Thursday, April 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
So, first things first. What do you hope to accomplish this season? Are you new to racing and just want to improve some skills, get comfortable in the peloton, and maybe finish a stage race for the first time? Or, perhaps you've been doing this racing thing a while, and it's time to step it up and battle with the big boys, upgrade to CAT 2 and have a realistic shot at placing high some races. No matter what the goal, first and foremost it MUST be important to YOU. It doesn't really matter what other people want or expect from you, when the going gets tough, the training gets hard, and the distractions are everywhere, what you're going after MUST be important to you. Bike racing is hard. It doesn't matter if you're a CAT 5 just starting out, or CAT 2 capable of winning state or regional races, it's just plain hard. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to work. If you don't really know why you're doing this or what you hope to accomplish, it is way to easy to just throw in the towel and go back to playing golf or whatever else you can do that doesn't require as much physical and mental preparation (and pain!) to be successful. So, the goal has got to be important, and YOU gotta want it, and want it BAD.
Another thing to consider is that the season goals have to be realistic. I used the Tour as an example of a dream in my other goal setting post. It's great to dream and think that someday you could be riding in the Tour de France, but for the vast majority of people, that is a dream, not really a goal. It's great to dream, and I think it is even good to have a dream goal. A dream goal is something that is most likely out of your reach, but something you really, really want and if everything happened just perfectly and you got really lucky, who knows, it could happen. Example might be to someday get noticed and signed by a pro team, or win a national championship. For some people, those are realistic season goals, for others, they are dream goals. A dream goal is something you can use to help motivate you when times get tough. You gotta keep working, you don't want to give up on your dream, right? So, it's great to dream, but your season goals are most important. They must stretch you, make you work hard and maintain focus, but they must be something that could realistically happen for you THIS season.
OK, the season goal(s) must be important and realistic. To me, these are the most significant qualities to have in a goal. If you have something that is important to you, and realistically possible, you will be willing to do what it takes to accomplish them. They also have to be something you can control. A goal of "winning the Tour de Bozeman" might be something that is realistic and important to you, but if Alberto Contador and his tainted beef show up, you're probably not going to reach your goal. I'd rather see the goal worded as "have the ride of my life at Tour de Bozeman". That way, it's possible to accomplish your goal and feel like you had a successful season, even if you don't get the win. It's ok, and even good to have more than one season goal, but try and keep it down to three or four, otherwise you are giving yourself to many different things to focus on as you move through the season.
Once you come up with some goals, you have to think of what it will take to accomplish them. These will be the things you need to focus your training on as you move through the season. Back to the Tour de Bozeman example, if that is your goal event you will probably need to improve your climbing ability, considering the nature of the course. You may need to work on training consistency, improving the structure of your training, improve TT position, drop a few pounds to reach a desired racing weight, or hire a coach to guide you on your journey. You will also want to come up with some short term goals to help you along the way. Some example of short term goals might be to cut one minute of your best climbing time up your local hill, achieve racing weight by April 1st, improve functional threshold power to xxx watts by a certain date, attend a week long training camp early in the spring, etc.
Once you have put some thought into this process, the next thing you NEED to do is write down your goals and tell people about them. I have a goal setting worksheet that I have my clients fill out. They have to write down there dream goal, season goals, what it will take to achieve them, and some short term goals that will help them reach the season goals. I not only have them fill out the worksheet, but ask them to write there goals down in other places, as well, For example, one of my goals this season is to drop a few pounds to get back to a leaner racing weight, so my goals are posted on the refrigerator. Every time I reach for a snack, I see my goals and it helps me decide whether I really need to eat now, or not. In the film "A Ride with George Hincapie" George talks about how he has his goals written down and hung in his closet, so every day when he dresses for his training rides he looks at them and it helps him focus his training. Write these things down everywhere you can, and tell as many people as will listen what your trying to accomplish. Once the people around you know how important your goals are, not only will they possibly be more understanding and do what they can to help, but it helps hold you accountable. All these people now know your trying to accomplish a certain goal, you don't want to let them down, so maybe you'll get that ride in today instead of skipping, even though you really feel like going to bed. See what I mean? It may seem like a bunch of mental mumbo jumbo, but trust me, it all helps.
