Anything HOT Needs Serious Practice!
October 21, 2015
WELCOME TO CX SEASON!
Yeah, the season is half over, but not everyone is a freak from the get-go. If you're just catching the fever, and want a better feel for the mayhem of this scene, read this. Maybe it's mostly for next year, but what the hey, it can't hurt...
Cyclocross is a high-energy, explosive sport where once yer skills are cookin' it's best to ramp into your season with practice races on home turf.
When you're first learning as a back-of-the-packer you have big eyes and are happy just to make it around the course in one piece and maybe catch some flow along the way. Duke it out for a couple passes.
But once you have the fever then the start is like a motocross race or a drag-race start -- and it doesn't let up. Your whole system has to be dialed in or you'll just splat somewhere. You're peeling rubber and need to know what you're doing. So you need to be properly tested.
Also, your expectations might be higher. Even so, you still need to have done practice races. Just "training" and doing drills and knowing that you "know how to do it" aren't enough! You need time in the saddle burning matches and seeing red and going 110% and getting comfy all over again with the feel of that. Only racing can prep ya for racing. Each season you need to relearn your special feeling -- for what your engine likes to do when it's on overdrive with nitro in the tank. You'll have your patented style. Your places where you can gain on your rivals. Your own gearing voodoo. But you can't re-find all that just by riding around.
In the end, your first few races will probably be re-acquainting sessions but if your season is short why not start red-hot? Training races -- ideally against riders who are better than you -- are where it's at. Or practices where you can take a short-cut and catch on to the tail of your local fastest riders and see how long you can hang with them. Imitate the best to get better.
It's like going from sailing around to being up on a full plane. In practice it might feel like work enough to ride in the little chainring. In a race you might find yourself spinning out the big ring.
...Stresses on gear are higher, too. Check everything!
When you're ready for something you're gonna HIT IT at the gun. There's no easing into it and feeling it out.
This also applies to efforts where others are counting on you. Or, heck, where you want to put on a good show even -- for spectators, say.
In the end, ya know, this concept applies to a lot more than just cyclocross. In anything where you know what you're doing and you're going white-hot outta the gate and where you're laying it on the line, you gotta PREPARE properly. Heck, this applies to work, too, eh? Any project. Meetings. Just coz you're busy is no excuse not to prep for your best.
SO MAKE SURE YOUR TIRES ARE GLUED ON!
Also, here's another biggie: When you're practicing white-hot with local riders you can build team spirit -- and car-pool to races. And share info. And in the frenzy of the lead-up to a race you can compare notes and keep each other in line. Ask each other as you're loading up for the drive: got shoes? helmet? license? ...BIKE? What time is your race? What was that time again? Doublecheck it all and share what you find. 2 heads are better!
(I've wrecked races 2 or 3 times now in past few years just from stupid old glue letting go and rolling a tire. I've wrecked pricey tires doing that, too -- sometimes rolling a tire is just a silly glitch, but when it tears off your valve you'll smack your forehead. One trick is to make sure you have a set of pit wheels in case anything goes wrong with a wheel. Then, just thinking of pit wheels will hopefully get you torquing on low-inflated tires to make sure they're glued tight. CX uses more glue than road racing. No more little tubes of glue. Ya gotta get the can. Maybe a can a year!)