Don’t fear, I’m not going crazy… At least I don’t think I’m going crazy. Though I did have a couple of voices in my head today during my ride.
Last week I was very lucky to get out to train with our Belgian pal Rene. Rene has been racing cyclo-cross for 35 years and definitely has more than one trick up his sleeve. Our training sessions were not heavy on intensity, rather we focused on skills and making small adjustments that will gain me a second here, a couple of seconds there, and allow me to put out more power on the course. It is amazing how such small adjustments really can make a big difference over the course of a 40 or 60 minute race.
So what did Rene teach me? I’ve received a few emails, Tweets and comments asking me to spill the beans on the Belgian Tricks I learned. Well today was the real test of what I worked on with Rene – my first solo cyclo-cross training session. I’m happy to report that the lessons have stuck in my brain and I think I hit a few break-through moments out there on the bike today. All thanks to the voices in my head, reminding me to “play” with the bike, to steer with my knees, to only use the back brake and to use it sparringly, to practice my bent arm pump to get over steep inclines, to use my hips to get the bike moving through the sand, and when working on my uphill dismounts.
Yes, I learned a lot from Rene. Interestingly during today’s ride, I also heard Marc, Karl, Evan, Conor, Kris, Gabby, and Nikki while I was out training. It seems like all the tidbits I’ve collected over the years finally clicked and came together today. Reminding me to really sprint into steep inclines. To look forward and to keep pedaling. To let the bike flow through the off-cambers. To pick up the bike on the downtube rather than the toptube. To really sprint back onto the bike. To trust the ruts and let my tires roll through them. To get off my bike before it stops moving in the sand.
Yes, a lot was said and done during my ride today. At times I couldn’t hear the music being pumped into my ears thanks to my iPod do to the words of advice and encouragement. I consider this to be a very good thing. Yes, a good ride was had today. To top it off, I scared myself a couple times – convinced I had too much speed going into the soft off-cambers and that I surely was going to stall out on the log I had placed at the top of steep climb. But I listened and more importantly I relaxed.
The biggest tip Rene gave me? “Go out and play on your bike. Have fun. Set up little courses and just play.”