A Simple Idea and New Perspectives

Cari Higgins's third installment for the CycloFrosh blog.

This whole ride-your-bike-on -irt thing started as a simple idea. I thought, why not extend my road racing season? I love racing my bike, I love riding dirt, I am in great racing shape, and maybe I will learn to drink beer while I’m at it.

Coming off of Team Time Trial World Championships in Richmond, VA at the end of September, I was in top form. There was some residual fatigue from the whole summer of road racing but I was pumped to have another bike to race. The idea was that I would take a couple weeks away from structured training and just practice skills. I would join Wednesday Worlds here in Boulder, I would hit the trails with my favorite girlfriends on our mountain bikes, and maybe I would even give my long lost love, running, another shot. Gold!

So, I fully embraced the idea of not having structured training. After all, it has been about 8 years since I haven’t been fully structured in training. Two weeks turned into… well, let’s just say it turned into more then two weeks!

As predicted, my first couple races challenged my skill level but not my fitness. Fitness=High. Skill=Low. I smiled the whole time and put zero pressure on myself to prove anything. It would all come together.

Does any other mathematical nerd remember what a sinusoid is? No? Ok, no big surprise. It’s a mathematical curve, like a wave. Without trying to go into so much description that I confuse myself, let’s just say that my fitness and my skill are two waves that are way out of sync. When my fitness was high, my skill was way low. As my skill level increased, my fitness went way down.

Racing at Kings CX in Cincinnati, OH, I felt like my skills were finally going to get to keep up with my fitness. Some bad luck on the first day had me in a crash within 100 meters of the start of the race. Day two had me just completely suffering. The two races of the Derby City Cup in Louisville, KY were a bit of a shocker to the system. In the skills department, I felt like a solid “B”. After working my way up from the failing kid on the back row, a “B” felt good. But, oh crap (!!!), my fitness was a solid “C-“. I didn’t see that coming!

It had been 7 weeks since Richmond and time to whip my butt into fine form!

It didn’t take long and 3 weeks later, I’m ready to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The fitness is back on the rise, the skills are not as embarrassing as they once were, and, who knows, maybe one day I might have some luck on that first lap and avoid the crashes.

People keep asking me, “are you still having fun?” The good news is that I’m smiling ear to ear each time I jump on that beautiful Parlee. The knobbies, that dirt, and the people: it all makes me so damn happy!

So, I’m hitting the next two weekends of racing with a new perspective. I’m going to use my fitness to put myself into a position that challenges my skills. Although I’m getting more competitive with myself, I still expect nothing less than improvement. Oh, wait, I do have another expection: I also expect more than the $1 handup Coryn Rivera gave me at Louisville. After ALL those leadouts in crits, after sacrificing myself over and over to put her on the top step of the podium, I think I at least deserve a $10 hand-up. Right? Cough, cough Coryn. You listening?

P.S. I haven’t learned to drink beer yet. That’s a work in progress.

You may also like