Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cyclocross, the Magazine

Perhaps my hordes of readers and/or internet stalkers have noticed a prolonged absence here, as well as some outdated links. I'm talking to both of you.

Well, the Cyclocross Build spin-off site has been dead for almost a year, but before that happened, it did get me the attention of a certain Cyclocross Magazine intergalactic conglomerate. So, for the past 16 months or so, my time, energy, musings, writings & c. have gone into the print editions of Cyclocross Magazine and the cxmagazine.com website.

Maybe I'll revive this bit of e-action you've stumbled upon here, but, surprisingly, the Internet has seemed to be doing just fine without it. In the meantime, support truly independent grassroots media, read about the coolest sport, and go buy (or at least borrow) a copy of the latest.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

All Crossed Up!

I've been wicked busy getting my new Cyclocross site, and accompanying blog up and running. Come check out the CycloCross Build blog!

Rather than reposting the slew of articles I have over there, here are some highlights from September. Come visit the 'cross site, check out the Forum and Profile pages, and if you want the best cyclocross training plan in the business, we've got you covered.

Stormin' Outta September - Article Highlights:

Another Reason Campy Kicks Ass for Cyclocross
In my mind, Campagnolo has one decided advantage in their integrated shift levers: it’s all in the brake release button mounted in the shifter. On road bikes, Campy has this functionality on the actual lever while SRAM and Shimano have a release on the actual brake calipers. However, cyclocross cantilever brakes don’t have a loosening function... [read more]

Back In the Ring for 2009: Battle at Barlow
Ding-Ding… It’s Round 1 of (my personal) 2009 Race Action.
I really tried to make excuses and had such a hard time pulling the trigger to just get out there and race already. It’s been over a month since road season, I’m still feeling a little mentally fried from life/work/etc., I haven’t been riding much and have been stressed out... [read more]

Going Tubeless for Cyclocross!
Tubeless tires, long a fixture in the mountain bike scene both with the UST tubeless systems and the Stan’s conversion kits that makes any clincher tire and rim into a lightweight tubeless setup, has more recently been all the buzz among roadies and cyclocrossers. The main advantage for cyclocross, like mountain biking, is that a tubeless setup will allow you to run lower pressure without... [read more]

Cross Vegas: When the Chips Are Down…
There’s something surreal about cyclocross in Vegas. It could be the pin-up models and the Elvis impersonators working the crowd… or the atypical for ‘cross hot n’ dry weather.
But, thanks to a large purse and its connection with the big Interbike industry show/extravaganza/party, the field is just getting better. Katerina Nash, a Czech national who [read more]

Photo Courtesy Oregon Cycling Action

Friday, September 4, 2009


Goddammit. I've been wanting to see CocoRosie play live for, like, evah. Turns out they're in Boston the week before I get there and in Portland right after I leave. sigh...

For now, I'll have to make do with this new-to-me album which, somehow, I've never heard. Found it streaming for free though! 30second embeds below, click through for the whole shebang.

The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn

Friday, August 21, 2009


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Recovery Techniques Straight from US National Championships

I'm fresh off an intense block of competition which featured 8 races in a little over two weeks, culminating with the US Elite Road and Time Trial Championships. Two days into the racing-excursion and I'd already logged about 16 hours of travel time in the team van, had done a National Road Calendar criterium in Boise, got heat exhaustion and spent most of the night throwing up, and was en route to another race near Portland, Oregon. Two days later was the start of the Cascade Classic with a bunch of international superstars ready to throw down. It wasn't off to the most opportune start and my recovery became even more important than it typically would be.

Fast forward to Nationals in Bend, Oregon. Wednesday featured a 100+ mile circuit race in intensely hot conditions (the route was actually shortened from 120 miles due to the extreme weather) followed by a tough, hilly 35km Time Trial the next day.

Just completing the blisteringly fast road race was an accomplishment as I was one of only 50-or-so finishers out of the 135-man field (I was 34th). We raced the 100 miles in under 4 hours, with the main damage being done on the circuit's two steep hill sections. After scrapping to survive for several laps and yo-yoing a couple of times, I fell off the pace for good with an 8-man group on the 5th of 6 laps.

In the time trial, I did the best I could on another hot day and hoped my legs would come around to blaze through the course. My performance was a little off, but my recovery techniques and attention to pacing maximized my chances. I finished 30th out of 72 competitors.

So what were my secrets to prepare for these big races on my calendar and recover in between? It shouldn't surprise you that they all come straight from Cyclo-CLUB!

