Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The ever shifting baseline

In my profession the whole point of a baseline is to provide a benchmark that remains constant and that all activity can be measured against. My cyclocross racing life has multiple variables; hence setting a baseline for comparison is next to impossible. If you don’t believe me, see below:


As you can see they are right next to each other.

The start of the Cyclocross season is always a crapshoot for me. Some years I have started and expected dramatic improvement, only to find I am finishing with the same jokers as I was last year. Last year my revelation was how stinking fast my category had become. It took me a few weeks to get moving, but I was very pleased with my campaign.

The baseline part of the equation comes as I try to balance one side of the equation (training, etc) with the other (current injuries/ailments/age). If I have better cornering technique, but lower fitness, then what will be the race outcome? If I have more miles, but less intervals, how will I finish? How can I compare this year to last year when so many variables are in play?

This year I start my season with a different kind of fitness than I have ever had in the past. While I think strengthening my back has been successful, I injured it three weeks ago and it isn’t quite a hundred percent yet. I have a solid base of weight workouts, but my plan to add intervals in September was foiled by the back injury. I have a lot of miles this year, but very few super long rides and that may be good or bad, we will find out. In RAMROD I expected to crash and burn and I flew instead. Since cross is an event lasting thirty-five to fifty minutes, my conditioning might actually be well freakishly well suited to the races ahead.

"El hefe" and Treefarm in 2009

On a personal note (and remember this blog is all about me), the events of the summer have left me emotionally worn down and I sure don’t have the fire in my belly. Old men, racing around in the mud wearing spandex, is in fact as absurd as it sounds. I can usually talk myself into taking it seriously enough, but my head isn’t there just yet. The sounds from the real challenges in life are just too loud for me to tune out right now.

Eye of the tiger ?

Spinner John has been preparing for the season like it is D-Day. He hasn’t said the words, but it is absolutely clear that he is gunning for me, me and only me. At this point I think I would almost rather have him beat me than have to listen to his excuses for not doing so. After finishing a place or two behind him in the first two races last year, I went on to destroy him the rest of the season. The result of this success was enduring an endless string of his reasons why he didn’t beat me every week.

So as I enter my seventh Cyclocross season, I might be in the best racing shape of my life. It is more likely that my fitness is on par, or below par as compared to previous years. In stark contrast to this possible high level of fitness, my hunger to compete is almost nonexistent. While my motivation to win may be in question, I sure hate to lose, so stay tuned to this station.

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