June 8, 2017 § 16 Comments

I was out flogging this morning with Josh Dorfman, Mike Hines, and Kristie Fox, and in between smashes we got to talking about cycling longevity. The question was along the lines of “How do people keep racing not just for years but for decades? How do you keep from burning out?”

I had to think fast because we only had a couple of minutes’ rest in between Flog intervals, but here’s what I came up with. Your results probably vary.

  1. Every day you have to win the pillow battle. If you can get up at 5:00 AM every day no matter what, you will get enough control of your day to ride.
  2. Don’t chill, rest. Bike people are generally hard-nosed and competitive. You can’t change that and “chill” or become a “relaxed chick.” But if you don’t give it a rest every now and then you will burn out. How much rest? I don’t know.
  3. Variety. People who race for decades change stuff up. Kevin Phillips has raced road, crit, pursuit, Madison, team time trials … and he always seems to find something new.
  4. Look down as well as up. People who eventually get frustrated with racing are typically looking up too much, focusing on all the people who are better than they are. You have to also look down sometimes. If you got 22nd out of 45 riders, you beat half the field.
  5. Race clean. Dopers eventually quit, regardless of whether they get caught, because their results depend on the drugs, and taking drugs over decades is an almost impossible regimen to continue–cost, routine, fear of exposure, and side effects eventually take their toll.
  6. Accept the fact that you suck, but enjoy the battle. Hardly anyone is a consistent winner in cycling and most people never get on a podium, as in “never.” But where else in life can you compete so intensely, so all-in, no matter how old you are? Treasure the opportunity to pin on a number. It’s a privilege and a gift.
  7. Pass it on. No matter how much you suck, most people suck waaaaay more. Teach what little you know. Help people whoask for it. Gratitude is a tremendous motivator and esteem builder.
  8. Smash. Resist the temptation to only “ride for fun” or “ride for enjoyment.” There’s a crucial element to cycling that involves unvarnished misery and the taste of your own puke. Make sure that no matter how you ride, you always save time for the nausea cage.
  9. Quit buying stuff. Stuff isn’t the answer. Pedaling is.
  10. Race. You can’t be a racer unless you race yer fuggin’ bike. And racing will keep the delusions at bay like nothing else ever invented by man.



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Upgrade points plus DON’T GET KILLED!

June 5, 2017 § 18 Comments

SCNCA president Sean Wilson and CyclingSavvy guru Gary Cziko went to great lengths and expense over the last year to design a class for the SCNCA junior training camp, which was successfully run in January, 2017. They are now are offering a USAC-sanctioned traffic safety class this coming June 11.

One of the bonuses for this class, aside from helping keep you out of the meat wagon, is that, thanks to Sean and SCNCA board member David Huntsman, the class has been approved for USAC upgrade points. There are a lot of needs out there in the SCNCA catchment, but few opportunities to change things at the USAC level. The concept of using actual classes and education to keep junior riders from getting killed is a top priority and the SCNCA board has supported it wholeheartedly.

The class offers two upgrade points for 5-4 upgrades, 1 upgrade point for 4-3 upgrades and 1/2 a point for 3-2 upgrades. All of this for learning how to not get killed riding the edge of a narrow lane. Few efforts by the SCNCA are as deserving of praise and participation as this one.

Of course, many bike racers don’t yet see the value in CyclingSavvy-type instruction. What’s more astounding, actual “coaches” and “mentors” who are responsible for the lives of their charges somehow think that their “common sense” and “life experiences” and “racing with team Bumblefuck sponsored by Bill’s Sewage Treatment back in the 80s” is a legitimate substitute for skills, coursework, and understanding the law.

The location for the clinic is awesome: Redlands, a town with a rich history in SoCal cycling, and a place where riders don’t have to fight with the snarl of LA/OC/San Diego traffic. The cost is also incredibly low considering the benefit of the classes, the professionalism of the coursework, and the effectiveness of instruction: $50 for juniors and U23, $75 for elite and older riders.

