Sunday, October 5, 2008

The End-of-Season Review

by Coach Lang Reynolds

Of the 90 days separating the beginning of July from the end of September, I was home for just over ten of them. I raced in Oregon, Colorado, California, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and of course Washington itself. Of the 20+ days of racing over the last three months, I didn’t win a single race, and I haven’t placed in the top 10 since March. It’s been a frustrating season. I’m a Cat 1 trying to get a rofessional contract, and while this much travel and racing is not strictly necessary in the quest to obtain a contract, I thought it was the best thing to do at the time.

Here at the end of the season, it’s easy to slip right into Whatever Comes Next, whether that is binge drinking or cyclocross (or both simultaneously, as they do in Portland), without taking an honest and focused look at the season just completed. What was instrumental in the goals that you did achieve, and what prevented you from reaching those that you didn’t?
To keep things short, I am just going to cover the second half of my season, which consisted of three big chunks of racing based around the schedule of my team, the Hagens-Berman LLP Elite cycling team. First came the week-long Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon. Three weeks later we raced the National Championship Time Trial and Road Race in Irvine, CA and, after two days off, the five-day Tour of Utah. Following that I traveled to the East Coast twice for the Green Mountain Stage Race over Labor Day Weekend and some criteriums later in September. Additionally, in order to prepare for the Tour of Utah (where all the races were over 5,000 ft of elevation) I spent just over two weeks in Fort Collins, Colorado, training and racing at altitude.
So, what did I do wrong? First of all, the altitude training in Colorado to prepare for Utah ended up backfiring on me. I’ve learned that altitude is a tricky beast: in order to fully acclimate, one must spend several weeks (not just two) living at altitude. Additionally, because altitude forces you to work at a lower intensity (unacclimated athletes face a 10-20% drop in sustainable power), I left Colorado both unacclimated and less fit than I would have been had I been training at sea level. Coming off the intense Cascade Classic, my time in Colorado wore me down instead of giving me the boost I needed.

Secondly, I raced too much. Because I missed the month of May due to a knee injury, I tried to cram as much racing as possible into the end of the season. After Utah I tackled the 12-hour drive home in one sitting and raced all three local races that weekend. The next week I flew to Vermont for the four-day GMSR, came back for the Mt. Baker Hillclimb, then flew back for more crits on the East Coast. That amount of racing and traveling is not necessarily a bad thing (you have to be able to race and travel frequently if you want to ride professionally), but I should have taken the hint after mediocre performances at Nationals and Utah. I should have rested up, trained a little, and concentrated on just a couple of additional races. Or, I could have just called it a season and started training for Cyclocross.

I’m not happy about my performances over the last three months, but I did a lot of races that I’ve never done before and gained a lot of experience. I learned a lot and I am confident that I raced as hard as I could on each day of racing. I’m thankful to be part of a great team like HB Elite and more than anything I am looking forward to next year. By taking a look back and identifying what worked and what didn’t this year, I am one critical step closer to being prepared to make next year my best yet. One thing is for sure: I am staying away from altitude!

And Thus Ends the Year, Almost.

by Coach Daniel Harm

In two days I leave to the final race of the season. To be honest, I debated for a long time about even going. Yes, this may seem surprising considering the race happens to be Elite Track National Championships, an event at which I have excelled at every year. After much contemplation I decided to make the plunge, book my plane ticket, and hope for the best.

The reason my decision process proved to be tumultuous was because this year has been quite strange. Why? Because this year I raced more than I ever have in my life. All said and done I raced 127 out of 365 days. There have been numerous ups and downs, and the hardest part of it all was having to be on the road away from home so much. This is what it all comes down to: I am ready for the off-season and want to take some rest, but, instead, I have to attend the hardest race of the year.

Let’s just say the pressure is on. I have some demons to hash out. Last year at National Championships (which was also the Olympic Qualifiers) I missed the Olympic time standard for the individual pursuit by 0.7 seconds. I think the let down of putting so much time and effort into training for an Olympic possibility, and then to miss this dream by such a small margin, has been haunting me.

The combination of experiencing first hand the amount of time and dedication it takes to be a professional athlete, combined with the numerous shortcoming inherent with racing a bike, I have begun to reflect back on why I actually do this, why I race my bike. The daunting “Why?” is nipping at my heels, and I have to arrive at an answer.

Without doubt, it is very easy to focus on the negatives: crashing, missing the Olympics by the blink of an eye, the long times away from home, away from friends and stability, the crappy pay, the constant pain and dirt and grime and long nights of waiting in airports. But, still, these negative reasons are not why I race.

Going past the negatives I recall the hilarious moments hanging out with my best friend and fellow teammate, Adrian Hegyvary, after races. Racing with my close friend and winning Madison on the velodrome is quite an exhilarating feeling. In a word, we dominated the National Madison Cups this year. But, it was not the winning that made it worth while, rather, it was the sense of unity and teamwork of sharing a common goal of kicking our competitions ass that drove us to work so hard.

For me, racing is about the people, the people who I race with. It is all too easy to get caught up in the wins and losses—and the disparity between the two. But, at the end of the day, this form of thought will not be able to keep me motivated to race. In two days I leave to LA for National Championships, and there I will get to see friends, fellow racers, and people involved in the race community. Bike racing as a sport needs all the support it can get, and what better way to support the sport by facing my demons, getting on a plain and racing my bike as hard as I can? Because, after all, sometimes there is not always an answer to those daunting “whys?”

