Thursday, March 26, 2015

UCI Racing - US Cup Bonelli and Fontana!

Wow the last 2 weekends of racing have been awesome!!  It's really cool to see such a high level of racing here in the US and even cooler to be a part of the action.  It's actually been 2 solid years since I've done a UCI cross country race and I only did one of them in 2013, so I've been away from that scene for a while.

Bonelli - March 13th 

Going into the weekend of Bonelli I knew what to expect of the race but wasn't sure what to expect from myself.  The first lap of these races is downright crazy.  That was especially true at Bonelli since the course was so short and tight.  It was a super tough loop with several short steep climbs and even shorter downhills in a lap that only took 14 minutes (for the mid pack guys) at race pace.

Somehow my instincts kicked right in on the first lap and I was comfortable riding at my limit while surrounded by a bunch of other guys doing the same.  In the end I had a pretty good day and raced plenty hard.  I was 38th place out of 100 riders in the Elite race.  38th doesn't sound that great, and it's a ways off from my best result in a National series race, but there were a ton of fast guys there, I worked my way up from the back and I was actually 15th American which I feel really good about for my first race like this in a couple years.

Bonelli was tough!
The best part of a Saturday race is a Sunday recovery day


Fontana - March 20th 


Racing back to back weekends means not too much riding during the week.  Of course work and like still leave me a lot busier than I would like to be going into a big race.  It's tough to get physically and mentally ready to race at my best when my free time really doesn't start until 5pm and I also want to spend some quality time with Beth and Cameron.  It can be frustrating at times, but I've really found that if I just keep moving through the tough days, then there will be other days that go a lot more smoothly.

My race at Fontana was a little more civilized than Bonelli.  The start was still crazy, but once we hit the single track everyone around me in the middle of the field was riding a similar pace.  There really wasn't anywhere to rest on that course so it was a solid 1 hour and 40min effort.  We were punching it up the climb, the downhill was technical and took a lot of focus, and then the flat part on the back of the course was spent trying to sprint up to the next guy or group ahead of me.  I felt like I had a solid start, but was not as close to the front of the race as I needed to be.  From there I moved up pretty slowly and just gained a couple spots per lap.  The middle of the racing was definitely a lull mentally as I wasn't catching as many people as I wanted to, but I kept after and finished strong in the end.

46th place... another fairly good result with the depth of the 110 rider field.  I rode well, but not super.  It was one of those races when I looked back at the results later and thought, wow if I was only 2 minutes faster I would have been like 15 places better and top 10 for the Americans.  I did my best in the moment and there was nowhere that I lost 2 minutes.  At the same time if I was having one of my best days on the bike another 20 seconds faster up the climb definitely would have been possible.  So I'm still motivated to get even better!  Bring on the next race in a couple weeks!

Stage21 got my bike dialed in again
Not sure how Fontana looks so nice in this photo
Trying to stay hydrated
Another top half finish against the best
Followed by Beths running race on Sunday
Cameron at home at the races

Friday, March 6, 2015

Kenda Cup Vail Lake


Thank you to Stage21 for the new brake pads!

Wow that was a crazy day in the rain and mud last Sunday.  It’s actually kind of hard to believe we had a such a rad mud fest race here in SoCal.  Going into the day I knew it would be wet, but I also know it is sandy out there and assumed it would just be cold and a little wet.  It was a legitimate mud mess out there!  There were fast sandy sections, but there was also some slipping, sliding ,and a couple full-on mud bogs.  We only get a race like this every couple of years here in SoCal.  Combine the mud with it being the first big cross country race of the year and there was a lot of excitement out at Vail Lake. 

For me, other than a recent crit that doesn’t really count, it was my first race lining up against other mountain bikers in about 5 months.  The sprint to the single track was aggressive but I felt right at home rubbing some elbows and got completely covered in mud within the first minute.  It wasn’t going to be an average local race!  I had a pretty solid day, felt comfortable riding the mud with only a couple small bike issues, and my hamstring felt good throughout.  I really had some fun out there pushing myself effort wise and on the slippery trails.  The 20 some riders in the pro class including at least 4 US and Canadian National Champs making it a really competitive race and I was happy with to come away with 7thResults here 



Luckily I was planning on a rest week following the race since work has been a little crazy and my leg has been nagging me again.  With a little more rest and prep I should be ready to go for my first UCI race in about 2 years at the Us Cup in Bonelli on the 14th.  It will be interesting to see how I can perform after being away from these shorter races the last couple years.  My hope is to have a fun, intense race and take another step towards my bigger goals at the late spring races.  You can check out the Bonelli race LIVE HERE.  Thanks!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Work AND Race Successfully - Don't Compare Yourself to Others

Well I've tried 3 times to start writing this post with the focus on realistic expectations, but I keep coming back to a different starting point...

