Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Topping out on Everest (Challenge)

A little report from the ladies in CA about the two day Everest Challenge

"The conditions were rough - altitude was tough, temperatures were all over the place - we'd start at 40 and end the day at close to 100.  First day was mega - I had a hard time getting fluids in to begin coz of temp and the heights we were getting to and then paid for it big time at around mile 95 - cramps in leg muscles that I didn't know I had.  We'd planned to stick together for the first two climbs - and once we'd experienced the descents and realized that to be truely competitive we needed to practice descending on longer climbs than 2miles we decided to enjoy the experience rather than kill ourselves.  So - Rach was really strong on the last climb - all 20odd miles of it - it went on and on and on.  Really steep at the last mile or two .....but we  made it and man what a view when we got up there. Then of course we had to come down - it's amazing how far we climbed and I'm sure we shall be in forever shock that we made it up there.

day 2 - two 8 mile climbs - stepper than yesterday and we were awesome - reeling folk in and really strong - you'd have been proud - of course we then took breaks and long ones sometimes at the top to rehydrate and eat as didn't want the day 1's experience to happen again.  Rach had a slight melt down at climb 2 but then realized we only had one more climb to do.  But what a f'ing climb it was.  Up, up and away - 10,000feet  switchback, black top in the canyon and hot as heck, then more switchbacks that were mega steep - this time it was my time to encourage Rach - we were tough !!! We crossed the line together, attached at the hip the whole way !

Thanks to you Coach - we made it, survived it and felt really proud of ourselves coming from the east coast with no idea of what we were getting ourselves into .

What's next ?  Off season right ?  Let me know what you're thinking - guess I need to come up with some  goals.

Gotta work this sat so no mtb clinic for me but sounds like fun - will definitely be up for the training camps - April for sure will have to swing feb  but know it would be an awesome training week especially if I want to start of with Battenkill next year."

Thanks Ruthie for the quick wrap up and congrats to you and Rach for conquering Everest and making it through a long season to meet this goal.  What a crazy challenge (and one that I might have to try myself in the future as it sounds pretty awesome)  Yes, off season...but maybe Iron Cross first if we can find her a bike!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend Update 9.26

What a weekend.  Derek took a hell of a swing at Tri Nationals, Hebe swam and biked a long long way, Ruth and Rach climbed and climbed and climbed and Eric, Ken and Ed got dirty at Whirlybird.

Lots and lots of action this past weekend for my peeps.  Mike Hebe is well on track to his IM with a strong second place at last weekend's swim-bike IM distance and a stellar bike split. We have a handful of weeks left until Mike heads south for Cozumel and meshes some sun and sand with a bunch of swimming, riding and running.  He is on track for a great performance and we'll be using these last weeks to hone that form.

Derek took 3rd U23 at Tri Nats and did so with far less than ideal preparation with an injury just two weeks, but more importantly on the back of as demanding a military training school as exists anywhere at EOD school in FL.  Derek has basically put his training on hold as he finishes that training - which is not just time consuming but physically exhausting - and went as hard as he could at Nats.  He did great.  It is really frustrating for an athlete to be in a situation where training conditions are far less than ideal and to come out of that situation with a podium finish at Nats.  Nice work D.

'Cross racing is in full swing and more of the boys are jumping in, but learning some lessons about equipment prep.  Ed and Ken got roughed up by the bikes with both succumbing to wheel/tire issues while Eric battled it out with an eye on using the race as a hard training ride for Iron Cross coming up on 10/10/10.  IC prep will be the focus of one of the updates this week.

Ruthie and Rach climbed those 30,000 feet over two days out in CA.  More on that later as they are both still out in CA just kicking back and enjoying some well earned time off the bike. 

This weekend yours truly is leading a little MTB clinic at the nearby Jordan Park for a few riders pretty new to mountain biking.  We'll be working on the basics like steep climbs, descents, turning, riding small obstacles, etc. with the goal of making everyone more confident and faster by the end of the day. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Weekend Update

Big props to the boys at Charm City last weekend who both raced very well and are setting themselves up for great seasons.  I get to ride with one of them tomorrow, Ken D, on a little personal ride here in the Valley where we'll be putting the hurt on each other to keep his preparation building to the end of the season and can't wait to catch up more on the weekend's rassin'.  Mike F. left Baltimore with a 2nd and 7th in hand from the B Men's races over the weekend and should be sitting high in the early rankings for the MAC.  Neither of these seemingly brought me a custom made cake from Duff, but perhaps they're still filming that episode...

