- Muhammad Ali
This week is a rest week for me, and I was definitely in need of one. It's been a long training block, but my training seemed inconsistent due to work interruptions and getting a little sick.
The week wraps up with a cyclocross race at Bloomer. I didn't do this race last year, but did it two years ago (my first 'cross race), and it is one of my favorite courses. It will be interesting to see how I feel fitness-wise for this race. In theory, it should be pretty good, given my limited riding this week, but I'm actually not that optimistic. I feel like my "high end" fitness is still not that good. Sure, I can ride at a moderately hard pace for a couple hours, but I don't feel like I can really go as hard as I need to for 30 minutes.
I'm trying to decide how I want to structure this next training block (Build 2 phase). When I originally planned it, I was going to treat the two races this month as B-priority. That means that I'd reduce my hours a bit in the week leading up to the race (from 7 to 4.5). I'm thinking now that, if I do this, it won't be enough training stress to build to a very good peak for the last 4 races. So, instead, I'm going to train through these two races so that I can build to a better peak for the last 4.
So, in the meantime, I want to work on the non-fitness aspects of 'cross. These are the little things that can move you up or down a few spots, but probably won't take you from the middle of the field to the front. For me, this means working on my remounts and being disciplined with my lines.
For the remounts, I'm guessing I lose as much as 2 seconds every time I get on the bike. On a typical 4-lap C race, with 2 running sections per lap, that means I lose 16 seconds over the entire race. 16 seconds doesn't seem like much, but it can easily cost you a few positions.
Being more precise with lines is another thing that can gain you a little time here and there. This was one of the things I was working on at practice Tuesday night. From watching the other races this weekend, it's obvious that the Elite guys pay attention to this. One thing that struck me this week was that there's a choice to be made between a line that preserves momentum but doesn't allow you to accelerate as early (geometric apex), and a line that doesn't preserve momentum as well but allows you to start your acceleration sooner (late apex). In car racing, you would almost always choose the latter, since it's a safer line and you don't care so much about burning a little extra fuel (except maybe in an endurance race). In a bike race though, I think that maybe preserving momentum is more important, since I only have so much fuel to burn (now that I think about it, this is also similar to racing low-powered karts). Regardless, after you've selected your line, it's important to hit your braking, turn-in and apex points as precisely as you can.
Before I forget, I timed a typical practice interval at the track this week. 4 laps on our course this week took me roughly 10 minutes (I forgot to stop my watch immediately when I finished, so I'm not exactly sure, but it's close enough). So, relative the UCI race this past weekend, that's equivalent to one lap; on a more typical course around here, it would be equivalent to about a lap and a half. Since we've mainly been doing 4 lap intervals at the track this year, it explains why I misjudged my pace on the first lap on Saturday.