With a break in racing action this past weekend, we sat down with Lance Haidet and Gage Hecht to get the inside scoop on some of their racing and training rituals, and to find out if they still get nervous on race day. Spoiler alert...they do!
What is your ideal pre-race day dinner? I’d say my go-to pre-race dinner is Thai food. It’s simple, tasty, and normally pretty quick. The only issue I run into with Thai food, is that I can never decide whether I should go with curry or noddles. It's a real struggle.
What is your ideal race day meal(s) and when do you eat? My race day meal is always either one of two things: 1) oatmeal with almonds, blueberries, banana, peanut butter, and maple syrup, or 2) rice and eggs with some avocado, Liquid Aminos, and a healthy dose of Sriracha. Although my food choice varies from race to race, one thing never changes, a pre-race pour over of Thump Coffee.
What does you day before a race workout look like? During the cross season, I normally fly in the day before racing starts so depending on flight schedules, I don’t always get to pre-ride the course. However, when everything works out, I try to get in an hour and half with a couple laps on course. For some reason I always get crazy tight after flying, so before ever getting on the bike I always try to do some stretching and yoga stuff to loosen up. Then I spin around on the roads or trainer for about a half hour to get everything moving. Once on course, I typically do a couple slow laps to figure out the lines and drift the bike around a bit. Once I’ve got it at least semi-figured out, I do two tempo laps focused on being smooth, hitting perfect lines, and giving it some gas out of all the corners. Lastly, I go back to riding on the road, and depending on how open I’m feeling, I’ll either ride easy for 20 minutes or I’ll do a couple more hard efforts.
What does your pre-race warm up routine consist of? My pre-race warm up routine isn’t super complicated. Because our races are always in the late afternoon, I’m a fan of going out for an easy ride in the morning which seems to help to prevent feeling lethargic later in the day. Once at the venue I try to put in two laps on the course about two hours before the start. Finally, I hop on the trainer at about 35 minutes before race start and I do three ramp-up efforts based purely on my heart-rate, not time or power. I get off the trainer with about 15 minutes before the start, which seems to be just enough time to struggle with getting the top-half of my skin suit on and get to the line for my call-up.
What is the one interval workout you do that you think is most effective? With cross being such an explosive sport, I think it is really important to focus on all out efforts. One workout I think is super good for cross is doing two 30 minute sweet spot (high zone 3) efforts, with 15 second all out sprints every 3 minutes. The minute after each sprint is pretty miserable, but doing your best to go right back to sweet spot power after the sprint is how you’re going to make the GAINZ! These two sets are pretty solid on their own, but my coach normally throws in a few two minute all out efforts and a couple five minute Vo2 efforts as well. It’s a pretty gnarly workout.
Do you strength train (body weight or with weights) during the season? If so, how do you fit it in to your schedule? I actually do a solid amount of strength training. I’d say I’m normally in the gym with weights once to twice a week, and do body-weight and core stuff about two additional days a week. However, on race weeks, the strength training is pretty limited because there is nothing worse than being super sore on race day. I normally try to fit strength training in on days where it won’t negatively effect my hard days on the bike. Doing hard intervals on the bike is always the priority, so I think it is important to schedule your strength training and limit your intensity so that you aren’t super tired and sore on the bike.
Besides riding, what other types of exercise do you do during the cross season to be race ready? In addition to riding and strength training, I like to do a little running during the cross season. Depending on my training and racing schedule, sometimes that means just going out for a couple 20-minute jogs a week, but other weeks I’ll throw in some intensity and hill/stair repeats. Running is a good change of pace, and personally I think it keeps training interesting.
Describe your ideal recovery day? My ideal recovery day is pretty low-key. It starts with not having to wake-up to an alarm, which for me, stills means I’m up by 7:30am. Throughout the day, I normally try to do a little bit of yoga/foam rolling/stretching, and then maybe roll to the beach or hang with friends or something. Between school and training, I’m always on such a tight schedule, so on true recovery days, my goal is to have a loose schedule with no set plans.
Do you still get nervous on race day? Definitely! Some races more than others, but for the most part I always have some nerves before racing. Personally, I feel like being a little nervous helps to keep me focused and gets the adrenaline going.
