Sunday, December 06, 2015

TrainingPeaks University


This past week I attended TrainingPeaks University in Boulder, Colorado. The first two days were the TrainingPeaks 101 course, and the final day was a brand new course called TrainingPeaks 201. My goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how to use TrainingPeaks software. I am thankful that my Lupus Racing Team teammate Oliver Flautt kindly let me occupy his bedroom and borrow his car for the 4 days I was out there.

Day one of TrainingPeaks University began with a delicious breakfast of sausages, granola, yogurt, fruit, orange juice, and coffee. This was the measuring stick TrainingPeaks started with for the food, and it only got better from there. Dirk Friel and Gear Fisher began the class by talking about how  TrainingPeaks was born and how they operate as a company. Dave Schell introduced us to the TrainingPeaks software. I have been using TrainingPeaks as an athlete for about 9 years now and as a coach for three years, so I was a little skeptical that I would learn much more about the product. Dave showed us some nice ways to view the workout calendar, group athletes and workouts, and some other cool features of the online software. He also showed us some ways to analyze data within the TraininPeaks website. I was not aware that a file could be analyzed so deeply on the website because I have always used TrainingPeaks WKO products (the most robust desktop software for analyzing power files) to analyze power files. I was impressed with the features available to analyze power files on TrainingPeaks.com.

We took a break for lunch that once again included high quality food like salad, chicken, and polenta pumpkin cheesecake. Then the legend Joe Friel took over and spoke about metrics like functional threshold power, normalized power, variability index, and intensity factor. All of these metrics go into calculating training stress score for a workout or race. The training stress score for many workouts helps to make a chart called the performance manager chart. The performance manager chart can be used to monitor athletes' training and to help athletes arrive to goal events in peak fitness. TrainingPeaks 101 concluded with Dave Schell giving a presentation about the new WKO4 software.

Joe Friel opened up TrainingPeaks 201 by talking about a new way to make workouts specific to races. His new method uses TSS and IF to calculate workout duration which is a much more pragmatic approach than creating workouts based on duration alone. Joe also gave more specifics on the performance management chart. He gave us some goal metrics to look for during each period of work depending on the time of season for the athlete.

For lunch on the final day we had pork tacos, polenta cakes, and salad. No dessert on the last day? Was TrainingPeaks trying to tell me something? For the final part of the class Tim Cusick presented WKO4 software. He talked about how some athletes are outliers that do not fit into the bell curve. WKO4 can help coaches address these outliers by giving them tools to assess how quickly an athlete adapts to different training prescriptions. The coach can then decide on an individual approach for each athlete. Finally the legendary Dean Golich presented us with the idea that we need to question everything. We each need to make our own individual way of coaching. We should't just accept certain methods as the only way, and we should develop our own methods. That way new ideas can be developed, and the methods we use to train athletes can progress even further. He then showed us the charts he uses and how he analyzes power files in WKO4 software.

A plethora of pertinent topics were discussed at TrainingPeaks University by leaders and innovators in the world of endurance coaching. I came away with many new ideas I am going to employ in my own coaching method. TrainingPeaks knows how to put on a super event with great food and some of the best presenters available. I would highly encourage anyone seeking to learn more about endurance training to attend TrainingPeaks University. I may even attend the same class again just for the great food. I have no more coaching education events on the horizon for myself. Now it is time to resume training to go smash 2016. Thanks again to Oliver for letting me crash at his apartment.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Weekend Camp

This past weekend Sara and I hosted our first weekend cycling camp. This has been something we have been wanting to do for a while, and we are glad we did it. We kept it low key because we wanted it to be an exclusive event where everyone could interact and get to know each other.  Our goal was to provide ride food made from scratch, some great routes, a support car, and to show off a few of the great places Greenville has to offer.

We kicked things off with coffee at Methodical in downtown Greenville. We had a great time drinking coffee and chatting about the weekend ahead. For the first day we did a 92 mile ride with 8500 feet of climbing. The Watershed Climb was the first challenge of the weekend. At this time of year all the leaves have fallen from the trees, and beautiful reservoirs that are hidden behind trees in the summer can be seen as you head up the watershed. Then we rolled through Saluda and screamed down the wide open Saluda Grade. Next we climbed Skyuka Mountain Road (4 miles @9%), the hardest climb of the weekend with arguably the most rewarding view at the top. Then we came back up the Saluda Grade via the Pearson Falls dirt road climb. I like this climb because there is a creek that winds along this quiet backroad through the woods. I didn't hear a single banjo. Then we descended back down the watershed and took some rolling roads back to Traveler's Rest. During the last few miles into Traveler's Rest we hit some drizzle, but it did not ruin a super day on the bike. Here's a link to Saturday's ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/436891804

Day two started at Tandem Coffee Shop and Creperie in downtown Traveler's Rest. If you have never been there before, this place offers a large variety of crepes. All flavors on the menu are delicious! After we were all creped and caffeined up we headed out for a 62 mile ride with 5000 feet of climbing to Caesar's Head and back. We went out on some secluded backroads. Then we tackled Caesar's Head, which is one of the longest climbs around at 7.2 miles @5%. We headed back on some different roads than we came out on. We loved Tandem so much in the morning that we went there once again post ride. Here's a link to Sunday's ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/437608723

This was a fun and positive experience. People did longer rides than they normally do and some riders suffered through some climbs they had never done before. Jordan and Spencer impressed us both days by the way they attacked the climbs and pushed the pace on the flats. This was a great opportunity to help people grow as riders and push to new limits. Kenneth and Nick showed their resilience by battling through both days. Willie and Simon (the only teammates at the camp) demonstrated textbook teamwork by trading pulls at the bottom of climbs. Both Josh and Clint bravely tackled Skyuka for the first time at this camp. As a professional cyclist, I considered these two solid days of training which makes it all the more impressive these guys were able to get through them because they all have day jobs. We came into this event wanting to learn as much as we could and use that information to provide a better product going forward, and we learned a lot. The ride food was a big hit and the riders were excited to get their hands on food that wasn't prepackaged. I want to thank everyone who came to the camp for coming out to our first event. I would also like to thank Nate Evans from Velo Valets for helping with sag support this weekend. We had super weather, and we all had a great time. Look out for similar events in the future.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Power Certification Clinic

