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!

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!

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.

The good the bad and the ugly of where I currently am and, to be completely frank, the season is heavy on the ugly with scattered rays of good.

The Ugly

I’m going to start with the ugly, because it has been a serious area of frustration for me and that is my DNF rate at races this season.  Of nine races, I’ve had mechanical issues in four of them.  In all but one of them, it has been an issue with my tubeless tires.  I am, at this point, blaming it specifically on my Specialized Tracer tires as I didn’t have this problem last year on Schwalbe tires.  In fact, last season I only DNF’d three races and all three were related to crashes.


For better or worse, I bought a set of Specialized mud tires, the Terra Pro, that I am going to mount.  At the very least, they will get me away from the Tracer’s, but it remains to be seen if this will fix my issue.  My hope is that the Terra’s are a crappy tire and that the burping issue isn’t something that all Specialized tires have.

The Bad

Overall, the title of “bad” might be a bit of an overstatement.  This area is probably better suited to stay “needs improvement”.  With that in mind, the biggest issues I have here are:

  1. TTE is too low for my given events (~33 minutes for a 40 minute race)\
    • Most noticeable at Schoolyard CX where I felt a noticeable drop in power on lap 4 and rebounded on lap 5
  2. I don’t have the horsepower to jam up short/steep climbs
    • I ride them at a high power, but it’s well within the bounds of FTP/V02 instead of in the high FRC range


Regarding TTE, I’m already on the right track, but this is one of those metrics that will be hard to move in season.  I’m doing extensive SST work, up to 45min intervals, which should slowly bring TTE in line with my goals.  For my second limiter, raw horsepower, I am going to replace FTP/FRC intervals with Tabata style intervals as they are scientifically show to increase power at and above V02, plus they are extremely cross specific.  This was recommended to me by Frank Overton of FasCat Coaching.

The Good

Believe it or not, there are good things too!  Mentally, I’m doing a great job of keeping up intensity when the race gets hard, although I still find myself braking too much when I get really fatigued.  In fact, I had the highest normalized power of the season at Schoolyard CX by over 20 watts.  I’m finding that concentrating on forced exhales when I am red lining to be really effective.  Additionally, even though skills are still not top notch, they are way better than last season and I can see these as being a strength in the next season!

That’s all for today, I think I’ve unpacked enough of my training baggage for now.  It’s time to put the plans into action and see if I can make a strong course correction for the second half of the season.

Today was my first “real” FTP test of the season.  I am defining it as real because my last one, on 1/28/2016, was more about feeling out where I was starting the season.  I wasn’t really sure how many watts I lost over my end of season break, so I did a bit of riding in the weeks previous and then took a shot in the dark, which turned out to be pretty close (245).  One setback to my previous test was that I didn’t know that Lefthand Canyon is actually closed during the day and will be for the next couple of months due to construction, so the interval itself was done in two parts with a tiny amount of rest between as I transferred from Lefthand Canyon Dr. to the back side of Lee Hill.

This brings me to today’s test.  Given the issues with Lefthand Canyon, I decided to head over to Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  It’s a climb I’m very familiar with and it’s one of the only options I have within a reasonable driving distance.  While an iconic climb of the area, it does have its issues, the biggest one being gradient.  This sucker is extremely steep for the first 8-10 minutes.  Average over the first 8:00 minutes was 7.7% with pitches into the double digits; the duration of the climb average ~6.5% with several steep switchbacks.  I was worried the steep grade would lead to an abnormally low cadence during my test and I was right.

While I can’t say for certain that the steep grade kept me from producing my best power, I doubt it helped.  Over the first 6 minutes, I only averaged 69 RPM with the remaining averaging a paltry 76 RPM.  As I suspected, I’m not quite ready for this best and I think I will try to head over to Lookout Mountain for my test next month, although it is a longer drive without as many parking options.

Overall, I’m pleased with the results of this test.  I managed to achieve my goal of gaining 10 watts on my FTP and, for that, I can rest easy.  However, I can’t help but think that, had I been able to maintain a sensible cadence, I could have held on to my average power at 10 minutes of 271 watts (giving me 4-5 watts on my FTP).  Next time, I’ll make sure that I am using a sensible climb for my FTP tests when Lefthand Canyon isn’t available.

FTP Test:
Duration: 20:01.33
Cadence: 74 RPM
Heart Rate: 179 BPM
Average Power: 268 Watts
Normalized Power: 268 Watts

SMART-goalsAs with anything you want to get better at in life, it helps to have clear, specific goals in mind.  The gold standard are S.M.A.R.T goals, so I’ll be expanding on them as time goes on, but I think I’m off to a good start!  I’ve broken them down into Physical Goals, things I want to achieve in training, and Racing Goals, things that I want to accomplish during my races.  I have also included a small list of “unofficial” goals, which are things I would like to do both on and off the bike.  These goals probably won’t directly lead me to winning races, but are things that I should know how to do.

