Addressing your limitations
Or, what's holding you back from achieving what you want to?
This blog entry won't be the full story, but I will expand on it over the next couple of weeks (is that a teaser?!). A few months ago Shane Miller and I were chatting about training philosophies, and the old 'train your weaknesses, race your strengths' meme was the topic.
The gist of it, which we were in rigorous agreement on, was this. Don't train your weaknesses, train (or improve etc) your limitations. For example : if you're a terrible climber (like I am! My big weakness as a roady was that as soon as any sort of hill was in a race course I was rooted) rather than waste lots of time training that and getting demoralized and giving up, accept it and look at what you enjoy racing or riding and look at what's limiting your performance in the sort of event you love to do.
Drawing something useful from that as a quick summary - Find the events you love to do, work out what your limiters are in that event, and work on them. Forget the stuff you suck at, it's not fun, pick the things you love to do and concentrate on making them as good as you can.
A small tangent, for 99% of us, it's not about the gear. It's probably not your bike that's holding you back. Here's an extract from a posting I put up on the BV forums recently that I think explains what I mean :
I coached a guy who won his way up to A grade on a $800 entry-level Learsport roady. The only real difference once he splashed for something fancier is that more people would talk to him (roadies are a funny lot ... when I splashed for my Madone I noticed a lot more people saying 'hi' at Glenvale ... I hadn't changed ...). Tommy Leaper set a very fast ITT time on the 'Boule last winter on a fixed gear cheapy trackbike, beating many on ITT rigs. He also won his way to an Austral final on an ancient steel dunger track bike about two or so years ago, everyone else was on BT's, Teschners etc ... Andrew Steele set the fastest F200 time at BBN on a steel frame that these days no-one would buy except some hipster fixie d00d to do skids on, but no-one's beaten his record yet ... It ain't the bike that wins the race. If you think you need ceramic bearings, you're wrong. If you think you need Dura-Ace, you're wrong.
When I was a kid, I did a lot of rock climbing at Mt Arapalies, I'd spent 3 weeks sieging my way up Little Thor (21). I had all the fancy stuff you could have at the time (mid to late 1980's), the sticky boots, lycra pants etc, I was a card carrying gearfreak. A guy came along who I knew more by reputation than anything else much and solo'd up it in a pair of Dunlop KT26's and he was wearing jeans. Lesson learned .. It's NOT the gear. Racing D, C, B grade, and even most A grade, it's not the gear that's holding you back.
Ob disclaimer: I work at an LBS and would love to sell you a flash bike with pose value and a big markup, but I won't lie to you and say it'll make you faster or that you need it to race ... it might make you more 'friends' at Cafe w4nk3r though I have some very nice and expensive bikes and bits, but they don't make me any faster, they're nicer... sure, and IMO very pretty, but the bike is not what's limiting my performance. I wish it was, then I could spend my way to glory and race the sprint at the 2012 Olympics heh ...