Sooner or later, ride and racing bikes, you are going to crash. In fact, on the first day of the "Learn to Race" course run by the Midweek Cycling Club, it was one of the first things mention to all riders: You will crash. Get over it.

This past Saturday, I was session leader at the Forest City Velodrome's Recreational Ride. Running 8:30AM-Noon, riders from all over come to ride the track and to get experience on the track. For some reason, on this day, albeit sunny outside, there were a record 34 riders present riding the track. There were six cars in the driveway when I rolled up at 8:20AM. Last week there were none. At the rec ride, there was a good mix of experienced and new riders (you can see where this is going). While crashes happen far less frequently (almost never) on the track compared to on the road, they do occational happen. I was taken out by a new rider who, one his way down the track (the track is self-cleaning), slammed into my back wheel, ripping the tire off, and causing me to land on the concrete. While the bike took most of the damage (new tubular tire required), my bib shorts were tore slightly and I have a small patch of road rash on my hip. Nothing serious, but without some attention, this small gash can be a royal pain in my side (pun intended).

 

Wed. Feb 13, 2013 was a day I had planned to head to the track for the usual track workout. However, someone in the world had completely other ideas. It is a day I will not forget.

Around noon that day, I jumped in the car to run some errands. I had noticed some twinge in my right thigh. The only think I had been doing in the morning is working at my computer. It is what I do for a living. I spent a hour driving around and getting and out of the car. It was getting progressively harder to do so as the pain in my leg was getting more intense. By the time I got home about a hour later, I had problems walking up the stairs. I started to recall what it was like back when I broke my leg in 2009 and had to learn to walk again. At this point, the pain was intense enough I was starting to question going to the track, so I phoned up the doctor for an appointment thinking I would get something that afternoon. A half an hour later, I gave up on that idea (of going to the track). If you have every had a cramp in your leg, think of what it would feel like if the cramp never went away. That is the pain I felt. So, I dragged myself into the car and drove myself to the hospital. I grabbed my crutches that I saved from 2009 incident thinking I might need them. I was concerned that a screw holding the plate in my leg came out and was causing the pain. I was not looking forward to that conclusion because that would mean emergency surgury to have the plate removed, and spending this summer learning to walk again.

 

The one thing missing from my training this winter was endurance training. For one reason or another, I never managed to get in any 2-3 hour rides. I have been riding and racing the track all winter. Some people drive two hours to go skiing, I drive just under two hours twice/week to ride my bike indoors at the track in London, ON.

This passed weekend I put in some endurance work more by accident than anything else. On Saturday, I opened the track as planned. I rode the rec ride at the track putting in some speedy efforts on the blue line. Speedy in the sense, I was riding a 49x17 gear for 78 gear inches, so at times I was spinning at 110-115RPM riding around 38k/h. I spent the rest of the day at the track. I led out the riders at the track 1 (newbie) session which is a  good workout unto it's own. I hung around for the Youth training session and in some hard efforts. I ended up leaving at the close of the track and put in some 858 laps on the day for some 120KM of riding. It has been a while since I put that many laps in.

 

Two race nights. Two completely different results.

I've been racing and training at the Forest City Velodrome all winter. I have also been training and working out with Lori Silver at FITS Toronto. At the track I work on improving my bike skills. At FITS, I work on building motion skills and strength. I started with this regiment back in Sept. 2012 doing the track 2-3 times per week and FITS twice per week. I've seen steady improvement on the bike at the track and in motion/strength skills at FITS. There has never been a time when I approached a race night on a Sat at the track where the week's workouts we strenuous enough to cause a bad performance in racing. Sure, I probably could have gone faster/harder during the race by taking a rest day or two before a race night, but with racing almost every weekend, it would be more a detriment than an improvement to my performance. Racing at the track is more of a workout anyway and I consider it part of Training to Race.

HongFu CarbonCommuterIt has been some two weeks since I rode outside and commuted via bicycle to work. I think the longest I lasted not riding to work was three weeks - and that is because I broken my collar bone in August 2012. Two weeks ago it was bone chilling cold. -17C or colder in Toronto in a city that rarely sees temps this low. Some time ago, I put a limit of -10C on bike riding because it just gets too much. Last week, the power to the office building where I worked was cut because the transformer feeding the building blew up. No joke - the sidewalk outside the building is still blackened. So, I spent the week working from home. Today, I tossed all the rules and climbed on my trusty carbon commuter in -11C weather with a wind chill in the negative teens. I didn't care how cold it was and I was praying to the snow would stay at bay because I can't stand riding my cross bike - all 25lbs of it with it's snow tires. My carbon commuter bike has become my favourite.