Larry Kemp Junior Camp was a huge success!

In the early part of this summer WSBA’s Trish Lawrence approached Cycle U wanting to know if any of the coaches would be interested in teaching a 4 day junior cycling camp in Cle Elum WA. Without hesitation Coach Kristi Berg and Toby Swanson jumped on the opportunity and took on being the head coaches for the camp. The idea was that they would help write up the curriculum and help run the clinic by coaching and teaching the skills involved with all aspects of cycling.

This was the 3rd year of the Larry Kemp Junior Camp. Larry Kemp was a cycling enthusiast that was killed while riding his bicycle in Spain. In his memory, WSBA has put together this cycling camp to promote cycling growth and safety within the junior ranks. This camp is funded by the Larry Kemp Memorial fund. The cost for the camp was only $100 per child for 4 days of camp. This minimal cost is made possible because of the additional funding provided by the memorial fund.

The camp started on Thursday August 21st. The kids started to arrive around 6pm at the Flying Horseshoe Ranch in Cle Elum WA. We had 23 kids registered, ranging in ages from 10-14 years old. We had 9 girls and 14 boys, so this was a great mix of kids both by gender and ability. This camp was open to kids of all levels, from beginner to advanced. The cabin counselors for the boys were Colin and Cole. The cabin counselors for the girls were Kristi, Gina and Trish. We will be looking for girls 16 and over to help with this counselor position next year. We got the kids all checked into their cabins and let everyone get to know each other. We then sat around the camp fire and made smores. We got the kids off to bed at 9:30pm, but of course like at all camps the kids were all very excited and I think some of them didn’t actually go to sleep until very early into the morning. Kids will be kids!

Friday morning we got the kids up at 8am to eat breakfast. There were many very tired children, first lesson learned; go to bed at actual bedtime! After breakfast the kids were greeted by Kat Sweet from Cascade Cycling who ran them through her Mountain Bike clinic. The kids got to learn how to ride off drops, over obstacles, balance, and many other skills. They all seemed to really like Kat’s clinic and learned so much. We broke after the clinic and got lunch, then everyone got ready to head out for a mountain bike ride up on top of the hillside above camp. The kids all trekked up a 2 mile gravel road, that had a good climb and after some adventures we finally ended up on the beautiful single track trails and rode for about an hour then headed back down for some free time, swimming in the pool and dinner. The kids were pretty tired after all that riding and had no problems getting to bed on time that night.

Saturday morning we woke back up to an amazing breakfast (cooked by Trish, Gina, Barry, Joy and many more). Then after breakfast we headed out for a Cross clinic put on by Tim Rutledge with Redline Bicycles. Tim ran them through some fun running drills, worked on mounting and dismounting the bike, and did a little race effort. The kids all loved the cross stuff, a lot of them had never heard or seen a cross race so this was very new to many of them. After the cross clinic we broke for a quick snack and then rounded up the troops to head out on a 19 mile road ride out to the river to have lunch and back. These kids were all such troopers. They all made it to the river with no problems. Once we refueled them all and let them cool off in the river they all got back on the bikes and rode all the way back. Again everyone made it with no problem. So very impressive! So we got back has some more free time, and then the kids still wanted to ride so we offered either a mountain bike ride or a 11 mile ride into Cle Elum to the Dairy Queen for a snack before dinner.

The group split into 2 and everyone went on their rides. Then we all came back together for dinner and a movie outside in the lawn. The kids all got their sleeping bags and curled up to watch the movie “Nims Island” out on the grass. The kids were given the option to sleep outside if they wanted. Most of the kids said they would sleep outside but by the end of the movie only a handful made it the whole night outside. Everyone else snuck back into their dry cabins.

Sunday morning was the last day of the camp. We woke up to breakfast again, and then did some time trial races down the road to the end and back. For those that didn’t want to race, we took a group to the river to play in the water. A very mellow morning with a lot of very tired but happy kids. The parents showed up between noon and 1pm to pick everyone up.

We had so much fun getting to know each child, and watching all the kids have so much fun and learn so much about cycling. I can’t stress enough that if you know a child that is interested or has been cycling for awhile that would love to go to a camp; this is the one for them. It is so well organized and the kids learn so much about every aspect of cycling. Overall a great experience and I already can’t wait for next year!!!

Special thanks to everyone that helped make this such a huge success!
1. Trish Lawrence
2. Gina Kavesh
3. Barry Routblatt
4. Darrin Schwend
5. Christi Schwend
6. Jim Schwend
7. Craig Undem
8. Joy Undem
9. Jerry Cutright
10. Cole Cutright
11. Colin Krebsbach
12. Chad Berg
13. Kristi Berg
14. Tim Rutledge
15. Kat Sweet

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

End of Season...or just the beginning?

Wow, What a great time!!!
Thankyou to everyone who came out on Saturday to help celebrate the end of the season.
Coach Ed showing off true Cycle U Old School form...
Friends and teammates enjoying the sun after a great morning ride and gorging on fresh Angus burgers, beers and brats...uhhh ahhh...

We had a great ride around the north end of Lake Washington with 25 awesome folks, and finished with a BBQ celebration in the sun discussing the news of the day, like will Lance really be top 5 in the Tour this year? Good idea for our next poll.

Aly and Ed talking total dominance for Team Cycle U 09! BTW, Team meeting Monday night Oct. 20th at 6:30 pm for new and returning team members. Be there!