A little over a week ago I attended the Power Certification Clinic at Peaks Coaching Group with Hunter Allen and Dr. Stephen McGregor in Bedford, VA. This was exciting for me because the Power Certification course is something I have wanted to attend since I became a coach. USACycling has not offered the Power Certification for a couple years now. I was lucky that my first opportunity to attend was only a five hour drive from Greenville, so I jumped at the opportunity. Hunter and Dr. McGregor addressed many interesting new topics. Some of the topics included were power meters on the market today, functional threshold power (FTP), and how to use WKO4 software with its many new features. Most of these topics were developed by Dr. Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen and can be found in their book Training and Racing with a Power Meter.

The first night Hunter and Dr. McGregor addressed functional threshold power (FTP) and its application. There are varying definitions out there for lactate threshold (LT) and FTP which can make it confusing.  According to Dr. Andy Coggan FTP is the single most important number for a cyclist. FTP helps determine an athlete's training zones. We also looked at WKO4 and saw some of its expansive features including Andy Coggan's individualized training zones. The new zones are specific to each athlete and are calculated by using data from the athlete's last 90 days. The new software includes a modeled FTP (mFTP) feature.

On Saturday morning Hunter talked about the different power meters available on the market, and there are an abundance of them! All use ANT+ technology to communicate with the head unit. The  newest technology comes in the form of left/right power meters. WKO4 has some innovative features to analyze the left/ right data. This data can help to further improve athletes.

Another thing Hunter talked about were pacing strategies for every type of race. Some events like mountain bike racing and time trials require a precise pacing strategy. For an event like a road race or criterium, riders are at the mercy of the other riders in the peloton. Something I love about road races and criteriums is that the strongest rider doesn't always win. The strongest riders sometimes attack too much, waste all their gas, and finish with a poor result. A good pacing strategy for a road race or criterium could mean sitting in the pack like a leech and saving your bullets for later in the race. It could also mean jumping into the early break. Pacing for road races and criterium is much more dynamic than for time trials.

Dr. McGregor discussed functional reserve capacity (FRC) and anaerobic work capacity. FRC defines the amount of work (in kiloJoules) that an athlete can perform above FTP. The duration of time an athlete can spend at FRC is dependent on the intensity of the effort. Once the athlete has performed that defined amount of FRC work for them, they are cracked. FRC recharges when an athlete rides below their FTP. WKO4 calculates FRC for us based on the athlete's last 90 days of training.

The next thing Dr. McGregor talked about was normalized power, intensity factor (IF), and training stress score (TSS). Normalized power is the average power from a ride that accounts for all the surges in power throughout a ride. It shows the perceived difficulty of a workout better than average power alone. IF is a number that states how hard a workout is generated by normalized power compared to FTP with an IF of 1 equalling FTP. Training stress score accounts for the IF of a workout and the duration of that workout. The higher the TSS from a ride, the longer it will take to recover from that ride.

Dr. McGregor then talked about the performance manager chart (PMC). The PMC is an intuitive tool, developed by Dr. Andy Coggan, that uses TSS to determine an athletes, fatigue, form, and freshness. Dr. McGregor talked about how we can use the PMC to prevent periods of severe overreaching which could lead to illness or injury. The PMC can also be used to make sure progressive overload is applied in a rational manner,  help an athlete avoid stagnation, and help an athlete achieve peak fitness. Hunter also discussed the PMC and showed us ways to manipulate the chart to change recovery times for different athletes based on how quickly they recover.

Hunter presented some sample workouts as well. Within the workouts he showed us some things to look for in regards to pacing within an interval session. He pointed out some things to look for in the quadrant analysis chart available in WKO3 and WKO4. The quadrant analysis divides pedaling up into 4 quadrants. Quadrant 1 is fast pedaling and high power. Quadrant 2 is slow pedaling high power. Quadrant 3 is slow pedaling low power, and quadrant 4 is fast pedaling at low power. You can make workouts fit into the quadrants that you want in order to make the workouts specific to an event you want an athlete to peak for.

Finally Hunter talked about a new WKO4 feature called advanced pedaling metrics and mechanics. Advanced pedaling metrics look at left/right power data and how much power is produced and absorbed with each leg. This can be useful because if an athlete can learn to absorb less watts in their pedal stroke, over time they can generate more watts without actually generating more watts.

I'm happy to have attended the power certification course and feel I learned quite a bit. I gained more insight into additional workouts and tools that I can use to help my athletes progress to higher levels. Hunter helped develop WKO4, the best power analytical software available. Who better to learn from than the guru himself? In the next week or so I will take the power certification test in order to earn my Power Certification. This will make me one of around 100 coaches with the USACycling Power certification. It is important to always keep learning and progressing both on and off the bike.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Road Titans 300

This past weekend I attended the Road Titans 300 Challenge. The Road Titans 300 is a 3 day event in Seneca, SC where cyclists tackle 3 tough 100 mile routes that feature 8000-10,000 feet of elevation gain per day. There are 3 groups depending on your ability as a rider. There is also a competitive aspect to the event where riders race up the biggest climb on the route each day. The rider with the fastest time up each timed climb receives 3 points, second place 2 points, and third place 1 point. The rider with the most points at the end of the three days is the King of the Mountain (KOM) for men or Queen of the Mountain (QOM) for women. The KOM and QOM in the A group received $1,000, a Titan helmet trophy, and a free entry into the 2016 event. I won the event in 2014 and had a great time at the event. I wanted to win it again this year. However, this was going to be tough with riders like Jake Silverburg who rides for Astellas, Hector Zepeda from Panama, Rickie Morales who rode for Incycle-Predator in 2014, Ricardo Giraldo Sierra who rode for the Movistar continental team in Colombia in 2011, and Akil Campbell from Trinidad present.

