Wednesday, November 02, 2016

From Couch to Competitor: Titans Stage 1

View from Caesar's Head

Finally the Road Titans 300 Challenge had come! It was time for the rubber to meet the road and see if Anthony's preparations were sufficient. In my last post I mentioned how Anthony carbed up and was ready to go. Hurricane Matthew happened to be pelting the South Carolina coast. We still felt the hurricane's effects 200 miles inland and took off in overcast skies and howling winds. The 94 mile stage tackled Caesar's Head, traced along the plateau at the top of Caesar's Head, and descended Sassafras back to Lake Keowee. This alone would have been challenging enough in warm and calm conditions!

Chris Mojock, the current Master's 35-39 national time trial champ, set a blistering pace right from the start. Our group only contained 10-15 riders, so there was not much shelter from the wind. Shortly into the ride I told Anthony the pace could not continue like this all day and for him to hang in there. The pace literally seemed like some fast races I have done as a pro. Chris continued this vicious pace until we hit Caesar's Head, the main climb of the day. Chris is an animal! I knew Anthony would have easily been able to finish Titans in the A group of previous years, but the fast pace threw a wrench in my plan and presented a new challenge. For Anthony the pace was low to mid-tempo all the way out to Caesar's Head. This meant he had to tackle the climb with around 35 miles of fatigue in his legs. Anthony and I rode Caesar's Head three days before the challenge, so he was acquainted with the climb. He rode within himself, did the climb at mid-tempo, and easily conquered it. The rain worsened as we climbed, and the temperature cooled as we gained elevation up to around 3500 feet. It was relatively cold at the top, so Anthony's tough training days in 50 degrees and rain in the Pacific Northwest paid dividends. After the Sassafras descent the rain subsided, and it was a nice cruise back to Lake Keowee. The pace was a little easier after the climb, so Anthony comfortably finished the stage with Chris and a few other riders. I was pleased Anthony was able to finish out the first day so strongly.

Stage one was in the books and Anthony performed superbly. He conquered the stage at a faster pace and in worse conditions than I had predicted. I couldn't have asked more of him. We fueled up immediately after the stage and drove back to my house. After we arrived to my house we cooked up a nice dinner and slept well heading into stage two. Be sure to stay tuned to read Anthony's thoughts on stage one.

Monday, October 31, 2016

From Couch to Competitor: Anthony's Experience

This post was written by Anthony. This is how he felt heading into the Road Titans 300 challenge.

The text message from Winston came in at around 4 AM PST before I was about to start a training session for my third and final TT we had targeted in early April: "You want to do Road Titans this year?" What a challenge just to finish something like that I thought to myself. I had read up on how the ride was organized after Winston had mentioned earlier in the year, and thought I could comfortably tackle it in the C or B group with some work. The finishing times in those groups seemed reasonable and were well within reach, plus the event was in sunny South Carolina, a perfect setting to evade the start of an impending grey Pacific Northwest winter, "Sure" I replied "I will register for it tonight which group do you think is best for me, C or B?". Turns out Winston had a different idea, "Sign up for the A group you will ride the three days with me in that group." After some thought and hesitation I replied back "Are you sure that's a good idea?" Winston's reply "You can do it, I will have you ready"  That night after a couple of rounds of mental volleyball, I registered for the event in the A group, and a nagging doubt lingered, had I overstepped my bounds, and naively wandered into something way beyond my ability?

In retrospect I realize I had, and although it wasn't apparent to me yet, it was precisely what I needed to gain a deeper understanding into what it means to confront doubt, channel adversity into strength, and a belief that I could finish a challenging event amongst a group of talented athletes. Winston's simple, positive, albeit powerful reply marked the beginning of a transformative journey through wind and rain swept training days in the Pacific Northwest, a ride from Vancouver BC to Whistler, and three epic days of riding in South Carolina.  In our conversations over the years I have come to realize that elite pros like Winston take every opportunity, whether its training or racing to constantly reinforce and solidify an unwavering belief in their abilities. Every training ride and piece of encouragement from Winston, presented me the opportunity to embrace a challenging training schedule and make his instinctive belief in my ability to complete the challenge my own. Without that belief no amount of physical training would prepare me to clip in for the final 104 miles and 10000 feet of climbing on the third day of the RT300. 

Read on about our first day in the RT300. Bruce Lee's idea that "What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately
become"  took on new significance for me. My days of training in the rain in the Pacific Northwest also came in handy, since my visions of a sun swept southern landscape would not exactly materialize as I thought they would. That's bike racing in a nutshell, things rarely play out they way we think they will. It would be my first test in the belief I had honed in the months leading up to the event.