Racing is certainly underway in the US, even some of the big names from Europe made the trip across the pond to race in Vegas and Wisconsin. Here in the Netherlands the season has barely started-local series racing starts this weekend.
With racing comes weeknight training. Unlike the pickup races in US parks the local club in Amersfoort has a dedicated paved race circuit around a sports complex for weeknight racing, Tuesday night saw the first 'cross night practice session under the lights. No worries about someone playing volleyball in the sandpit-the "zand" is for bikes!
No pickup race either--7pm and time to start. The first 30 minutes or so are open; a little course with tight S curves on slick grass, a pump track, the pit and a few off camber turns to loosen up everyone. Fast or slow as you want. At 7:30 the drills begin. Under a coach's eye everyone lines up the barriers, speed increases while the distance to the rider in front decreases. A few rounds before the real fun. A little trail in the woods behind the football field, no light, keep up with the rider in front of you. A few bounce off the trees. Sprint when the whistle blows, ease off when you hear it again. Then back to the course; the interval times get longer until the final five minutes at race speed. With riders from masters to juniors there is always someone to catch or be caught. Almost 2 hours of good training with a purpose-everyone gets sharper even as the legs slow down.
It reminds me of when I was a kid. Only difference is we were practicing throwing, hitting and judging fly balls rather than fast dismounts.