That’s some good advice. Thank you.
Exploiting your fitness on epic outdoor rides or strava (a la lighting up a ride with PRs or Trophies) sure helps.
I like a good cycling MTB trip with Back to Back to Back rides that sure helps the soul.
I race XCO, XCM and would probably enjoy a Gravel grinder here and there. I hear of people only having 1 big race for the year that they are training for. This could be a recipe for disaster if that one race doesn’t go as planned. I do about 20+ races per year and crap happens from time to time. (I’ll probably do another 10+ zwift races throughout the year.)
If you only do structured work for the sake of doing structured work, it becomes “Not cycling.” The structured work is to benefit you when on the bike so you enjoy that even more. What good is a high FTP if you don’t use it? Its like commuting in rush hour in your racecar. IMO
What is your ratio of trainer to on the bike time?
During the winter 100% trainer and 0% bike. But this is my first winter on either. I moved to the US from South Africa where the concept of winter is different so I was not exposed no real cold temperatures outside and forced indoors. The question is what should be the ideal split between trainer and outside MTBing when it warms up in the US. I haven’t figured this out yet, but I very much agree with you that outside cycling has to be the priority. Perhaps the idea is to have fun in the warm months and maintain FTP and use cold months to increase FTP…
My local XC scene is super friendly, and welcoming. It appears to be the same elsewhere. Most lower cat XC races aren’t nearly as intense of a start as you hear about. If you’re not planning on competing for the front, just roll off the line at a comfortable safe pace, go hard when you can, and recover when you need to.
And don’t feel like you need to finish high to have a good time. I think one of the races I enjoyed the most, I was in dead last for about 2 hours, before passing one person from my category near the end of the race, to end up 2nd from last. Most of my races are shorter than that one, so I was super happy that I didn’t fade as much as the other guy.
If you’ve got a local course you ride that hosts races each year, you can look up what the finishing times are for each category. It’s a nice way to benchmark yourself against a group without having to be there. I like to look at the middle times for my category. It’s not uncommon for the top few people to really belong up a cat, so I try to ignore them. Sometimes races will run a non-standard loop, so keep that in mind. But it otherwise works nicely.