My training goal isn’t solely physical development. I need to be mentally prepared too.
That’s why I want to put myself in a race scenario as often as I can this year. With no Hill Climb events until August I’m not worried about how I stack up against others (yet). The first races are a chance to tame my pesky inner Chimp.
“A competitive atmosphere makes me nervous.”
It’s a natural feeling, of course. But not a healthy one. When it comes to racing I have a tendency to psyche myself out before even getting on the bike. Surveying the race HQ in the past would lead to one conclusion: Anyone who looks strong, wears a team kit, or even just seems to know what they’re doing? Yup! They’ll beat me. Look at them!
Terrible, I know. Yet I couldn’t help it. My Chimp took over. Bad Chimp! Bad.
Normally I would consider myself a logical thinker. I attribute my success as a designer to solving problems with a mixture of empathy and logic. Any design decision I make I try to back up with facts, data, and statistics. “This layout, this colour, this font works because of x, y, and z”. The problem, I believe lies in passion. A word that is often exaggerated, but appropriate in my case.
Cycling is my passion. When I think about how much time, energy, and sacrifice I make for this hobby there is no wonder as soon as I get to a race my logical human goes for a lie down while the irrational, excitable Chimp takes the driving seat.
In my mind THIS is the moment I’ve spent so long training for. THIS is why I spent hours staring at a brick wall instead of enjoying my bike in the country lanes. THIS is why I’ve turned down a second helping of my favourite dinner, or didn’t eat that slice of cake.
I’m so full of desire to perform well that I can’t think logically enough to actually do it.
I’m learning to control my Chimp, but he’s still a little unstable. That’s why I want to take him racing early. He needs to get used to not being in control. I’ve got him a nice new cage (it’s comfortable, don’t worry) where he can watch the logical human Ross ride his bicycle. The Chimps passion will be valuable to have with me at these events. He just can’t influence me anymore.
One small problem is the nature of racing. It’s dangerous and unpredictable. There are up to sixty guys all battling for the same few metres of road. Accidents can and do happen every race, and you’re lucky if you make it to the finish in once piece. I can’t afford financially or physically to put myself in such a high-risk situation.
So What Are My Options?
Hilly Time Trials are almost perfect. A testing race against the clock, on courses anywhere from ten to thirty miles in length. Competitors set off at minute intervals and whoever completes the course in the fastest time wins. That means unless you’re quick enough to catch your minute man, it’s just you and the road.
We have a league promoting these races in the North West called Lakes & Lancs SpoCo. To enter an event you’ll need to get your cycling club affiliated (if they aren’t already), and sign up for each race once the process is complete.
SpoCo Races Of Interest
These are some of the races that I would like to enter. I need to consider how they will fit in with my training plans though as some are short and all fall on the weekend. This shouldn’t be a problem. I could always ride after the event. Or swap a turbo session for a race. Perhaps doing my longer ride on a different day.
28th February: Rossendale TT (Hilly) (L112)
8th March: North Lancs RC (Hilly) (L281)
15th March: Ribble Valley CRC (Hilly) (L192)
19th April: Lancaster CC (Hilly) (L211)
Bike & Gear
I don’t own a Time Trial bike so I plan on using my Canyon Ultimate AL with clip-on aero bars to achieve a faster, more aerodynamic position. As these are hilly courses a pure TT machine might not enjoy the same benefits as normal. I’m hoping the relatively lightweight combination of myself and my bike will balance out my efforts on the climbs with efforts of more powerful guys with a more aero setup on the flatter sections.
My bike with aero bars.
I need some new kit so an aero road helmet and a skinsuit are on the shopping list. That’s it though. I’m going to ride these using otherwise normal every-day equipment.
Right now I’m excited to stretch my legs and put this new approach to racing into practice!