What is your ideal pre-race day dinner? I have found that I do well after eating something based around rice or pasta. It may sound a bit odd, but done right, burritos that have a lot of veggies and rice with some sort of light meat works well, too.
What is your ideal race day meal(s) and when do you eat? Because we typically race in the afternoon most days I usually have oatmeal for breakfast. It's definitely one of my favorite breakfast items plus it keeps the carbs topped off. For lunch, Lance and I have been having rice and eggs with a variety of additives like avocados, tomatoes, and arugula.
What does you day before a race workout look like? Most of the time we have the ability to get out on course and check out the setup for the weekend. Sometimes I'll do a spin on the road or the trainer prior to getting out on course. After a few laps on course, I will determine whether or not I can get good openers done on course or if I should jump on the road or trainer to get some hard efforts done. It all sort of depends on how crowded the course is at the time and how the course flows. If the course is super fatiguing or choppy due to mud or an abundance of u-turns, I'll opt for the trainer. I am starting to limit my preview of a course to three full laps because after that I generally know the layout of the course and the good lines. If there are any lines I cannot get dialed, I'll try to reset overnight and try again tomorrow. This allows me to not overthink the section and cause problems during the race.
What does your pre-race warm up routine consist of? I'll get out on course again to check out how it has evolved since the last time I rode it. This will be one or maybe two laps. Then, about an hour before the start, I'll get kitted up and ride the trainer. I just put in a series of steady ramp up efforts and sprints before race time.
What is the one interval workout you do that you think is most effective? I have a hard time selecting one that I like the most. I know there is a lot of work that can be done on the road to enhance speed and power, but I think that a good balance is needed with all types of efforts. I like to do a portion of my efforts on the permanent cyclocross venue we have in at Salisbury Park in Parker, CO. I can add in things like barriers and other obstacles that challenge my technical ability while I am at a high heart rate.
Do you strength train (body weight or with weights) during the season? If so, how do you fit it in to your schedule? Because I don't have a huge off-season like many of my competitors. While I spend time away from racing, I really try to focus on adding more core-focused workouts into my schedule. I will take it down a notch during the season. Honestly, this is an area I could work on more in the future.
Besides riding, what other types of exercise do you do during the cross season to be race-ready? I like to go out and run on the trails around my house. I find this is a really fun way to get outside and mix it up. If I have a couple weekends until the next race I might go on a good hike, too.
Describe your ideal recovery day? A recovery day gives me the opportunity to catch up on things related to life not related to cycling. I have been going through flight school and flying lessons. These days really allow me to hit the books and to get back to what's important in life. After all, cycling isn't everything. While social media is a good way to allow fans to see what I am up to and to give thanks to amazing sponsors, I think it can have some negative effects on the quality of life we live. During these days I try to keep off social media as much as possible and focus on the important relationships I have with the people around me. The most important of which is my relationship with my Savior. Over the past few months, I have tried to use the opportunities to get into the Word, meditate and pray to listen and grow my relationship with God.
Do you still get nervous on race day? Of course, I do! I think nerves are a good source of power. There is definitely a breaking point where nervousness can affect oneself negatively. Overthinking things has been an issue for almost every elite athlete or person who has a desire to be the best at what they do. I think that taking a step back and taking deep breaths before the start and putting everything into perspective is key to keeping nerves at ease. Also, one of my favorite things about racing cyclocross is the lightheartedness of the competition. While we all take racing seriously and want to have the best result on race day, everyone seems to do a pretty good job of trying to have fun in the midst of it all.
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Team Schedule (Tentative)
Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY
Jingle Cross World Cup – Iowa City, IA
Trek CXC World Cup – Waterloo, WI
Fayettecross - Fayetteville Arkansas
US Open of Cyclocross – Boulder, CO
Cincinnati UCI Cyclocross - Cincinnati. OH
Silver Goose - Midland, ON
Pan Am Games - Midland, ON
Ruts N Guts CX – Broken Arrow, OK
USA National Championships – Tacoma, WA
UCI World Championships – Dubendorf, CH