CXM: With a big event like Worlds, do you try to recreate similar features of the course (say, common things they might find at Tabor) for your athletes to practice on?
CM: I try to have my athletes prepared for anything, but flexible and ready for problem solving. In general, if there is something special, like a monster set of stairs, we will try to duplicate it in training. If there is something historically pivotal, like a sand section where the race is always won or lost on, we try to prep for it. I watch a lot of cyclocross on Youtube and Eric Nelson’s CX IS SRS BIZ.
Really I want my riders to know the answer before the question presents itself.
CXM: In helping them find those answers, are you also involved in fitting your athletes to their bikes, equipment setup, and tire selection?
CM: I give suggestions on “fit.” With Caro, we have been tweaking things all season with her new Ibis bikes. I often think Tobin steers too much with his arms and shoulders and I would like him to steer with his hips more. But I get asked about gear and set up all the time from my athletes and fellow ’crossers.
Tobin and I are total tire nerds, we dork out about tires. I think he paid me for January coaching with Dugast Small Birds.
I really want all my clients to be able to get to a course, make a tire selection and dial in the pressure with confidence. When I get asked, “what pressure should I run” or “how does this feel,” I tend to give a lecture and not an answer.
I must be a blast to hang out with.
CXM: Because you also travel with them to Worlds, do you help man the pits as well?
CM: With Tobin, I get to watch and cheer. He is dialed with the USA Cycling staff. I just need to be around before and after to do what ever he needs.
With Caro, I am also staff. I will be at the start grabbing clothes and catching bikes in the pits. It should be fun.
CXM: When you approach one major race like Worlds, does the athlete’s performance at races such as Hoogerheide affect the preparations for the championship race?
CM: Tobin and Caro are both doing the World Cup at Hoogerheide, which is a beautiful course. I take these multiple races into consideration in the trip plan. Mostly we just need to budget enough rest and recovery. But also a few other things.
Tobin has raced Hoogerheide multiple times, so he knows what is coming. I expect him to have his plan dialed and for him to execute that plan. Sounds easy enough. With Caro, however, this is her first time and the World Cup is just a shake down, so to speak. Get a big euro race under her belt. Make some notes, make some adjustments to the plan and re work the race plan, if need be for worlds.
CXM: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions amateur athletes have with respect to how elite-level athletes train?
CM: I have coached a lot of cat 1 and 2 riders and there is a common problem. Basically trying to train as much as a pro without being able to rest as much as a pro means you are asking for trouble. More is not always better. Of course you need to add volume and intensity to improve, but you can not leave out rest and recovery in the proper ratio.
And mental training and preparation. I suggest both to all my clients and its usually the first time they have had it brought to their attention. I’ve got to mention the two great partners I have for this aspect: Traci Sommer of aspireperformance.net and of course Kristin Keim.
McGovern leaves Monday to join his athletes on their way to the Czech Republic. We spoke after the interview about the riders’ goals, and McGovern believes in targeting a smoothly executed ride instead of aiming for a place. He knows that Gomez-Villafañe has the ability to surprise her field, especially in the heavy technical sections of the course. Stay tuned to cxmagazine.com as we follow Ortenblad and Gomez-Villafañe’s results at the next round of the World Cup coming Sunday, as well as their rides at the 2015 Cyclocross World Championship in Tabor.