Ruminations on Racing

Sitting on a plane and in an airport for the bulk of Tuesday gave me a lot of time to think about my cyclocross season so far… Well, in a nutshell I’d have to sum up the season to date as “not bad”. Now some of you might be thinking that this is a bit of harsh assessment – particularly considering how I was doing last year.

But, I’m a big believer at not giving myself too many pats on the back. One too many pats on the back can sometimes result in complacency or false expectations. The thing is, I know I’m riding better than I was last year. But the thing is, last year I was sick. This year I’m not sick. (Knock on wood.) Luckily for me I’m in a “remission” right now and I’m able to push my body just the way I want to.

So, yes, this season is a vast improvement over last year but to me, I expected it to be. I really expected nothing less from myself. I knew that healthy I could return to the form I’ve had before and that I could and will continue to improve.

The season so far has had its share of ups and downs – some good rides and some not so good rides. Days on the bike where I was really pushing my limits and loving every aspect of being a cyclocross racer. I’ve had races where I’ve exceeded my expectations and races where I was thoroughly disappointed in my performance. I suppose this is what keeps me lining up – waiting to see what the 40 minutes or so will bring.

So now, less than two weeks before cyclocross Nationals and less than two weeks before I leave for Belgium, I’ve realized the following:
– strength is returning – in some areas it is better than it has ever been
– confidence and mental strength are spot on – a very nice change from years past where I grappled with self-confidence
– technical skills are better but I still need to do the little things better to see bigger gains
– my start is still sub-par – this is my biggest area of weakness and is holding me back
– I want to race my bike and I want to get out and train – my motivation is very high
– I’m super lucky to have such a strong support network

My goals for the season remain the same and I’m just going to keep working towards them. My approach to racing remains the same – focus on a good performance and the outcome will happen. But I think where I need to make a change is with my technical training – I’m at the point where I need to really drill down and work on my weaknesses, so this means focusing on the start, leg speed and the ability to ride up any and all steep climbs.

Hence the “not bad” assessment. At this point in the season I’m close to where I want to be and with some continued hard work and improvements I’ll be closer to where I want to be. The interesting thing about this is the closer I get to where I want to be, the line shifts a bit more and I’ve still got further to go….

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