As an example, and to help hold myself accountable, I will post my season goals here. I know Jason and Tomas will see them, not sure if (or why?) anyone else still reads this....
Dream Goal- Master National Cyclocross Champ
- Have the ride of my life at Masters CX Nats, leading to a top 10 finish
- I have a specific MT road season goal here, the people around me will know
it, I just don't want Herzig to know, so I'll not post it here
- Be strong enough to be a factor and help the team at Elkhorn
What will it take to achieve these goals?
- focused and consistent training
- improved climbing ability
- improved bike handling for CX
- improved power to weight ratio
Short term goals to focus on throughout the season:
- Be fit and in the mix for a personal or team win at Roubaix
- Achieve racing weight by mid April
- Improve functional threshold power to 350+ watts by June
- Stay with the lead group on the climb heavy Cow Country course
- Consistently finish on the podium at Montana CX races
There's all the goals, etc for my upcoming season. I can now use this as a blueprint for where to focus my energy during training. The training will all be geared towards accomplishing these goals. Posting them here really will help hold me accountable, and strive even harder to accomplish them. Doing something similar could help you, as well.
Pick important goals, tell people about them, write them down everywhere you can, and work your tail off to make sure they happen. Time is wasting, now is the time to decide what your going to do this season. Better get to it.....
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Really, a training regimen in December when the first races aren't until early April? Well, like I said, that depends and situations are different for each individual racer. For me, I raced and trained pretty hard up 'til about a month ago. Once I realized 'cross season was over for me, I decided to take a bit of a break. I took three weeks totally off the bike. I didn't even think about cycling or racing at all. I just hung out, did some hiking and hunting, and took some time to do other things that get neglected while training, and enjoyed life. Being the cycling junkie that I am, after three weeks off the bike I was ready to ride and start thinking about next season. As a CAT 2 racer with some lofty goals, crazy strong competition, and a strong team to try and support, starting serious training in December is pretty much a necessity. Even though the training is serious, it's starts out fairly relaxed with some easy riding, a bit of weight training, and hopefully plenty of cross training in the form of running, skate skiing, and hiking to try and minimize the time spent on the trainer or rollers. That said, I still spend the vat majority of my available training time on the bike. All the other activities are great, and will help build endurance, but if I want to excel at bike racing, I gotta spend time on the bike, even if that means riding the rollers for a couple months.
I have been doing this for a few years now, and I know from experience that I am mentally strong enough to handle a training schedule like this. Others may not be able to, and if they start to early, they may lose motivation and fizzle out before the races even get here. When to start and how hard to train are very individualized situations. If you are an experienced cyclist with lofty goals like myself, time is a wasting and you had better start thinking about what those goals are and how you are going to achieve them NOW. It'll be time to toe the line again before you know it, be sure you are ready. Newer racers may want to wait a bit to get serious, but as I said that is dependant upon the individual. No matter what your situation there really is no off season. Even if you aren't training seriously yet, it's always good to remain as active as you can and enjoy unstructured aerobic activities to help maintain fitness throughout the year.
So, enjoy your winter. Whether it's climbing ice, hitting the slopes, skate skiing, or even riding the trainer in a basement like I will be doing, you gotta stay active and start thinking about next season now. The first thing you need to be doing is coming up with some goals for next season. More on that later. Until then, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Training Year. I hope it's a great one.
