We invest a great deal of time in our training. We prepare ourselves for what we expect to encounter during our events. We will spend months focusing on endurance, climbing, sprinting, MTB skills, running, etc. We may research a course route and profile. We can go ride the course ahead of time. We may have done the event many times before.
When we wake up on race-day, Mother Nature can turn our world upside-down. When that occurs, there is nothing we can do. It is only a matter of time before this happens to each of us. It could be cold, dumping rain, gusty winds, or 110 degrees. Those factors can have a significant impact on our results. We need to prepare for them. We can't allow months of training be washed away by rain.
Rain is the most obvious obstacle. Summer events could be unbearably hot and humid. If you want to do well during that time of year, you should mix in some workouts during the hottest time of the day. If training for a 24-hour race, you had better be doing some workouts at night. If your road race is on long open roads, you better learn to deal with the wind. It is no different than training in the hills for a hilly race. You are preparing yourself for the event. Prepare for weather challenges too.
In order to overcome the weather, we have to acclimate to various weather conditions. That means training outdoors when some may not want to go outside at all. Consider expanding your limits in training. It takes time to accumulate clothing, knowledge, and experience to deal with adverse conditions. Be patient but take appropriate steps allowing you to train in more varied weather conditions.
We all love to brag about how we overcame a bad weather day. “The greatest motivation to train, is knowing that your competition is on the couch!” The intent is not to be the heartiest or bravest rider among your friends. The benefit is being able to show up for an event in miserable conditions and remain focused on what you came to achieve. Remaining focused on your goals.
Last weekend, I showed up for the Strasburg Road Race in Lancaster, PA. It was 36F with a wintry mix of rain, sleet, and snow. These were the worst road racing conditions that I have ever raced in. Adding to it was the dirt/mud on the road from farms, slick tar pavement, and a few challenging portions of the course.
Instead of sharing data, I’ll provide video. I edited the video to include only a few segments. Segment one give you a good idea of the road conditions. Clumps of mud and manure are on portions of the course. At the end of the race, I looked more like a MTB racer than a roadie.
The next two segments show a corner where racers were having trouble. In the first instance, a rider takes a poor inside line and waits too long to brake. He had no chance. Traction was so bad he appeared to not even try to turn. Unfortunately, someone was on his outside and forced to go straight too. The next segment is a later lap. The lead rider isn’t able to slow down and ends up riding through a farmer’s field.
The last segment is the finish. One rider had gotten away much earlier and won. I finished among a pack of 6 racers just ahead of the remaining field. Interestingly, no one stood up to sprint for the line. I know my hands were too cold to feel my handlebars. I finished 6th.
There were some areas of the course that were dangerous in those conditions. I’m sure that many racers were just happy to finish and go home. Because I spend considerable time training in atrocious weather, I had chosen the correct equipment and clothing. That allowed me to focus on racing rather than just finishing.
Thanks for reading.