Into The Darkness

December 21st, Winter Solstice

I have made it through to the other side. I think the only real damage done so far has been a miss rate of maybe 1 workout a week usually due to work, a sudden draw to playing video games that was going to happen anyway, and a fairly large amount of work stress throwing my metabolism into shambles.

Anyway, as of this day, the nights will get shorter, and the onward march to Pueblo continues as my spirits slowly get to a better spot with more sunlight and less… shitty shitty dark.

Right now the focus has been on power and extending my ability to put it down for long periods. I don’t get it, but I’m trusting in coach. My expectation I guess at this point was to be doing 6 hour rides as the norm, but it seems to be exactly what he doesn’t want me to do. So I trudge around in my basement on the trainer for maybe 3 hours at max and then I’m done.

I don’t usually see it anywhere, but most likely its because I have no idea what to look for besides feel and maybe some data. To me, I feel I fail a lot of workouts. I’ll get an email later in the week telling me that my ratios are really good, and its all polish from here keep up execution. I don’t expect my coach to tell me I suck, but I guess Ian would if he needed to.

My legs always feel heavy, and I creak in the mornings after a hard ride the night before. Though I’m never stiff or sore. But give them 10 minutes of warmup and they’re just as good as if I rested a few days. Its a very strange feeling of being fatigued all the time both mentally and physically, and then suddenly getting on the bike and being able to put down wattage and zone out for an hour while ERG mode fires up BDSM in the pain cave.

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Master didn’t say slow down.

The only time I notice it is when I go out and Strava against myself. I will often set a new PR for a section I ride frequently without thinking about it, or even trying. Side by side comparisons show my HR is lower than normal and any PR where I’ve gone out to set one is usually pinned for HR earlier in the year, is only within 10s of me casually riding through, and well under 20bpm lower when compared. So really there’s something there, but mother of god I feel so slow and shitty when I’m riding lately, and that’s where we begin.

I had a bad VO2 test, half of it was bad equipment, which happens, the other half was stress and really being lost when trying to figure out where I am. It showed my RER being all out of whack also kinda showing me that the weight plateau has a reason. Ultimately where I was, was the cusp of over training and being stressed out.

So right now I’m on a steady diet of “Pueblo Paced” rides… and while its probably good to get that down…. It sucks. People can tell you “Dude you’re stronk!” till they’re blue in the face, if you don’t feel it, you’re going to resign the ride to a shitty workout where you’re putting in your time.

While that may be the way it feels when you’re on the bike, you gotta look at it this way. On your ride, are you with people? Take note, are they suffering while you’re moping around on your bike about your shitty ride? Are you even breathing hard? Cause if you’re not breathing hard and you’re moaning about how shitty you feel while everyone around you is dying… you’ve become “that guy”.

Are you by yourself? Do you feel slow? Take a look at your HRM? Is it telling you that your body is bored? Good, then you’re bored, this is a good thing, not a bad thing. Look at your post ride stats? Did your bored self set a bunch of PR’s or come close? Good job there you mopey baby.

So instead, maybe internalize your people watching and fuel your ego. Maybe your ride isn’t shitty and you’re just in a bad mood. The term HTFU doesn’t really apply to you, more so, maybe another similar acronym does.

Earlier I talked about small wins, and I lost the plot a bit lately, and the above is mostly directed right at myself. Right now there are a lot of small wins around me. Power is up. HR is down even compared to just a few months ago. 3H rides used to kill me, now they’re a nuisance or a slow burn to get me tired for a 1H sub thresh tempo set… of which I complete and then get on with my day.

Either way, a lot of things are in place for what I hope is a really solid Pueblo. 15 laps. Its what I’m after. I don’t care where this puts me. I just want 15 laps.

Pueblo is now turning into a mental game, and I got myself sorted. I got one of my close riding buddies coming with me. I’m visiting good people and great riders. I have someone sharing in the 24h misery, and for us solo’s we have 2 teams running the course to make sure we’re alright. I need to get myself a solid non wired light and build up a tolerance to whiskey.

