Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Greenville Spring Series Weekend 1

This past weekend I raced the first weekend of the season with my Lupus Racing Team teammates at the Greenville Spring Series in Greenville, South Carolina. The weather was frigid both days, but that didn't stop a lot of racers from coming out to the races.

The first day was a 75 mile road race on a rolling 15 mile circuit in Fork Shoals. I raced with my teammates Marcos Lazzarotto, Matthieu Jeannes, and Evan Murphy. The plan for the race was to ride smart and go for the win. In the first couple miles of the race Evan jumped into a move. That gave me the chance to sit on attacks from other riders. After Evan's move was brought back I launched my Eddy Merckx bike into the next move. This seemed to be the move of the day since Axeon, Lupus, and Jamis were represented in the split of 7 riders. I worked lightly to save energy as Axeon had two riders in the move. My Eddy Merckx bike helped me to feel fast during the break. Matthieu came across to the break with Chris Uberti from Finish Strong, a local cat 1 team. We worked well in the break, but after 2 laps Hincapie brought the move back. Evan, Marcos, and I followed some moves, but Andy Lougher got off the front with Parker Kyzer of Finish Strong. An Axeon rider also went off the front of the field. Their gap grew, and heading into 1 lap to go we made the decision to pull back the break that was 3 minutes up the road. Marcos, Matthieu, and I worked together well. It was a tough job, and with about 12 miles to go we caught the Axeon rider. There was an attack with about 7 miles to go, and the break was still at about one minute. I had to close the rest of the gap myself. My legs were screaming no, but I had Evan behind me telling me I was almost there. Evan telling me that helped me to drag back the break, but after that I was finished and rolled into the finish at the back of the group. Marcos was positioned in the group ahead of Evan. That helped Evan achieve third in a field sprint that was won by Johnny Brown of Axeon. 

The second day of racing was a 60 minute crit on a tough circuit with a 20 second hill every lap. Matthieu was feeling ill from some food poisoning after camp, so it was just me, Marcos, and Evan at the crit. Marcos and I rode over to the crit in the freezing cold. My wife Sara drove over to the race, so we sat in the heat of my car with Evan until the race started. Warming up in the car helped a lot, and I attacked from the gun. My Edco wheels rolled smoothly through all the turns. Marcos countered my move, and we all followed attacks until Evan was in the break of the day with 3 other riders. After Evan was in the move we sat at the front of the group with Finish Strong to keep the pace slow and let the gap grow. We also covered attacks. When it was apparent Evan's group was not coming back, I slipped into a break with Alder Martz of ATG Cycling. I tried attacking Alder a couple times but could not ditch him. As Alder and I got the bell for one lap to go I got to watch the field sprint as Evan came second to Andy Crater by a bike throw. 

It was very fun racing with my Lupus Racing Team teammates this past weekend. We worked very well together, and I look forward to racing with them more during the 2016 season. Next weekend I will be racing at the Greenville Spring Series again.

Lupus Racing Team Camp

We recently had the Lupus Racing Team camp in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a very fun time where we do a bunch of things that we never really do during the racing season. It is the only time of the year where all riders and staff are in the same place at the same time. During the first morning we learned that we had a new teammate in 2013 Vuelta champion Chris Horner. We are going to gain a wealth of experience from him this year. After eating breakfast, we received our Eddy Merckx bikes equipped with SRAM Red and Edco wheels, our Biemme clothing, and suitcases and backpacks provided by Evoc. Our bikes were built by our team mechanic Zack Foley. He worked tirelessly throughout the weeks to ensure our bikes were working flawlessly. After we had our bikes set up in our proper positions we headed out for a light two hour ride around Stone Mountain. Following all rides our soigneur Tony had a ton of food ready for us to munch on. We received media training that afternoon with Deborah Gibb.

The next morning we rode the Tucker ride in Tucker, Georgia. The pace was occasionally fast but also allowed us to socialize with other cyclists on the ride. After the ride we did some stretching and core work with Andrew Johnston of Triumph Training. These stretches were intense, complex, and nothing like anything I have done before. I think the work with Andrew will be helpful going into the future. After the core work we made the drive down from Atlanta to Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Geogia.

During the next two mornings we took photos with Casey Gibson before heading out on some 3 and 4 hour training rides around Pine Mountain. The roads around Pine Mountain are remote, mostly flat, and lined with trees. This combination makes for a nice place to ride a bike. Kudos to our team manager Brendan Sullivan for choosing Pine Mountain as a place to hold camp. We had rider meetings with our director sportifs Steven Carpenter and Phil Cortes. At these meetings we discussed our race programs for the season.

On the third day in Pine Mountain we had lactate threshold testing with Pierre Hutsebaut form Peak Centre de Haute Performance in Montreal. For the lactate threshold tests we used a Computrainer with an ergometer feature. The ergometer feature means the Computrainer uses a break, so you have to produce X watts in order to pedal. We started at a relatively low wattage and increased wattage by 30 watts every 3 minutes. In the final 30 seconds of each stage Pierre pricked our fingers to measure lactate levels. When the level of lactate spiked we were instructed to stop. We then had a 3 hour training ride. That afternoon the entire team had a meeting over Skype with Dr. Scott Black of Sword nutrition. On our rides we drank Sword drink mix and ate Honey Stinger food. Sword is a simple, light hydration mix that has only the essentials for fuel and nutrition necessary for endurance sports. The Honey Stinger food is delicious mostly organic food all of which have honey as an ingredient. That night Marjorie Sullivan, Brendan's wife, who suffers from lupus spoke to us at dinner. She informed us of the struggles that people with lupus have to live with every day. That was a reminder of how lucky we are to be able to race our bikes for a job.

For the final day of camp we had a two hour ride where we finished doing 4 laps on a 3-5 kilometer circuit that had a 5 minute climb. We rode very hard on this circuit, and all the riders proved they are riding well. Camp was really fun, and it wouldn't have been possible without all the help from our sponsors and team staff. I really look forward to the 2016 racing season with the Lupus Racing Team.