The first day of the event we rode on some rolling roads with beautiful views from Seneca, SC toward Caesar's Head. On the way out to Caesar's Head we went up the grueling Glassy Mountain (0.7 miles @ 12%) climb where we had a rest stop. All the rest stops included Infinit nutrition, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ham or turkey and cheese sandwiches, coke, cookies, and pickle juice to prevent cramps. The rest stops are very well stocked on this ride and are part of the reason I enjoy the ride so much. We descended and rolled over to Caesar's Head (6 miles @ 5%) for the first timed segment. I know Caesar's Head very well because I train on it at least once a week. It is not very steep but has some steep pitches near the end. I made sure to start the segment last because the event is timed. After about 1 mile of climbing I made it to the front riders. The other riders knew I won the event last year, so they forced me to set pace. In order to be prepared for any attacks, I set a pretty comfortable pace for myself up most of the climb. Ricky put in a few attacks, but I was able to peg them back pretty quickly. When the climb got steep near the top I lifted the pace and attacked. I managed to drop everyone with about a mile to go. However, Hector stayed close all the way to the top, forcing me to work for it. After Caesar's Head we rolled easy down the back side of it where we stopped at the next rest stop. Then we rolled over to Sassafrass where we descended, hitting speeds of over 55 mph. That was super fun, and we got a preview of what we would be in store for the next day. Then we descended down to Bob's Place where we hit the final rest stop. We rolled pretty easy back into Seneca. The easy riding when we are not attacking the KOMs is a fun part of the ride because it allows you to meet some new and interesting people. It is also a fun time to talk with old friends.

For the second day of Road Titans we rolled from Seneca and headed out towards Bob's Place for the first rest stop. It was apparent there were some tired legs at the start of the day because we rolled at a pretty slow pace. When we arrived at the rest stop the B group was not very far behind us. At the rest stop I shed my vest and arm and leg warmers and put them in the follow car. We continued at this pace over towards Sassafrass (4.4 miles @8%). Today the other riders were aware of my tactic of starting the timed segment last yesterday, so I was forced to lead from the bottom of the climb. Sassafras is steep! It may only average 8%, but it has reprieves where I hit over 40 miles per hour on the way up. It has steep pitches of 15%-17%. I set a fast pace from the bottom because the climb is so steep. The others were breathing heavy but stayed on my wheel for a while. Akil put in a big attack on a steep section, but I pegged him back. As we neared the middle of the climb Rickie put in some attacks, and I countered all of them. After one of the attacks he blew and I was alone again pegging it all the way to the top. The climb just kept going, and going, and going. I never do this climb in training, so I do not know it well. I arrived to the top about 30 seconds ahead of Ricardo and Rickie. Second and third place were different than yesterday. That meant I had won the KOM event after Sassafrass. At the top of Sassafrass there was a beautiful view. That made the climb worth it. It was cold at the top, so we left pretty quickly. We descended Sassafrass and rolled around in the valley at the top of the mountains for a while. Then we descended the twisty 178 descent. That was really fun! Then we hit HWY 11 and set a pace line over toward the Lake Jocassee rest stop. Lake Jocassee is beautiful. I would highly recommend that anyone visit there if they never have. The terrain for the rest of the ride was tough rollers, and we hit them at a relatively fast pace all the way back into Seneca. I was sore after day 2 of the Road Titans!


When I arrived to the final day of Road Titans Jan-Michael let me know that the day would be shortened to around 80 miles because there was a forecast of rain. He did not want to risk any injuries in the bad weather. I think it was a good call for rider safety. Jan-Michael also said since I already won the KOM, he would give $200 to any rider who beat me. I was also eligible for the $200 if I had the fastest time. That was nice of him to throw in the extra prize. We left Seneca and headed toward the White Water Falls (6.4 miles @ 4.2%) climb. This is another deceiving climb that has reprieves and steep pitches. At the start of the climb I hung back a lot. I started the climb maybe 20 seconds behind the other riders. On the first descent Grant Potter gave me his draft to help me catch the leaders. On the next pitch I bridged up to the leaders and began to set pace. Today Rickie attacked me a good bit. I countered a lot of his attacks, and was finally able to shed him and Hector on the second to last pitch of the climb. Then we turned left to head toward Wigginton Overlook. That is a tough 0.8 mile climb that averages 9.4%. It is a big kick in the pants at the end of a very tough 3 days of climbing. There was a rest stop at the top of the climb. It was wet at the top, so we got off the climb safely and headed back into Seneca. After we got off the descent Ricardo set a ridiculous pace for about 25km leading into the final rest stop and a picture with all the Titans at South Cove County Park in Seneca. He was a machine! After the photo we rolled easy with the B and C groups back to the Gigniliat Center in Seneca.

Once we arrived to the Gigniliat Center we received medals for completing the Road Titans 300. I received a cool Titan helmet for winning the KOM. All the riders gathered for a feast that included beer, fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, potato salad, the best cup cakes ever, and sweet tea. It was an awesome southern feast! An epic event like this will push you beyond your limit and will tell you what you are made of as a cyclist. I would highly recommend the Road Titans 300 to any cyclist looking for an epic 3 days of riding. It is a very well supported event by the city of Seneca and Jan Michael Ramery and his crew. The people who put together this event are some of the nicest around. They put on an awesome event and ask how they can do better. I feel that Road Titans 300 is one of the best supported events around. The rest stops include awesome food. There is a moto that guides us along the route. There is also a follow car with a mechanic that you can shed excess clothes in. Come out to the Titans 300 Challenge in 2016 and be a part of this awesome event. You will be happy you did it.