Physical Goals

  • Increase FTP to 280 watts by season opening
  • Begin and maintain a strength training program until build phase (June/July)
  • Do light recovery runs once a week until June

Racing Goals

  • Upgrade to Cat 3
  • Be ranked within the top 10% by season end in my category
  • Win a race
  • No DNFs with the exception of mechanicals

In addition to my official goals, I would also like to learn to bunny hop sets of barriers.  This is an extremely high risk/high reward maneuver, but I think that in ideal scenarios, where the barriers have a nice run up and are on flat terrain, (ex. Feedback Cup, Regional Championship), it will be worth it.  At the very least, I would like to have the option.  Hopping barriers isn’t necessarily a key to winning races so I don’t want to make it an official goal.  There are a lot of pros that don’t bunny hop, so it clearly isn’t a necessity.

A final addition to my non official goals is to learn to do most, if not all, of my own mechanical work.  I spend far too much time riding on equipment that isn’t properly tuned or trying to get my bike to a shop that it’s time to learn to do it myself.  I plan to go out and buy a stand either this month or next and begin the process.  There are a few tools I will need as well, so I included them along with the items I most want to learn how to do.

Repair List (In Order of Importance):

  • Adjust Derailleurs (Repair Stand: $150)
  • Rebuild Pedals (Torque Wrench: $70-$100)
  • Replace derailleur cables (Cable Snips: $25)
  • True Wheels (Truing Stand and Spoke Wrenches: $100 + $20)

My first season of cyclocross is in the books and I can safely say that my first foray into the mud has been a resounding success.  Not only did I accomplish all of my goals for the season, but I had a truck load of fun and am definitely hooked on cross.  In fact, despite being incredibly sick the final two weeks of the season and only getting a few rides in, I managed my best result at the State Championships.

I did struggle early season with the mental side of racing.  In the first five races I did, I had three DNFs.  In the interest of fairness, one of those was from a gnarly crash on an off camber turn, but the other two were from a lack of mental toughness.  In search of tools, I read Matt Fitzgerald’s new book “How Bad Do You Want It”, which gave me some things to think about.  The biggest of which was going into the race knowing that it will be incredibly difficult and breaking up the courses into manageable section where I could plan my efforts.  This is something I will have to continue working on, but I’m on the right track.  My only relapse was during the State Championship, but I persevered and had my best result of the season.

The adaptation that I am most proud of during the season was the change of pedals.  After two quasi-muddy races it was apparent that my Shimano XTs were not hacking it.  I was struggling to clip in after a couple of dismounts and was becoming increasingly frusterated, so I moved to Crank Brother’s Candies.  This was a great decision and I wish I had done it sooner.  The platform is as stable as the XTs, but the mud clearance is far superior.  My only complaint is that the pedals disengage a little too quickly, but I managed to work around it as the season progressed.  Also, if the cleats are flipped, you get an extra five degrees of float, which might be worth investigating.

Race Review (time differential):

Race Date Top 20 Top 10
BRAC CX State Championships 12/20  n/a  3:13
Rocky Mountain Regional Championships 12/5  0:59  3:30
Cyclo X – Sienna Lake 11/14  0:41  1:53
Cyclo X – Interlocken 11/7 1:33 2:14
Feedback Cup 11/1 1:16 2:58
Cyclo X – Flatirons 10/25 1:12 2:34
US Open (Day 2) 10/18 4:50 6:17
Cross of the North 10/11 3:36 5:10
SOCO – Rhyolite 9/13 2:38 4:54

Progress throughout the season was steady and consistent leading into the final races of the season where I actually cracked the top 20.  As one would expect, when we got to the championship events at the end of the season we see some sandbagging, which shows itself in the increasing differential between myself and the top 20.  Overall, I’m super happy with how the season played out and I can’t wait to start drilling it in the off season.  I plan to hit the ground running at the season openers next September!

It has been almost two full weeks since my last race and will be another one until I make a final run at the season.  Despite having opportunities to race, I decided to pull the plug for a few weeks in order to rebuild my form ahead of the regional and state championship races.  I have and will continue to spent nearly all of my time at FTP and SST in order to hopefully generate a few more watts.  I’ve discovered over the past several races that what is holding me back is sustainable power and the ability to ride and recover at or slightly below FTP.  Will this short rebuild work?  I don’t know, but I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut at the moment and had to change things up before the season ended.

50-7892-BLK-ANGLEI’ve made another change that will hopefully garner some results, changing pedals.  For the last three races I’ve had problems clipping in during the later portions of the race because my current pedals (Shimano XTs) keep filling with debris.  In fact, during Sienna Lake I went nearly a quarter of a lap over bumpy terrain without being clipped in, which I feel cost me a top 20 finsh.  As such, I have purchased a set of Crank Brothers Candy 3 pedals, which, thus far, are really nice.  I like the size of the platform and the 4x entry makes them easy to clip in to.  I’m still not as solid clipping in quickly as I am with the XTs, but I’m comfortable enough to finish my season on them.  The only thing I don’t know yet is how good the mud clearance is.  Fundamentally, there is a lot more open space in the pedal body, so I would think the mud clearance would be fantastic.  We haven’t had any since my last race, so this isn’t something I have been able to test.

Back to training.  I still have a nagging goal of getting a top 20 finish and only two very difficult races left to accomplish it.