Monday, November 30, 2009

OH Junior!!!

When I was in Chicago this summer at the USA Cycling Cat. 2 coaching clinic I met one of the other coaches who trained junior triathletes. He was quite loquacious, but the one thing I remember most was that he could always tell children who trained (especially ran) with their parents. He could pick them out because they ran slow.

Sean Gilbert put that comment into perspective tonight when he said that we've got plenty of time to get slow. Kids should be fast, run, run free...ok digressing.  The junior triathlete coaches words have rung loud and clear in my ears ever since the clinic. Younger athletes shouldn't be de-trained to ride 4 slow hours. It makes a lot more sense for them to put on that junior gear and be fast in shorter, age appropriate races.

Then I am talking to Jason Halloran before the Chagrin CX race and get this exciting email from Tom Humphrey who is director of the Spin/ RR Donnelly racing team. They are looking for a coach for their junior development squad of 5 riders. All under 18 years of age. The plan is a great one. Develop young local talent with the support they need from parents, coaches, bike shop and of course sponsors. Develop them to first be fast young athletes who can race their bikes, prepare them for collegiate success (and possibly some scholarship money at cycling friendly universities) and finally prepare them to be Cat.1's for teams like RGF and hm, hm, Carbon Racing to pick up for regional racing.

I can reflect back to when I got started racing in college. I hadn't ridden a bike since elementary school. I dont recall owning a bike in junior or senior high. But one day I borrowed my room mates Nashbar road racing bike with Suntour (it looked so amazing to me then). He slammed the seat down into the frame and I rode and rode and rode. Then a friend gave me this behemoth steel bike with cantilever brakes that was easily 8cm too big and I rode and rode that bike. Further and faster by the day. My point of all this was in my day there was no collegiate racing and I certainly didnt have a coach. My coach was the Lemond book!! I basically got fast, fast and eventually dug myself a crater from over-training I never got out of it till I quit racing and riding in 1992. All lessons learned and to be applied later. Sure it sounds like the "I never made varsity, but my son will!!" sort of thingy, but I assure you it is not.

So I do my best to contain my raw enthusiasm to just have the chance to coach the team. I fret for weeks then I hear Ive got the job. I am now waiting for the first meeting where I explain my dastardly plan to the sponsor and parents. Brooo, hahaha (think adult Goob in The Robinsons). OK, my plan isnt dastardly at all, but thanks to a loquacious coach from Illinois I have a solid direction to go in and I cannot wait to start.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have been intentionally putting on the brakes. I have pretty much let all the "race" fitness go and have traded it for longer endurance rides and cross training. But I have tried my best to have a no junk miles policy in place.

No junk miles means I try and ride easy, but at the top end of endurance pace on the flats and downhills. And surprisingly that pace after 2 to 2.5 hours is quite tiring. The plus is that I burn more calories then if I didn't pay attention.

The hard part will be this weekend at the Kirtland Park Cyclocross race. No hard riding in weeks then POW, all out for an hour.  But it will be fun. And I will probably be slow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

180's, reflections and future thoughts

One of a few pet peeves of mine is doing 180's in training rides/runs. I always try and do a loop and only in cases of closed roads or a turn onto a busy/fast road, etc make me turn around. But today I made an exception because I  got to the the bottom of Oak Hill at Everett (the Covered Bridge race course) and had to climb it. I had never climbed it and it looked steep so I did the dreaded 180 and went up. Oak Hill did not disappoint and I hope we get to do a race using it someday. I didnt try and go fast, but even if I had it would still be a slow grind to the top.

I was pretty much guessing on today's route as I played hookie from my daughter's dry land camp at the Ledges on Truxell.  I got on the State road race course from an early 90's or late 80's edition. In those days the State race was a big deal and you could qualify for the National road race which qualified you for the Olympics. The race started in a cold rain at Boston Mills. Before we were far along my Cat.2 team mate (I was a Cat.3) comes screaming that 6 Cat.1's had escaped right from the gun and we chased like mad to no avail. He dropped out in frustration and I almost quit from overheating till I could strip off the tights, jackets, arm warmers, etc.

114 miles later and 4:45 I came in I think 8th and they took only the top 7 from our State. I was devastated, especially since the guy who beat me had no intention of going to Colorado for the National road race and took a tow off of an enclosed trailer on the last lap only miles from the finish and gapped me. We had been in a long 2- person break up till that point. I recovered (or was just that mad) chased to the line and after 114 miles I remembered I spun out in a 53x12 and flew by him, but after the finish line. I recall I was screaming a line of obscenities at the top my my lungs as I finished.

But the few times I ride down there I always remember that race. I dont recall much before or after that race or even  the year, except that if I had made the National Road Race I was going to go. I was in my early 20's at the time and not making Nats I recall helped make my decision to pursue work instead of trying my hand at racing as a profession.

I have also been thinking about having my own Cyclocross race in 2010. I would like to have it in the Heights somewhere.  I have put a lot thought into the course, but not really much about how to go about getting the land use, etc.  The business end of it. Some fun elements will be a F1 course style grass fields with long sweepers, chicanes and multiple UCI barriers (some possibly in the middle of a chicane or out of a tight corner). I want riders to have to choose to dismount before the corner or ride around it one foot out.

Also the course would have brutally hard sections (ride-able uphill grass or dirt and a sled hill or stair run-up if those elements are available) split with technical sections that wont be as anaerobic followed by hard sections again. This way racers can attack the hard sections, recover and attack again. 