Thursday, October 29, 2015

What does it take to complete the Hincapie Gran Fondo?

I recently had an athlete ride the Hincapie Gran Fondo. The Fondo offers routes of 15 miles, 50 miles, and 80 miles or the Piccolo, the Medio, and the Gran. Each route features 1400 feet, 4000 feet, and 8000 feet of elevation gain respectively. Over the past few years he has done the Medio, but for this year he wanted to tackle the Gran. His time was 2 hours and 45 minutes last year for the Medio. I helped him arrive to the Fondo rested and in the best shape of his life. He was ready for the challenge but knew he had to pace himself well just to finish it. His goal time was to break 6 hours for the ride. This rider weighs 157 pounds and has an FTP of 248 watts.

He rode mostly in his endurance pace over to the first climb of the day. There were some spikes in power to his anaerobic capacity and VO2max zones. However, those efforts were too short to sap his energy for the rest of the ride. He did a great job with is pacing over to Skyuka.

Then he hit the monster that is Skyuka Mountain Road (3.9 miles @8.7%). Skyuka took him around 40 minutes to complete. His effort on this climb was not at a consistent wattage. The times spent in each zone are not continuous efforts. They are rough approximations of the total amount of time he spent in each zone. He tried to ride the climb as much as possible in his tempo power zone (189-225 watts) and spent a total of roughly 18 minutes in tempo. When the climb was too steep to ride tempo, he rode in his lactate threshold zone (226-262 watts) and spent around 9 minutes of Skyuka riding at his LT power. Since the climb is so steep, he had to make several surges to both VO2max and anaerobic capacity power. He had a total of 7 surges ranging mostly from 10-20 seconds in duration to VO2max power (263-299 watts). The longest VO2max surge he had was the first surge for 62 seconds. He had a total of 2.5 minutes spent in VO2max power on Skyuka. He had a total of 9 surges to anaerobic capacity mostly ranging from 10 seconds to 30 seconds. He spent roughly 3.5 minutes in his anaerobic capacity zone (300+ watts) on Skyuka. He hit his max HR for the entire ride of 187 bpm about 20 minutes into Skyuka at the end of a 54 second anaerobic capacity surge that averaged 312 watts. His average power for Skyuka was 205 watts and a normalized average power of 225 watts. That effort up Skyuka was a tough one for him!

He coasted down the White Oak descent and rode mostly at endurance pace over to Howard Gap (1.3 miles @11.4%). It was smart of him to recover in the valley. At the bottom of Howard gap he rode at tempo power for as long as he could (176 watts for 8 minutes and 51 seconds). Then the steep grade of Howard Gap kicked in. He had to do an evenly paced 12 minute and 13 second effort at 239 watts. That is almost at 100% of his FTP! He was still able to tach his HR up on Howard Gap. He averaged 170 bpm with a max of 181 bpm. He averaged 223 watts with a normalized of 232 watts for 16 minutes and 26 seconds up Howard Gap. Even though this effort was a solid one, I believe it was the one that put him over the edge and into the hurt locker for the rest of the Fondo. A lot of people tell me that Howard Gap is the hardest part of the Gran.

After Howard Gap he once again did a great job of saving energy and riding mostly at recovery and his endurance pace over to Green River Cove (2.4 miles @7.5%). On the Green River Cove climb it looked like he was really feeling the effort of the ride. Up Green River he rode mostly at tempo and high endurance power with some spikes to anaerobic capacity and VO2max. However, the spikes were for less time and were less sharp than the spikes he hit on Skyuka. He had 3 surges to anaerobic capacity ranging from 8-24 seconds in duration and 5 surges to VO2max ranging from 10-28 seconds. I could also see that fatigue had set in with the relatively low max HR of 177 bpm. That max HR came at the end of a 24 second anaerobic capacity surge coming about 14 minutes into the Green River Cove Climb. His average HR was 158 bpm compared to an average of 166 bpm on Skyuka. That lower average HR on Green River Cove showed he was fatigued. He averaged 195 watts with a normalized power of 203 watts for 21 minutes up Green River Cove.

The final rest stop came shortly after Green River Cove. He realized he was pressed for time to reach his goal of less than 6 hours. He pushed home with an average of 153 watts, which is well within his endurance pace. He cramped up a little over 6 hours into the ride and had to stop for about 1 minute. He finished up with a time of 6 hours and 7 minutes and even had a nice 30 second kick of 250 watts for the line. His average power for the ride was 140 watts with a normalized power of 184 watts. Even though he just missed his goal of breaking 6 hours, I would call his ride a success. His moving time without stops was 5 hours and 25 minutes. That is well within 6 hours! If the rest stops went a little quicker, he would have beaten his goal time. We do not always hit our goals. However, it is nice to come close to them. That is especially true when the goal is something as epic as the Hincapie Gran Fondo ride. I am really proud of this athlete for getting his ride done and pacing it well.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Hincapie Gran Fondo

