Competitive cycling is a blast. All of us who race know that. There is no other sport that offers so much satisfaction and is as rewarding as bicycle racing. Riding out in the elements dressed half naked, moving down the road under our own power, riding in a peleton and having to endure the danger factors that come with speed, squirrely riders, flying down descents, avoiding potholes, and attacking for the win! Nothing provides a rush quite like the sport of bicycle racing.
But the most fun we can have is when we know that we did everything we could in a race to win it, both on and off of the bicycle. The sport of bicycle racing is extremely demanding and encompasses every aspect of our lives. What we eat, how we sleep, how we train, how we recover, all of those elements require our attention. When we make bad decisions or are complacent about any one of those elements, we greatly diminish our performance and chances for success in a race. If we made poor choices in our diets, or stayed out too late at night, or went to the shopping mall and walked around for 3 hours after an intense training day, or tried to do intervals when we were really in need of rest and recovery, we know that in the back of our minds that we did not give 100%. And, if we do not have those lingering thoughts in the back of our minds, we are in for a reality check come race day. Sometimes, inexperience is to blame for poor decisions. Sometimes, we just didn’t know any better. In the sport of bicycle racing however, ignorance will not get us off, we will pay a price for that ignorance.
So how can a bicycle racer know what to do? How can a bicycle racer be sure of their choices? Training workouts, recovery workouts, dietary choices, fluid replacement, dressing for an event, if there are doubts about any of these elements mentioned which by the way, is not even close to a complete list, the resources are out there! A lot of information is out there in magazines, articles, other bicycle racers and coaches. There is so much out there, that too often, ideas and advice conflict. There is so much information out there that it can easily lead to information overload. So what is the best strategy to follow in deciding what advice is best for you? The best resource is a coach. Someone who you can get to know over time, and who can get too know you. That coach can be someone who was successful as bicycle racer, or someone who has a degree in Exercise Physiology, or someone who is a certified by USA Cycling.
Other than the price of your coach, keep a few things in mind when you decide to seek a coach for your self. First, you will have to allow for a period of time to get to know your coach. It will also take your coach time to get to know you too. Every athlete responds differently to different workouts, and it may take a few months to get to the point where you interact with your coach effectively. Second, communicate with your coach. Be honest when you do. If your coach does not know that a particular workout does not work for you, your coach will not be effective. Third, you need to execute the workouts as prescribed by your coach. This seems obvious, but if you find your self not doing the workouts as your coach has prescribed, then you need to re-assess your needs.
The most fun we can have as competitive cyclists is winning. We cannot win every race, but even when we have given a 100% effort to win, that too is an awesome feeling. There is almost nothing else we will ever experience in life outside of cycling, that is as rewarding and satisfying as winning a bicycle race. We poor our blood sweat and tears into the sport, so make the most of your efforts. Avoid mistakes. If you want to experience the ultimate in bicycle racing, if you want to experience the awesomeness of bicycle racing, then get a coach!
Mike Carter is a former top level pro, having ridden in the Tours de France, Italy, and Spain, 5 World Championships and countless other international events. Mike is now a certified cycling coach and trainer, and works with www.athleticamps.com.