“you are training for cx already?!”
I was gassed. Throttled. Worthless. I had been riding so poorly and I was exhausted and barely holding on to what mediocre fitness I had left. The day before the world cup, I felt great out on the course for the riders practice. Had that snap in my legs and was excited to start the next day. The morning of; was a different matter entirely.
Evidenced by my tired exhale, vacant gaze and bloodshot eyes.
Today was one of those rides. I was crying trying to finish up the last interval. Literally.
I met some pals for coffee to see them off to the Cascade Creampuff 100 this morning. Matt Hall and John Dorfer + a rad crew are heading down to Oakridge to get destroyed on some vtt trails. Daveeeed + Sacha White and Scott from Vanilla were heading out on a ride from the same coffee shop and I was happy to tag along for the start of their ride. The cyclocross is in full effect. We are building and fitting cyclocross bicycles like crazy. The weather was holding steady, it looked like the sun may actually come out. The summer is in full effect with the bike shop and studio. Rolling. Hard.
I’ve been throttled the last couple months. While everyone else is racing and hanging out and enjoying the summer and time with friends: my mornings are packed with solo training rides, my days with work and my nights with more work.
A few seasons back, after a particularly worthless cyclocross season, I asked my coach at the time: “is it all worth it? all the training and training and riding and effort. All the sacrifices I make… it does not seem like it is translating into progression: I’m still finishing in the same position I have been for the last couple years.”
Yet, I’ve stuck to the plan. For month after month after month the last four years I’ve been dedicated to cyclocross. No track racing, no mountain bike racing. Hardly any racing at all. Till the fall.
Instead of racing, I train. And it is structured. And I ride by myself. A lot.
I‘m conscious I write this stuff out and it comes across on paper like I’m boasting about the hours and hours I train. When I talk about 20+ hour weeks, I think I am writing to express something that someone else can relate to. My PRO pals will scoff: “we all have to ride a lot. stop tre boo hoo ing.” My intimate circle of pals don’t care about putting in as much training (they are far too smart to put this much energy into the bicycle) on the bike on top of a real job and real life. It is just not worth it to most. “If you are not a PRO, why train like a PRO?” I’ve got plenty of pals that I know are putting in big miles, sure. But no one is as focused on the fall. Roadies are not doing so much base-building this time of year. And, the local PROs that will be ripping my legs off all cx season long don’t seem to need structured 5 hour rides all summer long. They can get up off the couch, spin around the block once a week and still ride away from me in a cx race.
Because I’m convinced I can progress. Is that the secret trap of cycling? You can always get better, get fitter right? I don’t have the raw talent that the PRO riders have. So I have to compensate by training smart. And training a lot.
And it seems like it is working. The ride today was hard work. On paper I’m riding better than I ever, ever have. Maybe it has taken a few seasons of structure to get my body to adapt and step it up.
Now I’ve got a couple months to put the rest of the pieces together and start winning some races.
And then the sacrifices will feel like they are worth it.