This past weekend I participated in the Hincapie Gran Fondo. I looked forward to just having a fun ride and mostly riding at a moderate pace. The weather was around 60-70 degrees and overcast the entire time, so I would say it was perfect. This route is super tough. It has three climbs in it, and they are all very steep. Each of them averages 9% in grade or more. On the way over to the first climb I dropped my phone, so I needed to stop and pick it back up. After this I saw George Hincape, Christian Vandevelde, and a few other stopped on the side of the road. I stopped with them for about 5 minutes, and we rotated to catch back up to the front group well before the first climb of the day. My goal for the day was to ride the climbs at my sweet spot pace. However, with only 4 days on the bike before the ride that was still pretty tough. At the top of Skyuka I stopped at the rest stop for a while to get some fuel and took the White Oak descent with Reid Richesin because I did not want to tackle that one in a group. We rolled over to Howard Gap with some Hincapie junior riders, and I also went up that climb at sweet spot. I felt ok during that effort. We just cruised from Howard Gap down the descent and through the valley over to Green River Cove road and the next stop. We refueled there with Infinit mix, Bonk Breakers, and some cookies. We waited for George's group to arrive and leave. On the flat road up to Green River Cove we did a pace line with Christian Vandevelde, Cadel Evans, George, and Ted King. The pace was very quick, and about 2 minutes before Green River I came undone because I just didn't want to keep going that hard. After that effort I was still able to tackle Green River at sweet spot, but I felt like I was near cramping by the top. I got to the final rest stop in Saluda and had a couple chicken fingers. I rolled from that rest stop with Reid until George's group caught us going down the Watershed descent. They were railing it. I hopped in for a little bit, but began getting some cramps for real. I decided to back off the pace then and just roll to the finish. This ride is a really tough one, and I am glad I was able to do it again this year. I had a really great time, and I look forward to doing the Road Titans 300 this weekend.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Start of the Year Retul Fit


Yesterday I had Karel Sumbal from TriMarni Coaching give me a Retul fit. I have been wanting to get a fit for a while, and there isn't a more perfect time to get a fit than coming off a break. It is not  wise to get a fit in the middle of the season or right before a target race because the new position could increase your chance for injury. Another good idea is to incorporate a good stretching routine into your post-ride ritual. The Retul fit has been around for a few years now. The fitter places sensors of the athlete's foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, and hands. These sensors take measurements while the athlete pedals the bike. There is a range for the various readings that the Retul takes. It is up to the fitter to move the athlete's position based on those readings. The athlete's flexibility and the athlete's use of the bike also determine how the fitter places the athlete on the bike. If you'd like more info on the Retul fit Karel has more info on his and his wife's website here: http://www.trimarnicoach.com/shop/retl-bike-fit.

The first thing Karel did was test my flexibility. This is important to a fitter because it helps them to determine where to position you in the range of measurements that the Retul sensors give them. Then he set my bike up on a trainer and put sensors on the left side of my body. He had me pedal to generate some readings from the Retul software. Then he made some adjustments based on those readings. After all the adjustments were made, he set the sensors up on the right side of my body. That helped to see if there were any issues there. There were no issues, so the fit was over. I came away with a more aggressive position that will hopefully help me to put more power to the pedals next year. I am pleased with the work that Karel did and would recommend him to anyone seeking a fit in the Greenville area.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why Take an End of Season Break?

     As the 2015 racing season comes to a close it is good time to start thinking about preparations for the next season. A common misconception is intense training is the most beneficial part of training. It could be argued that recovery is the single most important part of a training program. I have already had most of my athletes take at least 1 week off the bike. At minimum one week to 10 days off is necessary for all athletes. Elite cyclists (cat 2s to professionals) need a good 2-3 weeks off the bike before they can begin building for the next season. Some racers take up to one month off, but I have found 2-3 weeks works best for me. It is a long enough amount of time off without totally losing all fitness.
     It's common for athletes to question why they need to take this time off before building for the next season. Cyclists are a competitive breed by nature. Their reasoning is, they have built up so much fitness, and do not want to see it all go away by taking time off. It is somewhat true that taking a few weeks off will make that preciously built up fitness fade. Getting back on the bike after time off may feel a little strange and uncomfortable. You huff and puff to make it up some tiny hills that you may only see as a bumps in the road when fitness is good. A snails pace may feel like trees are whizzing by at a Formula 1 pace. Sit bones become super sore from being back on the saddle. Then, after a couple days the bike no longer feels foreign, and after a week or two to you begin to feel physically fit again. It may take a month or six weeks for fitness is back to where it was before the break.
      Still why would you want to take time off to only be back at your current good fitness six weeks later? At the end of a season riders struggle with being broken down, tired, inconsistent, and mentally spent. After some time off, motivation is a lot higher than it was at the end of the year. Motivation helps you to train more consistently and to push deeper through your hard workouts during winter training. During time off your body completely recovers, making you able to manage consistent and hard work. Without that recovery the already long road season, will seem much longer. If you are tired in December, just imagine how you will feel when you do more intense work in March. The peaks in fitness for your goal events will also be at a lower level if you forgo taking an offseason break. Taking one to three weeks off mid-September to early-October will eliminate fatigue and allow you to be mentally fresh, at a time when your fitness does not matter. Only after taking these breaks, can you achieve a higher level of fitness the following year. If taking a few weeks easy right now and being faster the next year is appealing to you, then I would suggest taking an offseason break. You will be glad you did it, and so will your family and friends. Year round, cyclists can seem neurotic, obsessive, and a little selfish with their time. This is a perfect time to make it up to your loved ones and remind them why they allow you in their lives. Trust me on this one!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Tour of Tobago


Today we raced the Tour of Tobago. This is the toughest one-day race I have ever done in my life. It is super hot and humid, and there is about 9500 feet of climbing in a 120km race. The climbs are super steep. The roads are narrow and twisty. Sometimes you go around a turn and half the road may be missing or there is mud all the way across the road or loose animals. First of all we did lose the points jersey in the classic yesterday. Matthieu took second after a ton of great teamwork. Like I said we did our best and worked super as a team. The first 20km of the Tour of Tobago are flat, so we sat in the field and did nothing. Matthieu put me perfectly into position on the first climb of the day and lead me up that climb in second wheel. I felt good and wanted to have a good race. I lost a couple positions and focused on spinning a fast cadence when I could to save my legs. I know this race is long and hard, and you have to do it at a relatively conservative pace if you do not want to blow up. We hit the first descent, and I felt great. There was a car in the middle of the road after the first turn of that descent though. I squeezed through unscathed. I am not sure anyone crashed there. I felt great on the descent and whizzed by guys. I was really confident in my ability today. We rode over a few more climbs, and I was still feeling good. Then my legs started to fall apart. I would lose time on the climbs and catch the front group again on the descents. I totally cracked at about 50km into the race. I knew with that much left to race I would not likely finish, so I abandoned at the feed zone. It was really tough to do, but I was being super positive in the head and pacing myself well. Sometimes at the end of a long year your legs just totally leave you, and that has been the case for me over the last few weeks. I thought with how I was riding in the crits the past couple days my legs would have been there, but it was just not to be. Maybe what we did in the crits took a lot out of our legs for today. I am really thankful that Matthieu put me into that first climb in great position. Oliver, Emile, and Andy stuck out a long day to finish 16th, 19th, and 21st respectively. I had a great time here in Tobago, even though my results were far from where they were last year. We worked really well as a team here and had a super time! It has been another great year with the Lupus Racing Team, and I look forward to an even better year with them next year. For now though it is time to take some time off the bike and rest, so I can have that better year in 2016. 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Tobago International Cycling Classic Stage 4

