Supercharge Your Season
There?s more to starting your season than simply signing up for a few local criteriums.
best line and the best speed. The wind is a lot stronger when there aren?t 20 racers in front of you either. Most important, you have the opportunity to learn how to read the movement of the front end of the field, see the surge on your left as it enters your peripheral vision. These experiences prepare you for the days when you have the legs to get to the front, push the pace, and force a selection. For now, it?s an exercise. Spend a lap at the front and drift back into the first third of the field. A few laps later, move back to the front and spend another few minutes gaining valuable knowledge.
? Get in a breakaway: You?re in these races to learn and challenge yourself, so get out of the relative comfort of the peloton and get into a breakaway. You may not have the power to stay away to the finish right now, but if you wait until you have the legs, you?re likely to find yourself in a breakaway without knowing what to do next. The strongest rider in a breakaway is sometimes beaten by the cagiest rider, and if your training makes you stronger and your experience makes you smarter, you?ll be that much harder to beat in your goal events.
Putting It All Together
Group rides and early-season races can play an integral role in your training and preparation for goal events later in the year, but there has to be balance. Overloading your schedule with group rides and races can take away from the focus of your individual training, and can potentially ratchet your overall training load up to an excessively high level. Early in the year, the majority of your training should still be focused on workouts that develop your aerobic engine and your sustainable power. Group rides and races provide a good supplement to this training, but shouldn?t overpower it. If you?re training five or six days a week, one group ride and one race can be effectively incorporated into your schedule. If you?re training three or four days a week, try to include just one group ride or race in a week.
At the beginning of the season, all things are possible. You can start off struggling in local criteriums and end up a National Champion. The critical aspect of the using your early races to propel your season is to use them as stepping stones towards a greater accomplishment. Make it your goal to learn the process of racing, focus on your training, and you?ll exceed your expectations in the summer of 2005.
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