Friday, October 22, 2010
By now, everyone who cares about the Bozo cross weekend and rolling Thunder knows what went down. Both events were great. The GAS and MSU guys put together a great two day race weekend in Bozeman at an exciting new venue. The courses were tough, yet fun and led to some good racing. For me, it was a tale of two days. Day one I started fast, took the hole shot, and almost immediately began to fade rapidly through the field. The beach section was killing me, and I just felt like I had nothing. I was totally disappointed with my ride/fitness that day. If my kids had not been there, I'm pretty sure I woulda threw my bike into the pond and possibly left it there for good, never to utter the word cyclocross again as long as I lived. Again, saved by the kids. Day two turned out much better for me. I again took the hole shot, wanting to be near the front as we hit the beach. After the first lap it was just Curry, Doll, and myself then a good gap to the chasers. I held on for a while, but again was foiled by the sand section, as I bobbled the tough turn coming off the beach. Curry and Doll got a gap, I tried to chase back, but with Curry drilling it around the pond, getting back on their wheel was pretty much a lost cause. I did my best to stay close, and eventually Doll slid out on a tricky gravel corner, allowing me to overtake him for second. JDoll suffered a mechanical in the crash, and was out. Curry was long gone, then me with Scott Herzig in hot pursuit. Either I began to fade again, or Herzig picked it up, because he was coming fast. It was beginning to look like a good battle for second, but with maybe two to go, Scott pretended to have a pedal problem so that he didn't have to get beat by me. I woulda waited for him to fix the pedal, but I had already waited for about two laps to allow him to catch me in the first place! Just kidding Scott, I think we both know you were gonna get me, but I was sure gonna try! Anyways, thanks to Doll and Herzig I was mostly gifted second place, but at least I felt like I had a descent ride for the first time this season. Plus, I won some cool gloves and a doughnut! Thunder was looming....
Thunder was great. Congrats to Radley and the crew for another super day of racing. The day started early with Mariah, Benji, and Griffen all repping GAS in the junior race. They all raced hard. Benji is getting faster each year, and I saw Griffen killing the tricky s turn descent, riding it fast and clean, just like eventual winner and pro mtb rider Sam Schultz-watch out Sam, in about seven or eight more years he's coming for you! And, Lisa Curry wasn't the only GAS rider to win at Thunder. Mariah was again crowned junior girls Thunder Champion. Way to go, Mariah! It was a tough course, imagine trying to ride it as 9 yr old girl (OK, I rode it LIKE a 9 yr old girl, but not AS one, there's a difference there). Mariah then hoped into the kids race. With a giant field of 20+ kids, Mariah and trey went one-two, both showing off their hard earned remount skills in front of a good crowd. Then, they got candy. It was a good day to be a kid. Heck, it was Rolling Thunder, it was a good day for anybody! In the 4/5 race, PURE athlete Aaron Johnson fought hard to finish second. He had a great ride, and is looking forward to this weekends racing up in the Flathead, where second place just won't do..... Once darkness fell, it was time for the elite race main event. I was surprised to get a front row call up, but took advantage of it by again getting a solid start (those short, hard practice start efforts are paying off) and was beat to the first corner by only Sam Schultz. He went fast, and I stuck on his wheel...for a while. I was a bit distracted by his acrobatic entrance and high speed going into the tricky s turn descent. Trying to match his speed on that feature was a bit much for me, as I bobbled a bit at the bottom and had to put a foot down. I had trouble clipping back in while powering up the off camber climb. This allowed Toby to get by and a gap to open. So much for that $220+ 1st lap prime ....From there I again began to fade. The fitness actually felt pretty good, but the tight loose turns were killing me. Too much time on the trainer, not enough time in the dirt...something for me to work on. I fought hard, but lost a few places over the next few laps. I was still comfortably in the top ten with four to go when I broke a spoke on the s turn and had to run about a half lap to the pit. The spectators were awesome. Some cheering me on, saying there's just no quit in him, great job, etc. while others said it was over. I should just quit and have a beer, it's the American way-hilarious. I ran it out, got lapped, got a wheel, and finished Rolling Thunder dead freaking last. Not what I had in mind, but that's racing.
OK, now we're up to date. I spent the last week working, got a couple good training rides in (trying to address this mid race fad, we'll see if it works) and looking forward to the Kalispell weekend. Woodland cross tomorrow am, with Heron Park on Sunday. I'm not sure who all is going to be there, but I don't think Mr. Curry will be, so we all get a chance to race for first overall, instead of first behind Curry! Who is gonna step up and take advantage? My money is on PURE athlete Jesse Doll. He had a great ride at Thunder, and just took another W last week at the Missoula Wed night series. So, if I was a betting man, I'd go with him. But, my heart says I can take him. See you in the morning, Jesse....