Nutrition for the ride is entering the final stages. Not sure whats going to happen after hour 12 or so, but I know I can survive long times on Perpetuem and Skratch. I’m still not sure what to eat and drink once I get sick of those though… it’ll happen. I’m open to suggestions though… someone suggested Guinness. Mind you this person is also riding against me, so not sure if serious.

Stuck right now at 245. There was a promising ride where I didn’t drink anything for 2 hours and I touched 240 for the first time in many years, but that’s not a healthy 240.

Protein shakes and eating right for the next 2 months before Pueblo should HOPEFULLY see me 239 pending I can get my metabolism back in check. I’ll know on the 30th’s retest.

January is shaping up to be a brutal workout month, but I’ll be worth it for the taper weeks in Feb.

Races you should do.

Dan’s races are as grass roots as you can get. They are both hyper competitive, and easy going at the same time, but now he’s added a Fat Bike series to his race portfolio. Beer, Chili, Fatties. That’s a hell of a Saturday to spend with your friends for a few bucks!

Anyway, I haven’t written in a while mostly because I have nothing to write about.. workouts are workouts, and diet is diet. But I’m going to try to update at least once a week or more till Pueblo. Possibly try to get some video.

Oh also, new bike… so there’s that.

Stein Um Stein

Man what a year. Highs and lows abound.

I’d say the biggest high for me this year was walking away with 2nd place at Paris to Ancaster. It was an emotional event for me as it was an accumulation of 5 years of trial and error and finally having everything come together. The medal sits in my room as a reminder that things aren’t handed to you, but only through work and sacrifice can you get things done. Though I’m not done with P2A yet. I have other goals within the race now. In 2016 it will be one of the select few primary races I’ll be doing for sure.

The lows for me this year was how expensive everything else was. With a coach, a new set of legs and a cardiovascular system that can keep up I rode a lot harder on my equipment than I usually do.. this resulted in…

2 Hub Rebuilds
1 New Pair of Shoes
2 New Pairs of Gloves
1 New Seat
1 Fork Rebuild
4 Wheel True Ups
1 Fat Bike Tube
1 Conversion to 1×10

But this also resulted in a lot of this:

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I had way more fun on my bike this year than any other.

With race season being over and “base training” season starting for Pueblo I’m heading into darker months, both mentally and literally. I suffer from SAD. While most people laugh and say its not a thing, to you maybe, to me, the sudden loss of motivation, the cravings for the most absolutely shitty food I can jam into my face, and wanting to hibernate only to play video games and ignore everything else in my life is a very real thing that starts… oh right about  5 minutes after the Fall 8H was over.

Its a very real problem. Year after year, around this time I halt everything related to cycling except for dual wielding credit cards hoping to get faster by osmosis. I’ll jump on the trainer and do a workout here and there, but over the course of the month and leading into December it becomes a chore to jump on and ride even for 30 min.

The alternative to working out is… put the kids to bed, throw on some flannels and a oversized hoodie, grab myself a gigantic coffee flavored sugar and milk. A warm bagel or 3 and its off to Xbox land where I argue with 12 year old squeakers all night about the finer arts of Destiny.

….. while my wife produces huge watts by rolling her eyes.

With the comfort foods creeping into my office and my home pantry, I would gain my winter 20, and top out around 270 again further adding to my winter blahs when my belts were suddenly getting tight again. Sometime in February I’d realize P2A was around the corner, and with the advent of longer days and more sun, I would jump on the trainer and I’d drop down to 250 and race. It happened this year for P2A. I managed to get myself on track in January for April so this is why I did well, but when I’d start in March, I’d end up relying on my base to get me through P2A, and I’d do well but then I’d be mad at myself.

Not this year.