Yours truly got to spend Saturday getting beat up by Ruth D. and my new friend who I should have gotten to know more a long time ago Maria C. who made the trip up from Philly for Kuhndog's Wild Ride #1 and final prep before Ruth takes on the Everest Challenge out in CA this coming weekend.  Ruth is ready - she certainly looked it as she slapped me around all day on the 7000 feet of climbing we did north Bethlehem and luckily had Maria along for company as she topped out those climbs.  I couldn't let those two have all the fun though and found us some great dirt roads where I could let it rip a little...unless they went uphill.

Ruth's event this weekend is a two-day affair with 30,000 feet of elevation gain and climbs that last up to 22 miles!  I can't say I'd be too excited about all that climbing, but descending 30,000 feet or so sounds like an awesome time!  Ruth is one of several athletes in for some big riding and racing this weekend and those guys will be getting a shout out later this week!

The Kuhndog rides are lighting a fire under my butt to get back out and ride - and a few other people's butts, I'm happy to report, because that's the whole idea.  There's nothing like some incredible riding in beautiful places to make you want to ride more and more and more.  And do some skate skiing, but more on my other endurance sport love some other time!

Grit and Determination

How about the last few stages of the Vuelta??  Damn that was some good racing.  Give it up for the promoters for putting together a course that kept things fresh and interesting right up to the end and more importantly to the racers who beat each other and themselves to a pulp for three straight weeks for the show that was the 2010 Vuelta!  How great would it be if every stage race came down to the wire like this year's tour of Spain?

Gilbert, as has been said, is certainly showing he's on form for worlds.  The attack with three days left ripped the legs off everyone including one of the best sprinters in the world, who just happened to be sitting on his wheel and was unable to come around at the end which, of course, is what the best sprinters in the world are paid to do!  Impressive to say the least, but has he shown too much?  Will he be so well marked at world's it will be next to impossible to perform or could he again show such power that it won't even matter?  What is apparent is that he is going to go in to world's with a ton of confidence.  Often it is that belief in yourself that is the difference.  In fact you could argue that when everyone is equally prepared, peaked and ready to race that it is the mind that makes THE difference.  Those who know they can win are absolutely more likely to get the job done than those that think they might have a chance.

The battle between Mosquera and Nibali on the final climb of the Vuelta was certainly one that will go down in history as a famous duel.  In a world that is seemingly less influenced by doping mountain stages seem less likely to follow the script; huge acceleration to drop everyone 10k to go and a super human outlay of power from there to the finish to distance everyone.  That final climb was one of the most exciting I've ever seen and the way those two racer willed themselves up that climb was a phenomenal display of grit and determination.  From the tactical start to the climb that kept the group together until only 3.5 miles were left on the stage to Mosquera's accelerations on every steep pitch to Nibali's strength of mind to respond every time the grade slackened kept you on the edge of your seat.  The battle up that final climb seesawed with each seemingly having broken the other multiple times only to see the other react every single time and make another stand for victory.  Nibali's final surge that just caught Mosquera before the line came down to one thing - his mind overcame everything his body was saying, told it to shut the hell up, and chased down his adversary to leave no doubt he was the strongest man in this race.

We know the mind is a terrible thing to waste; it is also the most performance enhancing piece of equipment you will ever own.  Train your mind like you train your body and prepare to win.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Charmed, I'm sure

Got a couple guys starting the 'cross season well with Ken Deitch having one of the best 'cross races of his career last weekend and Mike Festa grabbing the B men's win at last weekend's Allentown UCI season opener.  They're both headed off to Charm City, Baltimore's two-day 'cross weekend, so here's to them both having a killer weekend.

Me, I'm headed out on the first of Kuhndog's Wild Rides tomorrow with my girl Ruth D. - everyone else bailed - but this is hopefully the first of many of these.  Ruth will be dragging me around the roads north of Bethlehem for a few hours tomorrow as we keep working on her preparation for the Everest Challenge out in CA later this month.  The Challenge is two days of long ass rides in big ass hills with total elevation gain at something like 30,000 feet over the two days.  We don't have those long CA sorta climbs here in PA so I put together a plan to make the best use of what we do have here to get her ready.  She's going to kill me tomorrow.