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I hitched a ride down in the Curry van. I secretly hoped that just being in close proximity to Mr. and Mrs. Cyclocross, as well as Mrs. Freight Train would somehow make me faster. I tried to absorb all there 'cross secrets and knowledge on the ride down. Turns out even all there secrets and knowledge couldn't make me any faster. In fact, it seems to have made me slower, if that's possible. Thanks for nothing, John, Lisa, and Amy. Guess I'll be getting my secrets elsewhere in the future.....
Some highlights from the weekend, other than what mtcx.com already listed include:
* A dramatic crash by Tomas. He slid out at high speed as he hopped onto the sidewalk. I was right behind him, and it looked BAD. Kudos to Tomas for dusting himself off and getting back in the race in a big way. There's no give up in him.
A probably almost a s dramatic crash by your truly as I somehow managed to step into my front wheel while dismounting. This resulted in me flipping over into the barriers (ouch!) nearly taking out JDoll in the process, breaking spokes on my carbon tubular wheel (sorry Aaron, I know I promised to take care of your babies when I purchased them from you, hopefully it can be brought back to life with some new spokes and some TLC). Once I got my bearings about me, I had to run over 1/2 lap to the pit for a spare wheel. Needless to say, the race was over for me, but I decided to stay out there and at least get a workout and some much needed practice. The cool thing was I ended up back in right where I probably would have been without the crash. I caught a couple people, then had my sights on PURE coached athlete JDoll, but he proved to be to strong, and simply rode away from me the last few laps. The results show me in 6th place, but I was a lap down, and should be listed DFL.
*PURE coached athlete Jim Nallick had a strong ride in the Masters race. Turns out some of my ignorance must be rubbing off on him, as he chose to then hop into the CAT 4/5 race for another strong showing. Way to use that hard earned fitness, Jim.
*Junior GAS/Intrinsik racer Benji Nallick takes the hole shot, and holds on for the W in the junior race. Way to go, Benji!
* Day one ended with food, beer, awards, raffles, movies, and keg tossing. My right arm was a bit sore from my crash, otherwise I'm pretty sure I coulda took the keg toss W from Eric Horn. Next time, my friend, next time.
*Day two had an epic three way GAS/Intrinsik battle for domination of the masters race. Tomas, Alex, and Jared duked it out for the whole race with Alex coming out on top.
* To hop, or not to hop? There were some cool "shorty" barriers in day two's course. Racers were practicing and nervously deciding whether or not to risk hopping them. Hopping them proved to be faster, but a bit risky. It seems it turned out to be about 1/2 and 1/2 as far as hoppers vs. runners. LCurry showed up the women's field, as she was the only one hopping. It worked pretty good for her, except for that one time, whoops....
* PURE coached athlete Jesse Doll once again put the hurt on the coach as he rode to a strong 4th place finish behind some very fast dudes. I didn't crash this time, and at one point early I was right on his wheel. He simply rode away from me again. The student becomes the master...Guess we know who's doing there work and who's slacking.
It was a great weekend of racing. I gotta admit that I left there a bit disappointed in my performance. I feel like I have been training pretty hard, and thought the fitness should be coming around. It seems I'm right about where I was last season- just a touch behind the fast guys. Oh well. I will turn the disappointment into desire and train a bit harder. The season is long, and I still have time to make some improvements. I skipped out on work today and got in a solid workout of 5 minute VO2max intervals, which actually felt not to terrible. Now I'm off to GAS/Intrinsik Tuesday night cross practice to see if I can improve the skills enough to at least not crash into the barriers this weekend. Bozeman cross weekend is coming, will you be there?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Like many great weekends, it started with some time in the car. Not always fun, but at least we were traveling through some of the most incredible places on the planet, so it wasn't all bad. We took a short break along the Gallatin so my son, Trey "Fishbrain" Morgan could wet a fly or two. He though he may have had a couple nibbles, but alas, no fish for dinner. Bummer.
More car time. We headed down through Yellowstone, saw a few critters, herd some bull elk bugling, and generally speaking had a grand old time. Everyone was impressed, as always, by the sight of the Tetons. Once in Jackson, we had a few hours to kill before meeting up with friends at the hotel, so we did the tourist thing and walked around downtown a bit. Fishbrain spotted a fly fishing shop, as usual, so we spent some time in there. The proprietor of the store was so impressed with Fishbrain's excitement for the sport, that he gave Trey a free fly box. Talk about making a kids day. Other than the fly shop, we pretty much decided downtown Jackson was crazy, expensive, and overly crowded, even this time of the year. If anyone is interested, we did spot a T-Rex skull fossil for sale. The sign said it was real, and only $375,000. Everyone should have one of those, right?
