My journey to cross country nationals got a little more complicated a few weeks ago. I broke my frame.

I was doing an easy ride around the Marshal Mesa trail network in Louisville/Boulder and, while on a smooth section of trail, my seat post just dropped all the way and my butt suddenly came in contact with the rear tire. After what I’m sure was a spectacular crash/save, I picked myself up off the ground to find that my seat post had actually gone through the back of the seat tube, leave a roughly 1 square inch cutout.

I managed to put the post back in the frame and basically road a large kids bike 8 miles home. My knees were not happy about this, but it’s a pretty easy road ride back to Broomfield.

Since then, I have contact Specialized, who will not help because I am the second owner and several carbon repair places, who can not fix the frame due to where the break is located. I appear to have limited options. I plan on again contacting Specialized and hope to plead my case to a higher authority as well as continue to engage carbon repair shops to see what can be done. In the end, I may have to find a way to buy a new bike, but I’ve got several months until I need to make that decision.

I’m devastated, but undeterred. One way or another I will get this sorted and be ready for the “real” mountain bike training to start early next year. For the time being, I’ll focus primarily on base fitness and some skills work on my cross bike.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

In previous entries, I have talked about moving to the world of XTERRA triathlons, which is something I will likely still do at some point, but the world has presented me an opportunity. The national cross country championships will be help 90 minutes from my house in Winter Park, CO. I can’t help, but feel this is a sign from the universe that I need to refocus on XC racing (which I love).

As such, I have identified a tentative new race calendar and made modifications in my life to allow me to get some big volume leading up to the big day. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip by and, while I might not win, I’m going to give those guys a hell of a run for their money. I’m still working out some details, but I’ll hopefully be ready to publish my calendar as well as season goals in the coming week or so. 

Time to go shred some trails!

I’ve started a new journey, triathlon, and now that I have almost two weeks worth of training, I have some thoughts on how this journey is going to go.

Overall, my training has been super light and my numbers reflect this. I have only done 5 runs, 2 bikes and 5 strength sessions in the last 10 days. My goal for this is to start slow, very slow. When I was initially training for XTERRA Lory last year, in an effort to get fast quickly, I ramped my volume up too fast and ended up having some issues. Specifically, I had issue in my knees and joints from ramping both volume and intensity on the run too quickly. I’m not making that mistakes this time and, so far, it’s going better.

However, I am running into some issues in my shoulder and shoulder blades when running. I get really bad cramps in my upper shoulders and pain in my shoulder blades that has been lasting multiple days. After some initial research, it seems to be something called “Scapular Wing”, which is basically a muscle weakness in the shoulder blade itself and can be easily corrected with a combination of stretching and strength training. I am going to be keeping n eye out on it and possibly see a physical therapist about it though. If it’s not basically gone in two weeks, I’ll go see someone about it.

Beyond that, I have hardly touched my bike, but am slowly ramping volume there as well. I suspect I’ll be back up to 5-7 hours of riding a week in the coming month and will be mostly focused on sweet spot efforts to gain fitness back quickly. I will be waiting to get back into the pool until after the first of the year as I took to swimming really fast last year and ended up swimming consistent 1:22 per 100 in the pool and would likely have been a little faster in open water with a wetsuit. By age group standards, that basically front pack, so I don’t see a need to do much swimming at this time.

Lastly, I have an initial race calendar put together than comprises 1 sprint triathlon and 5 XTERRA races, but I will wait to announce that until I have solid 2019 dates for those races. I made assumptions on their dates based on previous years, which is general safe, but occasionally races will change weekends or be cancelled all together.  

Until next time!

Over the years I’ve raced and ridden just about everything that a bike racer could do. From road to cyclocross, all the way to cross country mountain biking and it has been a blast. However, since becoming a father, I miss a lot of workouts and racing opportunities due to the one dimensional training patterns of cycling. I’ve tried several unconventional scheduling patterns, but there are always tradeoffs and I’m no longer will to make those kinds of sacrifices anymore. Due to the complicated nature of schedule training and bike racing with family/work life, I feel it’s time to make a change, so that I can actually reach my athletic potential.

With that in mind, I plan to make the switch for the 2019 season to triathlon, specifically XTERRA triathlons. Why XTERRA? Two reasons:

  1. Some of the most fun I have had training and racing has been on a mountain bike. There’s something so freeing about getting out on the trails and blasting through nature that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Honestly, it becomes an almost spiritual experience.
  2. I don’t actually own a triathlon bike! An old teammate has graciously lent me and old Felt B16, so I will be taking advantage of it as long as I can, but I will have to return it at the end of next season. I also currently don’t have plans to fund the purchase of a tri bike, although I’ll certainly try.