Don't compare yourself to others

Previously I wrote a post about pure motivation.  You could also sum up that post by saying "don't compete for the approval of others."  Beyond that I've learned that you also have to be careful that you don't to compare yourself to others.  This has been on my radar a lot more the last year or two after a couple really powerful messages from a couple pastors I follow - Judah Smith and Steven Furtick.  In a world of social media we are constantly comparing ourselves to everyone else whether we realize it or not.  Now you can be friends, or at least follow, the top athletes in your sport and see how they live and train day to day.  On one hand that's really cool, but on the other hand you have to be really careful that you don't let it lead to comparing and envy.  For most of us we rarely get to ride in the nicest part of the day, stop for coffee, and post it on instagram before going home for a nap.  It's not a bad thing that a select few can make a living doing that, but it's not really something to aspire to in itself.

In the on-line world most people only share the positive things that make them look good and you rarely see the struggles they are probably facing.  There are plenty of challenges that go along with trying to make a living based on athletic results.  Even if you don't have any aspirations of going pro, you have to be careful of comparing yourself to others in the same stage of life as you who seem to "have it better".  A couple weeks ago, there were 5 days that I rode in the fog at 6am, only to look out the window at sunny blue skies while working later in the day.  But I've slowly learned to embrace the lifestyle and routine I have instead of comparing it to some of the guys I race against and wishing I had their schedule.  It's not always easy, but you can control your outlook on life.  Worrying too much about what other people are doing will do very little to get you closer to your own goals.  Most of the time it will only lead to frustration.  To be successful you need to focus on the process, recognize and make the most of the opportunities that are already in front you.

I'll close with a quick race update.  Last weekend the Harding Time Trial was my first test of the year and I came up a little short.  On the ~55min climb I was about 1:30 off my best.  Given some other really good workouts recently I was hoping to beat my previous time, but I was just a little off my best and also had some hamstring issues creeping back .  I've since had a couple days of decent rest and 2 good rides while trying not to over do it with my hamstring.  A couple more easy days and I should be ready to rock at the first Kenda Cup/ CA series race at Vail Lake on Sunday.  Thanks for reading, God bless!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Riding Update - Slowly but Surely the Hard Work and Patience is Paying Off with Some Stronger and Faster Riding

Since I last wrote an update about my riding things have been going really well.  I'm thankful to be healthy and put in a very solid 2 week training block over the last week of January and first week of February.  I added some intensity and kept up some decently high volume which are not an easy mix.  The 2nd weekend I had a big 6 hour mountain bike ride on Saturday, followed by my first crit in a few years on Sunday.  It was a good change of pace for me and went really well.  I hung in a big Pro,1,2 field without much trouble and had a great workout even with tired legs. 

After some much needed rest, I hit a couple more intensity days this past weekend.  I messed myself up a little bit with a gym day on Friday followed by the hard rides.  Even though I kept it moderate at the gym my hips were a little sore and with the hard rides I really irritated my hamstring again.  Two days of rest later it’s feeling normal again but I think it’s time to back away from the gym altogether now.  Saturday I had a much improved 20min power test.  Sunday I did the Como group ride.  With some road races going on in the area it was a little smaller and less animated than normal.  The Sho-Air team was there as part of their training camp though and it was cool taking some strong pulls along-side some national champs. 

Slowly but surely the hard work and patience is paying off with some stronger and faster riding!  This Saturday will be a great training effort at the Harding Time Trial.  Not sure how close I can come to Tinker, but we’ll see.  Two years ago I won in 54:09 but last year he put in something like a 51:30…   After that it will be the first cross country race of the season as the CA Series kicks off at Vail Lake, Temecula.  See you out there!  

A huge thank you to Stage21 for setting me up on an awesome new ride!

We've had some serious fog days lately 


Always make sure your snacks are well stocked!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Work AND Race Successfully - Motivation

So you want to be successful at work and as an athlete.  That's what I've been trying to do for the last 10 years, and at least some of that time it has gone really well for me.  I sure didn't know what I was doing going into it, but my love for riding and the love for the training process kept me going even when it wasn't easy.  I learned some things along the way, a lot of times the hard way after a lot of frustration.  

I don't have everything figured out, but I do know the main things you need to focus on: Pure motivation, realistic expectations, and enjoying the daily process.   

These things are all inter-related, but to have any kind of long-term success you have to start with the right kind of motivation. 

Pure motivation

You have probably heard this a bunch of different ways before, and it’s common sense, but you have to love doing your sport more than you love getting results.  Whether we realize it or not we all seek satisfaction from results and the approval of others.  Those things alone can be really strong motivators.  But if you're only satisfaction comes from results you're most likely not going to make it that far in endurance sports.  Cycling and running are too hard and very few people get to win.  Even if you do have a lot of success, if your motivation is based on results and approval you will most likely feel like the success you do have is never enough. 