If you’re involved with junior cycling in SoCal, if you ride a bike, or if you ever intend to ride one, this is a great time to give your riders and yourself the chance to survive and thrive on the bike for the rest of your life, not just while doing circles in a parking lot. And a “few short training sessions with CHP” will not — trust me– cut it.

The course will also include an on-road component so that participants get to practice what they’ve learned. As a longtime CyclingSavvy participant and class participant, I can assure you that this course can keep you alive. Participants will practice using parts of the Tour of Redlands, where cyclists learn to navigate some of the most intimidating spots in town safely and comfortably.

Now is the time to slow down, take a deep breath, and do some “non-race” learning that will help you ride better, race better, and most importantly, live longer. A lot longer.

Location: Bikecoach.com Fitness Studio, 700 Redlands Blvd., Suite M, Redlands CA 92373 More Information: http://www.gsandiamo.com
Contact: Sean Wilson; sean@gsandiamo.com



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CBR #5–bike racing for fun and not much profit!

May 30, 2017 § 5 Comments

I did two races yesterday, the 45+ and the 35+. This was held on the “left-hand” race course, which is the longer one with four turns and which is almost pancake flat.

The 45+ field had almost ninety riders and there was no wind, so I knew it was going to be very fast. After the race someone said we averaged 28.5 mph over sixty minutes. I don’t know if that’s true, but the handful of times I was off the front it was ridiculously painful.

Two moves that would have worked in CBRs past were the one in which I followed Pat Bos. Basically, once the first salvos have been fired and people are starting to tire, any move with Pat in it is going to be a winning one. We stayed away for about a lap, but each time he flicked me to come through we lost massive speed. The pack seemed to bring us back with ease.

The other move was with Red Trek Dude. I don’t know his name but he is fast and super smart. Same deal, though. They pegged us back after a couple of laps and that was that.

With twenty minutes to go it looked for sure like it was going to be a field sprint, so I slid to the back. It’s funny how a peloton has a group consciousness, where everyone realizes the same thing at the same time without ever saying a word. Sometimes it’s “field sprint,” or “that move is gone,” or “bring it back.” I don’t know how you know but you just know.

I settled back to watch the fireworks because I’m a firm believer in leaving the dangerous, dirty work of sprinting to the sprinters. It’s true I don’t win much but it’s also true that I have a pretty good record of going home with all the same skin I left with.

The second race was slower, I think, but just as ridiculously hard because it was a smaller field. The 35+ race looked like it was going to be a battle between Rahsaan Bahati and Charon Smith, two guys who wrote the book on crit racing. It’s always weird how in one race things stay together and in another race on the same course on the same day under the same condition a break goes, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason why.

I stayed at the back most of the race, where things would have been really easy were I not already gassed. The one time I moved up towards the front to see if any break action was about to happen, all I found was a lot of wind. So I slinked back.

While Rahsaan and Charon were watching each other on the last lap, Robbie Miranda hit out early and beat everyone to the line. It’s always exciting when an underdog beats the favorites, although Robbie wins so much he’s hardly an underdog. I was so tired after two hours of racing in circles that even sitting was a chore.

My Big Orange team tent was the happiest place at the race. We had several riders do their first race yesterday. Kevin Salk and Matthieu Brousseau were incredibly excited to race; Matthieu so much so that he put on a clown suit after the race and wore it on the podium. It was pretty awesome that while other people were fumbling for their podium cap our guy was buttoning up his entire clown suit. A huge contingent of Big Orange racers paid entry fees and raced. I could name them all, except I couldn’t. The NJ Of The Day award went to Andrew Nuckles, who did three races and never stopped talking for seven straight hours.

Sherri Foxworthy came to the race and snapped a ton of team pictures, as did Paul Cressey, so we have two team photogs who are each generously paid in granola bars and all the warm water they can drink.

Team members Delia Park showed up to cheer and chat and encourage, and Kristie Fox put up the tent at Dark AF:00, loaded the tent area with food and drinks, and spent the entire day pinning people up, refilling bottles, changing poopy racer diapers, then going out to race against some very fast women. Denis Faye of Beachbody Performance also came to cheer his wife, and Connie Perez, recovering from a bad fall, was there as well. Marilyne Deckman raced her way to fifth, Lisa Conrad had a strong showing in the 4s, and everyone agreed that Michelle Landes needs to woman up and switch back to Big Orange.

