The following is a guest post by @sipclipandgo talking about her cyclocross aspirations and goals for the new year.
It’s January and I’m tripping over resolutions everywhere. And not to pile on, but I’ve made a few as well.
I took up cycling at age 30, and each year I’ve upped the ante challenging myself. Longer rides, more miles, traveling to new spots, training for charity rides—I was always looking for something to reach for.
Last year after swearing I would never do more than spectate, I tried cyclocross racing. My first race was by all accounts a complete disaster. Hitting a massive traffic jam on my way to the course, followed by a flat tire 30 minutes before the race, then getting tangled in barrier tape on my way to the start. I was like Jerry Lewis out there. Then there was the race itself. I had read about cross racers feeling like they were about to vomit through the entire race but dismissed it as a freelance writer taking literary license. I was wrong. Despite what should have been a miserable experience, I fell headlong in love with ‘cross.
So I entered a few more races, and discovered that all my experience on the bike was great for the technical portion of racing, but as far as being fast, well—I just wasn’t.
I’d never really been concerned with being fast since I wasn’t a racer. I rode for fitness and pleasure and trained for charity rides and to feel strong and healthy. All worthwhile goals, but cyclocross had brought out the competitive streak in me, and I didn’t love finishing in the back of the Cat 4 pack.
So in 2013 I’m getting a clue. Genetically I’m not blessed with an abundance of fast twitch muscles, so I will use interval training and explosive plyometrics to train the few fast twitch fibers I do have. I’m now using a heart rate monitor to train in the appropriate zones. Since I participated in 6 races last season, I have a baseline on my racing speed. I plan to recreate at least one or two races by visiting and practicing on those courses again. The most ambitious thing I plan to do is eat better year round. This is a big challenge for me and I admit I’m not disciplined enough with my diet. And lastly—I’m hoping to be on a faster, lighter bike by August. The bike I raced with, a Specialized Tricross Sport is hardly a race bike.
I’ll be turning 43 in the middle of 2013 ‘cross season, so maybe there are some limits to just how much faster I can get. But with the changes I will make my race performance will be a click or two above 2012. I’m shooting for the middle of the pack. And it will be a load of fun, because at its core, that’s what I’m really chasing. Besides, who can argue with more bike riding? A worthwhile resolution for sure.
Karen Lynn is a cycling enthusiast who rides mountain, road, and now, cyclocross bikes. She is also the founder of Sip, Clip & Go Coffee: Coffee for Cyclists. She lives in western Massachusetts.