Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dropping 20 bucks to ride around in circles...

Part of the reason why I enter races, despite being far from awesome, is that a race presents an opportunity to push myself harder than I ever would during a recreational ride. Even if I'm doing intervals ("fartleks").

A race tests me like I cannot test myself. Sure, on some sunny Sunday afternoon in the park I might be able to run barriers and feel like a juiced Belgian pro doing it, but on a cold and soggy Sunday morning, in with scores of other racers, screaming spectators and clanging bells? Yeah-- I can only BUY that. Can't simulate it.

Anyway-- I finally fixed the flat on my road bike and took it out instead of my SS. Wow. After three months off it felt... weird. Different. "Whippy."

I also caught myself just noodling along at one point, taking advantage of all those gears. (Well, the bike is only a 7-speed. Don't laugh, it's a 1994 Cannondale.)

I keep thinking that all the time I spend on the bike (Which I love.) must be doing me some good, right? Maybe not, if I'm slackin'.

I read a good training article ("Finding the Time") by Jason Sumner over on VeloNews. It's got some good advice about the difference in quality versus quantity in relation to busy and changing schedules (you know-- life is what happens when you're busy making your kick-ass training plan.)

"...the key is finding that critical balance between high intensity and adequate rest. Better to crush yourself a couple times a week, and then have several short truly easy days, than to noodle around whenever you can and rarely take time off."
Noodling around whenever I can is a lot of fun. I love riding the bike. But if I want to kick just a little ass this summer and especially this fall I need to stay focused. I want to kick just a couple of asses, that's all. A few maybe. About a dozen or so. I don't need to squeeze all the fun out of noodling around, but maybe not so much with the noodling.

Another good idea presented by the coach in the article is this:

“Try practicing some strategies,” suggested Coach. “Plan a scenario where one teammate is the attacker and another set ups to counter if the move keeps getting brought back. Doing things like that is great way to have a purpose for a training race instead of just dropping 20 bucks and riding around in the pack.”
Of course! It's fun to race, but I should also take those opportunities to look around. Practice some tactics. For instance in CX (or any short-course, multi-lap race) I need to accelerate out of corners rather than just sitting on my duff and mashing the pedals. Watch the good guys and the lines they take. Chase the guys that pass me. Dice with them. Work on my form through the barriers. (Like Tonkin teaches-- run through the barriers, don't jump over them.) Every race is an opportunity to learn and improve, not just go round and round.

Although the last sentence provides me with a great out: "Yeah.. that was just a training race for me."

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