In the Groove

I’m finally in the full-on bike racer groove. It has taken me a bit to get used to having all this time on my hands. This is the first time that I haven’t juggled working along with racing and training. Strange, this time thing is hard to get used to. Initially I was tempted to “do” and then “do some more”. This was not working. On top of getting used to life here and life without Marc, this do more attitude and a couple of big races resulted in stress and a bit of fatigue.

I have finally seen the light. The less is more mantra is now ringing true. I’m taking deep breathes. Throwing away to do lists. Just taking each day as it comes. Sure I have things I want to get done. But now I’m recognizing that I don’t need to cram my days with stuff. What I need to do is get in quality training. And take the rest of the day to reap the benefits from this training. This means taking naps in the afternoon, staying off my legs, and ensuring my nutrition and stretching is top-notch.

I’ve also learned that I need to set aside time to work on my bikes. Work might be a slight exaggeration of what I’m doing to my bikes. Perhaps intensive cleaning would be more apt. Anyway, whatever you call it, it takes time to look after and maintain two cyclo-cross bikes. Since I’m not an expert at this component of the bike racer life, it does take me a bit longer to get things done. But so far so good. As it stands right now, I’ve got two sparkling clean Stevens Super-Prestige bikes in the garage. All my tires and wheels are clean. The chains are nice and shiny.

Today was about recovery on the bike. I was supposed to do a recovery ride yesterday. But exuberance got the better of me and I went out and had a not-quite-recovery ride in the nature preserve close to my house. My coach caught this and reminded me of the importance of rest. It is so hard for me to spend time on recovery because I just want to be out there practicing my skills, working on my starts, and getting more comfortable riding in the mud and sand. But lucky for me I have coach Steve… Without him, I’d be out there drilling it day in an day out. This is so tempting, especially when I have the time. But I know deep down that I need to rest and recover. And this does not mean start intervals and hard slogs through the mud.

So today’s ride was rather pleasant. I explored some new roads and pedaled down some old favorites. I love going out for a ride with the following ride plan: pedal along, take the next left, pedal along, take the next right, pedal along, hmm – I’m lost, now try and find my way home. This is what I typically do when I don’t have set intervals to do during my ride. Some may find this stressful – not knowing where you are. But for me it is part of the adventure. When in doubt, I ride towards the church steeple. This inevitably leads to the center of the town. From there I can guess and find my way home (mostly).

I have decided not to race tomorrow. I really wanted to. But I had to weigh the pros and cons of racing on Saturday. The race is not close (but not far by North American standards). But it is really more the pre-race and post-race work that I worry will cause me to fatigue. I want to be fresh for Asper-Gavere on Sunday. I also had to remember that I raced on Wednesday. It is hard to remember that I don’t have to do every race there is. I’ve got a big schedule ahead of me, so missing a race with the junior boys is not a big deal. Mind you I really like the vibe of the Vlaamse Cyclo-Cross Cup. But hopefully I’ll get out to a couple of these races later in the season (in fact I do have one definitely planned for next weekend).

I best be off. I’ve got a nice hot mug of honey tea waiting for me… Happy Friday. Best of luck to Marc racing at the Mercer Cup this weekend. Best of luck to the Fearless Leader this weekend at the Ontario Provincials. I’ll be cheering for you guys. I miss standing in the pits and cheering you on and then hanging out after the races and rehashing the 40 minute races for what seems like hours! Couldn’t do this without you guys.

(Totally forgot – go check out my latest online column at Cyclocross Magazine!)

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