I think we're doing a review of "secret weapons" for the upcoming season - some new piece of equipment or something that will make 2011 profoundly better than years before.
I don't have one.
My bike and wheels (this is actually my bike, with my wheels on it) are certainly nicer than anything I've raced on before, which is nice. But they aren't going to transform me as a rider. They'll be good for a few percent I hope, but really it's about having nice, reliable equipment that fits me and is well suited for the riding and racing I do. Plus, we've sort of been shouting about this stuff for a long time. Not a secret weapon.
Being a charter member of my team's "old guys who creak" contingent, a bunch of us have become devotees of the fish oil. I haven't done the double blind studies to prove its effectiveness, but I'm of the considered belief that it improves recovery and reduces the feeling of being spanked after riding. For example, after Saturday's huge ride, I expected my back to be pretty wailed on. Normally, after a ride like that, I would be doing the zombie hunch for a good few minutes (hours?) after getting off the bike. Not so recently, I just get off and stand up straight and walk around like a normal person.
We got a new trainer since there are two of us using the Cycleops Magneto Pro that's now in its fourth winter of discontent. The new one is pretty fancy, it's like the Fluid Jet Master Ninja 5000. Hasn't arrived yet. The old one's going to get used at races and during the somewhat regularly occurring times when both of us want to be on the trainer at the same time. But, not a secret weapon.
In complete honesty, I don't expect to do much winning. I have the occasional good race, sure, but let's face it if I go to a big race like Killington, my choice is to race as a 3 or as a master. Race against guys who are headed toward being great or against guys who were (and still are in a lot of cases) great. The most I'm hoping for out of that is to be part of the action, push myself hard, and be part of something really fun. The same goes for races around here, as well. If I can race well enough consistently enough to score a bunch of points in the Masters BAR, great. That's pay off.
The bigger pay off this year will have to do with my team mates, one of whom I may never get to race with this year. We have a few people on the team who have far more talent than I do (ok let's face everyone on the team has me ambushed in that department, my gifts all came in the looks and charm department), who are really getting after it this winter. I can't wait to race with Paul. Coppi last year was one of the most fun races I've ever done, even though my batteries ran dead too early (which was probably intimately linked to my coming down with strep throat like 13 hours after the race ended). Paul and I raced that race really hard, and he made a psycho hard guy move to win it. We have some new guys on the team who are already in fighting trim and are ready to get after it. We have some old (both ways) guys who are out for it too. Riding and racing with them keeps me enthusiastic about coming back for more.
My real secret weapon is having a wife who's all psyched up on racing. You can't buy a secret weapon like that.