Working on Weaknesses

The TT in the Vuelta showed incredibly clearly just how important it is, no matter who you are, that it is important to work on your weaknesses.  We saw in the TT the overall leader - Rodriguez - not just lose time, but bleed so much time as to take himself completely out of the race for podium (barring a completely meltdown by one of the top 3 in the final few days). 

Someone like Rodriguez is not likely going to challenge for a TT win in most situations save for uphill TTs.  (First he's not a very big guy and while his power to weight ratio is ideal for climbs his power to frontal area is not as high as many of the guys he's competing with for the overall.  Think of it this way, a 5'10" rider, once into an aero position on his TT bike, is not much bigger than a 5'4" rider in aerobars from the front; the view the wind sees, especially a 5'10" rider with a good aero position.  A smaller lighter rider can produce less power than the bigger one and still be faster on a climb because of the significance of weight/gravity in climbing.  To stay close on the climbs the bigger rider has to be able to produce more power.   In a TT though - and the flatter and faster the TT - the more aerodynamics play a role.  In fact, in TTs aerodynamics and power are the keys.  The bigger rider with greater absolute power (as long as aerodynamics are similar or better) has the advantage in this situation.  You also have to be comfortable staying in that TT position and producing power in it.  If you don't ride in that position often you won't be at your best in it on race day.

Rodriguez didn't need to win the TT.  He just needed to keep himself close enough to Nibali to have a shot at taking time out of him again in the last climbing stage.  He didn't look as aero and he didn't look as smooth on the TT bike which is likely a result of not spending enough time on it.  He's a heck of a climber and was doing the smart thing of racing to his strengths by sticking it to the rest of the field on the climbs, but he gave up his chance to win the overall by not working enough on the weakness of TTing.

Find time to work on your weaknesses.  They may never turn into strengths, but don't let them be the anchor that holds you back from your greatest success.

Staying Up

I've been greatly enjoying the Universal Sports coverage of the Vuelta the past few weeks - and particularly watching my friend and former colleague Gogo doing a heck of a job commentating on the race.  Gogo and I worked together for a while when we were both working for Cadence Cycling and Multisport Center in Philly and it has been fun watching his progression as a commentator!

I digress.

The coverage has been great to chill out to while holding the new baby and while I've loved seeing Cav and Farrar go at it in the sprints with some surprise performances here and there from other sprinters and some great exploits in the mountains of Spain by guys like Schleck and Anton.  Unfortunately Anton left the Vuelta with a great lesson for all amateurs that you always have to stay alert; what a shame to have your shot at the win taken away by a crash like that. 

Years ago at a camp I attended run by Eddy B he reinforced over and over the necessity of keeping one's hands wrapped around the bars, not just resting on them.  If you hit something like a pothole or reflector or other road furniture with your hands just resting on the bars you're almost certain to go down, hard.  At the finish of a race I used to promote near Harrisburg (my buddy Zach is bringing it back - Rockville Bridge Cylcocross Classic) the winner of one of the races came across the line and threw his hands up in the air to celebrate the win.  As the final stretch was a gravel road he went down fast.  That's not the way to celebrate a win!  At a collegiate race years ago the A raced finished and as we hung out the the B race came to the line.  A promising freshman came sprinting in for the win and thrashed himself from side to side so hard that he actually crashed himself out of the race!

These sorts of crashes are preventable. It is quite possible Anton was attentive and holding on to the bike and still went down, but just making sure your thumbs are wrapped around the other side of the bar or levers from your fingers gives you a much better chance of pulling out of a crash if you do hit something with that front wheel that sends you askew!

Looking ahead when you're in a group and seeing what riders are doing ahead of you can help you avoid these situations in the first place.  Don't fixate on the wheel or two in front of you.  Keep looking down the road past the riders in front of you and ahead of the group (this is also how you know what is going on in the race and who is where so keep your head up)!  Avoid the obstacles in the first place.

Finally, know how your bike is going to handle in different conditions and situations.  Figure out how to ride on different surfaces.  Practice things like skidding and bumping other riders and rubbing wheels (in controlled and safe conditions) and learn how to ride the bike. 

And, don't take your hands off the bars at the end of your winning sprint on a gravel road!