I can't believe I'm already racing at the end of the month. It seems like the downtime has flown by. Holidays, rest, family time and of course indulgences. However, what exactly goes into my offseason? Read on to find out.
At the end of the year, I had accumulated 82 race days. That takes some toll on the body, so the first thing I do after a few easy days following the final race of the year is forget where my bike is. I do this at least for three weeks. I try to have four weeks off the bike, but it's hard. It feels like a part of me, and I miss it too much.
This period is key to a good year because you need to give all the little micro-traumas in your body time to heal, you need to let your brain drift off into the sunset and be free, you need to enjoy a beer and an extra serving of sweet potato fries. Sport is a big mental game, and you need to be ready to commit fully once it's on. So once it's go time that burning feeling inside can propel you to train hard, again and again, make those sacrifices that lead to high performances.
However obviously after four weeks without training you can't just jump back into full 30 hour weeks on the bike. Usually, there is still some time before the first race, so after the time off it is a great opportunity to remember those little weaknesses in your body, those little injuries that maybe held you back, or even just getting a bit more mobility in your joints and work on those areas of the body. My first three weeks back usually consist of more off bike activities then bike riding itself. I would do somewhere between 10-15h on the bike, but make sure I do plenty of gym, physical therapy, and mental therapy. Mental therapy for me includes hiking, running, ice skating, skiing, rollerblading and just enjoying time in the fresh air with friends. It can be whatever you desire and would still challenge your body a little in ways your normal sport does not.
After a good month back to some sort of training usually I already start packing my bags and off to the first training camp we go. Here the hours on the bike ramp up, but still working on the body and working on just being a human first still happens. You can't just be a body with twigs for arms and pistons for legs. Healthy human first. This is a good time to look at maybe getting a bike fit because the hours aren't crazy so your body will be able to adjust to the new position, but also you've already been back enough that you know how your body should feel like.
At the first camp, we also do some squat testing. We find the speed that you produce the most power with. For me that was 50kg, and from now on I will mostly work with this weight at the gym to give neuromuscular impulses to the muscles. The first camp is also a mini Christmas because all the new bikes arrive, the new kit arrives and you feel like a proper kid. I don't know if all pros do, but I know I still do. Every. Single. Time.
With all the knowledge and all the new kit we all head home for a nice 3 or 4 weeks. This again is a time filled with holidays, but by now you've mentally checked in and maybe that second serving of sweet potato fries is a pass. The hours keep ramping up and maybe even 20-25 hour weeks are on the menu again. It's time to be a bit more focused, maybe do another 30min on the bike and start looking forward to the 2nd camp, so you're not huffing and puffing every time the road tilts up.
And this is where we are at now. Second training camp of the year. I feel like I have done my homework and I will be able to check how well the others have done theirs.