As for training, I am getting back to basics and have started endurance rides again. I am taking a short break from intensity and will start to ramp up the wattage soon. I am having trouble deciding if I want to try and push or pull for the LT work. if i push I basically ride just below LT for longer intervals till a power level becomes "easy".  Then at the first big event or break out ride the idea is to race hard and blow away the old LT wattage.  Then the new LT wattage becomes the one to ride just below.

The other idea is to do shorter, higher than LT wattage intervals with more repetition. So instead of say 2x20 or 1x45 Push LT interval I will do 8x5 at 105% LT. The idea is that by going a bit higher than LT you pull your LT up. In the end I think I will end up trying both styles as I consider myself to be my own test lab. And what works for one person may not work for another.  I may respond better or just find that more short intervals is easier to complete (mentally more than physically) than one or two long intervals. Or maybe one works better on the trainer and one is better suited to outdoor rides.

And getting back to Peninsula, wouldnt a ~40km TT course using Riverview and Akron-Peninsula be awesome? No 180's and fast wide open corners to make one big loop.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chagrin River Sunday edition

I'd like to start by saying it was good to line up to race. Its been a few weeks, but its seems like forever. In that time Ive been busy with school, work and life in general. It all has to fit together and right now the lowest priority is racing.  But I am still in good shape and I am staying fairly light and usually eating well. But as us racers know, there is fit and then there is race fit.

Rewind to this am and trying to get my very sore, tired body out of bed.  I hurt all over from taking the roof off of a dilapidated garage in the hood yesterday.  My back and neck hurts and my ribs Still hurt, but I chose to ignore them and hope I dont hit the deck today. But this day starts with Audrey time as it should. Like those late Cross start times for that.

Finally I get coffee and head downstairs and i cannot get the geared bike quite right so I prep both bikes and load up. When I finally head to the race I am feeling those slight jitters. I keep thinking about how I havent been doing my technical practice since my geared bike bit the dust at Forest Hills park. And how much power will I have at this race that I did  very well at last year on my SS? And will I finally get a good start or should I just start in the back and bag it?

Well the race starts and I get an OK start again. Were lined up then all heck breaks loose by the river and I get smart and hop off and run past some guys then get  slowed as someone falls and losee the spots just as fast. From there I am with Ehrlinger, Steiner, Zak and a bunch of others. We go back and forth in a fun battle. Whats funny on lap one is when I hit the only hard dip to negotiate for the first time and I hit it going way, way, way too fast and it was like a brick wall when my front wheel hit the face.  Next lap I braked a lot harder and it went a lot smoother. I learned to slow, roll in and then sit back when I hit the face and pedal out. When I did that it all worked out. I was 90% successful.

I pass my group eventually and get ahead of Zak, but he gets rolling and gets me back. I chase Zak as he chases down Derek. We finally get by, but he and Ehrlinger hook up behind me and  are not more than 50' behind. And then one lap and i dont know if Zak sped up or I had a slow lap, but I am no longer sea sawing from a few seconds behind to almost on his wheel.  And then I seal my fate by botching the ditch again by trying to go too slow and have to dismount and hes gone and John and Derek get real close. But in the distance hes going after Jeff Craft and I am gong after Zak and John and Derek are coming  after me. Its one heck of a fun battle.

As for me? Well the SS is geared 42x17 and coming out of all of the slow sections and 180's my back is screaming in pain. I try and ignore it, ride standing up straight (not very powerful or aero) to stretch it but it really makes it hard. The worst was out of the 2nd singletrack  and up the slippery slope.  Sprinting there really hurt. And all the dips and corners in the singletrack made my arms get tired. That was an odd feeling.  Though that could have been as much from the work I did Saturday am.

Back to the race. The effort to catch Jeff plays in my favor as it allows me to gap John and Derek. I am sprinting like mad out of every single corner, through the singletrack and the gaps coming down the last two laps. I get real close to Jeff and have a little bobble and the gap opens. I close it again and can see from his body english hes going harder than ever. I come super clean through the off camber, through the river and close the last gap by sprinting pretty much from the river to the singletrack entrance and try and dive under Jeff right before the entrance to the singletrack or its race over for me. But he knows I am coming and takes a fair line to block me and I enter behind him. I bobble somewhere that I didnt have any problems before and hit my knee (nice red rash on it now), but keep chasing.

I have to put the brakes and put a foot down for a split second in the pine trees for a chicken too. And yes I did just say a chicken!! But hey, were visitors on their land so the chicken gets right of way. But no matter, Jeff has the gap and rode the last section fast so he deserved that spot we were racing for.

So I guess its good to know though I wasnt as fast as usual I fought to the very end and really hammered out the last 5 laps. Trying to catch Zak and Zak and I are trying to catch everyone we can see took some effort.  And being chased the whole race by John and Derek (and they got real close a few times too).  Great racing you guys!!  I have no idea when I can race again, but I do hope to able to line up a couple more times at least.

In the meantime I am going to try and take it a bit easier when I can ride for a few weeks and then start ramping up the watts as I get ready for 2010's racing season. And now I desperately need to take my tired self off to bed as soon as I can. I am exhausted and tomorrow we go back to get more trash and finish demolishing the garage in that flea infested house. Its a charmed life I lead these days!! But family and racing today certainly helps me to stay positive. And nice chatting it up with you guys and gals after the race.  Nothing like bench racing, drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon in your skinsuit, legs covered in mud.