Today was my first race(s) in the off-season. A lot of work has been put into this upcoming year and today was a good measure of where I was and where I am now.
Our course was a flat criterium out in Carson, four right-hand turns, 0.8mi, nothing special. The first things I’ve noticed right from the start whistle were:
- I’m in good shape (I’ll use the term, “fit”)
- I have not trained for high intensity intervals at all
To make a long post short, the first thing I noticed outweighs the second when speaking of satisfaction. To be quite honest, the fitness carried me through the sprints and attacks during the races. This will make tacking on high intensity intervals/ sprints a little easier. My recovery time in between accelerations was a little embarrassing. I can think of a number of excuses as to why I did not finish in the top ten, or even the top twenty for that matter. I know I didn’t ride my best but based on the type of training I have been doing (low intensity, higher mileage, little to no anaerobic threshold practice.)
Both races felt like two thirty minute intervals for me. The race seemed to be like a preview of things to come in the upcoming season. There were a few close calls, people bumping shoulders with each other almost crashing. There were even a few crashes too. I tried two different strategies during each race. My first was to hang out towards the back of the pack, then when the final five laps came I would work my way up in hopes to have a rewarding finish. For the second race, I decided to stay with the top ten racers for the entirety of the race. The funny thing is that even though the second strategy left me feeling a lot better performance-wise, I got a better result with the first race. This can only be since I have been training for further distances and have had a more endurance focus.
Just a few weeks ago we did a memorial ride that had a large amount of elevation and a shorter distance at race pace. This was a real ball-buster, the Mike Nosco memorial ride is no joke. Needless to say, I did very well in that event and finished with the third pack of about 500 total riders. Further distances at steady paces seems more up my alley which would explain why I felt better riding in the front for today’s crit.
There isn’t much left to report. I took today as a test experiment to make sure all the hours on and off the bike haven’t been wasted. In my conclusion, the fitness is there and should be maintained according to schedule. Come early December, I will implement more high intensity sprints in between rides I currently will be doing. Then when the season finally approaches I hope to cut my weekly ride time in half and focus more and specialized rides (more quality training instead of quantity and duration.) This will keep me from burning myself out and dropping the ball before the season starts. That with the addition of more race-oriented practices such as nutritional supplements before and after rides to finally seal the deal (don’t worry, everything is legal according to our rules.)
To summarize, these experimental races have proven successful when speaking of training assessment and what to focus on in the remaining months of the off season. I know what I need to continue and what to eventually add on when the time comes. Plus I am getting excited just thinking about working together with teammates in the upcoming road races. During the second race today, my teammate Adam and I were working together almost all of the race since we have similar riding styles. Seeing others yield to you and open up a gap so you can get back in the paceline because your teammate is coming up makes you feel really special. Common courtesies like that are just as encouraging as your favorite spectator cheering you on. I am having trouble putting into words how special that made me feel. Needless to say I ran out of gas and blew up after a four man group attacked us with two laps to go, but those are minor details as far as I’m concerned.
On a separate note, I’m practicing healthier writing habits along with my training habits. They seem to contrast and compliment each other. Makes me realize I’m not just some cycling jock, but that I have an opinion and insight on understanding myself and the world around me. As I said to my friends at today’s race, “I’m just happy to be here.” I’ve come quite a ways from earlier in the year, and feel ecstatic that all the work I have put in will one day pay off.
The early mornings getting off work from the night shift and going straight to my cardio-based strength training right when I get home. Looking at my bike (which I plan to upgrade in weeks to come….(stay tuned)) and reminding myself why I am doing all of this. Sure some of it is to better myself as a human being which has it’s own benefits I have seen just recently, but my primary focus is the bike. It’s safe to say that that will be a pretty big chunk of my priorities for years and years to come, and I don’t see a single thing wrong with that. Just this afternoon I heard someone mention on the radio that when she was attempting to paddle a boat across the pacific ocean, getting into a normal routine and feeling so alive, she felt like a nun or a monk with the liberties of simplicity. Something about that really resonated with me and my current lifestyle. I feel so satisfied and liberated by my everyday routine of productive and rewarding actions. So much so, that I don’t see much else that could top it. Simplicity is liberating; knowing just how much someone needs to get by or do perform well at whatever task is a relief at the least.
On that note, In order to let these good times keep rolling, I must continue with my work and my studies. Feels really good getting all this off my chest and how in tune with myself I have become. One can do nothing more than to sigh in relief and in realization of self.