Next up was dinner, hotel, visiting, and sleep for an early am start to the tourney. Although the weather was awesome all weekend, being on the soccer fields at 7 am on frosty grass made for a chilly morning. The u10 Bozeman Blitz girls did their thing and played hard, coming out on top of game one, with Mariah scoring the winning goal. Next came about a 30 minute wait to get McDonald's for breakfast. The town was SO busy we couldn't get in anywhere without a huge wait, and even McD's had a line basically out the door. Crazy.
After that we headed back to the hotel, where I prepared to embark on my adventure. There was a 'cross race in victor, home of Moosecross, that I was interested in attending. To make it into a solid training day, I decided to ride to and from the race as well. Google said it was 27 miles from my hotel to Victor, but google didn't tell me about Teton Pass! Wow, that is a great ride. I think the sign said 10% for 5 miles on the Jackson side, and 10% for three miles coming back over. The climb up and over was great. I tried to keep it dialed back a bit with the racing ahead of me, but it was steep enough that I had to go fairly hard just to keep moving.
It really doesn't look like much in the photo, but that is a solid climb. Then, descending the other side was scary. Steep and fast, and the first time I'd done something like that on the cross bike. It felt like I could feel the lower psi tires just rolling around under the rim. Needless to say, I had to take it kinda easy on the way down.
Now the (supposedly) fun part, cyclocross racing. Lucky for me (or not) I arrived early enough to do the Masters race first, then the 1/2/3 race later in the afternoon. Shortly after arriving, I met up with Peter, another one of the "soccer dad's" from Mariah's team. I had told him about the race just that morning. He had brought his cross bike, and hoped to do a little riding over the weekend. Since he is a cyclist, and therefor slightly less intelligent than your average person, he, too, decided to come on over and do some suffering (HE was smart enough to drive over, though). I registered, dropped off a bunch of crap from my "commute" that I didn't need for racing, and went out to check the course.
The race was at the same venue as Moosecross, and the course was mostly the same as last year, with a few tweaks here and there. Next weekend is the annual Moosecross race, and anyone who goes can expect a good course with some of the same features as in the past, including the double barrier into the run up, the "narrows" (a twisty bermed section), a triple barrier section, the green monster (slightly different, and I'd say tougher than last year with some tight and off camber turns) and of course there will be loose dirt and plenty of bumps to contend with. There is a little more pavement added, as well a a trip around the brewery on some sketchy gravel to keep things interesting.
First up was the masters race. I started a bit conservatively, giving up the hole shot so I didn't have to be the early leader. After about 1/2 lap, I couldn't stand following anymore, and put in a solid dig. When I finally took a look back, it was me and one other guy, Troy Barry, WAY off the front. Near the end of lap one, troy got tired of following and took the front, I was quit content to sit on him, as I new he was super strong from previous years at Moosecross. He put in a few digs, but I stayed glued to his wheel for a couple laps. He was faster through the double barrier/run up than I was, and eventually opened a tiny gap there. But, once he had the gap, he took advantage, and I was unable to close it. I dug deep, and tried to limit the loses, thinking he may fade near the end. I stayed close enough to apply pressure, and he eventually went down in one of the corners. This allowed me to close the gap a bit, and I continued to push hard. Troy fell again over the green monster, and when I overtook him, he told me he was done, broken derailleur. With Troy out, and the next rider maybe 2-3 minutes back, I was able to cruise the last couple laps and save a little for the 1/2/3 race later in the day. This ended up being my first ever cross victory. I've been close, but never got the W. I always joked that the only race I would ever win with knobby tires on the bike was the dirt crit in Helena. Since they aren't doing that race this year, I figured I might go win less. My goal is still to win one of the MT races, but damn, some of you guys are freaking strong, and I just don't know if I can make it happen. I will try though, oh, I will try.....Also, great ride by soccer dad Peter from Bozeman. He rode strong, and held on for fourth place. Way to go. He was then smart enough to get in his truck to drive back over the pass to watch the girl's next soccer game. OK, so we know he's smarter than me, but does that make him a better dad, too?