I actually think a lot of races have too many categories and too many people getting on podiums.  If the fact that you got 3rd place in a field of 6 people at a local race is the highlight of your month, I'm sorry but you're probably not fully enjoying everything that racing and training can be.  In that same race the person who got 4th place could actually have a lot deeper sense of satisfaction because they overcame some obstacles with a busy schedule, trained hard to race a distance they have never done before and rode to the best of their ability on that day.  My point is that just focusing on the results and approval that comes with them is often our natural tendency, but you have to have a deeper motivation and focus to truly be your best and get true satisfaction out of your racing.

Of course results matter.  I have specific race result goals that I’m working towards, but I also have motivation and purpose far beyond the results.  If I was racing for results, or money, or attention I would have quit a long time ago.  Or maybe I would have taken a different path to get to the next level like a lot of the “heroes” who doped their way to the top.  Instead I followed what I loved and even though I fall short of a majority of my goals, I still have a strong sense of satisfaction from my racing.  

Results, money and attention are few and far between in endurance sports.  I sometimes get to enjoy those things as rewards along the way, but I’m after a lot more in my racing.  I want to make the most of the physical talents God gave me, I want to experience his presence when I’m out in nature, I want to build friendships and encourage others, I want to be a good example for my family, I want to learn how to keep my head up when I fail at my own goals and aspirations.  My hope is that you find that kind of meaning in your racing too!   Thanks for reading!


First time on the road scene in about 4 years at the Roger Millikan Memorial Crit on Sunday!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Training Update - Rolling with It

The last couple weeks have been good and bad, but I'm getting it done and learning to stay positive regardless.  2 weeks ago I had a great week of training, everything going to plan, and then last week things got way too busy and we all got sick at my house.  I fought it the first day and trained anyway, but it wasn't meant to be so I listened to my body and let it go turning the week into a recovery week. 

This time of year is an interesting balance training wise.  The early part of base training is easy because you just want to start adding volume and it's good to not sweat a lot of details beyond that.  Now it's time to add some intensity, and keep up the volume, and keep a weight training program going.  Doing quality workouts in all of those areas each week is not as easy.  For me it usually means adjusting my plan each week as I go.  I stick to the overall plan, but adjust the exact workouts and day I do them at the start of each week.  So far I'm working it out pretty well and slowly feeling stronger.  I'll most likely have to wait on my first "training" race of the year which I was hoping to do this weekend.  When you're training and racing on top of everything else in life it's important to make small adjustments like that as you build up so you can remain 100% committed to your bigger goals later in the year.

Rolling out at dawn

Some good sunrises lately

 Plenty of time with Cam
 
Even more time here 

An awesome day back to business on Sunday

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Taking on the New Year

It's a new year with new goals and new hopes for all of us.  I'm rarely short on goals and plans.  So over the holidays and into the new year the last couple years I've tried to slow down a little and think more about WHY I'm setting out to achieve all the goals I set for myself.  I want to focus on the things that matter most.  I don't want to miss out on the few most important things in life, because I'm too caught up in the many urgent things going on.    

Spending some time with family in Texas was by far the most important thing to Beth and I over the holidays and we really enjoyed doing just that.  I had a few really mellow days which were much needed.  

Since then I put in what we most likely be my biggest volume training block of the year.  In a 9 day period I did 8 rides totaling 31 hours AND 3 weight sessions at the gym.  The riding went well and with a couple days rest I'll be in a great place for more solid training throughout January.  

I have my sights on a shorter season this year and plan on this being my last year racing at the pro level. My hope is to encourage a few people, bring a little glory to God, and go really fast at some big races including the early season US Cup races, Whiskey 50, Marathon Nationals, Grand Junction Off-Road, and Marathon World Championships.  

As part of my goal to encourage others as much as possible this year, next week I'll share the first of a series of posts about making the most of your family time, work, and love for racing.  Don't take your opportunities and blessings for granted.  Be thankful, work hard and more will follow!   

Thank you for checking in with me here and please share this page with anyone you think might enjoy it.  

-Dana

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Snow Day on the San Juan Trail

It was an amazing day on the San Juan trail!  With snow levels down to 1,700ft I didn't make it too high on the trail, but the trip out there was well worth it!





Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making the most of the off-season

I believe that everybody should have an off season.  When you work hard and push yourself physically most of the year it's good to take a break.  That's kind of obvious.

But when you have a lot of day to day stress and busyness, getting a mental break is really important too.  I struggle with this since I tend to get busier at work and around the house during my off season in the Fall.

