BEING PRO: CAROLINE WRESZIN

Team: Cinch Rise

Age: 21

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

How did you get into cycling? How do you train for road and gravel racing?

I was first introduced to cycling through my dad. We used to ride together to my elementary school, go to Tour of California stages, and watch the European Classics and Grand Tours. In middle school and high school, I got into running. I ended up getting back on the bike to rehab an injury and never really looked back. I just loved how much time I could spend riding.

Managing the time between road and gravel actually isn’t that hard. If you’ve got the power, you’ve got the power, and if you don’t, you don’t. Ultimately, the gravel scene is also becoming much punchier. You need to be able to do long, hard efforts, but it’s really important to stay with fast groups. In that sense, the short-term high power you need isn’t much different from covering and attacking in road racing. I’ve also found so much confidence and comfort in learning how to position in crits. The mass starts at gravel races are usually pretty crazy, especially when you have all the top men and women fighting for position. In a situation like that, comfort in a fast, nervous pack helps you avoid crashes and conserve energy.

In terms of differences, I think the longer distances, limited support, and terrain variance in gravel racing can make it more complicated than road races and crits. You’ve got to factor in hydration strategy, where/if you’re going to stop at aid stations, what to do if you have mechanicals, tire choice, and more. On the road you still need good power, racing awareness, and always a bit of luck with flats and such, but it’s slightly simpler in terms of all the factors that play into the race.

When did you become a member of the Cinch Rise team?

I started with Cinch Rise at the end of February 2022, just before the Mid-South race. Cinch Rise is a pro gravel and road team headed by Tom and Kourtney Danielson. The cool thing about the program, and why I was initially attracted to it, is its focus on furthering women’s cycling. Tom and Kourtney are committed to building a space in which women can actually make a living racing, which they’ve shown, beginning with Lauren De Crescenzo. Tom Danielson is my coach and also the team director. My daily training (intervals, strength, nutrition) is all Tom. If I have questions, worries or am even just psyched about a workout, Tom is available. He brings so much passion, energy, and experience to coaching and the team. It’s really invaluable.

What was your race prep leading up to SBT GRVL, and how did the race go?   

I did all my training on the gravel bike, even though most of my rides were on the road. I definitely had some long days and big-week blocks with tons of intervals. Prepping the nutrition strategy and just acclimating the body to that was big as well. Consuming tons of carbs during intense efforts was actually one of the hardest aspects of training for me. Two weeks before SBT I went to Longmont, Colorado, where the team is based, to put some altitude training in the bank, and a week before SBT we headed up to Steamboat. 

I’d say the race was a great learning experience. It was super-fast in the beginning, which was expected. That, paired with the altitude, I think led to some nausea for me, but the second half of the race I got some more food down and came around. Plus, no serious mechanicals or crashes always makes for a good race, and I’m always happy to get stuck in a high-level race and learn from it. That’s the only way to get better!

What are one or two tips from Tom that have helped your gravel racing? Any useful tips from your teammate Lauren De Cresenzo?

Oh man, there are so many! A big thing I’ve been working on with Tom is having the confidence to go out really fast in races. It can be easy to be content going your own pace the whole time, but I want to eventually be at the top level, and that’s definitely not the way to do it. The idea is I go as fast as I can for as long as I can, and soon that’ll be the whole race. We’re getting there! Part of that is also telling your body how it feels and not the other way around. Mind over matter, I guess you could call it. 

I’ve learned so much from Lauren, too. When she’s doing intervals, she hits them exactly right, every single time. When she’s not out training, she makes a big effort to recover properly with good food and sleep. Anything that’s in Lauren’s control, she does it the best she can. That goes miles to prepping yourself to perform well.

Any noticeable benefits of having a coach? 

For sure, having a coach is huge. When someone else can take on the responsibility of planning training for you, that in and of itself is a huge weight off your shoulders. With Tom, I trust him and the process he’s built at Cinch fully. He gives me my day-to-day—intervals, recovery and strength routines, mental practices, and nutrition strategies. The only thing I have to do is follow it. If I’m doing that, then I know I’ve got nothing to worry about when it’s race day. 

What races are you targeting for next year?

I’m planning on filling out the race schedule a bit more, so we’ll see, but I’m hoping to go to Unbound and do some more road racing! I think the next six months or so of training before next season gets going are going to be exciting. Volume and experience are big advantages in the gravel game, so I’m excited to just put the head down, get back to training, and come back with some more speed next year! As for changes, I don’t think there’ll be any. I’ve got a good thing going right now, so I might just pound a few more carbs before training to really build the
extra watts!

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