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.

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








Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Park City Point to Point

I've ridden a lot of fun trails and raced a lot of long races, but the Park City Point to Point had the most fun trails I have ever ridden at a single event.  There is no exaggeration when the 75 mile race is advertised as being 90% single track.

I had a really good day on the bike and felt strong throughout the 6hr 50min day, which is a great feeling in itself.  Even though I had only seen the first 13 miles of the course the day before, my pacing worked out well and I flowed pretty well through just about all of the trails.  Going into the weekend I was pretty confident that if I rode well it would put me in contention for the top 5.  That didn't happen though and it seems like more guys are getting faster all the time.  I still had a solid top 10 finish and even though the exact result was a little bit of a let down I was happy with how I rode.  Alex Grant took his 6th win and is clearly on another level than the rest of us.  Tinker continues to amaze and was a strong 3rd while racing on a hard tail.

I stayed with a good friend from college and his family.  For me it doesn't get much better than staying in a mountain town with friends for the weekend.  Well it's better if my girls are there, but Beth's dad had heart surgery in Texas last week so Beth and Cameron have been back there.  Thank the Lord everything went well and he is doing well.

More than likely my season is over.  I do have a basically free ticket to Zurich next month booked on AA and have been floating the idea of doing 2 big marathon races in France including the Roc D'Azur.  I'm confident I could pull off a top 20 at one of them and qualify for 2015 Worlds, but there are some other things making the trip look difficult.  Being away from Beth and Cameron, work, and costs will all make it tough and I'm leaning towards no for the trip next month.  Either way I'm thankful for the continued opportunities to ride and race.  Very few races lived up to my goals this year, but I'm still happy, thankful, and looking forward to whatever God has in store for me next.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Big Bear Grizzly 100 and Leadville Trail 100 pt2

Time flies when you're working hard and having fun.  I can't believe 2 big races and our summer vacation already came and went.  It's been good and we got to spend some great time as a family in the mountains which we love.  

I worked hard this summer and went into the Big Bear Grizzly and Leadville in great shape and with really high hopes.  The Big Bear Grizzly is an awesome course with plenty of great single track and a really hard climb at the end.  It's the best endurance race course there could be in SoCal and I wanted to race for the win.  I rode well and was with the leaders about a third of the way, but had a slightly off day combined with some hydration / stomach problems that caused me to blow up at the end.  It was pretty bad and I went up the final hour long climb about 12 minutes than I did the week before pre-riding it at a tempo pace...  I had a lot of mixed feelings after the race, disappointed with my result, satisfied that I raced for the win and just didn't have it that day, and thankful to be in the mountains doing what I love.  It's a great event with a good balance of laid back grassroots feel, while well organized and plenty competitive at the front of the race.  The start and finish is right at the heart of the Big Bear Village which is great and I highly recommend the ride / race for next year.


Leadville was similar...  I think the elevation is just too much to have a peak performance when coming from sea level.  Even with about 9 days of acclimatizing in Big Bear 2 weeks before the race, I'm just a lot slower at 10 - 12,000ft!  It's such a great event I would love to have a super ride there, but this year was just good.  I wasn't feeling great early on and my hamstring was bothering me.  At the turn-around point at the top of Columbine I was about 10 minutes off my time from last year.  I was feeling pretty decent at that point though and was able to ride fairly well the 2nd half of the race (which is way longer than the first half mentally and physically!) and finished stronger than last year to get about the same time and 3 places better.  Whether or not I'll go back I'm not sure at this point...  Congrats to our good friend Tim for taking the win in the 50+ category, a lot of hard work and faith paid off!

A great week on vacation in Beaver Creek and Telluride (amazing!!) followed and now it's back to the regular routine at home.  I've only done 2 hard rides since being home but felt really strong on both.  I'm holding out for one more chance at a great ride in the big mountains next weekend - at the Park City Point to Point.  
With all the crazy things going on in the world we are so lucky and blessed to be riding and racing bikes.  I hope you realize that for yourself, be thankful, and make the most of the opportunities you're given!

Big Bear Grizzly 100 and Leadville Trail 100

 I was going fast most of the day at the Grizzly 100
 Haven't been on too many of these this year and was glad to make this one
 Common sight in our sink
 LT100 - working hard with Yuki during the 2nd half
 A good day, but not all that I was hoping for
Love these girls!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Long Live Long Rides

