When you think of training for cyclo-cross – what first comes to mind? For me it is all about skills. Being able to turn faster, mount and dismount more smoothly, to ride through sand and mud with ease, to pick up my bike quickly. Skills. Skills. Skills. Next on my list is my fitness.
I’m of the belief that a strong fitness base is useless if you don’t have the skills. If I have to jam on my brakes for every corner and then re-accelerate to get up to speed, eventually I’ll burn through my bullets. But if I can ride the corner smoothly, set it up, remember the mantra “go slow to go fast”, then I don’t have to waste energy and I can save to for when I really need it in the race.
For my ‘cross training, I spend a lot of time on my ‘cross bike doing drills. And I spend a lot of time on the road bike doing intervals and building my fitness. This means a lot of two-a-days. Some people think that the best way to do this is do the intervals on the ‘cross bike – this way one can work on the skills at the same time as building fitness. I’m torn on this. I can see the pros. But also the cons. For me, the cons outweigh the pros. Essentially, I’m still building and refining my skill set, so if I’m trying to do the drills at top speed and effort – chances are I won’t execute the drills as well as I can to truly benefit from them.
All this being said, I had a great session on the ‘cross bike last night. Bit frosty out but I just dressed for it. I set up three stations and in my 90 minutes I rode them like a mini-course. Trying different speeds and angles. Taking the time to redo a section if I blew it. I did some steep camber turning. Uphill barrier dismount and fast remount. Fast downhill turns. Turning in a grid. Mounts and dismounts. Bunnyhopping. Yes – I did a lot. But by setting up the stations, I kept things interesting. I find this can be a challenge when out alone on the ‘cross bike. Sometimes time drags. But the variety helps keep me going. As does the motivation. I know I have to do this work to get where I want to be. This is really what drives me.
I want to be able to line up on race day knowing I’ve done all I can. If I can say this, I’m totally relaxed and confident. The racing is the easy part. It is the time to get out there and play.
Confidence is my best friend.