Wednesday, December 9, 2015

And, The Other Cross Thing I Do.

#Crossishere! Okay, for me it's over but despite being an oddly condensed season it was a really good one. For my second season I competing in six races and was on the podium for four of those.

Last year I competed in nine races and was on the podium for three of those which was pretty good considering I just jumped into it without training or having any idea what the hell I was doing. I started out pretty strong but my fitness took a nosedive as the season progressed and I ended up fourth overall in my category (mostly because I did a lot of races.) This year I did a lot of things differently and ended up 2nd overall, which I'm really proud of:

Yay! So, here's the thing. It turns out that the people who are good at a sport are usually good at it because they work their asses off. I was lucky to be part of a group training plan for my bike team that initially freaked me out because when you aren't a roadie and have never trained with a heart rate monitor or cadence/power etc, it's a LOT of information and a damn steep learning curve. This year I learned how to ride on the road and how to train and how to use heart rate zones and that I pedal too hard when I should be pedaling faster and lighter instead. Woof. 

But in list form, here's what helped make me a better athlete this year:

- Become a Roadie. I will admit that I'm never going to love road riding as much as mountain biking, but for building endurance, it's boss. I don't have a road bike but I have a separate set of inexpensive road wheels for my cross bike. Not ideal, but it works. I'm still working on my fear of being run over by a car. Babysteps.

- CrossFit. I've already talked about how CrossFit helped make fitter overall which I needed because a lot of cyclocross is stuff like running up a steep set of stairs while carrying a bike. (See pic above.) Whee! I'm really selling it aren't I? 

- Buy a Trainer. I bought this trainer at the beginning of the season and I hate it like poison but when I need to do a training ride on a dark night when it's pouring down rain? I can now do that at home in front of the TV. I also took my trainer to races and used it to warm up which was a pain in the ass but SO worth it. Going cold into a sprint race, which is basically what I did last year? That is a really bad idea. Doing a proper warm up made a HUGE difference in how I raced. 

- Be Really Boring. Go to bed early, eat your vegetables and protein, don't drink booze the night before a race. Can you hear that sound? That's my social life dying. If you're 23 and in good shape you can probably skip this advice but I'm 43 and I have to go to bed now. 

Other little things that helped me:

Gu Salted Caramel

I have one of these about half an hour before the race because it gives me energy without having to deal with solid food on a nervous stomach. And this flavor doesn't make me gag, which is high praise for a gel.

Stinger Waffle

I have one of these after a race because they're delicious. Really, any treat will do, but an over-priced bike cookie just tastes better. 

Contigo Byron

I bought this because it promised to keep my coffee hot for up to 7 hours and it's really nice to come back to your car shivering after a race and remember that you have hot coffee waiting. This seems really basic but little details can make a difference.

Craft Active Extreme Base Layer

Have I mentioned how much I like Craft base layers? I can't mention it enough. They're great, you should buy one. There are usually some good deals to be had at Amazon, which is where I got mine. There's a good price here for the mesh summerweight sleeveless shirt. I wore my short sleeve base layer under my long sleeved jersey and was able to skip wearing a jacket this race season. I'm generally an over-dressed cyclist so I've had to learn that it's better to be a little cold at the starting line because once you heat up you'll regret that jacket deeply.

Doesn't this look FUN? 

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