I do a lot of long rides and don’t say epic too often, but Saturday was a pretty epic day on the bike.  7.5 hours and 13,500 feet of climbing in the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt Baldy and Crystal Lake via Glendora Mountain Road.  My legs and energy were good throughout, but it was definitely too hot to be riding that long!  For what a crowded busy place SoCal is these particular roads are surprisingly not too busy with traffic.  And with the 4th of July holiday Glendora Mountain was actually closed to cars (due to high fire and drunk driving danger) so cyclists took over the road in the morning.  It was really cool to see.  And temperatures were also nice for the first half  of the ride up to Baldy.  The second half to Crystal Lake got a little dangerous with the heat though.  I had gone through about 6 bottles the first half of the ride and was still hydrated but the climb to Crystal lake is over an hour and it had to be 100 degrees up there at an average speed of about 6 miles per hour.  Not good.  I’ve never had this happen before but after riding with my hands on the tops of the bars for a few minutes, when I moved them back to the hoods they were almost too hot to hold.  Anyway about 30min into the climb I was getting too hot and knew one bottle of warm water wouldn’t get me to the top.  I was about to turn around when I saw a faucet in the shade at an entrance to a small camping area.  Thank God the water was cold so I doused myself and filled up my bottles for the rest of the climb.  It was still a long couple hours before I made it back to the car but I knew there was a store to stop at and that one water stop made the whole difference on being able to do the whole route in the heat.


The 2 week training block I’m in the middle of is planned to maintain my high end fitness while maximizing my endurance.  The 3 races I’m training for will all be 5-7 hours long, so my aerobic fitness has to be really high.  Basically my key rides are 2 intensity rides during the week – one at some short (3-5min) climbing repeats at a really high intensity above race pace, one tempo ride with about an hour at endurance race pace, and an endurance ride the length of my races (6-7 hours).  So far so good!

Now back to work so I can make it out on time for my repeats on Ridge Park this evening. 







Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting it done - working hard towards some big summer races

Time flies!  Between work, riding, and playing with Cameron the days have just been flying by.  I can’t wait until August when we have a true vacation planned.  In the meantime I’ve been having some good times training hard and a few bumps in the road as well like a water leak at home and a tight hamstring that’s been nagging me for weeks now.  Mountain biking is a tough sport where success doesn’t come quickly so I’ve learned to enjoy the process and not focus too much on results.  But I love routine when I’m going through the process and having my routine thrown off a little adds some more stress to the day.  Life is good, it’s just challenging to balance the training and rest needed to be in top shape with everything else going on!

I was able to put in a couple very solid weeks of training in the middle of June.  After the 6 hours of Temecula I did a base week with another 18 hours of riding with a ton of climbing followed by a week with less time but more intensity including 2 weeks in a row racing Over the Hump.  I got my butt kicked both times, but I was racing fairly tired and that’s probably exactly what I needed.  I was tempted to do even more training after the poor results at OTH, but instead followed my plan and took a short rest week.  Now it’s time to get back after it with 2 more solid weeks on the bike before tapering back for the 3 big races I have planned for the summer…

July 26 – Big Bear Grizzly 100
Aug 9 – Leadville 100
Aug 30 – Park City Point to Point

It’s been a while since I’ve ridden in some big mountains, but that's the riding that I love most.  All 3 of these courses will really put me to the test, and that's exactly what I'm looking for!  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm still at it!

It's been a while since I've had any updates here, but I'm still at it!  Since the Whiskey 50...

We got to visit Catalina for the Gran Fondo.  I rode ok, but not strong enough to take on the full Sho-Air team.
 
 We had a great weekend in Texas with family
 I got the win at the 6 hours of Temecula
 Did a lot more training
 Had a water leak at home
And plenty of good times with Cameron!

Work is keeping me busy and training is on track for a couple big races where I'm hoping to do something special later this summer.  Thanks for checking-in!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Training Hard is the Easy Part!

When it comes to racing with a family and full-time job, training is definitely not the hard part.  Riding is fun and at least for me, riding hard is even more fun.  

Working, time, money and resting are the hard part.  To be happy and successful you first have to keep everything in perspective and realize most of our biggest commitments in life are all blessings in themselves.  That's hard to do in the moment when you're tired and have 10 more things to get done on a busy day.  And the culture around us only makes our stressful days seem even worse.  We're all expected to work long hours and keep up with the Jones's, while only sharing things that make us look good on Facebook and everywhere else.  Sorry if I sound like I'm preaching, but this blog is where I preach to myself and I struggle with this a lot (including the last couple weeks) so I'm going to preach some more.  

Being driven to work hard and be successful at bike racing is a good thing.  But only as long as you don't burn yourself out or hurt your relationships with the people you love.  So when you're frustrated that things aren't going to plan, or you have too much going on to ride more, take a minute to BE THANKFUL.  Be thankful that you have a job and income, be thankful you have a hyper kid to come home to and entertain after a long day, be thankful you're healthy enough to ride at all.  THEN if you combine that attitude with some good planning you will definitely GET MORE OUT OF THE RIDING AND RACING YOU CAN DO.  


With so many fast guys at the Whiskey 50, I had a good ride but it wasn't enough for a great result.  Still had a great time with my girls!