So there are days that you never want to end and there are days that you want to forget immediately. Yesterday was the latter, as far as bike racing goes. I had a great set up to the race: A good night sleep (rare for me), a relaxing morning (another rarity with the house, yard, kids) and I arrived early enough to be calm getting dressed and geared up. As soon as I pedaled my bike warming up I knew it could be a tough one. I have had sore legs a few times before a race (not tired, but actually a tinge of pain like weight lifting soreness) and it has never gone well. Never. But I tried to ignore the legs and hope they would come around. They didn’t. The start was fast and I think the field dropped about 1/2 the riders in the first 3 miles. I survived up the killer climb fine, but just couldn’t push the pedals hard on the top when needed. I just couldn’t go over a tempo pace. Aerobically I was fine, but my legs just wouldn’t respond. So I went into internal suffer mode and just tried to make the best of it. I ended up finishing a distant 28th place in the race with most of the field dropping out totally. Tough day on the bike. But just like a corner in football, you have to have a one play/one race memory. The next one is around the corner and it is a new ballgame.
Archive for April, 2012
One of the coolest things about cycling is the focus on charitable events. There are several “Charity Rides” that support a variety of causes and gives us cyclists a chance to give back while getting on the bike. I have been fortunate to be on cycling teams and around other individuals that really brought a lot of energy to a number of causes. Studio One Dental (a main sponsor a few years ago) sponsored our first Bike Rodeo at my kids elementary school and this year it was just awarded the number 1 elementary school in the country for children riding or biking to work. These things have impact and make a big difference in our communities.
A family friend has created a charity after suffering a personal tragedy. (Details below) I personally hope anyone reading this site will consider joining this ride and giving back while getting in a great ride.
Please join our journey in support of Ben’s Hope and Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation by riding in this year’s Elephant Rock!
Proceeds from additional contributions will support the Patients and Families of the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children!
JOIN THE BEN’S HOPE TEAM! You can register as part of the Ben’s Hope team at the Elephant Rock link below. If you want to make a contribution to this great cause, make sure to also go to the Giving First link provided below. Contributions are welcomed from riders and non-riders alike, and at any level. If you want to ride with one of the limited edition “Ben’s Hope” jerseys, make sure you contribute at the $250 level or higher — but ACT NOW since there is only a limited supply of these beautiful keepsakes from our inaugural event!
Subaru Elephant Rock Cycling Festival
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Start times range from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Douglas County Fairgrounds
Castle Rock, Colorado
Elephant Rock Registration Fees
|Adult: 100 and 62 milers||
|Adult: 34, 25 & 7 milers||
|Child (under 14): 34,25 & 7 milers||
Team Division = Charity
Team Name = Ben’s Hope
Help us raise money to support Ben’s Hope and the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation’s Patient and Family Assistance Fund here:
Raise $250 – receive a Ben’s Hope bike jersey.*
* Quantities are limited and deadlines may apply.
Ben and Alex Curtis were born prematurely on October 10, 2000 at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces and 2 pounds, 4 ounces respectively. From day one, Ben had many medical issues. He had problems with his esophagus so he never ate by mouth and he had a narrow trachea so breathing was a constant struggle.
The next eight years proved to be extremely challenging for Ben and the entire Curtis family. “We were in and out of that hospital constantly. I always knew Ben was tough, because he had lived through so many surgeries, so many flight-for-life rides, he was critically ill more times than I can count. I had to resuscitate him I don’t know how many times, yet he kept pulling through. The team at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children was our support system, our extended family,” says mom, Lynn.
Running was the only way Lynn could get out of the house so she ran often. All three of the Curtis boys would ride in the stroller at times but Ben spent the most time in the stroller. During those long runs, Ben would read. Dr. Seuss was his favorite author.
Ben died on July 4, 2009, at the age of eight.
To honor Ben’s life and continue her healing process, Lynn wanted to do one last big run with the stroller – she set her sights on a fourteener – “I wanted to go as steep and as big as I could get.” So, on July 23, 2011 just after 2 a.m., Lynn Curtis began her run up Mount Evans pushing an unwieldy stroller in the darkness laden with food and water, a headlamp and 50 pounds of weights – the amount Ben weighed when he died. At the top of Mount Evans, Lynn pushed the stroller aside and raised a sign overhead: For Ben. “It was a fitting tribute to Ben,” said her husband, Ken. “He was up there with her – he’d never been up there – but he was with us.”
For all of the mountains yet to climb, Lynn established Ben’s Hope in 2012 to provide hope and courage for these children and their families.
You’re off to great places, today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.