I thought about doing strictly endurance mountain bike racing, but decided against it. At this point, super longer races aren’t something I’m interested in, although, as I get older, it’s becoming more appealing. I much prefer shorter, intense racing, which XTERRA should bring in spades.

On the logistics side, I will do my best to bring back at least monthly updates to my training as well as race reports after each race (schedule TBD). Hopefully they’ll be full of breakthroughs and successes!

Until next time, when I’ll hopefully have a race schedule to report on, maybe some initial swim/run impressions and a new blog title to commemorate my new sporting direction!

I’m pretty short on time today, so I’m going to just dump my notes in here.

Things I Forgot:

  • HR monitor
  • Repair stand

Prerace Thoughts:

  • Tighten removable bottle cage or get rid of it; the mount kept spinning when I was trying to remove the cage.
  • Wake up 15 minutes earlier to eat breakfast earlier:
    • two hard boiled eggs
    • banana

Things I Need to Buy:

  • Rocky Mount thru axle adapter
    • For spare bike
  • Chain guide

Post Race Thoughts:

  • Might want to switch to dry chain lube because everything sticks to the drivetrain when the grass gets wet
    Consider switching to different pedals. The sand started to clog up my pedals and make it hard to clip in, but it wasn’t a deal breaker this time
  • Given how wet the grass was, should have gone down to 25-26 PSI, but I was too nervous to do it since I didn’t have my low pressure gauge
  • Cornering skills were much improved, but I did begin braking a bit too much especially when tired, but overall excellent progress
  • Dismounts into sand pit and running form were excellent. Definitely made up time there, but often lost it during the remount
  • My result definitely doesn’t tell the whole story, because I lost ~9 spots and a lot of time when I slid out on the down hill off camber. Before that, I think I was slowly catching the guy in from of me.
  • I think I lost most of my time in the power sections, but was catching people in the more technical parts, which is a nice change of pace.
  • The 40 tooth chainring might have been a little large for my current fitness; I should consider a 38.
  • My breakfast seemed to settle nicely
  • Drive train made some weird sounds after going through the sand; something might be rubbing, but hopefully the chain guide/new chain/new cassette will take care of that

Action Items for Future Races:

  • Pass slower riders immediately. Do not wait for a “good” pass because you will lose too much time. A bad pass will be faster in the long run
  • Really push through the middle laps to keep times down. It’s easy to lose focus in the intermediary laps, but you have to stay focused.

Result: 23/43 (15-18 without the slip up in the second lap)

Form is in a good spot
Lap times got faster over the course of the race

Racing on a mountain bike blows
Bike weight made a HUGE difference on the run ups
Made too many mistakes on lap 3 (and the whole race in general)

Action Items:
Need to reverse tread direction
More skills practice in the coming weeks

Mid Season Update

I haven’t posted in an extremely long time and it’s mostly because I have a hard time finding the time to write decent posts. With this in mind, I’m going to post more frequently, but it’s going to be more bullet points without so much fluff.

Now that my season is about half over, it’s time to take a few minutes to jot down the lessons I’ve learned so far, so I can apply them to the second half. My second half is the most important since it is predominately about doing well in cyclocross.  In no particular order:

  • I need to peak and race immediately after second build phase! This is actually a trend I’ve noticed for some time. If I don’t start racing immediately after undertaking a second build phase, then I quickly lose the motivation to train and will lose a lot of fitness by the time that I need to actually start racing. This isn’t all bad though.  Since I carry such a low CTL, between 40 and 60, I can’t actually hold a peak for very long anyway, so this might actually be my body’s way of telling me to get the engine revving and to stop messing around!
  • Due to life (work, kids, family, etc.), I need to restructure my training weeks so that I am both consistently hitting my training goals whilst not burning out.  As such, I have started to experiment with doing my medium length, medium intensity rides on Tuesdays and my long ride on Thursdays with an indoor/outdoor ride option for the weekends. I’ve missed so many weekend training sessioins that I know I’m significantly behind where I could be and need to make some changes.
  • Given how I’ve felt since stopping my strength and core routine, I need to keep the strength portion going through base and stop at the beginning of build, but keep my core work going once or twice a week all the way through build. I feel way less comfortable on the bike and feel like I’m pushing less power than I could be if I was stronger.

Only two weeks until the State Championship XC Race, so hopefully I’ve have some good news to report in a couple of weeks!

It’s time to set new goals for 2017! This year, I’m going to try something old and something new: higher volume and having two peaks in the season.  One of the biggest things I noticed when I was racing in college was that even if I wasn’t getting a ton of intensity in or if I was sick, having the extra volume seemed to buffer my fitness and allow me to have a lot of extra gas in the tank as the year progressed.  For this reason, I’m looking to shed some of the intensity I did this year in favor of volume.  However, this won’t just be mindless riding, I’ll include plenty of tempo intervals with some neuromuscular efforts.

