Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I am so Proud

All I can say is WOW!!!

The first month of racing is under the belt for the new Team Cycle U squad and I have been blown away by the coolness of the whole thing! Everyone we signed on has been a great addition and given a great effort to get out there and try cross racing. Coach Toby has been leading the crew and doing a great job on race day taking care of everyone and setting up the tents and trainers (and showing everyone how it is done by winning or nearly winning the Elite race every week!). Coach Kristi has done the same and really been a great example of what a racer is: fun, focused and determined to do their best.

I also need to brag a bit, because not only do Toby and Kristi win the elite categories, some of our new racers have also done exceedingly well! Kenton Berg won his first race on Sunday at a very tough Steilacoom course with a brutal run up (I could barely walk it by the 7th lap)and is currently 2nd in the Cat. 4 series along with hard man Cameron Mallory near the top 10. Monica DeWald was 3rd this past weekend and is currently 2nd in the very competitive womens Cat. 4 series (with a win earlier in the month) with her teammate Jen Akeroyd sitting in 5th for the series after finishing 6th on Sunday ( and taking awesome photo's). That is incredible since these folks have come into cyclocross pretty green and jumped ahead of many very talented and dedicated racers who have been at it a few years or are coming from road, track or MTB racing. I have been Super impressed.

I also want to mention a few others: Karyn Abraham, Bill Lear, Stephen Bond and Eric Mamroth have been doing great, Thom DeBuys and Taraneh Shafi are my vote for the most inspirational on the team for their persistence and fire in getting starting when they hadn't even seen a cross race until recently. Brad Loetel is sitting 20th in the Masters 4's with consistent good efforts and Richard Lotz has also been out there working on his game and getting dirty every weekend and improving. Cross is not easy, and as any of these new racers will tell you, it takes guts and courage to go the line and race such challenging courses each week and not only learn to ride at your limit, but to negotiate logs, mud, barriers and running while you are blurry eyed.

OK, proud papa will take a break, I just wanted to say that whether you are first or last, the fact that you joined the team and made a commitment to trying racing and stretching yourself has impressed me. I look forward to many more great memories this season and I am very excited about our new road team that is starting up this weekend as well.

Spin to win,

Coach Craig

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Report from the French Alps

Peg and I, being 60 and 56 respectively, knew that our two week bike trip to France in the summer of 2007 with French Cycling Holidays, a wonderful company that we'd used on prior trips, would be a formidable challenge for us. Well, actually, the first week in the Alps would be. The second week, in Burgundy, had modest mileages of between 30 - 45 miles per day over hilly but not mountainous terrain. That week would be a cakewalk for us. The first week, however,
was a different story. Each day was bewteen 50 - 90 miles with between 7,000 - 10,000 feet of climbing every day. We would cycle over some of the most legendary cols in the Tour de France -- names etched in cycling history -- like L'Alpe d'Huez, Galibier, Telegraphe, Glandon, Ornon, Izoard, and Mt. Ventoux. We faced more climbing in a week of cycling than we'd ever attempted before.

So, we decided to get some training help. We signed up with Coach Tammy at Cycle University beginning in the fall of 2006. Coach Tammy started us with a mix of strength conditioning (weights, abominal crunches and squats) and specific cycling exercises using emails and phone calls to make sure we were following the correct regimen. We were tested at Cycle University both at the beginning of our training and futher along to determine what kind of conditioning progress we were making. As the fall changed to winter and spring, our cycling exercises intensified and the strength conditioning, which allowed us to build a solid base, decreased. The result was that when we left for our French bike trip, we were better conditioned than we had been for any previous bike trip.

And we needed it. The first week was daunting. Despite our training, the first few days were among the toughest of the trip. For example, on the first day we started in Corps and climbed the Col de Parquetout and Col d'Ornon before descending into Bourg d'Oisans and tackling L'Alpe d'Huez in the afternoon. Of course by time we reached L'Alpe, featuring the most famous 21 virages (switchbacks) in all of cycling, we had already climbed over 4,000 feet. And we still had the 3,300 feet and 7.8 miles of nearly 8% grade to go. It was hard enough just struggling up the steep gradient. But the hail storm that hit us near the top seemed like a most unfair test from the cycling gods. But Peg, I, and our 15-year-old daughter Moriah all passed the test. Peg's calorie-counting watch told us that we'd burned more than 6,000 calories that day. We ate more food that night on top of L'Alpe d'Huez in one sitting than we could ever remember.

The second day was harder. We descended from L'Alpe d'Huez and climbed the interminable Col de Glandon. Then of course it was Col de Telegraphe. Finally, in the afternoon, we tackled the monster Col de Galibier, the highest pass on our trip at 8,640 feet. We're quite sure that the last kilometer of the Galibier's switchbacks were designed by the Marquis de Sade. They were unrelenting, steep, tortuous and as we neared the summit it began to snow lightly. I was pedaling next to Moriah -- too busy being an equestrian to train hard with mom, dad and Coach Tammy -- but who had an already formidable cycling pedigree for a 15-year-old. But she had never attempted anything like this, a day with over 10,000 feet of climbing. I saw the strain on her face; sweat cascading off her brow even in the 30 degree temperature. We gasped for breath, struggled up the last switchback and pedaled over the summit. We got off our bikes, guzzled water, and Moriah looked up at me and said, "That was the toughest thing I've ever done in my life" -- a declaration that would make any cycling parent smile. That moment will live forever in my heart. After the Galibier day, we knew we could do the remaining days, all of which were taxing but scenic, wonderful and uplifting.

I think the moral of this story is that if you're 15 years old, with a great strength to weight ratio, and think you're invincible, you might not need to train hard for a bike trip like this. Moriah actually rode herself into shape during the Alps week. But if you're like Peg and me, sound and reasonably fit, but long past those years of endless teenage energy reserves and stamina, I highly recommend the intensive training approach. This was a trip for the ages, one that Peg, Moriah and I will relive many times in the coming years. Peg and I thank Cycle University, and most especially Coach Tammy, for helping us attain cycling goals that we thought perhaps might be beyond our reach -- but weren't -- and for a week of cycling memories that now occupy our family hall of fame.

Warmest regards to everyone at Cycle University -
Moss Patashnik and Peg Hall

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gosh I love Cross

Thanks for the great pic Carolyn and Eric!!!

OK, first time I have raced in mud like this in 10 years...what an amazing challenge and workout! Cross certainly makes you stronger. It is a miracle the bikes can function going through miles of pudding mud like we did. My hat is off to our new Team Cycle U (sounds like we had a Great showing from all the positive reports I recieved) and all the people who braved the elements to race cross yesterday in Snohomish. Thanks especially to Kristi and Chad Berg for developing such an awesomely brutal course!!! I am now recovering until Wednesday nights workout.