After all the miles and hours spent training and preparing for a key race, there is nothing worse than being caught out by a surprise and missing the key move. Missing the break because there was an attack that you weren't expecting is one thing, missing the move because you didn't know the course is something else all together. Perhaps the most important and useful tactic to incorporate into every racers bag of tricks is pre-riding the course. We learned this valuable lesson last month at West Lafayette. When it came down to it, we lost the race before it even started. Had we pre-ridden the course, we would have known how to attack the climb. We especially would have known what gearing to use. Instead, we started the race blind which led to us hitting the climb in the big ring. Big mistake!
Pre-riding the course not only highlights where the race may split apart, but it also reveals potentially dangerous corners or even places where an attack may occur. Bombing down a hill at 45 mph is not the best time to discover that there is a hairpin turn at the bottom covered in gravel. However, if you had pre-ridden the course you would have known this and taken the outside line while everyone else panicked and grabbed their brakes, not only staying safe, but potentially attacking during the confusion. This video highlights how pre-riding the course could have led to a succesful break staying away, instead it ended in an ambulance.
It seems as our first year as a team progresses we are better understanding what it takes to be succesful. Sure the victory column has been a bit empty lately, but with every race that we participate in, we learn something new. Every mistake and missed opportunity is another chance to learn something that may prove valuable in the next race. Of course we will still make mistakes, but hopefully they will be based on the fact that we tried to make a smart move based on experience, and not a stupid move based on emotion. In the next few weeks as Super Week draws near, we should be able to put our past experiences to good use. With the races scheduled, and the team committed to working towards a common goal, even if we don't win we will surely have triumphed.