Today was the final stage of the Tobago International Cycling Classic. It was a short 800 meter open and fast crit course that we did 60 laps on. We needed to keep Matthieu in the points leader jersey. In order to do that we needed to be aggressive because the race leader was close to Matthieu and a better sprinter. There were points every 5 laps, and they were 4 places deep, so a ton of points were up for grabs on the final day. The race started out fast from the gun. After 20 laps Oliver and I got in a big move of about 8 riders with nobody in contention for Matthieu's jersey. We hit it hard to make this move stick but the peloton reeled us back in. I just kept trying to go in moves from here on out without people in contention. With about 25 laps to go I got away with a group of 4 and worked very hard, but we were caught at the prime with 20 laps to go. After this attack I was dead and was able to cover no more moves. It was super hot and humid, so that made the intensity even more difficult. Near the end of the race some moves went off the front but none of them stuck. A Foundation rider took the win and the PSL rider took the overall win. We are not sure if Matthieu won the points jersey or not. We will figure that out later today or tomorrow after the toughest, craziest race I have ever done. We worked super well together as a team, and our tactics were solid. Whatever the result is we know we did our best. Check in tomorrow to see how the Tour of Tobago went.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Tobago International Cycling Classic Stage 3



Stage 3 of the Tobago International Cycling Classic was a 50 lap crit on a tight 1km circuit next to the beach in the town of Plymouth. There was a goat next to the course, glass, and gravel on the circuit, and there is a 3 foot drop into a sewer if you take turn 1 too hot. The plan for the day was to put Emile and Matthieu into a break. I started in the middle of the field, so I spent the first 8 laps killing myself to make it to the front. I made it there and covered a move. There was a sprint prime with 40 laps to go that Matthieu, a Cocos rider, a Foundation rider, and the yellow jersey of the race went for. I went to the front and slowed the pace through turns 1 and 2. I did this for a few more laps until the break was established. From then I just sat near the front with Emile and just watched as PSL (the yellow jerseys team who I call pumpkin spice latte to myself) set a slow pace to let the four guys get a huge gap. With about 25 laps to go Matthieu and his 3 companions lapped up. At this point I lead Matthieu out to take some sprint points. At this point some chickens entered the circuit. With about 20 laps to go Oliver and Andy came to the front to join Emile, Matthieu, and me. From this point on there were plenty of attacks. Oliver set the pace some with some PSL riders. Then with about 10 laps to go Andy joined in and around now Emile crashed. Dogs entered the circuit around this point, but nobody crashed. With 6 laps to go I joined in with the pace setting and there were still attacks. At this point we did not want to go flat out and blow ourselves up. It is important to save gas for the finale. With 2 to go Andy and Oliver were blown from their work and I started pulling a monster pull. I just went all out. With 1 to go I was hoping someone would come around me but no one did. I kept going all out until about 500 meters to go and finally someone passed me. When Matthieu passed I stopped totally. He ended up 4th in the sprint and took the lead in the sprint competition. It was a successful day for us. Tomorrow the classic finishes with a crit in Scarborough. We will defend his jersey there. Hopefully there are no chickens, goats, or dogs on the course...

Rest Day and Beach Party

 Yesterday was the rest day for the Tobago International Cycling Classic. We did a recovery ride with some Swedish and Danish riders in the morning along the coast, and we stopped along the beach at one point during the ride. It was a fun and relaxing ride.

Later in the day was the beach party. I got to ride on a jet ski with Andy. We also ate some doubles (fried bread with chick peas, cilantro, and some sauce). Those doubles are delicious! Today and tomorrow we race criteriums. Matthieu is tied for first place in the sprint classification. Hopefully we can help Matthieu seal the points classification and help Emile move up in the overall for the classic.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tobago International Cycling Classic Stage 2

Stage 2 of the Tobago International Cycling Classic was 4 laps on a hilly and technical 25km loop that started and finished at Turtle Beach. This stage is a really fun one and one I came in second last year. I looked forward to it today a lot. The biggest climb on the circuit came in about 3km into the loop, so it was important to start at the front and be at the front on the start of the climb. I employed these tactics, and Reid, Matthieu, and me made it over the climb in the front group of 20-25 riders. However, when I got to the top of the climb I felt like my rear tire was low on pressure, so I took the descent super slow and dropped off the back. That was the end of my race. When I rolled through the start finish line Reid was there. After 2 laps of the race our whole team was dropped and Oliver was the only one still in the race. The race was ripped to shreds, and a Venezuelan rider won by 2-3 minutes over a few riders. Oliver was our only rider to finish in 20th place. Tomorrow we have a rest day and beach party. The final two days of the classic are crits, and on Sunday we race the UCI race. Hopefully we can help Emile get a win in one or both the crits!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Arrival to Tobago and Stage 1



Yesterday I had a crazy travel day. I traveled with the junior I coach Reid Richesin. We were initially flying to Houston, then to Port of Spain, Triniday, then to Tobago. I arrived to GSP airport an hour early for my flight, and the United Airlines employees would not let Reid's bags go through to the flight. They bumped Reid to a flight that went through Chicago to Houston. I arrived to my flight to Houston ten minutes before it was supposed to leave and the door was shut. Then I was bumped to that Chicago flight as well. Reid showed up through security about 2 minutes before the Chicago flight and we both made that flight. I was on standby in Chicago and made it through on the flight to Houston. From there all the flights went smoothly, and we arrived in Tobago at our scheduled time.

