Drawing new peaks

Clara Honsinger shows us how she uses TrainingPeaks

May 9, 2023

If you’ve ever tried to cram the night before a test, know that Clara Honsinger has also felt that pain. Except in Clara’s case, she wasn’t cramming for a test. She was studying the race books for the classics.

Rewind to the night before the Tour of Flanders 2022. After having done a team recon and listened attentively in the team meeting, Clara cracked open the race book the night before making her debut at Flanders.

“I was so overwhelmed with opening the race book and being like, ‘How many sectors of cobbles?! Wait, what? What is where? How does this work?!’” Clara says.

While she knew she could use stem notes to indicate when in the course she would reach a new cobbled sector, she didn’t want to be constantly looking down at her stem and trying to read her handwriting while navigating the chaos of cobbles and wheels. So she developed a solution.

“The only way I knew how to put this together was to actually just draw out the course and highlight where all the cobbled sectors are,” she says. “I found it so helpful.”

At the next team meeting, Clara again felt the dizzying effects of going over the race route in the team meeting.

“In the meeting they said, ‘Okay, we do the big loop and then you come in, you do the circuits and you're going to do them a few times. And then we're going to hit a hill at some point.’ I just felt kind of lost. So I applied the same idea of drawing out the course and preparing for the race that way. Suddenly, the course made more sense to me. It was like, ‘Oh, here's the big loop. And then there's this hill and we approach it from this direction and then go through town and then there's the next hill and then up and over, and we do it again.’”

“In a sport like cycling where you’re always learning and growing from each experience, it’s so helpful to have TrainingPeaks to document my training and racing.”

Clara Honsinger

On race day, Clara knew she understood the course thoroughly, including when and where to fuel and when to expect decisive moments. Afterwards, she went back to her notebook and added in notes about how she felt at various points, how the race unfolded, and what she might do differently next time.

It was then she decided to take an extra step with her race drawings and notes.

“I started uploading these notes into TrainingPeaks. My coach had been curious about what was going well in the races. He’s in the US so he follows the races on TV but he doesn’t get the race books and he just doesn’t know what’s going through my head or what exactly I needed to be prepared for. I found that drawing it out and then putting it into TrainingPeaks helped me to articulate what I experienced on race day. My coach really appreciated it.”

This season, Clara has continued to refine her routine.

“I’ve been putting in my race nutrition plan in my drawings and in TrainingPeaks. I calculate how many hours the race will be and after I’ve drawn the route and gone over it, I can estimate the points where the race will be less intense and I can take the time to grab a rice cake or a couple of gels from my pocket.”

In the classics season, Clara will start entering her plan into TrainingPeaks a week in advance because there’s so much time between races. Stage races can be trickier, with the days coming back-to-back-to-back, but she prioritizes having her race plan prepared and then tweaking it as needed. By making time to upload her race plan and nutrition strategy in advance, Clara has one less thing to think about on race day.

“It’s much easier for me to do it like this when I put it into TrainingPeaks. So when I’m on the bus and it’s time to get ready, I just check the app and see what nutrition I need to grab like, ‘Ok, I need to get four gels and two bottles with mix and two rice cakes.’ I can just put those in my pocket and be ready to go.”

It’s also been a boon for her coach to have access to the particulars of Clara’s pre-race plan and her post-race recap.

“My coach has found it so valuable to have this input from me in TrainingPeaks. For example, if a race didn’t go well, we can look back at my pre-race notes where I might have said this was going to be a critical point and then after in my notes I can write that I kind of fell off at that critical point so then we know what to work on in my training.”

It’s been over a year now since Clara began to use her notebook and TrainingPeaks to compliment each other.

“In a sport like cycling where you’re always learning and growing from each experience, it’s so helpful to have TrainingPeaks to document my training and racing.”

No more cramming for Clara. These days, she hits the books — and TrainingPeaks — early so that she’s ready to go come race day.

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