I was having drinks with some folks last night (some were racers), and when I asked one of them if he was racing East Atlanta Twilight and Grant Park Criterium next weekend, he said nope, his season was over. He'd had a bad crash at the PAALS crit, bad road rash and a fractured shoulder bone. Also, it had just been an off season. He arrived late to the first race of the season because someone had told him the wrong start time. Just not a good season, and he already had his sights set on next season. I said I understood, that I wrote off the end of last season, and that I'm planning on really getting targeted next season.
For some reason talking about the seasons stuck out to me.
I love how seasonal cycling is. It has a cadence to it, a natural rhythm.
There are times you come into form, times you're a bit burned out, times to recover; monster miles weeks when your wife is out of town, and no miles weeks when you go on family vacation; there's the early season, late season, off season. By the end of the summer and the race season I'm itching to take a little breather and then start long, steady base miles. By the end of winter I'm itching to start racing and do some high intensity work.
This rhythm is based on life as well. Vacations, life events and increased work hours (all these tend to occur seasonally as well) put in natural breaks to the training. I try and use these as times to really allow my body to rebuild.
Building up racing fitness is something that happens after many months of consistent and balanced weekly training and recovery. It's like an orchestra of workouts, meals, sleep that create a symphony of fitness. There aren't any shortcuts, and that's part of what makes it so special when you have it.
Last season I was going great until I broke my collarbone around mid-season. After surgery there were complications so all in all I essentially took 6 weeks off the bike. So that was pretty much the end of that season. This season I've treated as kind of coming back to the form I was then, and next season I plan to get some good results through good winter training and race targeting.