Happy new year to everyone. My faithful readers will know that we have been putting up some notes from Justin in Belgium. I had the pleasure of talking to him yesterday on Skype.
First, let me digress by saying that this Skype is the coolest thing ever. We talked to each other over the internet for free using our mics and headsets. I am not allowed to use a webcam anymore, or go near a Chuck E Cheese, but that is a completely other blog!
Anyhow, one of the things that Justin and I discussed was how aggressive and hard core the racing is over there. With head banging and arm grabbing at every corner, the competition is fierce at all times. He said the battle for 40th was as intense as the fight for the lead! You see, cycling is a big deal over there. These guys are heros; there are kids who know more about racing than the racers themselves. They charge admission of 10e to get into a cyclocross race. When was the last time there were spectators at a ‘cross race that were not either related to the athletes or had already raced themselves that same day? Intense.
But, the question comes to my mind about what if racing was intense on this side of the pond? You see, over here we all almost know each other by our first names. In particular in the masters races, we have been together for 20 years or more. So, when in the fields or courses, we say “excuse me” or “hey Matt, let me by!”; as opposed to just pushing our way around.
Cyclocross might not be that big of a deal. The ground is a soft, and speeds slow enough that a touch of wheels that creates a fall might not do any damage. But we all have a friend (you know who you are) that gets accused of racing too hard. What? Are you crazy? He is trying to win! And usually does! My answer to those guys are that they shouldn’t have been in his way in the first place, OR, go faster and dont let him by you!
So, what about on the road? Sure, here the courses sometimes select themselves and with a longer time to move about the pack, you are seldomn left out of place. But have you ever watched the europeans race? How about the 20k leading up to Troisville in Paris-Roubaix? Yikes, those guys are serious. And they are also professional; so they are not going to do anything that will get them or their teammates hurt, but at the same time, they have a job to do.
Now, I am not condoning a more physical race. Heck, we simply can’t race “gutter to gutter” here in the States because of that pesky yellow line rule thing. But at the same time, you have to “be in it to win it”. Unfortunately, my good friend Aki was hurt last summer by a guy with a bad reputation for aggressive sprinting. This is not what I meant. Don’t be so crazy that you or worse, someone else who we all respect gets hurt.
I mean: when you are coming to that steep hill at the Capital Region Road Race, you had better be at the front, or it is game over. You might have to eat some wind, but hey, either that or turn around.
I mean: if you have to sprint up the left and dig deep for 400m towards the end of criterium in order to be ready for the finale, then prepare for that.
I mean: when I describe my workouts to clients as if you were Tyler Durden “I want you to hit me as hard as you can…” then you better go hard and be aggressive when you train so that it translates cleanly on race day.
I don’t mean: be a jerk and knock people down. Train right, don’t resort to aggression.
I also don’t mean: follow the famous guy around all day or the other guy that won last year. That is just a waste of an entry fee. Use the aggressive tactic and go for the score.
This is a subject that I know we will discuss a lot this year. I like to try to win races off the front or at least at the pointy end of the stick. Not only is it easier to predict the results, but it is easier for the girls to pick you out in the crowd!
Always train like you race. I am super excited for the upcoming season, and I am sure you are too!