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!

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.