Last year, after trashing my bike in a race in April, I decided I had enough. I had damaged a bike frame every year for the last four years, and $2000+ each time was getting expensive. Frame repairs are also expensive and the frame is never quite the same. So, I looked around for cheap carbon frames and settled on a Hong Fu. Give my history of trashing frames, I decided to order two frames instead of one. In May 2012, I took delivery of the new frames. I reviewed the sprint frame in a previous blog post. One sprint frame for $450 and one Pinnerello knockoff endurance frame for $320. I rebuild my bike on the sprint frame. 

 

It's been some four years since I started taking training seriously and the hardest part of the training has been conditioning my mind for competition. While solving problems and working hard comes naturally for things involving computers, it doesn't come natually for things involving bike racing and other sports related activities. Learning the meaning of "Rule #5" and "HTFU" have been and are hard. In fact, I had no idea about anything of the sort until last year. If I recall correctly, I tweeted "Bike is 50% mental" and I got a response from Mike "The Gorrila" Mandel from Real Deal Racing that is is 99% mental. He was certainly correct.

One of the things I learned last year while training with the Real Deal Elite team was about giving up - and why you can't do that if you want to win. However, I also discovered that showing up to a race with the "gotta win, gotta win" idea rolling through my head has a negative affect on performance. The anxiety and stress from those throughts tends to cause me to make mistakes, miss opportunities, and generally under-perform. I have thus taken on the "it doesn't matter" attititude when showing up for a race. I tend to do better when I have no expectation from the outcome. However, that does not mean I do not give 110%. The mental training is still put to the test during hard efforts, attacks, and the sprint for finish, but after it's all over and I pack up and go home, I am not worried about not making the podium. This is the reason I put "having fun" as the first goal for this season. Because I am not being paid to race a bike, the moment racing and training becomes work, I need to rethink why I am doing it.

 

What do you think of when you think of a cycling "studio"? Lots of people strapped to their own bikes which in turn are strapped to trainers with someone (maybe a computer) calling the shots. Zone 3! Zone 4! UP! Out of the saddle! Sit. I have been there. I had to admit, I do not get much joy from sitting on a trainer in my basement and thus the thought of spinning in a group doesn't give me much joy either. 2-3 hours of riding a trainer in a room full of sweaty people all griping about how hard the workout is isn't my idea of fun. A little over two years ago, I joined the Forest City Velodrome in London, ON largely to get away from "spinning". I think I've done two indoor group rides since.

So, when Coach Veal put "Join indoor training camp day 3" on my training plan, I almost cringed. First, you have to understand Ed Veal and Mike Mandel started Real Deal Performance (RDP) in the back of Gears Bikeshop in Leaside (Toronto, ON) with a setup of 10 Racer Computrainers. Both Ed and Mike are experience elite bike racers. I have popped in to look around, but never bit the bullet to actually ride. I have done computer trainer workouts before. Before I joined the track, I bought my own Tacx computertrainer, and I have ridden up Alps d'Heuz, trained with Andy and Frank Schleck, etc.. but that thing has largely sat unused since. I have also been to one of RDP competitors some time ago as part of the Morning Glory Cycling club.

 

I was asked today why I train/race/ride. I spend a lot of time and effort getting faster, working hard, etc.. Let's face it, at age 45, I'm not going to the Olympics or even the Pam-Am games. It's not unheard of for someone 40+ to make it, but everyone else has been training their entire life, and I started 3-4 years ago. There are masters categories for the provincials, nationals, and worlds, but I still have some work to do to reach the world class calibre even in the master's divisions.

I think this photo sums up why I spend so must effort:

mark-10

(Press CLOSE INFO above, left to see the whole photo) 

It has been able two months since I paid any attention to my website/blog. I signed up for a course at York University in Sept and spend the next 3.5 months either working, studying, or training. I didn't have much time to do much of anything else. In fact, there were numerous times, I put training asside to study. December saw me get back on the horse, so to speak, and get back to training. During the holiday break, I attended the Forest City Velodrome training camp and achieved some personal bests. If you haven't already seen them, I've produced three videos in December. Two from the Forest City Velodrome and one training video on how to get up to 200RPM. Please check out http://videos.hackcycling.ca or click on the Videos link in the menu system. Today, I decided to give the website an overhaul. It's been needing it for a while. The following changes have been done (which you may or may not care about):

  • upgrade to Joomla 2.5 which is the current production release
  • update the photos in the banner. They are 2012 photos.
  • cleaned up the menu system
  • added a real comments system powered by Disqus. Yes, you can comment on my blog posts and I will get a notification that you did so I can approve them in a timely fashion. Comments have been a sore spot for this blog for years - nothing really worked. I think this one will.
  • added a Facebook like as well as Twitter.

So, please put comments on my posts. Please share the posts everyone. I should also note: I post alot of cycling related info to Twitter. Please follow me if you are interested in keeping up to date. I save the blog for longer essay style articles...and I have few rolling around in my head to type out this month.

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