Wednesday, May 22, 2013

remember it's just Cross Training

Will Rogers State Park, Santa Monica CA

Something happens where the pavement gives way to grass, dirt, and GRAVEL.  It’s an escape from the predictable urban landscape that I spend the majority of my pedal time navigating.  In peak road race training cycles my cross bike keeps me sane.  I am a competitor no matter the discipline so I find that I’m constantly reminding myself that although I want some decent road results I’m actually doing all of this work with Performance Coaching Services as training for cyclocross season.  I can't praise Rob and his coaching enough.  I'm new to riding and racing and it's the best investment I've made thus far.  A coach will make you faster than any carbon tubular or ultralight bike.  He's patient even when I have one thousand questions about a workout and his weekly schedules have helped me prioritize around family and work.   I didn’t think I’d have much in the way of technical skills or handling required to navigate a mud ridden cross course.  I originally intended to race cross in an effort to maintain fitness year round and prep for road racing.  The pedal stroke that propelled bike and body off pavement and onto some dirt and grass changed that very quickly.  On the pavement my bike felt sluggish and inefficient.  Off the pavement and winding through a cross course was like being a 12 year old hooligan on a BMX bike tearing up the neighbors grass.  Some of the suffering gave way to ear to ear grins and space between myself and the field started to appear naturally.  What makes this sport even more awesome is the accessibility.  My gang of 2 devoted fans (Emily and our Daughter) will certainly be waiting patiently at a handful of road race finish lines but they can’t really experience road racing, not like being lined up against the Kenda Tire course tape with a whiskey spiked winter warmer in one hand and cowbell in the other.  It was an amazing feeling for me.  They could finally have some point of reference for the passion, pain, and fun of racing bicycles.  I swear I even noticed Emily thinking “I could try this…if it wasn’t always so cold”.  It was an incredible first season of cross with lots of highs and very few lows.  I even managed to fly my bike out to Southern California and race two events in the So-Cal Cross series.  I knew my cross season was wrapping up early so I planned to kick off 2013 with a grueling gravel grinder of 50 Miles and 7,000ft of climbing known as Southern Cross in Georgia.  I’ve decided I will not go into detail regarding my Southern Cross race.  In short, my effort was mediocre, my result is evident of that, but by the end of the race I had improved my descending skills (no choice in the matter, it was descend well die).  However, it was the most beautiful and unique bicycle ride I have ever done and it leaves me aching for another road trip into the mountains in search of fire roads and loose gravel.  Now I must get my head out of the woods and mentally prepare for the most grueling ride of the year, Tour of Tucker County.
Emily Palmer and I at Black Water Falls during Tour Of Tucker County
After a sketchy descent that almost left me alone in a ditch last year I swore I wouldn’t race Tucker ever again.  Now I’m actually looking forward to it.  I’m sure I’m going to be eating my words when I hit the wall that is the final climb.  I hope to be able to load my body with enough Honey Stinger fuel that I can keep a slow but steady cadence to the top. 
Tour of Tucker 2012.  Not Stoked. 

I’ve decided to forgo the 4/5 1st place road race finish that I’ve been chasing in an effort to become a stronger all around racer by rolling in the 3/4 road races.  It also provides an opportunity to help out some teammates which are better suited for ridiculous climbs like Tucker.  I look forward to doing my part.  Laugh Now Cry Later.