Mountain bikers who contemplate road racing. Roadies who take up cyclocross and mountain biking. Triathletes who switch to just one of their sports (or dabble in all of them at one time or another from a single sport racing standpoint).
We all seem to go through similar peaks and valleys and how we each individually manage those is a key to our success.
Mountain biking, as I've mentioned before, has really saved my interest level in triathlon. It keeps me sane and hungry throughout the winter months. Is a 2hr mountain bike ride as beneficial to my triathlon racing physiology as a 3hr road ride with intervals? No, of course it's not. But I will say one thing about it:
It's 100 times more fun.
Plus, it allows me to work on things that no triathlete works on:
1) 30-60s power
2) Bike handling skills
3) Racing technique
# 1 and 2 are the most important; 3 is kind of a wash. Triathlon isn't really about RACING, it's about pacing. The most I've "raced" a triathlon was at White Lake Half in 2013 when myself and Pat Wheeler were 50 yards apart for 12 of the 13 miles of the run. I can think of other racers around here who have experienced similar situations, but I still wasn't truly RACING Patrick. I was meting out my effort at the highest level I felt I could sustain. I was, essentially, pacing. We were - at that time anyway - of such similar ability levels that both of us were pacing to relative perfection.
Bike racing of any sort (mountain bike, road bike, cyclocross) is not at all about that. And that's what is so beautiful!
Basic priorities in bike racing:
1) Don't get dropped
2) Be patient
3) Don't do anything stupid
Last weekend I did the second race in the Winter Short Track series and managed to accomplish all of those priorities without fail until the last lap. I had managed to breakaway with Terry and we had created a big gap back to 3rd/4th place and I was leading into the woods with 1 lap to go. Unfortunately I decided it would be prudent to slow my roll a bit as I knew Terry couldn't pass me in the woods and it would leave me a bit fresher for the final hammer fest up the fire road to the finish line. The bad thing about slowing down a rhythm you've maintained for 40+ minutes, however, is that it completely throws off your timing when it comes to getting past each "element" on the course. On nearly the last technical part (last left turn leading into boulder section climb) I washed out my front wheel and fell over. Terry, directly behind me, managed to come to a stop and recover quickly and get on his way. I lost a bit of time and distance to him as I stood up and got back on the bike. Unfortunately it was too much to make up in less than 30 seconds of racing.
I don't like losing, generally speaking. I especially don't like losing when I had set myself up with a prime opportunity to win.
Be that as it may, that's racing! The beauty (I'm finding silver linings here) of having mistakes is being able to learn from them!
|Start line (thanks TC for photos)|
|Proof that I was first into woods (TC photo)|
|Terry was making it hurt on the front of this train (TC photo)|
|Slightly dejected finish line crossing (TC photo)|