Monday, October 3, 2011

Getting Dirty/ and Kona Taper

Cyclocross season is on!....but I’ve been feeling like I’m still in complete taper mode. Cyclocross training and racing is TOUGH, my HR goes way up and I am sucking air, and even walk around a little stiff and sore, but I still feel like I’m tapering because the overall volume of time is so much less than what I’ve been doing all spring and summer. This has become my Kona taper for the past 3 years. Mid October I take a break from the bike head to Kona and do some running on the island, swim a little (hmmm I’ll have to find my goggles) and cheer on Adam and this year a lot of friends. I cross train by doing some surfing and stand up paddling. I’ll miss race number 3 of the CCC. I always do which leaves me behind in the series with a lot of catching up to do, but it’s worth it. Plus this year the CX season is extra long. Nationals are in Madison in January with a whole lot of races before then and I want to make it to the starting line.

I’ve raced twice already and done numerous wet, hilly, dirty rides. I’ve come home muddy, and bloody a few times, but I have LOVED hitting the trails and riding off road. Triathlon was fun and rewarding this year, but I have also been anxiously awaiting the start of cyclocross. The benefits of switching gears like this are huge, both mentally and physically. Triathletes have the tendency to end the season, take a short break then get right back at it so they can get fitter and faster for next year..... because that’s going to be the year to qualify for Kona. Many skip doing strength, technique, skill, or work on weaknesses. This leads to going back to using the same muscles in the same way (often the wrong way) and then wonder why they aren’t getting faster, or the same body parts keep hurting. Cyclocross riding puts your body in a different position on the bike, takes you on grass, trails, sand, or snow. Much of the pedaling is done with a higher cadence and incorporating fast explosive surges and uses the muscles differently. Racing cyclocross is also a mental change. The goals are different, there are no paces to hit, other than all out. You race as hard as you can for 45 min and that’s it. It is a laid back crowd that is still competitive, but supportive and out to have some fun.
The first race of the series was 1 week out of Vegas 70.3. My mind was ready for change but my legs were completely confused what to do with the fast surges, and my technique for tight turns and cornering were rusty since I had been riding aero all summer. By the 3rd lap I was ready to go and felt like I could keep racing. That is so “triathlete”. The course was slick, wet, muddy and full of tight turns which made it difficult to use fitness to get ahead. I don’t mind the mud, but like a tougher course. For some reason girls from Michigan and Wisconsin came to race and the field was stacked. So with triathlon fatigued legs and a kick ass field I wasn’t happy with my finish, but left motivated to put the CX back in my legs. Two weeks of training on trails and dirt left me feeling much more ready for race 2 in Dekalb. Hopkins Park has a flyover, a small hill and some areas to test your fitness. This is one of my more favorite courses. I had a great start and worked my way up into 3rd place before the end of the first lap. I felt so strong and I usually gain on girls as the race goes on. However, during the 2nd lap I started feeling my rear wheel sliding out from me as I was cornering hard. Then I felt like I was going nowhere and finally couldn’t corner at all. Sure enough a flat rear wheel. I rode on it flat to the wheel pit and I managed a wheel change thanks to Bicycle Heaven Eric. However it took way to much time and threw me completely off. I knew if I finished I’d at least score some points. Once rolling again I just rode as hard as I could and actually caught back up to the end of the field. I walked away frustrated because I was riding strong and racing near the front (minus the cat 1 who showed up), but excited at the same time because I know I can be up there.

So I’ll come home little rested, maybe somewhat tan and, way behind in the CCC series, but highly motivated to climb on the cross bike again and race.

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