Reflecting on training and races are a critical element to self-improvement, but doing so in a blog post can make for a rather boring read. Considering the fact that I am struggling to stay focused long enough to get my thoughts into text, I figure few will stay focused enough to read this post! Regardless, here are a few thoughts from a weekend that taught me more lessons than this a little bike racing brain can begin to digest.
- The tricks to pinning numbers
Practice makes perfect.. apparently I need more practice after pinning my numbers on backwards.
- Creature of habit
Hitting up an early season race offered great opportunity to dial in my pre race routine including a staged 3 course breakfast through to a regimented yet spontaneous (yes oxymoron) warm up.
- Keep it lose, keep it tight
These are the lyrics to one of my favourite songs and it also makes for a fitting mindset before a race! Stay loose and have fun but stay focused and get it done! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xt8dVLPLFc
- Be a SPONGE
This is the focus of my 2015 season. I am surrounded by so much talent and there is no better opportunity to learn than soaking in the experience and energy from those around me! The girls in the race were brilliant teachers, whether they knew it or not.
- Watch and learn
There were a couple full teams on the line and I knew they would be whipping out the tool box of team tactics, so watching them was my focus for the race. Now that I get to race on a team with Trek Red Truck Racing, I wanted to see how other teams arrange themselves and what efforts succeed and what bust. Thank you for taking me to bike school Metromint Cycling and ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing!
- You can lose a race in the last corner
Saving your matches for the final sprint is great, but you must get yourself to the final sprint to light the match! This race was a pancake flat, wide four corner loop so I knew it would be consistently fast lending perfect opportunity to practice riding efficiently within the pack. I tested my legs in an early prime, moved well around the pack during the race and ensured I was in a perfect position in the last 3 laps. Come the last corner, I managed to slip from 3rd position back to about 15th position in a matter of 10 metres, making for a long drawn out sprint from the back of the peloton. Needless to say, I lost the race by botching the final corner and did not put myself in position to really utilize my last matchstick.
- It is all you
Whatever motivates you, embrace it. I love individual efforts, but I knew this stage would crumble my General Classification ranking when I saw the complete TT set ups of my competition. Although my finishing time was a motivator, my visual behind this effort was all about getting a new power curve on my Golden Cheetah file.
- Being fit and having a TT bike makes for a deadly combo
I am not one to blog about equipment, but if someone asked me to write a recipe card for a ‘Cupcake of Time Trial Success’ it would likely include aero bars and an aero helmet with a dialled bike fit. Just saying.
- Satisfaction from a Personal Best
When I quit speed skating a coach once told me “once a speed skater, always a speed skater” and efforts like individual time trials continually remind me of this! An ITT is a perfect opportunity for me to commit to that PB. Although I didn’t win the race (ok let’s be honest I wasn’t close to winning) I was pleased that I got to send my coach that new PB power curve that I spent 10 miles chasing!
- Keep it spicy and be smart
I had fun trying to keep things spicy throughout the 68 miles, letting the other riders know I was around for a lively race but tried to be ‘smart’ and keep my efforts controlled. I felt comfortable letting some attacks dangle within view, but being surrounded with teams of riders, I knew I had to keep those breaks on a tight leash.
- Trust yourself
Although I am not yet in top-notch race form, I had to know that I have put more miles into my legs than any other season and to trust my fitness and let the race roll! Confidence is a defining element in bike racing, and something that takes as much attention as the physical system. The training is never done.
- Bikes should not crack before the rider
I often chuckle when people end every other sentence with ‘literally’ but in this case, it is a perfectly fitting word. My bike cracked before I did, literally. A patch of NorCal style cobblestone roads, followed by 3 rolling hills had the race dwindled down to 4 girls including myself chasing 2 escape artists. With 1km until the finish, I stood out of my saddle to crest the 1st hill of the ‘3 feature roller coaster’ when my bike ‘literally’ (okay almost literally) exploded beneath me! A sensation I had never experienced left me skidding across the road with my body propelled over the front of my handle bars. Applying every ounce of bike handling skills within me, I was fortunate to regain control of my disorderly machine. Looking down I saw a crack stretching across the top tube of my frame, a sight that left me rather concerned as I looked at the 2 remaining hills before the distant finish line! As I coasted towards the finish, I focused on keeping my bike as square as possible with fear that any torque would turn the situation into a complete disaster. Words cannot express how fortunate I am for this to have ended so well and I know I had a very caring bike racing guardian angel watching over me.
- Bike racing is so FUN
- California is a beautiful place
- I am living the life of my dreams
- I suppose a broken bike is one way to motivate me to head home
Check out a full collection of race photos from NorCal Photographer, Alex Chiu Photography, Madera Stage Race 2015.