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I am slow, let me get that out of the way. I raced B last season, mid-pack. I have a coach, and I want to get faster. Last season was my first cyclocross season and my second year back on the bike after a long time away from racing.

My coach recommends a long base period before racing. He had me do 3.5 months of base and build-up between the end of December (cyclocross racing) and my first road race this spring. He's recommended I stop road, track and mountain bike racing June 1 and begin another base period leading up to cross in September or October. I've agreed to "compromise" my cyclocross season by racing June, then I'll start base in July with maybe a couple stolen weekends for races, definitely July 30th for Downieville XC.

This is hard for me. I like racing. I'd like to do a shorter base period. I have a friend - quite a bit stronger racer than me to begin with - who takes much shorter breaks between the seasons and does quite well. I know that the rest and base period is as much for mental fitness as physical - we all need a break. I'm more interested in the physical why and how of it. I train with hr on the cross and mountain bike and hr / wattage on the road.

What are your downtimes like between summer racing (if you do any) and cyclocross? What about between cyclocross and spring racing? And do you have a coach recommending your rest and base periods, or are you just winging it / self-coached? Also, if you are a coach that's interesting info too.

Thanks,

Morgan Fletcher
Oakland, CA

P.S. Posting this in two places, sorry if you see it twice.
 

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In the name of full disclosure, I run a small online coaching service, so you may want to take this with a grain of salt, but I'd find a new coach.

Your coach seems to be talking at you, not with you. You clearly want to race more this summer, and there is no reason you can't still race. Yes, I'd do another cycle of base miles before cross, but starting in July is a bit extreme, particularly if you would rather be racing.

You already have a good base it sounds like, so I don't think you need 3 more months of it if you'd rather be racing. 1 month seems adequate based on what you describe.
 

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I agree w/ euro trash here, I've taken ~1 month for base before cross each season for the last few years. It's somewhere around july-august. I usually do some road races and crits before the first cross races at the end of august and beginning of sept. Any coach that encourages you NOT to race for extended periods of time when we have the killer year round nor-cal calendar should be abandoned...Racing of any kind is almost always the best training- even if you're not totally honed you'll learn something and it's way more fun than intervals. Experience counts for a lot in bike racing.
 

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I agree, cross season is always a crapshoot with the potential to get sick or hurt and it's so short for most of us, so I'd hate to bank a whole year on getting ready for 8-10 races. You can get yourself refreshed by riding around on your cross bike during the summer and skipping out of some races you don't like to just do a nice long ride, then blow off a little time around the end of the summer and crank up the wick for the season. How the hell much base do you need for hour long races, jeepers creepers. I agree with the other guys, get out and enjoy life and youth before it is all gone--race your bike.
 

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I spent last summer (last week in June to end of August) not racing and laying down base for CX. I don't think I went into the season any better prepared than had I raced all summer, and it took a couple races in September before I really felt like I was firing on all cylinders.

However, I wasn't burnt out from racing all summer, and I was motivated all the way through to Natz. In the past, when I've raced all summer and then done 'cross, I've had a rough time of it come November.
 

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Silly idea

I've got to agree with the above postings. Eurotrash may be slow (trust me on this:D ) , but he's right. Taking that kind of step back mid summer will just cause you to lose fitness. The question of burnout is almost exclusively a mental one. You want to be fresh coming into cross season, and that probably does mean a break mid summer-- but we're talking about 1-2 weeks off the bike, not a full on base reversion. In fact, I'd argue the concept of base we traditionally refer to-- lots of LSD-- is an outdated training method that was originally developed for eastern block doping schedules. But I digress. As long as you feel like you can keep the mental edge needed to race into the winter, then keep going, through July if you like.

More generally speaking, if people would include more doses of threshold and sub-threshold work throughout the year, they wouldn't need the huge miles of a traditional base. Within reason, of course, and assuming you do the endurance maintenance necessary for your race category-- which takes surprisingly few long rides to do. For cross, even less so. So keep the engine stoked.
 
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