"I'm a husband, father of two, and currently run my own business. Time is currently at a premium, so I needed a coach that could provide me with the most effect and efficient workouts.
I've been coached by Tony for a little over six months now and it's been great! He works with my busy schedule and curbs my negative attitude when I can't make workouts due to life. Tony really enjoys (or seems to) analyzing his client's data and does a very good job of explaining certain aspects of the data. My goals for this year are to race Cat 5 crits competitively. I also really enjoy long endurance bike events, such as gravel and mountain bike races.
I recently did the Landrun 100 and if it hadn't been for a mechanical issue at mile 73, I would have more than exceeded my expectations for this race. I felt solid while pushing a steady pace all day. I know for a fact that if I didn't have Tony in my corner I would have suffered at keeping the pace I did. I am really looking forward to the crit season to see how our hard work will pay off." - Anthony
Been a long time since I've had an update here, but that is kind of how the winter is = isn't it? We've got Daylight Saving that takes away our evening light, it gets cold, most racing/events are done and we all sorta retreat into our shells to work (or not work) on our fitness for the next year.
I actually really like that time of year, when you get more of an opportunity to just focus on "you". It does mean more time on the trainer, or solo endurance rides. Has more of a "training" feel to it then always "riding with my buddies." But even that needs to be broken after a while!
That's why it was a killer experience to be at our OKC Velo Elite road camp this past weekend in Russellville, AR. It's the first one I've been able to attend with this team, and while I know the guys who live in OKC, hadn't gotten much with with the AR, KS and MO guys. And even though half these guys are over 50, they are still full on Elite riders.
This weekend was different then the Bike Lab Camps I've run the past few years. Those camps were really heavy on the SPORT of cycling - echelons, pacelines, positioning, sprinting, training, tactics and more. But the Bike Lab Team is a development team for Cat 3s and down. Sole focus is to help people learn the sport and know how to progress upwards, if they want. But the guys on the JE Dunn team have been racing for 10-30+ years - if they weren't already familiar with those tactics they wouldn't be there.
Not that our rides didn't have elements that work on all those things - but it was in the "GROUP RIDE ZEN" kind of mode. That's what I call a good group ride with experienced people where they can sense the good places to let it hangout and have some fun, when to pull it back, when to work together, when to sprint for a city limit sign - a lot less instructions but having fun at the right times.
That is how the weekend went - each ride took on the character of the terrain and spirit of the group. We had good meals together, talked about the race schedule, shared little insights we were learning along the way in suiting up for another year of chasing after wins.
[As a note, if you, a group of friends or your team want help organzing a skill based weekend on the sport of Road Cycling or Cyclocross - thats something JoetoProCycling can help you with!]
I think the best summary of what I believe uses the bit of time a normal amatuer cyclist has to invest in their fitness was in the new Velonews Talk Fast podcast. In two parts they addressed what those of us with 6-12 hours a week can do to get fast.
Notice, I didn't say get fit. Building fitness is a part of getting fast - but it's not the end goal. There are a lot of reasons that the training culture has the standards it does for cycling. Obviously molded around the professional environment, as amateur we try to glean and adjust our work based on what the fastest in the world are doing.
But there are 3 essential differences in what Professionals have to prepare for in their events vs ours.
- Their events happen in a much greater ongoing successsion. It is standard for Professional cyclists to be able to race, day after day, for at least 7 days, at most 21. For an amateur we are mainly single day racers, at most 3 days in a row.
- Their events are at longer durations no less then 4 hours as much as 8. A majority of Professional racing is road races. At least in the US, the majority of racing is criteriums. Our Road races are at most 3-6 hrs at the Elite level. Most 60-90 minutes in criteriums.
- Professionals race at least 400-500% more then an Amatuer. Once they start racing, even if it's not a 7 day stage race, they are racing every weekend from February through dates in September.
Why peel these particular things out? The base FITNESS needed to be a professional is vast. Not just to do well in the events, but to keep doing wheel in event after event, race after race. If professional racing was all single day events it would change the training dynamic quite a bit.
The duration of their events also requires a much higher level of fitness before they get into speed work. I'm not saying 4-6 hours rides won't help an amateur cyclist. The physicological changes that happen on those rides help your fitness and racing ability in events of any duration. BUT if you don't ever have time for 6 hr rides it doesn't take away from your ability to go fast for Amateur events at any level.
That brings us full circle to the world of Amateur cycling. Where even guys going after national titles are looking at 12-16 hrs being a big week of training. Quality and Intetionality become the focus of your ride time. Even if it is "intentionally" having fun rides where you aren't staring at a power meter. There are plenty of formulas we all want to champion for training.
Here is the basic recipe I've used the past year:
For 3 Weeks:
- 1-3 days a week "Training Period" focused work. (Races/Events auto-matically count as 1 for each day).
- 2-3 days a week Aerobic Endurance
- 2 days a week Recovery
Then for 1 week:
- Monday - Thursday recovery rides
- Friday through Sunday Volume, ride how you feel days.
