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Tour of California Prep: Trust Your Mech, Trust Yourself


By Zach Bell, Team SmartStop

Trust.   That’s the name of the game. That is what it is almost always all about. For any rider preparing or heading into the bigger tours or races in their calendar it comes down to trust. I would imagine for the World tour riders this means trust in the system of the team. Trust they will be provided with the tools they need to be ready at that race.   All the checks and balances have been done, and all the staff and people around them have prepared everything from laundry to lasagna (gluten free of course).

For the Continental rider it is much the same. We set a plan in motion back in the fall. This is a plan that has us building and racing though big training blocks in the early part of the year.   We have to trust that as we taper our form will come into focus. That the bikes will be ready and that if we have done the work it will pay off. But we also have to have faith that we will get the invites, the Amgen Tour of California is particularly nervous in this regard.   It is the first big one of the year and therefore, does not provide much time for teams to prove what their new rosters might have. 

As an athlete though, once the work is done, the big blocks of time on the bike in the cold have passed it always comes back to trust. Trusting your plan was right and your body will respond to the training. Those last few weeks as you head into the main event you have to start backing off the training and letting your body build itself up.   In this phase it is so tempting to go out and try and prove your form in training. Try and get a PB and remove the nerves and feeling of idealness.   But that is tantamount to trying to shoot at a cloud to prove you guns work. It accomplishes nothing and waists precious ammunition you have worked so hard to accumulate. So you have to trust the plan.   If you need verification that you are ready you just look at your training, look at the record and know the work is done.  

Finally you need to trust those you are racing with. Both in the races leading up to the big one and the race itself you need to trust. That is the only thing that allows you to keep racing and put yourself in the right spot.   Trusting the skill and professionalism of the athletes around you is the last piece that allows you to tuck in to the draft when the going gets tough. Trusting the riders at the front to avoid and point out those hazards that could end your form and your run out there on the shoulder of the road.

The build up to a big race is about the work you do and the support you have. It is about controlling what you can and trusting what you can’t. The closer you get the more faith you have to have in your process and the process of others. Finally in that last moment, going under the flame rouge is when that trust, that faith in yourself, your process and your abilities becomes most important. If you don’t go under that flag trusting you have the tools and have done everything you could to be capable of crossing that line ahead of everyone else, or helping team mate to do the same, you might as well be watching from some other spot.