Looking back. Looking forward.
The 2022 cyclocross reason is over. 21 races in 11 weeks. 1,979 miles in the car to get to those races. The season ran the gamut of emotions from the incredible high you get winning a sprint for 20th-something position to the absolute misery of racing on course that doesn’t suit you at all on an awful night of sleep. But that misery doesn’t last for long when you realize that you accomplished the goal for the race.
As explained in my last post, I had set the goal of not finishing last in the Cat 4 race. My fitness was the best it had ever been, I could handle my bike a better than I ever could (even though I still can’t turn left really well) and I had a team to support me and to keep me pushing forward. The final results? 11 of the 13 races I didn’t finish last. In fact, by the end of the season I was only getting lapped by the wide-angle podium. The two races that I DFLed (Battle of Waterloo and Wern Valley) were wet and muddy in which I couldn’t get good traction to put the power down.
Then there was the single speed experiment. What started as a cheap way of extending the fun to the afternoon, turned into a trying to maintain a top 10 position in the overall. I think I learned the most from doing the single speed racing. First, each race day I was faster in 45-minute race with one gear than the 30 minute race with 11 which showed that I had too many gear choices and always picked the easier, slower gear. Second, going one gear harder is always the right gear. It took me to my last single speed race at Camrock to finally figure that out. Went from 38×27 in Englewood (too small) to 38×21 in Camrock (just about right). Finally, I really need a dedicated single speed bike. While unplugging the Di2 cable from the rear derailleur works, having the sheer simplicity of one gear with brake levers instead of shifters is appealing, along with not potentially damaging my A bike, This will likely will come to fruition in 2023 once I get my bike budget sorted out.
So what’s next? I’m on day 12 of a 15 day exile from any training or effort. My Crux and wheelsets have been deep cleaned. Replaced my headset bearings, chain (for the 4th time this season), brake pads (3rd time) and wheel bearings are next to inspect. On Monday, I start a week of fitness test prep to see how well my 4DP metrics held up since the pre-season. My guess is that they aren’t as good, but not as bad, as I think. Then it is straight into a 10-week training plan to build some fitness and hopefully finally have an FTP that starts with a 3 and to finally fit into the next size down of cycling kit (current stuff is too big, but next size down is too small. Go figure.) The next cycling event is the Tour of Sufferlandria which will likely be in February or March 2023. The first outdoor event will be Barry Roubaix on April 15, 2023. This year I’ll be stepping up to the 62 mile route. I’ve done the 22 and 36 miles in the past and figure I can suck it up for 62 next year. After that, I’ll likely do the Cheesehead Roubaix (please no all day downpours), The Bear and hopefully win the lottery to do the 100 mile Unbound Gravel. I still have a month to think of some new goals for 2023, but one of them is small bunnyhops on the cross bike. Need to be able to ride over 6″ logs and curbs and not get off the bike.
So what else happened in the last half of the season?
- Riding the B line in Grafton is slower than running the A line. Who knew?
- Being able to climb short, punchy climbs is the solution to a good time at Cross Fire. So is staying to the left line in the ditch.
- Sitting at the bar at the Wern Valley Sportsman Club sounds like a better time than spending the day in the rain and wind while sliding all around the course.
- Everyone should do a triple race day at some point in their season like I did at Cam Rock. Just do it on a course that suits your strengths like I did.
- Riding snow and ice is a lot like riding sand, until it turns to mud, then you’re kind of screwed on tire choice.
- Riding a bike with skinny tires (33mm) in the snow also means that everyone is a lot slower and it is more about bike handling than raw power or power to weight.