"Are you pumped for cyclocross?!" I must've heard it 50 times this year. "No," I'd respond. "I don't race in the offseason."
The offseason is a particularly fragile time, one that many people don't respect. It's a time to recuperate physically from a long season (that starts in December) of training and racing. Now, don't get me wrong, cyclocross and huge epic rides in the fall foliage is really fun. The weather is perfect, cross is addicting, and everyone is excited for something new. But that's exactly why I back off and don't ride much.
Being fast in April means putting in long hours in January. Being at the top in July, means resting in the fall for me. It goes beyond physical rest though, because yes, lots of folks race January-December and are pretty good at it all year. They structure training around constant racing and love it. Good for them. But often times, outside of pro's and the very rare amateur, these types burn out and leave the sport. And that burn, its a mental one.
When I finish racing in September my fitness is awesome. I'm lean, my legs feel amazing, and I can crush everything. Ending the race season when you feel like that is tough, but what you don't always realize is your mind is about to crack. Its been on the limit for months, pushing itself to go more, faster, farther than ever. So when you step off the bike for even a week at time in the offseason, at first you feel anxious to get back to it. But soon, the mind starts to unwind, cool down, and relax.
Ultimately, that down time in the fall is exactly what makes me want to ride my bike in January. It allows me to relax, catch up on life and things that go on hold with big racing and training schedules, and forget about racing. Come December, I'll be actually hungry to train again, no matter what the conditions outside are like - which is good since the weather will likely be terribly cold and dark.
2015 was a great year for me. I worked very hard with Cameron Cogburn to hit new heights, so letting go of that and taking time off the bike has been hard. But with it, a new vigor is building. New motivation is slowly forming that will propel me through the hard training, the rides that just suck, the early morning trainer sessions, the 3 hour rides in the dark, and the intervals in March that bring me to the verge of puking. The mind is a powerful tool, but only if it has its batteries charged.
The offseason is recharging my mind, and I'm already looking forward to 2016.