New Kicks

This week, I am regrettably retiring my 2.5 year old Mavic Avenir shoes.  These shoes have taken me somewhere between 10-12,000 miles.  I couldn’t be asked to track it.  They took me up climbs along the Ironman Kona route and god knows how many times along Park Heights Avenue.  They survived multiple crashes and so much more wear and tear.

This season I’ve found out something really amazing about this sport that swimming just doesn’t have.  You get really attached to your gear after so many miles and countless hours using it.  In doing so, you gain almost a respect for the gear that you don every day for the training ride as you discover your limits with it and learn its kinks.  I almost sold my bike earlier this summer because it was being so temperamental but I couldn’t because I know it too well.  In swimming, you would use a set of jammers for a year then usually throw a couple out because they were worn and get a couple new ones.  I didn’t remember which one was getting too saggy or loose, they were all just jammers.

So, I was torn to discover that my shoes developed a good sized hole in them (pun pun pun).  Adding gorilla tape did nothing, as I tore right through that.  They were telling me that retirement was near.


Gorilla Tape is my bitch

Probably the best part about being a collegiate cyclist (aside from the travel, racing, people and food) are the benefits you get with an account on Promotive.  One of these is at Pearl Izumi and I found a sweet deal on these babies:



I never knew road shoes could fit this well until now

I never knew road shoes could fit this well until now

I will break them in for the next few days and be ready for the Tour of Hampton Roads this weekend.  Going to stay with my buddy Trevor down in Richmond.

The case for running or for high intensity?

Considering the amount of riding that I do, I’m always looking for ways to improve the time I spend in the saddle.  Earlier this summer, I found that I would need to start doing a lot more intensity if I wanted to continue improving.  So, I started doing the Worlds ride in northern Baltimore more often and I think I’ve been able to improve a little bit even if I don’t have the results to back it up.

Now in my internet trawls, I have found a study published last month which reports that adding running into a training regiment can have a huge benefit to cycling performance.  The gist of the study is that a Norwegian pro (who chose not to be named) replaced a good amount of his base training volume with high-intensity running for a season.  Compared with his previous season, “his VO2 max increased by 10.3 percent and his time trial performance was lifted by a remarkable 14.9 percent.”  That is a huge difference, equivalent to going from a 60 minute 40k to a 51 minute 40k.

Read the rest of the article here, I’m gonna try to find the direct link to the paper.

Edited: Original Paper

One of the commonly used anecdotes in cycling is that Lance started out as a triathlete when he was a teenager and even before he started doping, he was head and shoulders above the people he competed with in several cases.  When he wasn’t he was usually with the best.

Doing a little more trawling led me to this article on Breaking Muscle which talks about why running is the universal exercise.  The author, Andrew Read, discusses how humans are evolved to become great runners and that because of that, running is the best overall way to improve fitness.

While that could absolutely be true, the study seems like it really shows the effectiveness of high intensity training as opposed to simple volume.  The idea is that in Norway, winter training is impossible on the bike a good amount of the time and most riders hate being stuck inside on the trainer.  So, this particular rider turned to running as a form of cross-training and saw some huge gains.

Tryna mess wit mah cru?

Because this rider has chosen to remain anonymous, we have no way of knowing if this training had a big effect on his results.  This leaves us wondering whether they were able to effectively peak for target events and then perform during a competitive season.

So, does this study show that we should run more or that we should be doing Z4 training all winter?

A broken Spokes’ broken spoke

So as you might be able to guess by the title, I didn’t have a great race at Fort Ritchie today despite the course being entirely flat and us having beautiful weather.  The drive took about an hour and 10 minutes when at one point on my route, I was driving behind another car who was going above the speed limit, but not enough for my impatient 6:30 mind.  So, I arrived at the course though I didn’t realize it because no one was there and the freaked out because I thought that I had to get through to a part of the town that was fenced off but then had it explained to me the that registration was not 100 yards from where I was freaking out about being lost.  duh

While being registered, I heard a great quote from someone working one of the tables, “category 4 is the only categorized race today, aka the only one that makes money.”  Which I found to be amusing because no one forced AVC to take age graded champs, but I digress.  After that, I tried to get my bike on the trainer, failed and relegated myself to warming up on the course while intermittently stopping to go to the bathroom (not that easy in a skinsuit)  Have I mentioned how much water I’ve been drinking at races since my cramping problems started?  I drank a 2 liter of water and 24 oz. of skratch on the drive up plus another small water during my warmup.  Needless to say, I had to go really badly.