Physical Goals:

  • Increase TTE to 50:00
  • Raise mFTP to 300w (season high: 273)
  • Raise 1min power to 700w (season high: 568)
  • Gain/Maintain a weight of ~150lbs (currently: 144.6 lbs)
    • Gained through strength training
    • Mostly an experiment since most great cross and XCO racers carry a higher weight for raw increased power
    • It’s OK if I’m a little below this as long as I’m not carrying loads of dead weight (low body fat)
  • Body fat less than 10% by “A” mountain events
    • I would like to use a DEXA scan, but the cost might require me to continue to use my scale
  • Raise CTL to between 75-85 by “A” mountain events and rebuild that for the cyclocross season.

Misc. Goals (Nebulous):

Normaly you don’t want goals that are nebulous, but some of the skills I need are nebulous (such as comfort offroad)

Skills that Make a Better Race

  • Learn to bunny hop barriers
  • Need to include a few minutes of skill work during endurance rides
    • Doesn’t need to be super structured
  • Need to include more neuromuscular work to reduce co-activation of muscles during the pedal stroke
    • High cadence intervals (120+)
    • Cadence Pyramids

Do more offroad riding on my cross bike

  • Dirt roads and mountain bike trails count
  • Generally looking for more comfort than anything specific

Racing Goals:

  • In the road/mountain events, finish in the main field
    • Need goals to keep motivation high and to avoid just doing continual base
    • High placing is a bonus, but these events are for fitness, motivation and skills
  • Upgrade to Cat 3
    • Missed this goal by a wide margin last year; I won’t make the same mistakes again
    • I believe if I hit my physical goals, this will fall in line
    • However, I also will try to target smaller races to follow the path of least resistance

With lofty goals set, I want to go over some equipment changes that I want to make. This year was mired with technical issues. Desipite feeling good physically, I DNF’d 60% of my races due to issues with Specialized’s tubeless tire lineup.

Equipment Change List:

  • Acquire Tubular Wheelset
    • Hopefully I can afford two: one for mud and one for all around
    • Likely will go 35mm for increased stability since UCI rules don’t apply to me yet
      • Will have to change that if I qualify for Nationals or race in the open field
    • If I have to stay on tubeless, will need to experiment a lot with tires, so I don’t have the same problems of tires burping during hard cornering
  • Get a bike stand
    • This was supposed to be done earlier this year, but wasn’t due to finances
    • Life would be easier if doing my own repairs was easier

Overall, this season was a bit of a bust.  I only won one race (mountain bike), had one top 10 (cyclocross), several top 20s and a truck load of DNFs, mostly due to mechanical issues. When I was racing and not having mechanical issues, I could feel see the results starting to come in, but, the mechanical issues were so prevalent that it made progress hard to come by.

While results were slowly trickling in, I still had several issues when racing that limited my ability to beat the better guys in my category and they fall in to two categories:

  1. I lacked raw power when riding up extremely steep climbs
  2. I lacked repeatability on efforts above V02 (especially prevalent late in the race)

If I can correct these things, I think the next season will be even better.

On the training side of things, progress was amazing up until the July/August timeframe.  I was predicting that I had an FTP of around 290, took a week off to go to the mountains (did a bit of mountain biking) and, when I came back, I had lost significant power and had a serious lack of energy.  I went to the doctor and had tons of blood work done, but didn’t come up with any results.  I did regain some of that lost ground, but didn’t recover near all of it due to how close to the season I was.  Overall, I think my fitness during the season was OK, but definitely lacking.

Lastly, while my technical skills were above average for my category, I think I need to up my again.  To do that, I am going to add more mountain bike racing to my early season.

After thinking long and hard about it, I have decided to end my 2016 cross season. I’ve had far too many mechanical issues without the ability to do anything about them to continue going to races knowing that I will likely DNF. I’m going to recharge for another week or so and then move into preparing for 2017.  I’ve got several more mountain bike events and possibly a couple of road events planned, so the extra time in the base phase will help me better prepare for them.  Tentatively, I have the following events planned for the first half of 2017:

  • USAF Road Race (Late March)
  • Buff Gold Road Race (Early April)
  • The Original (Half ) Growler or Koppenburg Circuit Race (May 27th)
  • Firebird XC (Early June)
  • GoPro Mountain Game (June 10th)

After I finish my plan for the upcoming season, I’ll post a bit about how I am going to execute on that plan. I’ll likely also do a post or two analyzing this past season to find limiters that I will address in my annual plan.