The Koppenburg is a spring classic climb AND a sweet spring classic bike race in Colorado. The 1/2 dirt circuit race is a short 44 miles that always feels like a 100 when you are done. The aggressive racing and constant awareness required on the loose dirt wears you down over the race. And then there is the steep climb every lap that adds just enough pain to often decide the race. The climb used to be REALLY hard. It was pretty much 18″ wide and the race would be decided by who made it up the climb w/o walking or getting caught up in a crash. It is still tough and narrow, but just a bit easier and less complicated than before. I have had some good legs in this race to be squashed by bad luck (broken frame). This is also the race that I totally spaced out last year and missed the winning move. My goal this year is to pay attention and put myself in a good position to do well. We have guys flying on the team right now and I hope we can put together a good race.
This new site format doesn’t allow me to post video, however the Sonic Boom Racing team has a YouTube site – SBRBicycle that has some up to date stuff on myself, our sponsors and the team. The racer diaries are kinda cool for checking out how each racer lives, views training, andapproaches racing. Check them out.
So after coming back from China it has been GO-GO-GO at work and home. Life gets complicated sometimes and bike racing/training has to be secondary. Usually I try updating my site every 2-3 days, but with all this going on it has been tough to put anything together. I have a ton of material started, but getting it up has been impossible. When things get crazy at work or home for athletes, there are some small ways to keep a certain level of fitness.
Here are some tips I use:
• Ride to work. Even 20-30 minutes is enough time to get in some intensity and just getting on the bike can be helpful.
• Run. 30 minute run can be a good workout and will maintain some level of cardio fitness. This can be dangerous if you don’t ever run, causing massive soreness.
• Concentrate on eating right. Don’t eat as much if you aren’t training as much.
• Work in 1 hour rides and focus on intensity. LT, VO2 efforts in a short time can really keep you in good shape. • Keep perspective. Hopefully this is just a small window of time and you will be back to normal soon. Sometimes you will come out of these rest periods flying on the bike and others will be slow getting in shape. But it only takes a couple of weeks to get back if you have been training all along.
This race is one of my favorites. I don’t know exactly why since I have never finished it. I have either flatted or broken a spoke. So it has been a bit of a love hate relationship. I love the course. I love the concept. I love this time of year. I hate not finishing races.
I arrived at the race just in time to roll up and get a good start position. In the past the first dirt section has been killer fast and I wanted to be ready. The first lap started out pretty slow and I was having a fantastic time. I spent most of the lap in the front 20 racers and smiling. Looking around and seeing several Bissell, Jelly Belly, Wonderful Pistachios, Optimum and other pro riders in on the front with me was cool and fun. I felt fantastic. My legs are finally coming around and I couldn’t have asked for a better set up. I came through the first lap exactly where I wanted to be. My teammates were looking equally as comfortable and riding in the front or surfing around. The dirt was in fantastic condition, except a couple of areas that warranted extreme caution. (Turn to finish line, a couple of big /wheel swallowing pot holes, etc.)
Second lap was a bit faster with more attacks, but it was still very comfortable. The wind started to pick up and I got excited. I usually can do well in the wind and started to pay more attention to positioning in the cross wind sections. On this lap we screamed up Nelson. I was in my 53×15 up the climb, pretty much going as hard as I could. Attacks and bridging was occurring and I was suffering. I crested the climb in perfect position, but on the transition to a flatter section my left inside calf cramped. This has been happening a bit this year and I can’t figure it out. I switched to Speedplay pedals, but other than that I haven’t had any changes that warrant this cramp issue. I had been metering my water more than I should due to the fact I only had 2 bottles for nearly 80 miles of racing on a dry hot day. But I didn’t want to take it all in too quickly. I guess this was my mistake, because I had to drift to the back to let me leg de-cramp. I slammed some Gatorade and a gel, but by the time my leg came around I was about 10 seconds off the back. I began to chase in earnest and caught 2 riders. We began working pretty well together and started the 3rd lap of 4 a few seconds back.
As we were just about to catch the main group (which had slowed once the break was established) I made a critical mistake. I was the last of the three after taking a pull and kinda riding on the edge of where the road fell off into the ditch. The rider in front of me drifted right and rubbed my front wheel. I overreacted (I shouldn’t have been crossed wheels anyhow) and went into the ditch. I tried to recover and shoot back out, but instead wrecked. I didn’t go down too hard, but I did slip into the ditch again. I crawled out, put my chain back on, and chased. I lost a minute or two and was now way back. My knee was bleeding and swelling up a bit, but really no damage had been done. My two compadres caught the pack just as they turned onto Nelson and I was full gas chasing. I was pretty upset with myself for this lack of concentration. The wind was picking up considerably then and I began to lose time to the pack. Race was over. However, I hadn’t had any mechanical at this point so I decided I must finish the race.