For the next 3-4 months that has my "training period" work being in Zone's 3 & 4. It's not an area you need to spend a lot of time in once you are racing a bunch, especially criteriums. But during this part of the year when you are trying to up the needle on fitness as much as you can afford - they are perfect.
The Oklahoma Cyclocross Season has been a blast - PERIOD. Some of the best courses, great racing, generous hosts, and noticeable improvement from the people coming out. This is the first time I've not traveled out of state for a race, mostly because it wasn't necessary. We had options the whole way through almost every weekend. If I had goals around Nationals (not yet, but future) then I'd considered hitting something big time up. But there is a really fine line in Cyclocross between motivation and progress vs burnout.
It's got to do with the intensity of the events, how gear hungry (and destructive) the races are, and the flurry of events all in a row that make it hard. Hard to stay motivated, hard to keep the right kinds of progress moving forward, hard to stay committed with your Roadie or MTB friends are all shifting gears. CX has a real loneliness factor to it, especially after the daylight saving change of schedules.
Anyways, that little rabbit trail was to say I think the schedule of events we've got in Oklahoma is a perfect balance of challenge, but with space to breath, to make it through a full season and have a good sense of satisfaction.
Now, there are two more weekends of racing in Texas for those still hungry for a couple more races. Resolution & Highlander Cups in Dallas and Waco the next two weekends. But Ruts and Guts was the endcap for my cx season this year.
Ruts and Guts was fantastic. Killer course, and top level pro's talking about how well it was run - even saying on their own it'd be a great Nationals Venue. How incredible would that be for Oklahoma to host the National's event!?! Anyways, the course was great. We got a little preview of it at the Flyers CX race earlier in the season. As with most of the OK cross courses this year you had to have a quality mix of Technical Skill & Fitness to race well. Ruts & Guts nails that on the nose. You can't go "full roadie" and do well there, but there are enough power drags that you've got to have more then handling ability to get a good result.
The start of the Men's Open (Cat 2/3/4) had 4 rows of racers with a good mix of Arkansas, Oklahoma and some Texas representing. I had a back row start since Sunday's staging is based off of Saturdays Results. But at the gun I was able to jump in the right line of riders and get up towards the top 8 or so.
How I rode, technically, in the next 2-3 laps I'd like to apologize to the guys that were around me, HAH!. We don't get a lot of practice racing with a big group in the local races and I was a hot mess. Sliding out in a corner, then botching the sand section twice in a row - I was either in the midst of bobbles, or creating my own which was costing precious seconds.
But laps 4 and on things calmed down as did lap times. I ended up with Chris Dakin and Cody Greenhaw for the mid section of the race. Both of those guys have been racing well and improving over the season so it was cool to be battling with them. The change in position and smaller gaps between us was ongoing - a great battle throughout the race. Eventually on the down hill sand section Dakin had a chain drop that put him 10 seconds or so off of Cody and I.
Cody and I's position was 8th/9th respectively through the 2 laps to go mark. But our battling was keeping our pace high and we could see the larger chase group of guys sitting 3rd-7th creeping closer. We were able to catch 2 of them as they bobbled in their own battle in the uphill sand. I rolled the dice and was able to get through clean past them on the right, with Cody getting caught up with them.
That gave me about 5-10 seconds on that group of three with 1.5 laps to go, and the group of 3rd-5th about 20 seconds ahead. From then it was just full gas which had me spending most of that lap with that upper chest nausea that's a good sign you are at your limit. Cody was able to break free from that smaller group and give chase and we were both in the pain cave that whole last lap.
I was able to hold a narrow margin that pushed all the way to the finish and hold on to 6th. I was happy with how the fitness felt, never felt I had to back down from going all in at the right moments. If I'd been a little more "chill" or comfortable with the first couple laps of pack riding I think I could have had a chance to hold onto that 3rd-7th group. Ray and the Mad Duck kid were riding on a level of their own - getting a 50 second lead on everyone else just a couple laps into the race.
It was a blast to have such an active, constant battle on such a challenging course for the last race in the CX season. Couldn't have asked for a better day!
Now it's onto a December of letting the intensity release a little and building that endurance volume back up in prep for the road season.
This past weekend was the finale of the Oklahoma Grand Prix Cyclocross Series. The TLC boys did an incredible job putting a fun, dogged, unique cyclocross race together for the local racing scene.
In fact, all the local races this year had their own unique-ness and approach. I've only been racing cross 6 years, but this year it felt like all the local Oklahoma courses had their own challenges, terrains, and a lot more technical aspects added in then in recent years. It was a physically and techincally challenging year!
Going into Sunday's Undercross, and looking at the Elite Men's standings, I wasn't going to hold off Mr Drummond for 2nd place - but only had to finish to seal in 3rd and a place on the overall podium. So, I decided to double up and do the 30+ Men's Race as well.