People who want bike racing to be more fun and who think that industrial park crits are boring need to see what happens when their entire team shows up, including spouses, kids, and S/Os.

Because it’s fun AF. Photos courtesy of THE Sherri Foxworth.



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The race of truthiness

May 27, 2017 § 17 Comments

Okay, here are the numbers from my 2-person state team time trail today:

Time: 57:41.

Distance: 22.4 mi

Speed: 23.29 mph

Place: 6th out of six teams.

Overall: 4th slowest out of all races in all categories, including dead people.

As I begin the process of preparing for 2018, it is important to remember a couple of things, or one thing, actually, and it’s this: There’s hardly anywhere to go but up. Mathematically, there are a couple of issues, such as, in order to turn the fastest time of the day I’ll need to increase my average speed by 5 mph, which is kind of like saying I need to shave another fifteen seconds off my 100m time to beat Usain Bolt.


Of course the road to improvement is littered with defeat, but more importantly, with a ton of excuses, or a detailed Future Assistive Investigative List, as I like to call it.

FAIL Item No. 1. My partner sucked. She prevented me from achieving the true athletic potential of which I was truly capable. Lab testing, Strava, and extensive wind tunnel measurements proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was capable of averaging 23.30 mph over that course if I had been riding with anyone else named Merckx, Manzella, Rominger, Bos, Anquetil, etc.

FAIL Item No. 2. No tent. Unlike a lot of people who passed us so quickly that we couldn’t even tell what color their outfit was, we didn’t have a cool team tent. That cost us many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 3. No shoe covers. That cost me a lot of time when Terry Steeves came ripping by at 40, even though he started twelve minutes back.

FAIL Item No. 4. Not enough preparation. I had only prepared for this event since January, missing out on the key lactate resistance threshold supercharging period of late December. My coach says that if you miss this vital period it is hard to recover for later no matter how much you train.

FAIL Item No. 5. Terrible Internet coach. My coach, Herr Doktor Professor William Stone, Ph.D., M.D., M.B.A., Diplomate in Cat Veterinary Science, kept telling me to eat only raw calf liver and Kibbles in the weeks leading up to the race. That cost me minutes. (But it saved a lot on the doping expenses.)

FAIL Item No. 6. Horrible crowd support. It is a fact that I race best when tens of thousands, preferably millions of people line the course screaming my name, holding up posters of me wearing a halo and a pope suit, and chalk the street with “Wanky Rules!”, “You’re the Best!”, “Get ’em, Tiger!”, “Nice Underwear!”, etc. Embarrassingly, my only fan was Rich Manzella, who advised me as I pedaled by that “You don’t totally suck, dude!”

FAIL Item No. 7. Inadequate warm-up. Unfortunately, I scrupulously followed the Team SKY warm-up protocol, detailed here. Looking at the chart’s 7th warm-up interval, which calls for 2 minutes at a 90 rpm cadence, I mistakenly did the entire 120 seconds at a cadence of 89 rpm, which ruined the entire race for me. Details matter, folks.

FAIL Item No. 8. Tires and tire pressure. My tires were either too wide or too narrow, and I’m certain they had either too much air or too little, all of which cost me many, many podium spots.

FAIL Item No. 9. Off-topic Facebook postings. The night before, instead of posting about my bikram yoga cool-downs and saddle positioning, I posted about my grandson. This resulted in minimal likes and smiley faces, which again cost me many, many podium spots. Many people say that.

Fail Item No. 10. Casey Maguire. This guy ruined it for me, saying crap like, “Have a good race,” “Good job,” etc. Got into my head and made it impossible for me to focus my normal killer instincts on the job at hand.

Anyway, watch out for 2018. I’ll be upgrading to the fastest pair of shoe covers made.



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A shitty little sport

May 24, 2017 § 26 Comments

If there is a lamer sport than pro cycling, I hope to never watch it. Because the most exciting, dramatic, challenging, lungbusting leg of cycling’s most legendary stage race was decided today by a poopy diaper.