I’ve been with my coach now for 9 months and things are progressing very well for Pueblo. The fall 8H really demonstrated how far I’ve come from a riding perspective. With my times being not far off my much faster buddies and extremely respectable when placed on any top ranking team. I am well ahead of where I was last year. Also, weighing in right now at 245lbs is the lowest I’ve ridden in a while and it feels good. Though I’m still a fatass.

The idea is to keep the momentum going, and work on small wins over the next few months from a cycling point of view, and to work on keeping the anxiety and seasonal depression to a minimum. The first decision was to go with gears for Pueblo. I have a fantastic geared bike that doesn’t need any upgrades. Sure there’s some new technology out there that may help me marginally, but cost wise its too much to place any value in putting it on my bike, or upgrading. If it can hold up against the Fall 8H course and the abuse I put it through, it’ll hold against a fairly smooth Pueblo course ridden at 70% of that speed.

Also, I was under the presumption that I could podium if everything went right. This was probably the biggest problem for me as I’ve never ridden more than 8 hours, and by the time 8h is done I’m pretty cooked on our home courses here. The sun and course may not be as forgiving in Pueblo as I remember it being, so I needed to jump off that wagon and get realistic about things.

My goal is still 15 laps. I’ll see where that gets me. I’d be happy with a top 10 finish.

A couple of other things is to keep riding outside as much as I can. With the colder weather setting in and a fatbike in the quiver, there’s no reason I can’t go outside and ride, and with Zwift and a Kickr, I can ride Pueblo’s course as much as I want in prep for what to expect from a wattage standpoint.

So in summary, over the next few weeks to fight the “winter blues” I’ll be looking for and celebrating small wins and creating very manageable milestones that should get me there intact both mentally, physically… and ready to perform.

When the Levee Breaks

Kingston cup came and gone. First disappointing race of the year that was totally my fault and not any fault of my equipment.

First mistake was bringing a fat bike to the race. While yes fun, and totally doable, the amount of increased effort to push a bike configured for snow riding around a course like that was dumb as shit. A little too much bravado, and not enough common sense. Also a bit lazy too as I mostly chose it on the account that I didn’t want to change a tire on my geared bike, since its damaged… also lazy, I didn’t swap cages from my bikes, and showed up with no cages and a bunch of bottles… pretty pro.

Second mistake was not giving the course the proper respect it should have had. No mental prep, and a bit too much reliance on people telling me it was “fun”. While yes, there was very little climbing, the climbing comes at you all in one or 2 areas, so the climbing that IS in there is pretty tough.

The third mistake was not working on drinking skills prior to the race. Once you got into the course you were constantly assaulted with rocks, roots, and turns. I found it hard to drink while on the course and the places where you got a 30 second break were little to none, or worse, they’d come, and you’d ignore them cause you were worried about getting stuck with a bottle in your hand and a rock garden at your wheel.

Anyway, the race started off fairly simply. There were 3 Fatties that I saw in the full Marathon so I figured all I needed to do was finish the race. I actually managed to bury the one skinny guy on a fatty within the first 5km. I don’t know if he had a mechanical or what but I never saw him again. The other carbon fatty rider got ahead of me and I hoped that once I settled down into a more endurance mode I’d grind him down and catch him later on…. this was not to be… also I noted his 4″ tires and knew he was going to be faster with less power required. The fatty I have has probably the worst rolling tires on it ever… but dat traction tho.

Into the bushes and rock and slate are easy to grind out, but then come the bar checks, repeatedly. One even said bar check 720mm… still bashed my hands off the tree. Gloves are now ripped, I’m bleeding from my knuckles and fingers.. and I’m only 10km in… the other thing I start to notice is how jarring the course is on a rigid bike, even with the big honking tires I can’t seem to find any flow anywhere and get some ground covered for free.  I’m constantly fighting with the bike to keep moving forward over what I felt was fairly easy terrain. The constant bumps and dips would rob me of any momentum I had, and I’d fight to get the beast moving forward again.

