This was my first official season of racing. I came from a tri background and don't really miss it. Cycling is so much simpler in a way. Not nearly as much stuff to keep track of for a race. No transitions, no wetsuit, goggles, no dilemma over socks/no socks, shoes clipped in or not. Just get on your bike and pedal. But the only thing I do miss is that it was easier for me to identify my strengths (swimming and transitions) and my weaknesses (or as I like to call it, 'my tri-nemesis' which was running). I formed my plan for the off season to work on running, power and endurance. Racing season was usually 3 races. Maybe 5 top. Heavy mental preparation for those select few races and then on the big day, I'd exploit my swim as best as I could to gain time for my abysmal running leg.
Cycling is different. After a season of racing, I'm still not sure what I'm good at and what I'm not. I raced a variety of races but it's still not clear as to what I should do next or focus on for next season. I often over-train and Joel Friel's "Cyclist Bible" makes no sense to me whatsoever. I know it should, but it doesn't. I know I need to hire a coach but I'm reluctant to do so for various reasons. Mostly it's the thought that as a newbie cyclist, I'm just not worth it.
This is the most dangerous train of thought to hop aboard as a Newbie. There are multiple ways on how this sabotages you as an athlete new to racing. Here are some you may be familiar with:
I'm only a Cat 4 so...
I don't have to have a training plan.
My diet doesn't really matter.
Sleep doesn't really matter.
It doesn't matter if I warm up before a race.
It doesn't matter where or when I line up.
I don't deserve to fight for a position in the
Over-training doesn't apply to me.
An off-season doesn't apply to me.
Obviously this is complete crap when you look at it. However, I would say that it took me at least 10 races before I didn't constantly have these negative trains of thought running through my head. And even yesterday, late into my first cx season (well, late for me), I STILL battled these feelings. That feeling that everyone else who is racing seems to know what's going on more and will be faster.
I think when I start to consider myself "a racer" instead of someone who is "trying out bike racing" then I'll allow myself to succeed. I had several podium finishes over the summer, but always found myself negating them. I'm only a Cat 4. Like it matters. Well, yes and no. Does it matter the way a Cat 1 podium finish matters within the local/national cycling community? No. Does it matter to my two little girls who are 7 and 9? Yes. Do my non-cycling friends and family understand that I'm on the lowest rung of the bike racing ladder? No. They think I'm a super-star. Why not let this misconception go on instead of always immediately dispelling it? I am a completely average athlete, person, and mom. But when I race, even if I suck, I am a superstar. That's what being a newbie racer is. Allowing yourself to become a totally average super-star even if you think you don't deserve it.
What's it like to race? Do you remember that void of not knowing what it is like to race a bike? What will it be like, will I crash and get a compound fracture, will I win and get to do some crazy Peter Sagan victory arm dance thingy? Will I get kissed by two chicks at the same time? But for many this world of shaved legs, embrocation, glued tires and the assumption that everyone dopes, is a lot to take in and to decide to step into if they want to give this cyclcross thing a try. Last year we ran a Coffee Talk Tuesday on Getting more Newbies to try out Bike Racing that got a lot of good discussion. Also last year Primal sponsored a race, Primalpalooza, which had a category that was JUST FOR BEGINNERS and according to ACA records 45 people raced in it. That is 45 people who had never done a cx race before!
This year PrimalPalooza is back September 29th and so is the the Beginner race so tell your friends, co-workers, girlfriends and/or boyfriends, bosses, etc. Learn more about PrimalPalooza
Tami’s Newbie Perspective
I’ve never officially raced a bike before. Unofficially yes. When I got my first (and current) carbon fiber bicycle and rode around the city of Chicago on it, often with friends who had fixies, or less-speedy road bikes, it was not uncommon to find ourselves pedaling as fast as we could before the next light or stop sign and seeing who got there first. Just enough time for the legs to burn a bit, to get that exhilarating feeling of wow, what an amazing machine this bicycle is, and to trigger the habitual thought that mine was worth every penny.
The U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross will continue in 2012 after organizers secured funding to overcome a last-minute sponsorship shortfall this week. Trek Bicycles has stepped in as the series’ new title sponsor, with brands like WD-40 Bike, Clif Bar and SRAM stepping up to fill the void left when the series’ scheduled title sponsor missed its payment deadline last month.
Has the USA Pro Cycling Challenge got you excited to get into racing or back into it for some? There is no better way to get into cycling than under the discipline cyclocross! No packs/peletons to stay pace with, little evil concrete to fall on and for those with families, much of the course can be seen from 1 vantage point. Downsides though are some races can happen on bitterly cold days, some believe it takes a ton of equipment to be competitive(not true), and ummm, well that's all I know.