It’s always a process, much like baking a cake really. You add just the right amount of proper ingredients and hope the end result turns out to be the best one yet. And right now the oven is about to sound and we’re going to see just how well things have come together.
Of course, I am talking about the transition from the long winter of training to the beckoning competitive cycling season. This will be my eighth road season and quite simply I am ecstatic about my racing environment in 2017. Back on a UCI Continental squad full of incredibly talented riders and brilliant management, things are indeed looking up. Not to mention a slew of kick ass sponsors allowing us to roll around on some top notch equipment. And that has translated into a productive winter of work out on the majestic Colorado roads. After spending very close to 6 months racing away in 2016, I was quite content to stay at home in Denver this off-season and skip my usual block of training in the Australian summer. Sounds a little counterintuitive right? Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times over the last few months spent wrapped head to toe in thermal grade gear I dreamt of the blistering Aussie sun. But at the same time, I felt this relaxing sense of space and control over the process of preparing for the season ahead. Mostly I think this was down to not having the Aussie National Championships as an option in January, and the overwhelming and quite natural sense of wanted to put on a good show. Having such a big race so early in the year can be tricky to place in the already long seasonal calendar. After spending the last two years this way, with a mini focus toward Nationals, this time around I really relished the slow build of ticking away the kilometers and pushing plates around in the gym. And there is always at least ten watts gained from sleeping in your own bed and making coffee from your own machine.
I must admit the winter in Denver this year has been pretty mild which has no doubt helped my cause. I can count on one hand the days I’ve had to spend on the indoor trainer, and since discovering Zwift it really hasn’t been a chore at all. Sure it’s been super cold outside at times, but the amount of snow fallen on the front range was pretty minimal compared to years past. Plus, my other strategy for the winter was to set myself up with different riding options and to remain flexible when the temperatures did dip. I built up a cross bike for those in-between days when the roads were thawing out, and I had a lot of fun riding my mountain bike on snow packed local trails. For a guy who grew up in Australia, ripping around on such foreign terrain was a hoot. Except for that one time when I hit a patch of ice and binned it on my knee, but other than that it still was a wild ride that day.
So fast forward to the present and where does that leave us now? Back in December, I hopped into the lab for some baseline testing and at that point, things were ticking along nicely. It gave me some good process goals to target, and I’m due to retest again next week. I hope to have made some solid gains in the last three months. I have done a handful of small local races but all of those I have trained through, with solid hours either on days either side. My early season schedule with the team has been set, with my first two races being Tour of the Gila mid-April and then Redlands Classic at the start of May. Both races I am very familiar with, but returning this year being a part of such a strong team I can’t wait to see what we can achieve. Hopefully, the cake I have meticulously spent creating will be worthy of a few national level competition medals and a handful of blue ribbons in some local bake off events. We shall see.