This morning we slept well and went to the beach for 10 minutes before the race. The hotel is literally right on the beach. It is awesome! Today the stage today was a relatively flat 110km race where we did 10 laps on a circuit. It had a small hill that was't too steep and about 3 minutes long on the back of the course. The plan for the race was for our team to be aggressive and get in the break. This is the stage I won last year going into a break 15km in with one other rider. Over the first few laps we were aggressive. Matthieu, Oliver, and I made it into a bunch of moves. After 3 laps Oliver got into a promising move of 4 that was reeled back in after a lap. With 4 laps to go Matthieu got into a move with 2 other guys. He flew up the hill that time! This put us in a promising position late in the race. Leading into 2 laps to go the team that came second in the Classic last year lit the pace. I was distanced in a second group, but it looked like it would come back together. A little after this I front flatted, and it took about 3 minutes to change since the child locks were on in our team car. Also before the race the race director said if you draft a team car you will get disqualified. This means if you flat it is game over, so my day was done with 2 laps to go. Within the closing laps Matthieu's group was reeled back in and the race finished in a bunch sprint. Emile came in 6th or 7th place. Matthieu got a bunch of intermediate sprints and is leading the Sprint King competition.Tomorrow is a tough 4 lap 100 km circuit race with some big hills. It will be a fun one. Hopefully we can keep Matthieu's lead in the sprint competition and win the stage. I am bummed about the flat because I felt good today.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Richmond

I have been sick since Tuesday. I had laryngitis and thought it would be better by yesterday since I felt good on Wednesday night. However, I woke up yesterday at 4am and was coughing a ton. I decided to call my team's director Steve Carpenter and let him know I was sick. As a result I pulled myself out of the squad. It was a tough decision, but it was the logical choice for me. It would have been really fun to race the World Championships in the USA, but my team will be a lot faster without a guy who is hacking up a lung. I will be well going into Tobago, so that gives me a better chance to do well there. It doesn't make sense to train or race while sick, even if you have the chance to race the race of a lifetime. I really look forward to going to Tobago in  10 days. I had a blast there last year and look to have a great time again this year!

Doylestown Crit

The Thompson Bucks County Doylestown Crit is one of the toughest crits out there on the calendar. It was 100km or 44 laps today on a 1.3 mile circuit in downtown Doylestown, PA. The plan for the day was to deliver Evan to the line for the field sprint. I have seen many breaks try in the race in the past but have only seen late attacks stick. It usually comes down to a field sprint. With that in mind I knew I would need to conserve at the beginning of the race. At the start I stayed near the front and stayed around Evan. My legs felt good and I was ready to help him in the end of the race. There were many attacks like usual, but the pace would increase and the breaks would be brought back. The biggest attack was a long attack by Chris Horner, Tom Zirbel, and an Elbowz rider. With 27 laps to go my legs left me and I got dropped. I did not expect this at all, but I feel my legs are feeling the long season.
In the race Evan, Oliver, and Matthieu were sitting well in the field getting ready for the finale. At some point Evan dropped his chain and Oliver helped push him back in. In the closing laps Optum lined up the field for Eric Young and Matthieu and Evan were right behind them. Evan was 6th wheel going into the last turn and came in 9th. Matthieu was right behind him in 10th. It was another solid day for the Lupus Racing Team. I really had a fun weekend even though my legs were not there. I always enjoy going to the Doylestown area this time of year for these races. They are fun and challenging. Also the host families at this race are always incredible. This year our hosts were awesome. They cooked us super dinners and breakfasts, and two of the hosts showed me home from the Reading race yesterday in the rain on their bikes. The host housing really helps out the teams. I will rest up this week in order to have good legs for the worlds TTT in Richmond next weekend and for the Tobago International Cycling Classic and Tour of Tobago at the start of October.

Reading 120

The Reading 120 was a 120 mile road race that started and finished in Reading, PA. We first did a 70 mile loop through the country and finished with 5 laps on a 10 mile circuit that had a 2.5 mile climb near town. The plan for the day was to have Oliver, Evan, or me get into the break. I felt good at the start and went with a few moves, but these moves got countered. Oliver and Evan were also doing well covering moves. I think I covered in total about 5 moves. Then my legs left me. I floated from the front to the back of the pack and then tried to move up again. The pace in the group was very fast. There were 20 guys just off the front of the bunch and the bunch was chasing hard. On one of the climbs my legs totally left me and I got popped. That was the end of my race. I initially thought I got dropped because my legs were bad. However, after looking at the power file it looks like I just went with too many attacks and made it really hard on myself. If I sat in a little more I maybe would have finished or at least would have been of more use to the team. I am not sure all that happened up front, but I got to the finishing circuits and Mattieu was in looking like he would get a top 10 with 2 laps to go. Kyle was also up there. Mattieu ended up finishing 10th while Kyle got 11th. All in all it was a great race for the Lupus Racing Team. Tomorrow is a 100km crit in Doylestown, PA. We should have another great ride there! Here is a link to my Strava for the race. https://www.strava.com/activities/390748496/overview Here is another funny note. When I uploaded to Strava it said this ride appears to have been done in a car. If you click on the analysis there is power for all of it. I just thought that was funny.

