I spent a few years living and racing bikes in Europe. For the most time it was a good experience and a good time. But I look back on it now incredulously and think, “ What were you thinking?” And not from the perspective of “what were you thinking racing in Europe?” but what was my plan?
The truth was, I didn’t have one. I didn’t know what races I was doing, I didn’t know how I was going to set up my training from week to week and month to month but, in general, I was taking a fly by the seat of the pants approach.
Now, just on basic genetics, I was able to get by like this and get a few good results here and there. But this was not a long-term approach. Predictably, after a while this system broke down.
So, where am I headed with this? HAVE A PLAN. Even if that plan is that you have no plan. At least you’ve defined your approach somewhat.
Here’s a prime example. I spent some time racing in Belgium and at one point; I was lucky enough to get an invite to the Tour of Austria. Because I’d been just doing races haphazardly without too much thought to the long-term view, I declined this invitation because I was whooped and wanted to come home to take a rest. That fall I was in the process of trying to get a contract with a pro team, any pro team, and I happened to get on the phone with the US Postal team people. They had my resume in hand and said that they noticed I had done a considerable amount of racing in Europe, why hadn’t I gone to Tour of Austria? It turned out that they had made their team selections for the following year based on the performances of riders at that race. Some American riders they selected from that race went on to have some very high profile careers.
I’m not for a moment saying that I came close to the level of those riders. What I am saying is that because I hadn’t made a plan and structured my schedule, I may or may not have missed out on a great opportunity. Other riders had schedule that in and shaped their training around it and, without naming names, look how it turned out for some of them.
With that experience in hand now, I always ask my clients to outline goals at the start of the season, decide what races they plan to participate in on a month to month basis, what vacations and travel do they have on the horizon and so forth. This allows us to set up their training and racing so that it all makes sense and there are not conflicting events. We can schedule training and racing around the events of their life, family and any other elements. Additionally, it allows us to time and tweak their fitness according to how they’ve prioritized the races they’d like to do.
The top riders in our sport have their season, more or less, planned out from the start to finish. They know what they’re travel schedule will look like, what their races are and when they’ll arrive with their best fitness. You can take an approach like this too. It doesn’t require a personal assistant or over the top organization. It just requires you to sit down and write (or type) what your plan is.