Forward Momentum

I’ve had a good couple of days of training and some excellent talks with people about my racing so far. I’ve gotten a lot of good advice on what to do and not do. Most importantly, I’ve been reminded of the progress I’ve made. It is sometimes easy in the shuffle of race results to remember what things were like a year ago. Luckily for me I’ve made a lot of gains in a year. Fitness gains. Technical gains. And I think really most significantly, mental gains.

Yes, that almighty mental game is super key. Especially for me right now. It would be easy to drag myself down into a pit of despair and self-pity. That happened last year. (Twice) But it is not happening this year. Last year tough races and results, served to only make me fear my bike and each upcoming race. Not this year. Not even close. On the contrary, my race experiences this year have made me embrace my bike and racing even more. I want to be out on my bike right now – riding in the mud, tackling the sand, descending something crazy.

I’m not sure how this shift happened. I can’t question it. I can only be thankful for it and stay positive. There is no room for the negative in my season. I realized that some might have my read my posts on Sunday and interpreted them as my feeling a bit down. Nope. Fired up was and is how I’m feeling. I just want to get out there and get better.

These last two days have been so good for this. I had a super awesome ride on Monday. Got out for close to three hours with some really challenging start intervals thrown into the mix. Let me tell you – 45 seconds when you’re standing sprinting out of the saddle in your hardest gear, is a really really long time. I loved them. And good news is, I get to do them again tomorrow. The interesting thing about these intervals is that they really taught me that I’m not going hard enough in the start. I guess I really wasn’t sure how the start should feel. Apparently it is supposed to feel like these intervals. Perfect. Now I know. Today I got out for a ninety minute recovery ride. Initially, I thought 90 minutes didn’t seem like much. But let me tell you – my body needed a short easy recovery ride. Didn’t realize I was tired until I started pedaling!

I had a great talk with a new ally here in Belgium who is proving to be super helpful in my quest to get some technical training. Also got the name of another rider who might be able to help out. Cool. All I can do is ask.

Did a little bit of bike work as well. Well, bike work might be a stretch… I’ve been riding and racing with some old Look egg beater pedals. These pedals are three years old… One pair finally quit after Sunday’s mud bath. So now I’ve got a new pair of Crank Brothers egg beaters on one bike. I was kind of impressed that I identified that the pedals were done and was then able to change them. I know – this is not major but it could lead to crazy instances of bike mechanics – before you know it I’ll be changing brake pads, replacing my bar tape, and taking off the stays…

On deck Wednesday is a super day of training. It is a double day. Yes! It is going to be a good one. Long ride in the morning with the infamous start intervals. Home for a bit of a rest. Then out to the nature preserve in Averbode for some ‘cross riding. I’m going to set up my own little course and then section it – working on the various parts – steadily getting faster and more confident. Cool.

I’ve got two races on the schedule this weekend. It will be my first trip to Holland of the season on Sunday. Off to Den Hagg for a race. Den Hagg is just outside Rotterdam. My only memory of Rotterdam is from the summer of 2007 – my first criterium racing experience in Holland – the GPS stopped working and then I discovered a massive traffic circle in Rotterdam with what felt like 15 exits! Anyway, I’m looking forward to racing this weekend. More opportunities to practice and improve.

Now for your viewing pleasure, I’ve got some photos from Balint Hamvas of http://cyclephotos.co.uk. Balint took these pictures at the Nommay World Cup. Thanks Balint!

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