The Aca Joe Pro Classic Racing League has ended and it is a good time to give some thought to what worked, what did not, what have I learned, and most importantly to capture what is worth taking forward as focus points for improvement and development.
My first week in the League was filled more with anxiety, instead of celebration for having made the grade and being accepted to race in the Vet League (+40 Age group). I identified and confronted this negative stress by firstly trying to understand its presence, and recommended course of action. This process led to some personal soul searching, discoveries, acknowledgements, and the subsequent application of proven EQ tools. It helped me immensely, and in the weeks that followed the application of tools, such as positive self-talk, affirmations, and the questioning / verification of negativity has become ingrained not only in my cycling, but has also spilled over into everyday life. With specific reference to my cycling I have become much more confident, which has led to a stronger physical performance on the bike.
In my League Category I was racing with the same people every race, and very soon I was able to pick out those that are similarly matched in terms of cycling performance. Those persons became my benchmarks. During the race if I was amongst my benchmarks I felt positive towards my performance and it was a motivator. It also created a very strong drive to keep with the group pace, and to dig deeper when the going got tough. If at the end of the race I was lagging their race time I would try and find what I need to do differently. On those occasions when I outrode them the personal satisfaction was HUGE !!! So the structure and consistent presence of the competitors within my group caused me to train and race harder, leading to significant performance improvement.
My League group also comprised of very strong cyclists that were the group leaders and they were generally 15-25 min stronger than me on most races. Riding League has given me exposure to how they race, their methods, their equipment, their physical strengths etc., and that has helped me to identify my limiters that needs to be worked on in preparation for the next league season in 6 months’ time. These being my Functional threshold (CP20) and Anaerobic capacity (CP5). FTP has to do with climbing strength, and AC has to do with ability to surge at high power for short durations continuously during a race.
A workout that has week on week made the biggest contribution to my improvement has been the Killarney Criterium sessions. It has boosted my VO2 max, CP5, bike handling skills, and bunch riding skills. It will most definitely become a key part of my training programme from October onwards when the next race season starts. Anaerobic Intervals Workout is the other key that I have experienced to be hugely beneficial, and they are interwoven. I have been able to add knowledge and structure to my workouts involving these, as well as identify my current limits and targets. The experience related to recovery from these workouts is extremely important to prevent burnout, injury, and continued quality training.
In reflection, the decision to register for the Vet League, was the best one. The experience has made me grow on so many different levels, and it has exposed me to those that will be sitting on my wheel in 2 years time.