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Whether a technique or a setup, I'm sure quite a few people experimented over the cyclocross season?  Can you share a finding or two? 

 

Also, thanks to everyone who adds to the discussions.  You've been really supportive of us 'new folks' to the sport!

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Clement PDXs worked super well.

Getting a bike fit worked super duper well.

Finally figuring out how to eat for an afternoon race paid off well.

Doing an interview about how to pack did not work out well, I forgot something at every race this year.

 

What did not work:

--virtually ignoring my sealed bearing hubs until the end of the season. Just because they're sealed doesn't mean they don't need periodic love. This year I will spend more time with Stompy (my bike) in the stand between races.

--not stretching enough. This year I'm doing yoga, 2-3 days a week in a class and very short sessions another couple of mornings a week at home, before I ride to work. After doing it fairly regularly for three months, I still feel old and horribly inflexible -- go figure! -- but I am hopeful it will help anyway.

--racing for a team based very far out of town. I had plenty of support online via a team web site, and even got to meet a couple of teammates who visited for USGP in 2009; but after two years of being pretty much the Only One In Town I realized I would benefit from a more social experience. I am racing with a new local team in 2011 and already can feel the difference in my intention and focus.

 

What worked:

--getting a good night's sleep TWO nights before a race. Hardly anyone I know sleeps especially well the night before a race, especially a race they care a LOT about (like Opening Day of Cross Crusade, or USGP, for example). But doing whatever I needed to ensure good sleep two nights before -- including a hot bath, warm milk, yoga, and/or snuggling with my sweetie -- helped my sense of restedness and equilibrium a lot, and I could feel the difference on race day.

--Continental Cross Country 26 x 1.5 tires -- possibly THE best 26" tire ever for cyclocross, a sort of Michelin Mud for the 26" set. Stompy felt invincible in the cold, wet mud, even when I did not. Knowing that they were being discontinued, I bought up every last one I could find. Besides the pair on my bike I have three more tires still in the wrapper. I may try to find a fourth.

--Embrocation. On any day colder than about 60 degrees, Embro helped my vaguely arthritic knees before, during and after the practice session or race. And while it may seem like a bit of a hassle scrubbing it off afterward, it's far easier for me than having to negotiate removal of legwarmers or whatever at the starting area -- especially if things are rushed and crazy at the last minute.

--Flannel-lined jeans for after the race. After finishing your muddy race, hosing off your bike and getting out of your cold, wet race kit, this is like comfort food for your legs. Well worth the extra space it takes up in my race bag.

This was my first season, and I learned that I will benefit MUCH more from putting lots of miles in my legs over the next four months than I will by doing any other kind of training. I hope to have a big base going into next year. I also learned that I need a pretty long warmup to race my best.

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