Say it isn’t so. And even if you say it isn’t so, Laurens Ten Dam will: “I think you all saw what happened on television, right? He had to shit,” said Ten Dam, commenting on the decisive move in the race, a move which involved the lower gastrointestinal tract.

How can you explain that to Grandma? She understands the vague basics behind the Cubbies, the Patriots, and the Spurs. “One team won because the other team scored more points, Grandma.”

“Oh, I see,” she says, briefly looking up from her knitting to see a tall, athletic looking fellow named Flubbs or Crowley or Hockinspittle doing something athletic with a ball. Everyone roars and the points on the scoreboard change. She goes back to her knitting until you prod her again. She looks up, new numbers. Even Grandma gets it. The nice fellows in the yellow suits got more points than the other nice fellows in the blue suits, so they won.

Contrast that with yesterday’s Giro d’Italia. “Hey, look Grandma! The fellow whose name I can’t pronounce just took off his shorts and is crapping behind a bush! Now the others are attacking! The decisive bowel movement of the race has begun!”

Grandma doesn’t look up, she looks away, mortified that you watch such filth, and unable to understand how pooping behind a bush is a sport. “Don’t they have port-a-potties for that?” she asks. “Even though it’s Italy?”

Then you fall into a long explanation about the “etiquette” of pro cycling, and whether those behind in the GC who are now off the front have an obligation to wait for the race leader like Tortellini did in ’37 when Effluvia, who was in the lead by ten seconds, flatted on the Mortirolo, and then on the descent in the ice storm when Fettucine slid out and fell off the 1,000-meter cliff, Effluvia, who had regained the lead, sent his sister’s third cousin Panini back to hoist Fettucine out of the crevasse, and as the patron of the peloton Effluvia then ordered Tagliatelle, Linguine, and Spätzle to slow the tempo until Fettucine regained the peloton and was able to help his team leader Tortellini, who had broken a fork and needed help with the bellows to fire up the forge down in the village in order to repair his bike. But after this gallant gesture, when Tortellini rejoined the leaders, he attacked Effluvia, who had stopped to complete some masonry on a cathedral, and ended up winning the stage and the race by a mere eleven seconds, which was almost exactly the amount of time that Effluvia had had when he flatted back at the bottom of the Mortirolo. And therefore, cycling tifosi have argued ever since about exactly when it is appropriate to win the race with a heroic attack and when it is instead appropriate to quit racing and let the other guy win because of random dumb luck. “That’s the whole thing about etiquette in cycling, Grandma,” you say.

“If they had any etiquette at all they wouldn’t be doing their business on the side of the road, and the t.v. certainly wouldn’t be broadcasting it,” Grandma says angrily. “And why does everyone in the race sound like the menu at the Olive Garden?”

As usual, Grandma is always right.



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Super Tink!

May 18, 2017 § 13 Comments

South Bay bike racer Kristabel Doebel-Hickok turned heads and blew minds a few days ago when she finished fourth overall in the women’s Pro Tour Amgen Tour of California, a race in which she got third on the queen stage and wore the best climber’s jersey for most of the race. As a fourth year professional riding for Cylance, she’s having her best season ever.


Queen Stage, Amgen Tour of California. Photo used with permission, courtesy of Cylance Pro Cycling.

So I called up Kristabel to talk with her about the race.

CitSB: How did the race unfold?

KDH: I didn’t expect a top five in GC going into the race. You don’t try any harder in any particular race; I tried that hard at Punchbowl, too. It was the same effort I always give, with a different result. It was nice to be back with a full team and support at a world tour race! Afterwards I have a fun week ahead and we all have a little break due to the Philly cancellation.

CitSB: How was each stage?