I make it over to the other side of the barn and through some pumptrack section. Good stuff, but I had no clue what was on the other side of them, so I was fairly dainty going through. This is when I realized that I was sweating profusely and moved on to another bottle… into the bush on the far side and its much the same only worse. More rocks more bar checks, some bridges though the only one that was really bad was where there was some overgrown grass… so I didn’t know how wide the bridge actually was. No issues though and made it through.

Passed by the Aid Station… and this is where it was weird. I asked if it was a 2 way aid station and they said no…. at this point I needed bottles, but turned into the bush anyway… worst decision ever, I shoulda just grabbed food and water and carried on. Ended up in the bush for another 17km or so. The climbs in there weren’t terrible but on the second lap they had me thinking that they’d suck a bit more.

It got pretty technical once you got over the fire road where I finished my last bit of perpetuem. I saw the leaders coming back my way and figured I was 20 min from getting water so it wasn’t so bad.

Back into the bush, and bam, another tight bar check sends me flying down the side of a bank and into some rocks. My back doesn’t feel right, but I’m more pissed that it happened at this point, I’m also getting pissed as the non drinking and aid station situation aren’t playing well into my lack of planning. Back on the bike and up and over rocks and more shenanigans… and suddenly everything feels like its doing this to my back:

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Holy shit, my back is on fire… I pull around to the aid station finally, and throw down as much liquid as I can, some salt tablets… and they tell me that I could have gotten bottles at the aid station on the way by… well shit.

I get through the course suffering through what can only be explained as having a knife stuck in my lower back.. and I get to the final hill. I end up climbing it but by the time I get to the top.. the levee had broke.

The thought of doing another lap with my bloody hands, screaming back, lack of hydration, and sudden onset of just wanting to lay down on something flat and hard was too much and as I passed through the line, and without even thinking.. I said “I’m Done”.

This is the first time I’ve cracked. The Kingston course requires a LOT of respect despite what some people may say about it. While yes it would be a blast to ride with your buddies out in the bush with beers and breaks, as a race the course is an entirely different animal.

I’m looking forward to coming back next year and completing the full marathon.. only this time I’ll make sure to take this course a lot more seriously. While yes fun is definitely a word I’d use to explain the course, the follow up comment would be “but only until you realize that the fun never ends”……

Something about Nothing

Right now things are plodding along. Coach has me off power training for a bit and doing more Z2 work with some big tempo efforts thrown in, nothing serious, but I’m starting to pull 10-12H weeks on the bike which is starting to eat into other things I like to do… like sit on my ass and watch Netflix till it asks me if I’m still alive.

Starting to correct things in my diet. I’ve cut out the diet pop after a binge this weekend, and switched to a lot of greens. Also moved off Recoverrite after my rides and started using a top shelf Whey Protein powder. I get enough carbs elsewhere so I’ll be fine, my problem is a huge lack of protein right now, and I can feel it in my rides if I’m not eating properly. Mind you not so much during, but after.

Starting to think about plans for Pueblo. Debating flying into Tuscon and flying out of Vegas, getting a hotel room before the night of the race, etc etc. I small things here and there that I’m starting to write down and plan for.

SITH was a really good. Felt very strong all day, and my lap times were very consistent at 29-30 min for 5 laps. I feel though that I rode the course at a Solo pace, the course was demanding from a technical aspect with the rocks and really uneven ground, and nowhere to really unload the legs. The only issue I saw was that once you were in, there was only 2 places to drink. As a Solo it woulda been okay, but as a Tag member, they were the ONLY 2 places to really get steam, only to have it robbed by heading back into the single track.

Great day on the bike overall, and felt really good.

Nothing to report other than training is going well, and starting into my nosedive to 24h weight.

Summer 8H Race Report and Review

So another solo race in the books. Though again brought down by a mechanical, though this was a much more serious one than normal. More on it in a bit.
Course Review: After hearing horror stories about how raw the trail was, I was fairly happy to see that it wasn’t as bad as people were making it out to be. Some of the trail was very soft and a bit sketchy heading down and around switchbacks, but unless you were riding near slick tires it wasn’t going to cause you any grief unless you went hard into it. There was a lot of opportunity to use pump track techniques to get free speed, lots of little jumps to take here and there and really solid lines down the more known trails of the course. So no complaints there either.