The 1/2/3 race didn't go so well. Troy was able to get his bike repaired, and apparently didn't want to toy around this time. He took the hole shot, and went HARD from the gun. I stayed glued to his wheel, but this time only for the first couple laps, then he was GONE! I cracked big time. I went from "this aint so bad, I can do this all day," to "holy crap, I think I'm gonna die" in about one minute. Instantly I was done, and basically soft pedalling around the course. It didn't take long for Dave Bergart from Victor to fly past me, and eventually another racer rolled easily by as well. I did find the strength to put in one last hard dig to keep fourth place, but all in all it was a pathetic showing on my part. I can only hope it was a product of a hard week of training and the hard riding that day, because I'm gonna have to be MUCH better to battle with the MT boys. Time will tell.....
I knew as I struggled to the finish line that I had a good ride ahead of me to get back to Jackson, and I was worried. I figured I could manage, but the thing that worried me was that I didn't have a lot of time before the sun went down. So, not only did I have to drag myself back over the pass, but I couldn't do it leisurely or I would be caught in the dark. I probably could have scored a ride back, but what fun would that be, and again, I'm not that smart. So I put my bottle cages back on and set off. Nice and easy. Ate some bars, drank some water, felt...ok, until the road went up. That was the hardest climb I have ever done. I seriously had to stop, lean over my handlebars, and cuss outloud about five times before finally cresting the top. I was cold and hungry. I think the bonk caught me about half way up, and I'm not sure if I've shaked it yet. I have never been so glad to be done climbing, never. I took a short break at the top, added some layers, took a few photo's, and wished I had some more food....
From there I pretty much had it whooped. A screaming, scary 5 mile 'cross tire darn near rolling off the rim descent, trying not to kill myself, but chasing the sun at the same time. Once off of the main descent, I was able to ride the final eight miles or so on a bike path. This allowed me to slow a bit, as darkness wasn't quit as big of an issue since I was off the highway, but I still had to get back before I couldn't see where I was headed. I rolled into the hotel/resort area just after dark. Tawnya and the kids hadn't made it back from dinner, so I was locked out of our hotel room, still cold, and still hungry. Luckily there was a gas station near by, with some much needed calories to bring me back from the brink. The gas station attendant asked me how long I had been riding. I said, "To long." To which he replied, "Ya, it looks like it." A Snickers bar and some chocolate milk never tasted so good. Eventually, the family showed up with some dinner for me. Tawnya asked how I enjoyed my ride back. I lied and told her it was great, but I don't think she believed me.
Turns out Mariah's team won game 2, and she scored two goals while I was being a bad dad and racing my bike. What can I say, it's a sickness. Tawnya said it was the best game her team had played. They were in the championship game for sure, but still had one more bracket game before that. Both games would be against the same team from Boise. Bozeman started strong, but you could quickly tell the girls were outmatched by the Boise team. Those Boise girls played some great soccer. The spread the field, passed with precision, and made our girls chase the whole game. Although Bozeman fought hard, they were beaten handily by the Boise squad. The girls had a couple hours to rest and think about what to do different, and then they had to play the same team for the championship. I'm not sure what changed, but the Bozeman girls battled hard and made a game of it. They were led by a super effort from Alla "The Wall" in goal, but all the girls contributed and fought hard to stay in the game and keep it close to the end, finally losing a close battle 4-1 after a couple late goals from the other team. Mariah scored the Bozeman goal, and hustled her little butt off trying to help her team. Even though they lost, that was a great team performance, and a blast to watch. Great job, girls.
Well, that was about the end of the trip, with the exception of some more less than fun car time on the way home. We all had a great time, and can't wait to go again next year (I think I'll bring more food on the ride next time!) Next up, right back to Victor, ID for Moosecross next weekend. I'm excited to try again, this time focusing on the 1/2/3 race, with no master race or Teton Pass to wear me out first, hope it makes a BIG difference!