So, after a few tempo laps with some sprints thrown in for good measure, I go to line up and who of all people shows up but Zach, my teammate at UMD.  I got a little bit worried because Zach was known to launch attacks on C fields all season and basically destroy everyone and I wasn’t sure I could stack up.  So, we got started with a field of 40ish and I sprinted around a few slow clip-ins to sit myself in the top 10.  After sitting there for a while, an RCV rider attacked and got a small gap but went nowhere.  Coming around an off-camber, downhill turn which happened to feature a bump which was basically a transition from driveway onto road, my spoke snapped and the ping radiated through the pack.  I raised my hand to indicate stopping and after cursory inspection, I knew that I was done.  I could have pulled out the spoke and opened my brake but I didn’t want to risk going through those corners with a hop in the rim.



After walking back and watching the finish, I did some socializing and I realized just how many friends you can make in the region.  I spent a good hour talking to people, some I already knew and some I met.  OOH, and I met Collin M. of MABRA gopro fame, hope he has some good footage from his cyclocross excursion (see below for details).

As I was leaving, the car that I had passed on the way up there was leaving at the same time and I kinda hid my face so that he didn’t say anything.  Still an awkward teenager, at least partly.


Bike Racing: The Resurrection 2: Electric Bugaloo

So, I crashed at the Duke race weekend at the end of March and it was not fun.  I don’t know exactly what happened but a Navy rider and I went down.  Both of us got road rash, me all down my left leg and knees and elbows.  In addition to that, my shoulder was sprained badly enough that I could barely lift it for 4 days.  After an MRI and a month of physical therapy, I was able to return to racing a the Turkey Hill Country Classic where I continued to have the cramping problems that have plagued me for the entire season.  After that, I decided that I needed to find a good drink mix that I could rely on.  So, after a bit of research on various commercial and homemade recipes, I finally settled on ordering a couple bags of Skratch.

Good stuff

Now let me tell you how awesome this stuff is, I have been using a half scoop in each bottle and have had almost no problems with cramping when I drink it.

So anyway, races since my recovery:

Navy Weekend/ Conference Championships were a lot of fun, the road race was beautiful but I had problems with cramping on the 5th lap and was unable to finish.  Events of note: Two of the women’s A riders breaking away and all of the Navy and Duke women’s teams breaking the yellow line rule to follow them and getting relegated.  Admittedly, we were going incredibly slowly and not really trying.  The crit was on the Dawg Days circuit, my race was entirely uneventful, Eric was doing really well and was almost in the break when someone hit his derailleur and completely bent the hanger.  Zach won the individual omnium for Men’s C, which was awesome.

Stealing VCU’s stuff

Turkey Hill Country Classic is a race that I have wanted to do since I heard that they have a bunch of free Turkey hill products for race participants.  What I didn’t hear about was the massive crash in the 3/4 race last year.  Regardless, I was dropped on the 3rd lap up one of the climbs and decided to continue on anyway because you don’t get beautiful closed course riding in Prince George’s County.  Gamber was hard, yada yada but the last time around the course, I saw all of the ambulances and heard about the massive pile-up on the finishing sprint.  Jacob, my friend who had driven me up there, was involved in the crash and had messed up his right elbow which was a problem but we managed to overcome.

The Gamber Roar.