Keys to the Recovery Game:

  • Prepare. Prehydration is especially important in the heat, start drinking extra water at least 24 hours before and make sure you're taking on electrolytes as well. More about hydration here. I also had an ice-filled sock draped across my neck, cold water bottles at the ready, and ice cubes in my jersey to keep my core temps as low as possible while I warmed up.

  • My morning-of warm up: I wake up with my Morning Rituals (Parts I & II) followed by Cyclo-BREATH. I add in Warm in 5' just before I start the on-the-bike warm up (if necessary) and I'm ready to roll! Great for keeping myself calm and focused.

  • If you have 2 back-to-back events, your nutrition during the first event becomes even more important. Carry an extra bottle in your jersey, even if there's a feed zone. Stay on top of your calorie and hydration needs early on and don't let yourself get behind - it will impact both the current and the proceeding day's ride.

  • Recover right away. Finish event one, cool down briefly, start drinking and eating as soon as you can. Recovery drinks are a good, efficient, easy to consume option. Don't hang out and chit-chat for too long. Get out of the heat, cleaned up, and into air conditioning if possible.

  • Light Stretching. COOL In 5', LOOSE In 5', and RELEASE In 5' are all excellent programs to accelerate your recovery

  • Cool. Warm. Compress. A cold water or even an ice bath is awesome for minimizing muscle soreness and beginning the repair process. Follow with warm water to get your circulation going and flush lactic acid and toxins, followed by compression tights to continue the flushing and recovery process.

  • Do everything you can to minimize stress, promote recovery, and take care of yourself!

What are some of your recovery secrets? We'd love to hear them...

Monday, July 27, 2009

When the Bad Days Come...

Four days into the Cascade Classic we were faced with the 84-mile Cascade Lakes Road Race. It finishes with a long slog of a climb up to Mt Bachelor -- but it was the beginning of the race that had me worried. We'd climb the first 15 miles, right from the starting gun.

Tough starts like this have never been my forte and after three hard days of racing, I wasn't sure what I'd be able to muster. I also still had my nasty bout with heat exhaustion in the back of my head. Was I back to 100%?

The time trial the day before was decent, but definitely not my best. Racing fatigue was catching up with me. I managed a mid-pack finish in an impressive peloton and gave everything I had in the tank, but the 37-minute effort destroyed me for the rest of the day. My best bet was to accelerate recovery as well as I could. I spent the rest of the day incorporating naps, ice baths, light stretching, staying cool, hydrating, and light myofascial release.

As you can see, the doubts were echoing around in my head. I tried to remain positive and motivated. If this were a one-day race, I would have done more of a warm-up to prepare. But in a long stage race, I didn't want to be putting out any more energy than absolutely necessary. I did a very easy spin and incorporated some breathing exercises to prepare my system.

10.5 miles into the race, I came unhitched. On a typical day, I should have been able to keep plugging for longer, but I just didn't have it. The group was shattering all around me. Some guys would eventually find their legs and fight their ways back onto the pack, others simply turned around and went back to their cars.

I tried to collect myself and pick up the pace. I rode with a couple of guys here and there, but eventually settled into a sustainable pace. The pack pulled away, but a small group was just ahead, within striking distance. I hoped to join them as we crested the hill and started to descend.

I chased, alone, for 35 miles. The group of 4 riders constantly hovered 30 seconds in front of me. Sometimes it close slightly, but never enough. Finally I had to back off the pace and focus on food and fluids. My race was over, I was cooked. That foursome would be the last riders to finish the race, and they made it within the time cut by a scant two minutes!

Needless to say, I was disappointed. So much time and energy goes into these events, it's a horrible feeling not to make the grade. However, this experience happens to every cyclist who attempts to push him/herself past personal limits. I feel fortunate that it was superstars the likes of Oscar Sevilla and Francisco Mancebo who pushed me beyond my edge -- but we all have our own personal Sevillas out there, dropping us on the climbs.

Better riders than me had already been cut from the race. Multi-time US Champion Freddie Rodriquez and cyclocross/mountain bike stud Ryan Trebon both missed the time cut in the time trial. Many of the top US talent finished behind me on Stage 2's finishing climb. There were bright spots mixed in, and I can only hope to improve at these star-laden big time races.

Here's a quick list I'm compiling on the fly of...

