My previous post on the Three Peaks Cyclocross blog seemed to make out that it was not about the bike or the gear, but more about the training and fitness. I stand by this in general, but there’s a middle-ground – it’s about all-round readiness.
I’ve been training ‘late’ this year – deliberately (so as not to go insane) and it’s all coming together now really – I got myself a decent base fitness that (only really this week) has turned into what I’d call ‘training’. By training I mean doing things unenjoyable and seemingly unrewarding that hurt and in which time stands still. Hill reps, sprint reps… it’s not really enjoying the outdoors (or indoors, on the flipping turbo flipping trainer), but it serves a purpose I suppose.
With this ‘switch’ to training I’m reminded of two things:
1. There’s no training like racing
If you’re in need of pushing yourself really hard, then you can never do that as well as in a race. Whilst I’ve managed to keep myself going with a few crits on the roads this summer, I haven’t raced since the first week of August. That’s nagging at me. This weekend at the Grizedale Mountain bike Challenge I’ll get that racing feeling again for about 3 hours. Whilst it’s technically not a ‘race’ – but simply riding your bike against hundreds of other people as fast as you can over the same course (!) – it’ll still give me that welcome indicator of what it feels like to really push hard one and two hours into something. You just can’t do that in training (or at least I can’t).
2. The fun is in the result, not the process.
I’m not alone in not enjoying hill reps – if you enjoy them, you’re a mentalist – face it. However, a quote that Chris Boardman rolled out a few times during his successful cycling days always comes to mind… something about getting satisfaction from something but not enjoying it. The satisfaction comes from knowing I’m training my weaknesses. There’s little else to train – if you train your strengths, you’re not really getting better.
Back to my initial thoughts… about the balance between ‘gear’ and training. It’s all got to come under the same roof or ‘readiness’ or ‘preparation’. Two lovely new Cannondale cyclocross frames came into my possession last week thanks to the best bike shop in the world and I take almost as much satisfaction from seeing those built up and sitting in the garage ready for action as I do riding them. The special care that goes into getting the bike(s) ready for the 3 peaks is part of the process. Training, building, tweaking, peaking. It’s the readiness thing.