Someone asked me “Why do you have a coach?”. Totally legitimate question really, and to be honest looking at all the training tools, books, gadgets, and other shenanigans I have lying around at my disposal… you’d probably expect me to be some high end cycling pro-star, or at least have a bunch of sponsors but alas, Santa Cruz has not added me to the Syndicate yet as a full time gravel rider.
Though feel free to call any time guys.
Here’s the long answer:
There’s riding in a bike race, and then there’s racing. I’ve been back in cycling for say about 5 years now, and I’d only say that in the last 2 of them, I am doing what you would classify as “racing” vs. “riding in a race”… more so this year than any other.
For the first 3 years I would enter a race, and complete it as fast as I could. Seems like racing right? As fast as I could usually meant, “making it to the finish line”, or “finishing a lap”. But racing to me was uncomfortable, and I would skirt the line of blowing up and scaled back just enough to be able to finish. Seems simple enough right?
I would race constantly, but I wouldn’t enjoy the actual act of doing it. I would go through the machinations of racing, but my focus was always on “how much longer do I have to endure this”. Race after race, jovial off the start, keep up with the pack for about 3 minutes, and then sink into the hole of “why??”.
The feeling is easy to replicate… picture a really shitty hill climb. Your legs are burning, lungs are starting to complain, but you know you’re going to be alright.. if it JUST finishes around this corner… except the corner never ends and you’re still going up and you can’t see any end in sight.
Now picture having that feeling for 1-3 hours until you cross the finish line.
That is what racing was like for me….
I admired those who had the ability to put the fitness aspect into the back of their mind, and actually race.
I would read, I would plan, I would start and train, and I would notice improvement.
But it wasn’t until I got a coach that things really changed. I now enjoy the actual act of “racing” both from an endurance standpoint and from an actual strategic standpoint. The ability to trust in my fitness and push that to the back of the thought process when racing allows you to seriously enjoy the other aspects of competitive sports. There is nothing more satisfying then launching an attack, chasing down Crazylegs McBlownengine half way through a race, holding onto a fast paceline, or even just providing some shelter for your smaller and faster teammates allowing them to really put out some pain later on.
Here’s the short answer:
When you are trained properly, racing turns into a completely different animal. Your sport takes on an entirely new multi dimensional form, and suddenly there is so much more to learn and train for. So ultimately, the more I put into what I’m doing, the more I’m getting out of it.
The result… I am having way more fun this year than I ever have on a bike, and apart from mechanical issues, every race has been super enjoyable from a mental point of view, as well as a physical one. So if you see me at a race… I am genuinely having fun when I’m completely ramped up!