The initial climb wasn’t as bad as I was thinking it was going to be, though the biggest issue I had with it was traction, or at least this was some fairly significant foreshadowing of how my day was going to go. The 2 major climbs were severely lacking in traction for a heavier stand and mash rider, loose stone over worn trail caused a lot of slipping as I stood to try to mash up them, not to mention that any momentum I had would get eaten by the sand wash at the very bottom of the hill leaving me with little to work with. But every lap I made it up regardless and didn’t really whine much apart from eye rolling every time I hit a sand patch before a climb.

The singletrack was really good. Enough tech to keep me occupied, though in some areas almost a bit too long to come up with a consistent hydration strategy. There was a solid 4km before I felt it was safe enough for me to pull a bottle out.

The Sugar Shack Saunter or whatever it was called wasn’t as bad as last years shit show. It was worked in fairly well this time around, though the flow was kinda junk still. Very lumpy and didn’t really compliment the course as well as some of the other stuff did, but this time instead of being a soul sucking slog through new trail, it was very very doable when compared. Super happy to get it done every lap though.

My only major gripe with the entire thing was how the course was marked. Usually the Summer and Fall 8H are superbly marked and leave NO possible mistakes for you. This time around it was very confusing in some areas, leading to some slow riding to make sure I was on the right path. Though they were corrected as the day went on.

I really did enjoy the course in general though.

First Mistake: I use a gel. I’m not usually good with gels, but I figure how bad can 1 be. Well bad enough to cause some massive discomfort later on, sending me to the port o potty some 700M away from the pits.

What a start, some shenanigans at the first chokepoint with people trying to get through. As a Solo I don’t care much about it, but its kinda annoying. Nothing really to report as I hadn’t really truely pre rode the course. I noticed that there were some drops on the course that you could ride, but you’d have to slow down to roll safely. They’d later be taken at speed and launched off. There was no reason to slow down for them. Log overs again no need to slow down, just hit and jump over them… this became a kind of motto for the day. Work the tech, the hills will take care of themselves.

Further laps were fairly uneventful, kept pushing and riding at a very comfortable pace all day. Hills weren’t taking anything out of me.. for the first time in all my Solo races, I’m feeling like this is going to be really good. I’m on pace for 11 easily, and if I play my cards right, its a possible 12 lap day!

On lap 6 I came in and had a seat trying to figure out what was wrong with my gut. I had lots of time, so I just ate and drank a bit…. though I ended up having to move my car for a few people that wanted to leave the race after ducking out. I felt bad for them as I guess 2 major crashes will shake you up pretty bad, so him and his buddy left. This was delay one.

On lap 7, I finally gave in and visited the washroom. The small break was welcome as well as my gut felt perfectly fine once everything was said and done. I got back out on the course, and really felt back into the groove. I still wasn’t tired, I was on top of nutrition. Mentally I was completely good to go, and felt super good. Moving time for a lap was starting to creep down, and I wasn’t planning on any breaks, just to see if I could sneak 11 in, maybe go for 12 if I had 30 min left, just for the fun of it.

Lap 8, half way through I stand to mash a hill crest and get some speed..

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DOINK

Game over. I sheared my free hub apart. I jog my bike over to the marshal and he radio’s back that I need a pickup. I guess I coulda ran the 5k to finish off lap 8, but I figured I had a possible bike back at the start to get through another lap or 2 for my pin. It took about 40 min for the pickup, then another 10min for the ride back.

Once I got back I tried to head out on the geared backup bike, but it was ghost shifting and I didn’t feel like destroying another bike just because I was sour, that and at this point I was hyper frustrated and trying to put on a face for people.

Anyway, packed my things and began the long drive home where I was alone and left to my thoughts, but I tried not to focus on the nasty mood I was in… so I went over the positives only, refusing to think about anything else.

