Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Cycling Identity

It's been a while since I posted, but I've been thinking about a range of things now that the season is -officially- over. The criterium practices are now off my schedule (although they do continue for those who seek torture) and I'm just riding for fun at the moment. Aside from the fact that I managed to totally screw up my wrist in a mountain bike crash last weekend, my cycling scene is kind of low-key right now.

The thing to consider now is, believe it or not, my objectives for next season. I made some good progress this year and probably am stronger now than at any point in my years of riding. But to move to the next level, I have to think about more focused training. This brings up the question - what am I training for? What kind of races would I do well in?

The answer to this question is not always self-evident. Because cycling is very much about efficiency and endurance, body type and natural abilities/genetics play into success. Because I'm a relatively tall and thin person, I can climb pretty well. I don't have a huge aerobic engine, but I can time trial OK. I used to have very strong sprinting legs, years ago when I was rowing, but I'm not sure they are great for that purpose these days. All of this should make me a "rouleur" - someone who has a chance in many kinds of races in different conditions. Over the past couple of years I have kept my eye on professional "rouleurs" like George Hincapie and Jens Voigt. They're tough, they excel in different conditions.

The truth is that I'm not small enough to be a good climber - I learned that lesson when I was dropped by miniature people on the 2 mile climb at Devil's Punchbowl. I'm not a top-flite time trialist - I always end up in the top half or top third at the Piru TT, but that's about it. And while I can stay up front, I'm not strong enough to get away from a group on a rolling road course. So that leaves one place for success - criteriums. And that means sprinting. So I'm planning on gearing my training for success in that area next year. Sprints scare the $%@^^ out of me sometimes, but they can be fun. I suppose I need to start paying more attention to Mark Cavendish.

More on the training program as it evolves...

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