I remember the first time I ever heard of cross training. Fields had started going to a gym and doing something called “circuit training.” It was supposed to make your cycling better by improving all of your this and that and the other while doing something-not-called-cycling.
Observing Fields, I concluded it was worthless. He won everything before he started cross training and he won everything after. The only difference was that every bike racer in Austin started cross training hoping it would give them the Fields mojo. It didn’t.
The Fields mojo was simple. Hard work + never be satisfied with anything but winning. Fields may have liked you, he may have considered you a friend (doubtful), but he never intended to get second place or to “let” you have a win. He was all in every race.
I was not like that at all. I was hard work + be satisfied if I didn’t get maimed or killed. So for me every race was a success, even the handful of times I crashed. See? No brain damage! Still ambulatory! #winning
Still, the concept of cross training has always hung out like a pair of stinky socks. Why shouldn’t other activities help cycling? Don’t the pros cross train?
Actually, I’ll tell you who cross trains: Motorcycle racers. The good ones build cardio by riding bikes. Lots of them do. They say it helps their endurance on the motorcycle. One time I rode with one of those guys, a Moto GP pro. He was a lot like a pro cyclist. Not very big, lean as a stick, and crazy strong. Needless to say he was a pretty dope bike handler.
Since I now live at the foot of a giant mountain that is not always passable by bike, I’ve started walking a bit. Some of the trails that lead off of the main dirt road are very steep. And long. So I go out and walk for a couple of hours fairly regularly, and when I get back I’m pretty worked.
On today’s walk at the start I could hear a dirt bike up on the trails. This place is popular with motorcyclists. After about an hour I ran across a guy lying on his back at the bottom of one of the really steep trails. Next to him was his dirt bike. Both he and the bike were dirty. “Are you okay?” I asked him.
“I think so,” he said.
“Do I need to call an ambulance?”
“No, I’ll get up in a minute.”
“How long have you been lying here?”
“Is anything broken?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Bike kind of got away from me here at the bottom.”
I looked at the bike, which had gotten a good 10 or 20 yards away. I didn’t know what to do so I pulled out my phone. No one lies on a trail like that unless they are hurt.
“No,” he said. “Really, I’m okay.” He sat up, then slowly stood. “See?” He walked over to his bike, picked it up, and started it. It ran fine. He straddled it, waved, and rode off.
But it made me glad that motorcyclists cross train on bikes and not the other way around.