KDH: The first stage ended on a 5-minute climb; I was 5th on the stage. Stage 2 had a big climb and finished on small one; I got third and moved up to fourth on the GC. Stage 3 was completely flat but windy and the Euro teams created echelons; it was not easy but with time bonuses the fifth GC woman moved up, so I dropped to 5th. On Stage 4 the woman who was third on GC finished further back, so I moved back up. I was three seconds off the final GC podium but in the final stage there were time bonuses and the woman I had to beat is a great sprinter so it was a far reach for the team to line out for me to beat her in the finish. I was on the podium after the second stage, and on the flat stages you protect the GC, while the team was looking for sprint finishes for my teammate Kirsten on the flat stages.

CitSB: How did the super hilly second stage unfold?

KDH: It started atop a ski resort, 34 degrees, and started with a downhill neutral. My coach warned me about clothing because once you get cold it’s really hard to get full power back. I went to the line fully dressed and the sun came out. The first climb is twenty minutes into the race, so I tossed my rain jacket at the start to the soigneur, but the climb wasn’t raced hard, and there were flat sections and open windy areas where echelons formed, totally unexpected, and if you’re in a bad position you’d never see the leaders again if it happened in Belgium. It was really hard going to the next climb, I was frozen, didn’t eat or drink enough, and Kirsten helped me position while Boels drove it hard and I followed, while the road leveled, pitched back up, and finally I went to the front because the team plan was for me to see what I could do.

I doubted it in the moment because it was windy and Boels had made it so hard but I decided it was better to try and fail than not try, so I went to front and rode steady hard for a bit and then a big attack came off my wheel, I followed it, there were a few more attacks, I followed, and after Hall and van Breggen attacked I couldn’t follow, they went up the road halfway up the climb, and with 5k to go I was with Guarnier, who was in yellow, with a group of other really strong riders and I realized I wasn’t going to leave that group so I sat and saved until the finishing climb. From the base there’s three straightaways and on the second one I thought, “You gotta try now,” and I had quite a bit left and attacked hard and ten seconds after I jumped the radio said, “You can go now!” but I’d already gone and then my director said, “Go full gas!”

It’s a long way from the bottom, and with probably 500m to go I exploded and looked back and even though there was a big gap, Ruth was coming fast so I put my head down and went all the way to the line and that’s how I got third. I was second in the QOM points but wore the climber’s jersey because the yellow jersey can’t wear both, and I got to wear it all week!

CitSB: Where are you in your development as a pro?

KDH: This is my fourth season and there are so many aspects to the sport, physical and mental. I made a big jump two years ago when I changed coaches and training, and I saw my numbers go up a ton, but now it’s all small improvements which is fun but there are no more massive gains and all the other aspects get so much more important. Aspects such as eating, drinking, and dressing are much bigger than any physical gains you can get at this point. There’s lots of room for improvement but I’m starting to see my capabilities, it’s just a matter of getting it out of me. I’m learning to work with teammates, using strategy, putting the pieces together, now that I have all the pieces!

Last year I did more Euro classics, was really thrown into the deep end, but my ATOC success was from last year’s hard work. This year the team took a step back to make sure I was healthy in and one piece and not doing so many hard cold races, it was a different approach. I’m going Europe for the Giro and other races later in the season.

CitSB: What’s important for a young woman who wants to race as a pro?

KDH: First, you have to understand what it means to race professionally and what sacrifice is and what it will take. When I first started riding, Greg Seyranian asked me, “Do you want to do this professionally?” but I had no idea what it meant. In my first two weeks of riding someone also said, “You’re gonna crash and if you don’t accept that you should get out now.” It has taken more than I ever expected but has put a lot into my life I couldn’t have imagined. I’d tell the young rider to keep challenging yourself. My first Boulevard road race was as important to me then as the ATOC is today. Every race I wanted to win and really go for it, but at the same time I had to step back and learn. I had enough disasters to wonder, “What’s going on? What changes do I have to make to get better?” And you have to this analysis even when you have success.

CitSB: What’s the learning process like?

KDH: As a team we said, “Let’s review after ATOC, good job but what can we do better?” For me? Order new shoes!

You have to keep learning and not settle in. Some teams are domestic, some are Euro; there are lots of ways to do pro cycling and a young rider should understand that, too. For me, I want to see what I can do. I won’t be done racing until I know “That’s everything I had and that’s as good as I could have been, that’s what I’m made of, that’s what’s inside me.”