We rolled in waves with the 40+ first, then 30+, then Single Speed/50+ after. Chris was able to quickly jump up and get with Jake in the 40+ race. And the rest of us at the lead of the 30+ group (8 of us) were lined out and pretty close the whole first lap.
After we started getting lines dialed, and that first hero lap in, I was able to start consistnetly pulling away from a couple of guys that had come from Arkansas (THANKS for coming to OK cross). It was a 40 min race, and lap times were right at 7 minutes - so we only did 5 laps. I was close to a group of 3 at the head of the 40 race - Raton, Sammy and Chris Siemens forever. I could see Raton and Sammy 1-2ing Chris and getting seperation.
On the last lap I was able to roll up to Chris and we had an outright battle that had me turn my 2nd fastest lap! That was a blast to have an ending like that to the race. I ended up 2nd in the 30+ race, and Chris finished well enough to seal the overal win in the 40+ OKGP Series (congrats!)
Legs felt really good in the 30+ race so I was pretty optimistic for the 1/2 race. At the start, in tongue in cheek fashion, after we got to the 180 pavement turn around I zipped past Chris, Jake, Dylan and Ray into the course. But - honestly - I corner like shit compared to those guys. I was laughing as I went past and it didn't take until past the mid-field barrier/logs for them to easily be clear of me.
There is plenty of Skill work that needs to be addressed the next 12 months to be able to battle with those guys.
As I got a couple laps into the race it was clear that I didn't have the punch I needed in the few really steep uphill 180s to make a dent. Ryan, Pete, Raton and Cody were able to catch and pass. I was able to hunt down on Cody for a while until the last lap when I gave up the ghost. All of those guys continue to ride stronger and stronger.
But, I was able to finish the race, and enjoyed getting to step onto the Elite Men's Series final podium for the first time.
Have learned a lot in the skills area and training area *during* the season that I'm processing, and adjusting as I think about next year.
One CX race left on my schedule - the 2/3/4 race Sunday at Ruts and Guts. Then it's time for 2017 road focus.
Flyers CX was in Tulsa this past weekend. It was the Oklahoma Skill Based Championship - and the BRAOK has added in Cat 2 jerseys now, which is super rad. So, it gave me something to fight for!
A lot of people showed up to the race with tired legs after the Hurtland CX race on Saturday. There are a lot of very mixed reviews coming out of that event. Most said it's out of sync with cyclocross culture - not a positive experience for the racers themselves. One said the only thing done well was the lighting for races at night.
Its fun to see races that are veying for National attention here in Oklahoma though. We've got the original race that has forged that effort coming up the first weekend in December - Ruts and Guts by promoter Tanner Culbreath. That will be the end cap of my cx season. My goals have all been focused on staying local, trying to invest in those races, and have some success there.
The Cat 1/2 Race at Flyers had the typical local turnout. About 10-12 guys lining up. I definitely "get" why more racers who are Cat 2s choose to do other races like Single Speed or Masters - there is a better chance for a podium. But there is something about having access to the fastest race of the day - against the best that show up - that still motivates me.
Because Flyers is a OKGPCX series race, and I'm miraculously sitting in second, I have a front row call up againt some UCI level racers. It seems funny to me, even more so because I have a pretty solid start.
It's very easy as a Cat 2, againt guys like that, to just "give" them a line, a position, to yield from the very begining. I try to do the opposite, start as good as I can, and hold onto what ever position I can the longest.
I managed to be 3rd into the holeshot, ahead of Sklyar. Through the first sections of the lap I could feel him buzzing around behind me ready to be up with Chris and Dylan in the first sections. I held on as long as I could before he buzzed by me.
As things settled in the first lap I had a gap on Pete R, and Cody G. Both of those guys always get stronger and smoother as the race continues. Pete was riding very well on Sunday. He caught me on the second lap and then was able to create a gap and continue rolling away.
In your head it never goes that way. You think, "As soon as he catches, I'm going to dig super hard and stick to his wheel." But if they can catch when you are going on your limit, then they can drop you just the same.
Cody and I seemed deadlocked in a small 5-10 sec gap for a lot of the race. I think he had to pit a couple times because of a flat tire that saw that gap increase a little and solidify the last couple laps.
I ended up 7th on the day, 3rd of the Cat 2s (congrats Ray and Pete!). It was a fun course. Part of it brand new, so it needs to be ridden in quite a bit more, but it had big advantages for riding skill and fitness - which is always the line I think promoters try to strike in their course designs.
Looking at the power file for this race, and previous ones, continues to impress that as much as we focus on FTP fo success - it's really a bunch of 10-45 second max efforts over and over again. That VO2 max ability with high repeatability. The major difference between crits and cross is the pedaling style and cadence. Cross is low cadence, heavy torque (thus why everyone's low back hurts) vs crits is all high cadence and low torque - but a little more constant pedaling.
Excited for the last race in the OKGPCX series this weekend with TLC's Undercross. Then we've got a break for Thanksgiving and Ruts and Guts to end the local Oklahoma cyclocross calendar.