How We Everyday Cyclists Can Deal With Disappointment:

  1. Push your own edge . As Greg Lemond famously said, "It doesn't get easier, you just go faster." Whether you're a Cat 1 stage racer or a weekend warrior, there are folks who can drop you. Every time you move up a level or try something new, there will be a learning curve and an initial shock.

  2. Find the positives . Break big goals into little pieces. Try to hang just a little bit longer, improve specific techniques, learn from your mistakes, and make small gains. Over time, these small gains will add up to big improvements!

  3. It's all in your mind . If you can stick with it, you will improve. Most would-be athletes get discouraged and give up. It's not necessarily the most physically gifted athletes who persevere and rise through the ranks -- it's the ones who can handle the suffering and setbacks and still come back for more.

  4. Put it On the Line! Don't be afraid to dig deep during an event. There are times when it's worth digging really deep, even risking blowing up, to stay with a group. A small amount of really intense suffering can prevent hours of chasing solo later on (take it from me!). With more experience, you'll learn when it's worth taking this risk and when you can play it more conservatively.

  5. Train with Intensity . It's not just the racers that need the top-end. Every tough ride will have a "selection point." Those who can grit their teeth and hang will leave the others flapping around in the wind behind. It happens in "friendly group rides," charity centuries, and races alike. To be able to "put it on the line" (above), you have to train beyond your comfort/endurance levels! Cyclo-CLUB's Get Faster, Go Longer/Climb Stronger, and Climbing BOOTCAMP modules are all great tools.

Photo courtesy Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action.

Friday, July 24, 2009

BH Global Concept Review: Time Trial By Fire!

(Added Note: The new ride also got a photo and a mention in Oregon Cycling Action!)

I got the "Pro treatment" this week. My team manager built up a brand new BH Global Concept time trial bike and brought it out to the Cascade Cycling Classic for me to race this week. This is the just-released 2010 model, revised to meet the now more strictly enforced UCI standards.

The AG2R French Pro Tour team debuted the bike in the Tour de France a couple of weeks ago; now my Ten Speed Drive Cat 1 amateur team has the privilege of unveiling the rig to North America.

A National Road Calendar event may not be the ideal time to debut a new setup. But one of the most important things a cycling team can do is to help them debut new products, get them good exposure, and hope that they're interested in helping us to continue to grow our race program.

We dilligently measured my current setup, built it up with hand-me-down Campagnolo components and Profile Design time trial bars and stem, and a soft-nosed time trial saddle. The bits and pieces were different, but we were able to get a position that felt really good.

The Bike

She's a beauty. Good looks may not directly translate to speed - but this baby definitely looks fast and inspires time trial confidence.

The frame is also a great balance between light weight, beefy tubes for power transfer, and aerodynamics. The front wheel tucks right into the downtube, the rear wheel into the cleverly-curved seat tube.

Did I mention that this bike is LIGHT!? Fully built up, my 54cm bike weighs in at about 17.5 pounds. Considering how aerodynamic and overbuilt the tubes are, this is really impressive for a time trial bike.

Sweating the Details

The seat mast is semi-integrated, which means the bike can still be disassembled and shipped, there's room for 90mm of seat height adjustment, and you get the aerodynamic advantages of having a beefier, sculpted seat mast and seatpost.

Internal cable routing may sound like a nit-picky nicety. In fact, keeping the cables inside the frame and out of the wind can be a surprisingly huge time savings in races against the clock. The GC Aero does an excellent job running the derailleur and brake cables inside the tubes for almost their entire length.

Overall Performance

The bike felt amazing in today's hilly 25km event. The ride quality is incredibly smooth and all of my efforts translated directly into forward momentum. The bike ripped through the corners on the 45mph long return descent - it didn't at all feel like I was on a new unfamiliar ride.

There are only a handful of "next generation" time trial bikes that I'd recommend to prospective buyers: Felt, Cervelo, and Trek. BH has now announced its presence in that elite circle.

It's a little early to tell how the BH compares to its predecessor, my 2007 Felt B2, also an excellent ride. The BH is significantly lighter and definitely seems to be in the same ballpark for flat out speed.

Today's debut event was a trial run of the Elite National Championships coming up next week. I still have some more fine-tuning to do with my hand position PowerTap routing, etc, but I'm looking forward to piloting my new sexy steed to the best result I can muster.

BH Bikes is the most established bike company you may have never heard of. Beistegui Hermanos or "Beistegui Brothers" is a Spanish company that's been around since 1909, but their bikes have only come to the United States in the past 3 years. See the BH Bikes website for more info.