What I have always done a fairly good job of is taking a real break from training and racing!  For 2-3 solid months I ride for fun (only about twice a week) and do a little random cross training and let go of the training plan I have the rest of the year.

If you're like me and a typical type A when it comes to your training, here are a few things you can do to make the most of the off season:

1. Drop the plan.  Don't have a plan for every week or every day.  Do what you feel like that day.  Most of the time I ride fairly easy this time of year, but I put in some hard efforts or a big endurance day here or there.  Only when I really feel like it.

2. Get rid of your heart rate and power meters.  I literally uninstall the power meter from my road bike and don't use a heart rate monitor this time of year.  This mental break from the numbers is really important.

3. Do something different.  You have to ease into it, but doing some running, swimming, or other exercise is super good for you.  For 5-6 weeks in a row I was running 1 night per week with Cameron in the jogger.  We would run to a nearby park where I would do some core work and she would play, then run home.  Make the most of your time!  

4. Work on your core and flexibility.  If you're a typical cyclist I bet your core strength and flexibility aren't very good.  It's not too hard to put together a solid 20 minute routine that works both and can be done at home a couple days per week.  At this point this is a good New Years resolution - do it!

Seasons are good for you!  Plus your family, friends and co-workers will appreciate it when you're schedule is a little less obsessed around bike riding for a change.  Now that I have a little girl at home the off season is more important to me than ever.  This Fall I went almost 3 months without any set training plans and will go about 5 months without actually racing.  That's what works for me at this point in my life.  I can still go big at the races, but my season needs to be a little shorter. 

Time flies and for those of us in places like CA and TX it's already time to start getting serious again.  Make the most of it!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Surviving Holiday Party Week

I love the Christmas holidays, but things are busy enough this week that I don't have time to write a more meaningful post for you.  I committed to writing every week so I will share a little update about my day and maybe you can relate.

Up at 5:45 and out the door at 6:15 for my 1hr 30min ride
Home at 7:45 and left by 8:05 for work
Busy all day with a 30min lunch at subway
Left the office at 5:15 and got a quick hair cut
Had to be home by 6:15 for Beth to go to a dinner
Now it's 9pm and I have a couple hours of work to do tonight and won't be able to ride in the morning!
Year end meetings tomorrow and holiday party Thursday!

I'm just trying to make it through the day and looking forward to a more normal week next week.  Stay positive, make the most of your opportunities at work, and enjoy the time with others!  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pursue the Things You Love While Balancing Your Priorities

I write this blog because I love sharing the things I'm able to experience and learn through racing.  I've been inconsistent at times.  After a bit of a break I'm now ready to write with more of a purpose going into the new year and new season of bike racing.  
We are all struggling to balance our priorities in life while also pursuing the other things we're passionate about.  If you're one of my friends and reading this, you most likely love endurance sports.

My goal is to encourage you and help you balance the expectations and demands of life, family, work, and racing.  

Going after great accomplishments and building great relationships is not easy.  It's a lifelong process.  But I believe we get the most out of life when we give our best to others and to our pursuits.  The hard work is more than worth it when the alternative is looking back one day wondering what could have been.  Or worse yet, what did I miss out on because I was TOO focused on some personal goal??
While I chase my racing dreams and encourage you to chase yours, the only way to be truly satisfied in life starts with keeping those dreams balanced with our most important relationships and responsibilities.  I believe that God ultimately has plans for me related to cycling that are far greater than simply racing.  I believe he has huge plans for me to give back to others through cycling.  For now I still have some big racing goals on my heart and this blog is a way for me to share the journey with all of you who can relate.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I'm back! What off season really means for the average bike racer

It's that time of year again when I don't ride my bike very much.  I'm not sure off season is the right term though, because I still have so much going on.

For all of us that love endurance sports, but don't get to do them for a living, the "off-season" seems to mostly be a time to catch up on a lot of other things in life.  This year has been especially crazy for me. In just the last 2 months my father-in-law had open heart surgery, my car died (a couple times), I won a free lease on a new car through a charity raffle, my grandmother passed away, I'm getting a dental implant done, work has been as busy as ever, and I have a 2 year old!

God has definitely been testing me some, and some days I handle it better than others.  With all the challenges in life it can be really hard to balance our hobbies and passions.  At the end of the day we have to fight for the things we love and make them a priority.  I try to put God and my family first.  I try to give my best at work and make a positive difference there.  Those things alone take and deserve a LOT of time and energy.  But I also love riding and racing my mountain bike and know that God made that part of who I am.  So even though it's not easy I'm still working hard to make that a priority in my life.

Seasons are good, and the time away from riding has been good.  Getting back into training and spending time doing what I love will be even better.