I love racing in the US, it’s my home, there’s less crashing, but the highest level of the sport is in Europe. Of course the ATOC is at that same high level but generally you have to go to Europe and do World Tour races and that’s where you really get to test yourself. I’m enjoying it now. I have to go all in. 80% isn’t enough and I’ve always been that way. I’m a one-track person, I give something my all and go on to the next thing. After cycling I’ll be in another career and be just as focused but now it’s where can I go? I don’t know where that endpoint is in cycling. For example, people have decided I’m a climber. Sure, I climb well, but I don’t know if three years from now I’ll be just a climber.

CitSB: What would you tell a beginner?

KDH: I’d say that group rides in the South Bay and West Side were way harder than my first road race. I was up the whole night beforehand, afraid about clipping in. But the race started and they clipped in just like on a group ride. Why did I worry about that? If you can ride with the South Bay rides you can race with Cat 3/4 women, no question. And I’d also say that the things you think are stressful are no more stressful than on a group ride, it’s just that the stakes are a little higher because it’s a race.

CitSB: What’s the environment like for women racers?

KDH: It’s good. From the time I was an amateur there were pros who reached out and created opportunities for me. My first big stage race was Redlands, and Amber Neben offered me a spot on her composite team, and I won the amateur jersey and got a ride with Tibco. There are people who want to help up-and-coming racers. A few would rather you leave but mostly women want to grow the sport and encourage others. Look for those people who want to help and approach those who want to help. You don’t need it from the whole peloton, just from a few. Lots of races are stepping stones and then bigger races like San Dimas Stage Race that are local but have a taste of pro racing and you take it bit by bit and challenge yourself.

CitSB: How has your physiology changed as you’ve developed from beginner to elite amateur to professional?

KDH: Running, where I got started, was drastically different from cycling. In running you can get lighter and lighter and only get benefits; a year or two and you’re flying. In cycling, losing weight and getting that thin is short lived because you lose power and strength and there are even more side effects when you try to walk to the fine line of getting to race weight. I eventually had to decide that I didn’t want or need a runner’s build for cycling. My new coach, Dean Golich, emphasized power, being strong, and skills. He was tough on me about everything. If you just train hard your body will go where it wants. You can ride for thirty hours up and down PCH all you want at a deficit, underweight, and you’ll be fine more or less, but to do max intervals and push your body you have to have reserves and be healthy and strong, especially in the spring classics where you’re not getting sick and you have to be more well rounded, and with that kind of training you develop more cycling specific muscles. It’s been a natural progression, so that now I keep focused on the important gains–not losing a few pounds, but things like eating/drinking/dressing right, or figuring out where I made mistakes. It’s not a matter of a couple of pounds. The pro life is also a lot of hard travel, and the lifestyle takes a lot too, a different body and mind.

CitSB: How long is your season?

KDH: February to August for sure, through September and October if possible.

CitSB: What does your off season look like?

KDH: My post season? Two days rest and coach tells me what to do! No, we take a break and a little time completely off bike, do some walking and then a little running. Last off season was the polar opposite from my usual off season. No long easy distances, we worked on my weaknesses, high intensity. I did some long distances here in California, where it’s warm and sunny, but worked on weaknesses and improvement.

CitSB: What about mental recovery?

KDH: I don’t go crazy while taking physical recovery. It’s difficult to get much mental recovery because I’m such a one-track person and don’t really need it, but on holidays I’ll see family, enjoy things outside cycling. No racing in the off season is the best mental recovery because it removes the stress. Leave me with my bike and I’ll recover; easy riding doesn’t take anything away from recovery. Some riders need one month off, they don’t even want to look at their bikes, but for me, after a few days off I’m looking at my bike again.

CitSB: What high points are you seeking for 2017?

KDH: I want to finish the year with results at the Giro. That was my big goal last year but I crashed a lot and separated my shoulder. I’d like to have a good block of racing in Europe with good results. Some good results wouldn’t be the end of my season but if they were highlights I’d be happy.



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