So things I did well:

1. I rode a lot of the tech with decent authority. Nothing hung me up or kicked me off the bike. Instead of rolling the drops, I just hit them at speed and jumped them. I was surprised how much faster that was and how much space I’d gain on other riders by throwing a BIT more caution into the wind and riding tech like I know I can.

2. Nutrition was on. I went back to having Apple juice and coconut water handy. I also kept up on Perpetuem during my laps, stopping to drink some generic Gatorade every lap. I barely touched my Skratch. I also used Beet-It, Endurolyte Extremes, and Anti-Fatigue caps. I think I have that dialed in now. Expensive blend unfortunately, but it really worked out for me.

3. Stopping every lap to fill bottles is tedious. I need to invest in some bottles and come fully stocked up with ice. There’s no reason for me to stop for 4-5 minutes fixing bottles and food, by 8 laps, this is actually an extra lap I coulda put in, and I didn’t need a break.

4. I now know that Gels are the end of me, and I should avoid them like the plague.

Anyway, strong showings by the regular crew that showed up, and generally good vibes all around all day. Might have been the reggae music all day.. that was always enjoyable rolling through the pits and listening to some Marley.

Next race is SITH this Sunday coming up, then a long break till the Kingston Marathon in September.

Pauls Dirty Enduro 100k will be the final test of the season to see where I am before hunkering down till Pueblo.

Though there’s a few CX races I want to try this fall as well, even if to just go ride terribly, ring cowbell, and heckle my friends.

Its how you use it…

I’ve been dealing with some bike lust lately, mainly spawned by a sexy Ti 29+ SS I saw at Solstice. The concept of the bigger tires for traction, and some compliance in the frame for long distance was a heady mixture that set off a world of reading up on things I can’t afford. Bike lust is something I don’t deal with very well.

It lead me to thinking about what I actually DO need to upgrade. So I brought Cyclops into the shop for a good solid work over… and second opinion on the state of the frame and other parts. Turns out it got glowing reviews, and there isn’t anything to upgrade, except maybe Ergons for long distance riding, noting the foam grips are laughably small. Though If I really wanted to spend money, they had a sexy RockShox SID they’d sell me…. I declined… barely.

So if the bike was fine, what about my gear? My Team kit is made by Sugoi and fits perfectly. Shoes have cosmetic damage, but work perfectly. I like my gloves, and I have a new helmet this year… lights? Good to go, just need enough power for 12 hours of night riding.

I have no meaningful upgrades to buy. Sure I could go out and drop a small fortune on parts that look good, but that’s gonna make me look hella poseur.

I jumped on Zwift for a 2 hour mid tempo ride, and let my mind wander as my legs churned away, only to see there was a “Social Ride” going on. People talking, comparing bikes, food, and eventually the conversation rolled into “Whats your FTP?”. Someone replied with 290, which got a lot of attention and further questions, but it set me on a thought path for the rest of my ride.

Its not really about how much power you can put down. Its entirely about how heavy you are. “FTP/KG”

Lets look at it this way: THEY SAID NO MATH

Lets assume there are no other variables other than flat, windless, road, same bikes for everything:

Right now at FTP my w/kg ratio is about 3.1. Its right about where I expect someone who trains as much as I do. Which is a moderate amount with family commitments and a slight lean towards playing “how many chicken wings can I put in my face”. Now most of my riding is fairly steady state with intervals on Tuesdays and 2x20s on Thursdays. Apart from that I’m usually cruising around at 2.2 w/kg for long distances, and usually not even under the watch of a powertap, but rather by heart rate.

If I happen to drop down to 225lbs, I’m suddenly rocking 3.4 and have moved up an entire category from a power profile perspective.

So while I sat there guffawing at people and their puny wattage…. I realized I was slow as balls… and most if not all of these guys are going to laugh as they go flying by.

I also have the aerodynamics of a farm tractor…. this sucks for gravel, isn’t so bad for MTB.

