. That happened last weekend.
On Saturday I read that the USAC Regional Masters Championship will be 40mins from Atlanta in - obviously that's a race I'd like to do! But it was three weeks away (two weeks now). So I'm starting to do some hill work and efforts to get some speed in my legs for it, and feel like it'll have enough time to do that, and then enough time to rest afterwards and so not compromise fitness for the second peak period.
Though it's quite possible I won't be able to be at top speed, and quite possible I won't be able to recover and then be at top speed for that second planned peak period. So is it work it?
Well, the second peak period is also not SUPER important to me, especially since I've already hit my early season goals, so if I'm not peaking really well, that's okay. I'd rather go racing! I'll get serious about recovery again after this little stretch ...