Whether you are an Elite racer aiming to work your way through a UCI field, or a cowbell-ringing spectator looking to enter your first race come September, all riders who throw themselves into the competitive arena dream of better results. Your lofty goal could be a podium finish, but it could also be something a little more modest—say finishing a forty-five minute race without pulling out. As August is here, and cyclocross is just around the corner, even jaded riders start to feel the butterflies when they think about the new race season ahead.
Inevitably, this excitement brings about the need for preparation. For beginners, this might mean practicing unclipping pedals or lifting a mountain bike over imaginary barriers. For more experienced riders, training could be a three-month dedication to strength and core work, threshold workouts, VO2-max intervals and technical rides.
While training by yourself has its advantages, nothing beats actual cyclocross races for improving conditioning and skills. Landing on your saddle when your heart is skyrocketing is much different than jumping on your bike in your backyard. You might have to wait until race day to push yourself to your body’s limits, but if you want the best simulation your other cyclocross buddies can provide, look no further than Wednesday Night Worlds.
For today's Training Tuesday piece, we're focusing on how to prepare for racing, by racing. See our tips to finding a good practice and creating your own practice through our guide below.
Committing to a Wednesday Worlds Near You
Finding a mid-week training session in your area might be the most difficult step. Your area might have an email list, forum or Facebook group for local cyclocross chatter—or better yet, pop into our Cowbell Forums and find some ’cross racers in your area. I ended up relying on the old-fashioned methods: racing in a month’s worth of actual races until I discovered a local group who put on a Wednesday Night Worlds within a bike ride’s distance from my house.
Andrew Yee, Cyclocross Magazine’s Chief Cowbell Ringer, has organized two long-standing Wednesday night practices, first in Boston and now in the San Francisco Bay Area. He told me that the key to his group’s success has been having a consistent day, a consistent time and a consistent place. In other words, “Wednesday Night Worlds” is not just a clever name. Creating a ritual out of the practice encourages a better turnout, which in turn encourages a more realistic race simulation. Having a consistent time and place means the participants don’t have to keep recommitting themselves to a new preparation week after week, or keep asking for the hall pass at home. Perhaps as the new guy or gal to the party, you don’t have much say in the time or place, but if you have any influence, make sure that the group sets things in stone.
Can’t find one? Keep reading for tips on creating your own Wednesday practice.