I've managed to stay extremely busy the last few weeks. Between gluing tires, racing mountain bikes, and helping my girlfriend move, the start of the season has snuck up on me! I mean, I know it's been coming for a while and I've been doing cross specific training for almost a month, but still, it's here. Cross practice has been going strong here in NYC for a few weeks so, it's not like I just forgot about it. Now it is days away from the first race and I’m slightly, a little bit, starting to panic.
There are no warm up races on the East Coast. Our first race this season is at Ellison Park in Rochester, NY. It's a C1 UCI race and probably the most demanding course of the year. It is basically on the side of a big hill. Most of what the race does is make us go up the hill over and over again resulting in over two thousand feet of climbing. Which is to say that you really have to have your head screwed on straight for this one. That, however, is no easy task when it’s been 270 days since the last time I’ve raced my cyclocross bike.
The comforting thing is that most of the other racers are in the same boat. Despite all the training we’re all wondering where our fitness is in relation to everyone else. It’s a scary question to have floating around in your mind with only one answer — racing.
I’ve always found it strange when racers avoid racing because they are unsure of their fitness. I think that most people are unsure of their fitness. That shouldn’t keep you from racing if that’s what you want to do. The best way to get better and figure out what you need to focus your training on is by racing. Personally, I want to know where I’m at as soon as possible so this burning question can stop contributing to my general anxiety.
This anxiety generally builds slowly. Early in August it’s masked by excitement of getting new bikes, kit, and various other cool sponsor goodies. Then, it hides behind the fun of cross practice.
The Wednesday Night cross practice on Randall’s island is legendary in NYC. It has been shut down by cops a few times several years ago (complete with police helicopters to really let you know how serious of a matter this was). The rule is — the person that runs practice is whomever has the cones. The cones were passed on to me maybe 4 years ago. Last year Evan and Kyle were the “keepers of the cones”. As those two are off crushing it racing as pro’s on the road. I’ve gotten the cones back and practice has grown to be bigger and better. If you want more info it is here - The Radavist - Wednesday Night Cross Practice.
This past Wednesday there were around 30 people. We generally try to do some hot laps, some starts, you know, the usual cross practice stuff. In some ways the practice is as much of a hang out as it is a workout. Generally I’ll try and do my intervals in the morning as practice is more about skills, fun, and hang outs. Which is the real point of cross practice in my opinion.
As the first race draws closer I’ll start getting more obsessive and anxious. Every missed pedal during a remount in practice somehow signals catastrophe for the upcoming season. I’ll start doing mounts and dismounts on my commute just to reassure myself. I’m definitely freaking out a little bit because I still haven’t quite got my second bike set up yet or finished gluing my mud tires. Yes, I’m aware that those are good problems to have. But, that’s not going to stop me from panicking a bit or staying up really late trying to finish everything. Sometimes the best cure for my anxiety is having too much to do. Although that can easily backfire. Usually what happens is the amount of stuff I need to take care of just collaborates with my poor time management skills and I end up spending a sleepless night gluing tires the day before I need to get myself to the first race of the year. So far I’m on track to avoid that this year.
Generally, I don’t like waxing poetics for this long about my mental state. It somehow feels wrong as an athlete to admit feeling less than totally ready to go. Part of the reason I feel this way is because I care so damn much about this. It is important to me. I have people close to me that have belief in my ability. Not to mention the countless people that support the team. So, more then anything else all these feelings are coming to the surface because I just want to get racing already damn it!
Also, we I promise to do a bit more of a reveal on our new Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team bikes, so take a look at this gallery over here for a few shots of my new team bike.