Kelly Cup is a race that I really like because I can take advantage of my strengths in weight and technical skill.  I signed up for the 4/5 and 3/4 this year which was great because I didn’t have to get down there until 10ish.  So, I rode down and watched the Juniors and kind of just messed around, doing some sprints on a side road to warm up.  The 4/5 race was the typical formula of not serious enough breaks until 4 to go when everything pretty much fell off and it was clear that a field sprint was inevitable.  I rolled up next to John Wertz, who was still in the field with me, and asked if he had a sprint left.  He responded in the affirmative so I prepared for a lead-out which involved going from right after the downhill turn all the way across the straightaway and to just before the final turn when I had to pull off.  I wish I had made it all the way to the turn because when I rolled across the line, Aaron told me that John managed second after an NCVC guy got around.  Oh well.  So, I messed around a bit more until the 3/4 start, where a break including Anthony (thank god) got away and I hung on until the end.  I told myself that I wanted to be in the field in case Anthony needed a lead-out when they caught us.  In reality, I got the offer to break away and I was just far too lazy.


So, onto the summer season.  I am excited.

Spokes out.

UNC Weekend Part 2

I felt a little bit more apprehensive waking up for the sunday race than the road race saturday.  Chalk that one up to being nervous about crashing and not having done a crit since…August.  Anyway, after replicating the seal noises from the video a few times, we got our breakfast from Starbucks and rolled on down to Chapel Hill.  After our exploration the previous night, we found that this area was much nicer than College Park (not that high of a bar) and were very happy to be having a race in the area.  So, we parked, chatted with the few teams who were there at the time and rolled through a lap of the course.  It’s a fast .6 mile loop with two chicanes and a turn about 200 m from the finish.

I went back to the car to warm up and with the steam rising off my body, began to get a feel of how my legs would be that day.  There are those days that you just know you can get out there and kill everyone and I could tell that I wasn’t quite there but I was close.  There is a certain feel that you get in your legs when I know that I will be in a higher or lower placing.  I can’t feel when I will win because that’s mostly about energy conservation and positioning coming into the sprint.

After going to the S/F, running back to the car to get my sunglasses, realizing that it was locked, sprinting back to the S/F and stealing Ben’s sunglasses, I lined up behind the Chapel Hill riders.  I was only two or so rows back, so I had enough mobility when the start whistle went off but I would have liked to be farther ahead.  Taking a spot in the sat in, I got active with pulls and a couple breakaways but nothing stuck.  I can’t remember the full details because it was too short of a race to have any distinguishing moments so I’ll just put the video link under this.

After our race, the weather turned straight up gorgeous. Watching the rest of the races in 65-70 degree weather is the highlight of my winter. A winter might I add that has been uncharacteristically snowy in Maryland. After Eric’s A race, we went to five guys across the street and basked in the sun as we ate some more fantastic burgers.
The drive back was very entertaining for the last half. In Virginia, Morgan started to play with Eric’s navigation app which has some extra features on it. For example, you can tag on the road where there are cops or other obstructions. We saw a deer on the side of the road with only two legs showing so Morgan labeled it as a kangaroo on the side of the road. We then made good sport of taking pictures of cops and labeling them on the road. Getting into traffic near Fredericksburg, Ben and I began looking around on craigslist for a vehicle suitable for our team’s level of badassery. Here is a dialog I had with one of the sellers of a $2000 bus over email.
Me: Hello, I would like to make an offer of $60 on your 1997 bus
Seller: 60…dollars
Me: Now that we have a price nailed down, would you like dolla dolla bills or quarters?
Seller: What are u talkin about
Me: Great, I look forward to making our transaction tomorrow. Where would you like to meet?
Seller: What deal????
Seller: give me your number than
Me: I thought we settled on 60
Seller: What are I.talkin about.
Me: I don’t speak japanese but do we have a deal?
And then they stopped responding. Guess they were hoping to get a little bit more money for the bus.

So for this weekend we will be headed to Stevens Institute of Technology for their Duck Country weekend. In addition, I have upgraded to Collegiate B category and will be competing at that level to earn points for my Category 3 upgrade. I’m super excited to get up to higher levels so I’m on the journey to Category 1.