Thursday, May 31, 2018

American Pro

American Pro is a new book published, written by Jamie Smith, that documents putting together the Astellas cycling team by Matt Curin. Starting with Matt's passion for cycling and wanting to start another cycling team, to finding a sponsor,  putting together a modest developmental elite team that turned into a domestic pro team racing a double schedule, and finally until the all to familiar end when the sponsor pulls the plug.

I was fortunate enough to be on the Astellas team for 3 out of the 5 years and there pretty much from the beginning. Reading the book brought up some great memories, but also some tough times. Same can be said from reading Phil Gaimon's book Pro Cycling on $10 a day which I made a few cameos in since we were teammates. But it all made me realized I had some fun stories and pictures I'd like to share. I know of at least 4 people that would totally be into it. Maybe more along the way.

Nathanael (left in teal) on Detrol LA and myself (right in yellow)

It would make sense to start at the beginning, but with American Pro just coming out I think it would be a great time to start there. So as you are reading you can come back to find another story, detail or pictures that couldn't quite make the cut due to limit on book length and cost of printing pictures in a book. I'll try to make it the Throwback Thursday post.

My first time hearing of Matt Curin was when he ran his Detrol LA team. You can read more about why Detrol LA was a sponsor of a race team in the book. American Pro which besides taking about Astellas does a good job of explaining how a team finds a sponsor and how racing in America works. But as a kid I raced against this junior, Nathanael Ksiazkiewicz, in just about every race in Michigan and he was on that team as an Espoir, what they use to call U23. Nathanael traveled with my Dad, myself and occasionally my brother when he still raced to races such as Tour De FCCC (juniors only stage race), USA Cycling regional camps and Nationals. As a junior I may have beat him once. One day he even showed up just as the race was starting and asked us not to attack as he didn't get to warm up, but I rode away right away anyways until he caught a few laps before the finish. To be fair I probably didn't warm up either. He did everything by the book and I was still in the being a bike racer only from the start to finish of a race.

Side note the year Nathanael raced on Matt's team was the first time I heard of this big stage race out east called Fitchburg Longsjo. They had completed it and he was telling me how hard it was, particularly the finishing climb on stage 3. I completed it the following year finishing somewhere in the 90's, a year later something in the 40's and Nathanael was really impressed, and the year after that some how finished 11th on that particular stage. A few years later I would win the overall in that race.   Another story for another time.

So back to meeting Matt Curin, or being introduced to him. I was plugging away being a mediocre, which is putting it politely, bike racer and in 2001 on the schedule was a UCI Espoir Race in Elgin, a suburb of Chicago, The Four Bridges of Elgin. They needed riders under 23 to join them for the race. Well I was invited to do it with them. I don't remember much about it other than I believe it rained at some point and I was dropped, but raced (rode) unit they pulled me off the course. Half of the racers didn't finish either, but I stayed out as long as they allowed. Looking back at results and I have to say there were some pretty good names up there!

Start of the race for the UCI Espoir Four Bridges of Elgin 

One of the things I got the biggest kick out of was joining these pro teams through the years and hearing stories from the guys who were in contention to win these junior and U23 races while I was just surviving at best. They'd be talking about who did what, attacked where, won this or that and I'd be like oh so that's how that went. But now I was right there with them in the races and competing for the wins.

Andrew Frey, who was helping put together this Astellas Cycling Team, I knew from collegiate racing. He was the official at most of the races from my time racing with Marian. I also knew him through other kids I raced with from Ohio Mike House and Mike Busa. Back to the glory days of the Tour of Southeast Ohio. One of the neatest multi day races in the US. A mix of criteriums and short hilly road races.

Racing for Marian. Andrew Frey officiating from the ladder. 

Matt called me up in the fall of 2011 asking my plan for the 2012 season and I really didn't have a plan. He mentioned what he and Andrew were trying to do and it sounded like a great opportunity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Race Recap

Raced this past weekend at Winona Lake Fat and Skinny Tire Festival. I kept the skinny tire of things and no Fondo. I know a disappointment.

Friday night was the 3.2 mile TT. It has been a while since I've gone as hard as I can. I tend to like to ride comfortably hard for long periods of time. Hence my recent fascination with Fondos. Something else I haven't done in a while is race in the dark and metaphorically speaking I was left in the dark.

