Friday, December 2, 2011

The Way of the Cyclocross: A CX racers week in season

When road racers say that they "live like monks" they mean depriving themselves of wine, partying, or other pleasures. Cyclocross racers truly live like monks; they drink beer, brutally scourge themselves, and follow an order to their week similar to an abbot's rule of life. Each week during the season has the same pattern of days. Each action leads to the next race and back again.

Monday: Bike repair and cleaning. What damage have you done to your machines this weekend? Do you need to finish getting the mud off of everything? Are some parts in need of replacement? Did you flat a tire? Does your skinsuit still have dirt stains on it? Better get to scrubbing between searching the internet for pictures of yourself from last weekend.

Tuesday: Confession, where did I fall last weekend? If I raced both days on the weekend, I'm probably not ready for hard efforts yet. My body likely needs some more rest. I might even groan just getting on the bike. Extra stretching in the morning, or better yet, a massage is a nice cure for the lingering aches. Mind repair requires banishing the demons of doubt, so drilling the skills that were weak on the weekend. Whatever elements gave me the most difficulty during the last races are the skills to practice on Tuesday.

Wednesday: Penance, the flesh is weak. This is the day for atonement. This is the time for self flagellation. No other way to get stronger but to do intervals. My lungs burn, my legs ache, my eyeballs scream by the end of the ride if I am doing it right. The only chance to get faster is to push myself harder in training than I did in my prior races.

Thursday: Preparation, better too early than too late. I know that Friday will be a crammed day between work, life, and a race prep ride. Rather than go nuts trying to get everything done on Friday, I find it easier to begin packing for the weekend on Thursday night. Since I typically only do a short ride, I have an extra hour to put together my clothing & basic gear for the race weekend ahead. I can also do another check of the bikes so any last minute repairs can be done on Friday.

Friday: Am I ready? Since my race start is usually before noon, and since I frequently drive 2 hours to the venue, all my preparation must be done by 7 p.m. on Friday. By that time I need to be eating dinner so I can get to bed by 9. The worst day to deprive yourself of sleep is the day before a race. If I line up my day just right I can get a good prep ride done at noon, pack the car after work, then make dinner & relax. If not, I spend hours after dinner stressing out over all the things to be packed up before dawn.

Saturday-Sunday: Race day. Everything goes by routine if I've lined myself up right. Arrive, put together bikes, ride the course, register, hot laps, dress, final warm up, staging, RACE!, cool down, pack up.

Rinse, rest, repeat.

Sunday Night: Recovery. If I've raced to my limit, this is couch time, since I have nothing left. Maybe I can put together a blog post, or an email. Maybe I'll just go to bed. Hopefully I'm satisfied with the effort I've made. If not, there's always next week.

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