Tour of Alberta Stage 6

The final stage of the Tour of Alberta was 11 laps on an 11.3km hilly circuit for a total of 124.1km. It was a nice 60 or so degrees out for the stage and was cloudy. No rain was welcome. I only needed to use the Enzo’s Embro Stick on my legs today and only had to wear a jersey, shorts, vest, and arm warmers. The stage started off very quickly, and by the middle of the second lap on the KOM climb there was a break of 10 riders or so established. Trek just set an even tempo from this point on. I made sure to position myself well on the hills by passing people coasting on the downhills. It is smart to save energy over the course of a race like this. That way you have energy to spend at the end of the race. I spent most of the day with Chad and Matt helping Kyle to keep good positioning. With about 2 laps to go the pace began to wind up. We caught the break with about 1 lap to go. It was bananas over the KOM hill the last 2 laps but I was positioned well. With about 4km to go me, Matt, Kyle, and Chad were near the front of the field. Matt told me to go, so I attacked. I had about 20 seconds off the front of the field by myself and was caught. However, however it was good to get some TV time for Lupus Racing. As a result of my attack I was dropped on the hill I attacked on, but it is better to try than just sit in and come 20th. I am happy with how I felt today and look forward to the Reading 120 UCI 1.2 one day race next Saturday and the Doylestown Crit next Sunday. The Lupus Racing Team should do well there. I am also really thankful to all the staff DSs, support, soigneurs, and mechanics we had at the Tour of Alberta making us race food, washing bikes, washing clothes, daily massages, etc. Without their help we would not be able to perform at the level we do. I am also thankful to the Lupus Racing Team for sending us to all these awesome races. Here is a link to my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/387311744

Tour of Alberta Stage 5

Today’s stage of the Tour of Alberta was a 204km stage from Edson to Spruce Grove. The weather for the day was 45 degrees and raining all day. The soigneurs had hot tea for us on the way over to the race start. Once again I covered my arms, chest, legs, and feet with Enzo’s Embro Stick. I also wore all the clothes I had with me. The goal for today was to get anyone into the break. With the course being a net downhill and a tailwind I thought the day was going to be relatively. All of our riders attempted at different times to get into the move of the day. The problem was the entire field wanted to get into the break. Also we were racing down a highway for the first 100km. That combination made for a tough first hour and 15 minutes of racing. I got into a good move with 3 Hincapie riders who drilled it super hard. That was the only match I had for this stage. Finally after 70kms of racing Trek let a move roll. Evan was just off the back of it and tried really hard to get into it. After Trek got off the front we realized just how cold it was outside. Without working hard we got very cold. About 90kms in Katusha drilled it in a crosswind where we missed the split. However, we all got back on by the feedzone about 100kms in. The soigneurs had some hot tea in the musette. That was a nice surprise. At this point we saw Evan back in the field again. There was an 8km dirt section around 120kms in. I got tailed off the group because my tires were slipping around, and I was a little nervous in the mud. After the sector I drafted some team cars to get back on. The pace in the peloton slowed again, and I got very cold. It became very mentally challenging to want to finish the stage. I told myself things like “at least you can breathe (unlike at 10,000+ feet at the Tour of Qinghai Lake)” and “at least you don’t have food poisoning” to keep myself going. There was another 5km dirt sector around 165km in and I missed the split again. Kyle was the only one of us to make the front group from here. There was another dirt sector of 2km 173km in, and I just stayed with my group. For the final 30kms we worked together just to stay warm. Normally it is wise to do zero work in the grupetto, but today was an exception. It was super cold out. There were supposed to be finishing circuits, but the race sent the peloton the wrong direction on the circuits. A Garmin rider took the stage win from a break. 21 riders abandoned the Tour of Alberta today, most likely due to the terrible/ epic weather conditions today. It was nice after the stage because we went into a hockey arena where there were hot showers. The staff had pizza, hot subs, and hot chocolate for us after the stage. That was super nice. The final stage tomorrow is 11 laps on an 11.3km hilly circuit for a total of 124.1km. Tomorrow’s stage starts at 12:50 mountain time. It should be a tough race! At least the forecast is for 62 degrees and cloudy. Apparently the link I have been giving for coverage is only streaming in Canada. Sorry about that. Here is a link to my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/386622888

Tour of Alberta Stage 4

Stage 4 of the Tour of Alberta was a 162km stage where we did 3 laps of a circuit just outside of Jasper then climbed a 12km climb to Marmot Basin Ski Area. The plan for today was to get anyone on the team in a break except for Kyle, and for the rest of us to position Kyle into the final climb. Like yesterday the stage started off in frigid temperatures around the high 30s. I was once again wearing almost all my clothes and used that Enzo’s Embro Stick on my legs, feet, and chest. That thing has really saved me this week. A few kilometers into the stage we went over a climb that appeared smaller on the profile, and Thomas was off the front yet again! Chad, Michael Olheiser, and myself were positioned to go with another move if Thomas’ move came back. On the descent a Bora rider and an Axeon rider joined Thomas, and Trek sat up. That meant the break was established for the day and that was it. After this happened we mostly rolled along in the field and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around Jasper. I made sure to eat and hydrate a lot. That is very important in these races. Near the middle of the second lap I shed my shoe covers, cap, full-fingered gloves, and knee warmers. It was nice to not be riding in a full winter kit for once in the past few days! Near the end of the third lap we all started positioning Kyle toward the front of the peloton. Our whole team lined up next to Orica, and we got Kyle into the climb in decent position. I felt good, but after about a mile the pace was too much. I rolled up the climb with Chad, and we caught a group that had Thomas with about 5km to go. I feel pretty good going into tomorrow. Up the road Kyle fought it out near the front and finished a solid 15th. Tomorrow’s stage is a 204 km stage from Edson to Spruce Grove that starts at 10:35. The stage features around 56km of dirt roads, so it should be a fun one! Check out the live coverage here http://tourofalberta.ca/broadcast/ Here is a link to my ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/385754954/