I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s because I am too pragmatic, or just too old. Or because my birthday is within 72 hours of the new year and eight days from Christmas, so I’ve had my share of disappointment for 52 years now. New year’s resolutions are reserved for those who hope. Cyclists, as a rule, plan. So, I don’t have resolutions, per se, but I do have a list of things cycling that I’ll attend to as the year progresses.
Stick to the basics.
A lot of my contemporaries are experimenting with new diets, workouts and equipment. I won’t go as far as calling myself retro but I do sometimes yearn for the early days of my cycling career when I jumped rope in the offseason, climbed stairs, did pull-ups and stretches. I got plenty of rest and I took a day or two off when I was fatigued or lost some motivation. We didn’t have P90X or muscle building
proteins. Nothing against these but, I know that I have to eat well, stay sharp and train my body and mind to be able to respond to the stresses of bicycle racing. But what we did in the offseason was designed to get us ready for training on the bike, not take the place of it.
Don’t overcomplicate my training.
You know that as a cyclist you must do a few things well and a couple really well to win a race. You’ve got to be able to get to the front, accelerate and sprint. Sure, there’s a bunch of other things too, like climbing power, sensing when the break is going, maintaining your position in the group, knowing the field and knowing the course. But think back on 2011 and ask yourself how often you concentrated on anyone of these disciplines. Did you set up sprint markers? Do you know how many pedal strokes and what your gearing needs to be to accelerate through the line from 250 meters? Did you spend time behind the motor? It’s not easy looking at yourself in the mirror and saying, “I need to work on my sprint.” But, you need to know what your weaknesses are as well as your strengths and then set a plan to address them.
Don’t spend too much time indoors
The art of cycling is best practiced between the white and yellow line, to paraphrase “A River Runs Through It.” Sure, the trainer or rollers are great for those days when it’s just too dangerous, but indoor cycling (for me) has to be doled out in finite quantities. So, I bundle up, put on the lights and get outside.
Ride with a group.
Don’t train alone. I did a lot of that as a younger racer. But, with the right group (team), there’s a lot of synergies to be gained.
Don’t get dropped.
Ah. Easy to say. But I know where my Achilles’ heel is. But I also knew how to really suffer when things started getting dark. Now,
sometimes the mind is willing but….none the less, if you’re not dictating the pace up front, you MUST stay with the field at all costs.
If you do get dropped, chase.
We all get dropped. It’s not my day. But I don’t pack it in. I’ll use this as an opportunity to go a little deeper into my hurt locker. I’ll connect with others that have been dropped, we’ll set a tempo, we’ll track the riders ahead of us re-connect before the line. If you don’t believe that this is possible, then it cannot happen. Surprise yourself.
There’s nothing like racing to train. This is also, obviously, the best place to take stock of your abilities and work on your grace under pressure. It’s also the final arbiter on your fitness compared with your peers. This is the primary measure of your success on the bike.
Do your best and be happy with your performance.
Keep the big picture in mind. We all have jobs or go to school. You showed up. Got your number and maybe got you’re a$$ handed to you. There’s another race next weekend and another season next year. Or, it all fell into place. You got in the break and came around for the win!
Bring another tube for someone who forgot one.
True, you can’t help everyone, but having a spare tube on a training ride just gets me thinking about the other guy. If there’s a flat, I want to be the one who helps get things sorted out for the rider and for the group as a whole. Same goes for an extra fuel bar.
Keep a journal.
Your kids will thank you and they’ll get to know how tough you really are.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road next year!