The Keys to Competitive Cycling | Patience & Perseverance
Written by competitive road cyclist Normand Richard:
Patience and perseverance are two things that are hard to swallow in a world where you check the weather, answer an email, and order a pizza on your phone within a minute. For me, cycling is a case in point for this. Barring exceptional genetics (thank or curse your parents), becoming good takes patience, perseverance, and plentiful practice.
Last year I got my category 1 upgrade mid-summer, and was over the top to be able to race the Cascade Cycling Classic with the big boys aka the Pro’s and the Cat 1. The transition was brutal; I wasn’t the best at positioning myself in the peloton and the speeds where higher. Low and behold I was dropped the first day and that was the end for me. Similarly my attempt at BC SuperWeek last year, several criteriums (crits) over one week, was also less then successful with me lasting only a quarter of the races before being spit out the back.
You might be wondering by now why I’m sharing these rather embarrassing experiences with you. Well it’s to show that if you fail you got to get up, change your game plan and try again. Here’s what I did:
For the crits I used deep wheels (I chose the Energy Lab V90) that would help carry speed and minimize re-accelerations. Carrying as much speed as you can is key to saving your matches when you really need them. I also used amber lenses on my Rudy Project glasses as these crits happen in the evening while the sun is setting. Some guys go with no glasses but there’s always the risk of a rock being kicked up, and my eyes get watery in the wind (yup, that’s my only weakness).
SuperWeek crits usually finish around 8-830 PM, and by the time you get home its 9-930 PM. Having your nutrition dialed is essential, particularly because these races are back to back. This year I was working with Picky Bar, and always made sure I had a bar (more like two bars!) and a full bottle to start my recovery ASAP. The other downside of these night races is that you can’t always properly cool down as the course is shut down quickly and it might be too far or dark to ride home. My tactic around this was to use the Marc Pro to help flush out my legs while eating dinner once I was at home. I definitely felt looser the next day and had a little more snap.
Despite not achieving the goals I wanted to at BC SuperWeek and Cascades in 2015, I persevered and signed up for both again. This year, the crits were a success; I finished one and practically completed another one before getting caught in a crash at the end. Then I was able to secure a guest ride with the upcoming domestique elite team Support Clean Sport/SeaSucker/Guttenplan Coaching for Cascades. Cascades was much better, fitness wise I was at a higher level, I knew where to be in the peloton and how to eat/drink sufficiently for these big stages. Luck wasn’t on my side, as I was caught in a pile up on the first day, suffering road rash on my left side and bruised ribs. I managed to push through three out of the 5 stages before finish outside the time limit (crashing takes some out of you!). Was I disappointed? Yes. Will I keep going and race Cascades again? Yes.
The take home message for this (other than crashing will happen!) is that good results and satisfaction take time. So be patient, have fun and enjoy the journey.