Anyone who's ever been coached by me in sailing (and this is a lot of people) has heard my parable of the difference between involvement and commitment. The chicken and the pig represent the difference in a breakfast of bacon and eggs. You see, the chicken is involved. But the pig? The pig's committed.
So it will apparently be for me with cross this year. We've been running practices for a few weeks and having fun on cross bikes, and you know sort of general involvement, but commitment is another level. Physiologically, I'm not a good bike racer in general, but for cross holy s--t am I ill suited to that. High torque riding all the time and sprinting out of a zillion and four corners for an hour? Not very likely. The amount of training commitment it takes for me to not just suck in epic fantastic and unprecedented ways is something I can't face right now. And I don't like showing up and getting my doors blown off, either. So we'll show up at the race venue and have a beer with you, but you won't be kicking sand in my face very much this season (except probably at NoHo - I love that event).
What has been happening lately is a lot of mountain bike riding. It keeps you honest enough in that it's ONE HELL of a lot more fun when you're in shape enough to go fast (and when I do enough back exercises to not blow up the old dorsal on the first section), but if you need to chill for a second, then chill, Winston! And it's of course like super crazy amounts of fun.
Which sort of brings up the point of "how committed to bike racing does a wheel builder need to be?" I think it helps, right? You need to be able to press a bike hard enough to know what works and what doesn't, but I don't think you need to be world class. At least I hope you don't. Back to sailing for a second, a friend and college team mate of mine is very very much world class - he's been to two Olympics. But his theory on how you become a great sailor extends as far as "well, you win a lot of races, that's how!" And how then, Mark, does one do that? "By crossing the finish line first." Great doesn't seem to be a necessary component of insightful, but some amount of involvement seems to be. So I think that riding some significant amount is definitely helpful.
I'm just too chicken to be pigging out on Tabata intervals right now, you know?