First was figuring out how to use the portajohn in the dark. Trying set your shot before the door fully closed and hoped for the best.

*Hoping for the best!*

Second was realizing 30 second into the time trial as I was settling in that holding a target wattage would be difficult as I hadn't turned on the backlight of my Garmin and I couldn't see a thing. I've grown accustomed to the comfort of seeing that number while racing and was in a slight panic. Fortunately there is only one way to ride a 5km time trial, FULL GAS! So just went. Did hit my peak 7 minute power of the year, which was the duration of the time trial, so couldn't ask for more.
*I couldn't see my Garmin, but I wonder if Hogan could see his notes. We may have a good laugh about this, but he took all those little steps that add up. Very pro like.*

Saturday was the road race. And there is not much to say here. It was over before it even began really.  Three strong teams with representation in a big break and the ride turned into a group ride that no one wanted to be on. The whole morning I was kicking myself for not doing the Fondo, even though it would have been it the longest riding day in a year or two, but once the outcome of the race came in the first 7 miles it wasn't making getting over that any easier.

Sunday was crit day! I did one race last year and it was the Detroit Crit. I have to say after doing that and then this day I forgot how much fun a criterium really can be. Sure it does get a little hairy at times, and crashes happen. DON'T PEDAL IN CORNER ONE! It's just full on most of the time, always action, corners, crowds, and speed. I felt a million times better physically then the day before, but still not where I'd like to be, off the front! Crits are more fun when you are the one dictating and not reacting.

No races for me in a while. But a fun riding trip with my Dad is in the works in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to that.

Unicorn Box Car Madelyn and I made for field day at school. Had to stick to standard box car racing standards. So no carbon. 

Breeze On

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Training Tip Tuesday. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Decided to race this weekend at the Fat and Skinny Tire Festival in Warsaw, IN. It's a multiple event weekend with mountain bike racing, road racing, a fondo, ride to work ride and etc. I'll be sticking to the road side this time with a 3 mile TT Friday night, a 55 mile circuit race on Saturday and a criterium on Sunday.

A part of myself can't help but think about how
fun it would be to do multiple events. Well I could do the TT Friday, Saturday I could do the mountain bike or fondo in the morning, circuit race in the afternoon, short track Sunday and then the criterium.

But with only 5 weeks of training in I know what I can and can not do. That brings me to this training tip. Just as the old saying goes "Rome wasn't built in a day" you also can't build fitness in a day. Every natural instinct will have you ride as hard as you can each day, but that isn't the best way. I've even slightly failed at that. Doing Zwift races trying to tell myself I'll just sit in the B's or C's and do tempo while I end up doing an hour FTP test, or just doing some Jakerpacing aka 3hrs of sweet spot. Luckily for me life gets in the way and adds in a bit of unplanned rest. I'm also smart enough to know that I can't over rest the week of the race and know freshness at this point will be my friend.

To start back into training focus on aerobic building, especially advance aerobic training with tempo and sweet spot even more so for the athlete that is more time crunched. Your threshold will not be the same as it was before, so also a well timed FTP test once you have a few rides under your belt will be a good start.

>>> How to completely an FTP Test
>>> How to Sweet Spot 

Sweet spot workouts are pretty straight forward. Though you can as you progress you can start adding 15 - 30 second attacks at the start and finish of the intervals, cross into higher zones every couple of minutes or just do a 8 - 12 second burst ever couple of minutes to simulate race accelerations.

Example Sweet Spot Workout #1

Warm up well in zone 1 for 5 minutes and continue in zone 2 for 10 - 15 minutes. Then complete 3 x 12 minutes @ Sweet Spot (88-96% of FTP). Rest 6 minutes between zone 1/2. Then finish ride with 15 minutes zone 2 and cool down.

Example Sweet spot Workout #2

Warm up well in zone 1 for 5 minutes and continue in zone 2 for 10 - 15 minutes. Then complete 4 x 9 Sweet Spot Anaerobic Zone 6 Crisscross Intervals. Start each interval with 15 seconds Zone 6 (150% of FTP) settle into sweet spot (88-96% of FTP) for 4 minutes, back up to Zone 6 for 15 seconds, sweet spot for 4 minutes, then finish with 15 seconds Full Gas Sprint. Rest fro 4.5 minutes between each interval. Ride zone 2 for 30 minutes and cool down.

Most importantly just get on your bike, ride and have fun!

Breeze on