Anyway, lets look at it this way now. If I want to get faster, its not parts on the bike that’s going to do it at this point. Its going to be dropping the weight. I’ve been tracking my eating habits now for a week or 2, and I have a LOT of room to improve. From a cycling point of view, my workouts won’t change much as I’m in the middle of race season, but once September is over, I’ll have 4 months to drop down as far as I can before a February taper.

Here’s the thing though, for a long while, I used to think about dropping weight as an aesthetics thing, its no longer the case. The biggest upgrade I can do for Pueblo is get there at 225. Apart from aesthetics, there are huge boons to not having a bunch of weight bouncing around when you’re riding, but the biggest thing is simply just not having it on you when hour start to tick by and your power starts to fade from “strong as ox” to “surprised my legs are moving”.

So the first thing I’m going to upgrade, is the chassis of the engine powering the bike. This requires no money, just being much smarter about what I eat, when I eat it, and how much of it I’m eating. The diet profile will change pretty significantly over the next couple of weeks as I adapt to a different way of eating, once race season is over, the massive push will begin.

It is easily the biggest upgrade I can do, and its about time I actually really took a shot at doing it rather then trying to buy my way around it, or through reading osmosis.

…..that and possibly a new SID fork, cause it couldn’t hurt right?

Coaches Change Everything

Someone asked me “Why do you have a coach?”. Totally legitimate question really, and to be honest looking at all the training tools, books, gadgets, and other shenanigans I have lying around at my disposal… you’d probably expect me to be some high end cycling pro-star, or at least have a bunch of sponsors but alas, Santa Cruz has not added me to the Syndicate yet as a full time gravel rider.

Though feel free to call any time guys.

Here’s the long answer:

There’s riding in a bike race, and then there’s racing. I’ve been back in cycling for say about 5 years now, and I’d only say that in the last 2 of them, I am doing what you would classify as “racing” vs. “riding in a race”… more so this year than any other.

For the first 3 years I would enter a race, and complete it as fast as I could. Seems like racing right? As fast as I could usually meant, “making it to the finish line”, or “finishing a lap”. But racing to me was uncomfortable, and I would skirt the line of blowing up and scaled back just enough to be able to finish. Seems simple enough right?

I would race constantly, but I wouldn’t enjoy the actual act of doing it. I would go through the machinations of racing, but my focus was always on “how much longer do I have to endure this”. Race after race, jovial off the start, keep up with the pack for about 3 minutes, and then sink into the hole of “why??”.

The feeling is easy to replicate…  picture a really shitty hill climb. Your legs are burning, lungs are starting to complain, but you know you’re going to be alright.. if it JUST finishes around this corner… except the corner never ends and you’re still going up and you can’t see any end in sight.

Now picture having that feeling for 1-3 hours until you cross the finish line.

That is what racing was like for me….

I admired those who had the ability to put the fitness aspect into the  back of their mind, and actually race.

I would read, I would plan, I would start and train, and I would notice improvement.

But it wasn’t until I got a coach that things really changed. I now enjoy the actual act of “racing” both from an endurance standpoint and from an actual strategic standpoint. The ability to trust in my fitness and push that to the back of the thought process when racing allows you to seriously enjoy the other aspects of competitive sports. There is nothing more satisfying then launching an attack, chasing down Crazylegs McBlownengine half way through a race, holding onto a fast paceline, or even just providing some shelter for your smaller and faster teammates allowing them to really put out some pain later on.

Here’s the short answer:

When you are trained properly, racing turns into a completely different animal. Your sport takes on an entirely new multi dimensional form, and suddenly there is so much more to learn and train for. So ultimately, the more I put into what I’m doing, the more I’m getting out of it.

The result… I am having way more fun this year than I ever have on a bike, and apart from mechanical issues, every race has been super enjoyable from a mental point of view, as well as a physical one. So if you see me at a race… I am genuinely having fun when I’m completely ramped up!