A teammate had passed me as I went down and was about 40 seconds ahead of me, chasing the group. I began to see if I could make it up to him and work together. He was too fast and I ended up chasing him for about 20 miles. Eventually he blew up and I was able to make it up to him. We tried to work together, but poor Ryan had blown sky high. I offered gels and what little water I had left, but he was done for the day. I took a few pulls and he told me to go on since he was so spent. I ended up pushing on a bit to the finish.
It was a long tough day. I was disappointed to waste good legs, but I also was pleased with my fitness and the fun course. I had three teammates finish in the front group, just off the winning break. The team is riding great this year. I am excited to see how they do at the Tour of Gila in a few weeks, a big goal for many riders on the team.
I know how difficult it is to travel and train for bike racing. I do it all the time and many of the athletes I coach are facing this challenge as well. There are several factors to consider:
• Illness and fatigue from the actual travel itself
• Time off the bike
• Stress it puts on your time with family and work before/after the trip
• Diet while travelling (this is really tough for myself heading to a complete different culture)
I’ll be headed to China in a few days. I am lucky, in that I can plan my travel and therefore plan my training accordingly. Some folks I have coached don’t even get that luxury. In my case, I obviously plan a rest week. I push pretty hard up to the travel date and then don’t stress too much when I can’t get on the bike. It actually becomes a good thing in a way. Too often cyclists don’t take recovery seriously and 5-7 days off the bike can be a good way to come back mentally and physically ready to go.
For the athletes that have to go at a moments notice, I create a serious of workouts that can be done travelling and the day before. Most of the time, these folks are gone for a few days and training can be sufficiently worked around it.
One of the biggest points to consider is the mental strain of travel. If a racer doesn’t trust that the plan will work with the travel and that he is going to loose major fitness, the mental anguish for a competitive cyclist is huge. I have had many a case of overtraining in racers because they return from the trip and try to make up for lost time. I have yet to see this actually work. The best situation is to plan for it. If that isn’t possible, trust that you won’t loose that much fitness in 1-2 weeks.
In later posts, I will include some alternative workouts for travelers that keep you in shape and also work on many of the weaknesses that cyclists have due to too much time ON the bike.
Bike racing takes a crazy amount of focus. It is one of the best things about racing for me. You get into the zone and there isn’t room for your other life issues, it is only about racing for that short period of time. If you can’t attain that type of focus, it is nearly impossible to do well. Last weekend in the Louisville Criterium, I showed up pretty distracted and couldn’t get into the race. I was relaxed and confident in my fitness (at about 85%), although this race is SUPER hard for me with a longish hill for a criterium. I have never done well there, but I have finished 17th-25th or so in the P12 field in the past. The race had over 80 riders and that also gave me some reassurance I could find good wheels to follow. There were several Pro teams represented with Bissell, Exergy, Jelly Belly, Garmin, and Wonderful Pistachios. I was in the middle of the race for the first couple of laps and the pace was high. But I felt pretty good about it and didn’t have any big worries yet. Hard, but not crazy hard. There was a surge up a side and I ended up further back that I would have liked after the 2nd lap. This is where the focus issue came up. Instead of hearing alarm bells in my head, I just figured it was early in the race and no big deal. I got stuck behind a couple of questionable riders and made an effort to stay clear of them. (Holes in a riders shorts this early into the season is always a sure sign your may want to find another wheel.) As the pace kept up on the climb I started having to come around riders getting gapped. Again, alarm bells were not going too big yet, although making up gaps on the headwind climb was pretty difficult. I felt around mid/back pack and was sure that I would have at least 10 guys come around me to bring me up if the gaps got crazy. Then the gaps got crazy and I had my teammate give me a pull up once. Next lap, no one is there. I was the LAST guy in the race. This is pretty rare for me and I was almost shocked. How the heck did I end up last and where is the rest of the race? I cracked. I just couldn’t keep making gaps at that pace on the climb. I got straight, cold dropped about ½ way into the race. (Afterwards, looking at results, it seems about 20 people got dropped in the first few laps of the race.) I chased around for a few laps just get a workout in and watched the rest of the race with my family. It was a sour feeling to see my teammates ride a great race and be in position to do well, but not be able to help out. They deserved support and I was not pleased that I wasn’t there for them. To keep things positive, I seem to have 1 or 2 races a year like this. Having this kind of wake up call in March can be a good thing. I know I’ll have my head in the game in the next race for sure.