Every year it seems the racing season starts earlier and earlier. Its mid-January and on the road side the Early Bird crits are already in full swing with the first road race next weekend, cross country mountain biking gets rolling at the end of the month, and cyclocross isn’t even done yet! Its hard to not get too excited with all this racing and come into the season flying, which is great if your goals are in January/February, but if your looking at racing all summer and targeting some big races mid-year its better to use these races for training and not worry too much about results. Of course doing that is easier said than done. However, the early bird crit series is set-up perfectly for this as the first three don’t even record results. Its not until the last one on January 31st that athletes get results. This gives the athletes a good opportunity to brush up on racing skills, moving around in the peloton effectively, being safe and smooth through the corners, and experiment with racing tactics. Always wanted to try that last lap flyer but never had the courage to really give a go? Always wanted to sit in and see how you would do in the sprint? Want to experiment with that new pre-race warm-up? This is the perfect opportunity.
The same can be true with the Mountain Bike races. SB Racing has a great series put together to build up to the big races this spring. They offer the perfect opportunity to work on technical skills, pacing strategies, bike set-up, and pre-race routines including how your weeks training leads up to race day. This is an often neglected aspect of race day performance. To achieve your best performance on race day it is important to balance fatigue and freshness. Too fatigued and your performance will suffer with tired legs. To “fresh” or rested and come race day your legs will be lethargic, or “blocked” as often veteran racers refer to the sensation. This is the perfect time to experiment with riding the day before, not riding the day before, completing intervals 3 days out, not riding all week, anything you think might help.
Each of these races represent a great learning experience. Get out there and experiment, train, and learn what works for you. Come the big races you will have your preparation dialed!