Today, I did a volunteer session at the Milton Velodrome. I lead out the Try The Track group, and stuck around to keep the Re-cert group "honest". I heard those immortal words again: "I'm dumping my trainer for track". What a bad idea.

With all the excitement over the opening of the Milton Velodrome, I'm sure that is a thought many riders have. I even know guys that race that have circumed to the excitment are fighting their way into any session they can get their hands on.

With Track Nationals 2014 over and done, and 1.5 weeks of doing effectively nothing, I jumped back on the trainer Tuesday night to re-start training again. However, my motivation was still low. As I did the sprint workout, it hit me: what am I training for? The goal of last summer was to get ready for track racing in the fall and see what I could do at the Provincials Crit. The goal of the fall was to become ready for track nationals. I am not at the point where I am looking to the future and seeing what it holds. 

One of the things I was told when I started a new training plan last September, is that I race too much. There are two types of bike racing I like doing: Track and Criteriums - basically any race that is short. Anything much over an hour, and I get bored. Riding around for 2-4 hrs for a single sprint is not something I enjoy. I used to do it, but results are usually the same: I forget to eat/drink when the pace picks up, and I blow up. One can get away with that one the track and in a hour crit, but after 90 mins of intensity, the body runs out of stored fuel. I'm done.

Day 4 of track nats saw us racing the Keirin and 3K Individual Pursuit. The Keirin originates from Japan. It is an eight lap sprint race, where six riders draft behind a motorbike for 5.5 laps, and then are let loose at 50km/h to race for the final 2.5 laps. The race really is only the last 650-750m and it is probably one of the fastest races on the track with speeds exceeding 65km/h. The individual pursuit is just that. You and the clock with a small twist: another rider racing you in the same race against the clock 1/2 lap apart. If you are caught by the other rider, the race is over.

Keirin Gone Wrong

I've done a Keirin a few times before at Bloomer Park in 2013. Bloomer Park is a 200m track in Rochester Hills, MI. I'm probably the only one in the Master B category that has, nevermind, the only licensed commissaire in the group that has done the track course. I'm working the Youth Cup races at the Milton Velodrome in February. So, I am still kicking myself for what happened in the second race. First, I entered the keirin for fun. Given there were some top sprinters, I never expected to make it through to the final round. Three riders from each heat proceeded to the final round with the remaining riders racing for placings in the 6-12 round. The first round was, well, slow. Still, the top three sprinter blew by the rest of us and I managed to finish behind them.

Day 3 of racing at the Mattamy Velodrome say the Master B racers compete in the mass start races. This was the day I was looking forward to. If there was a chance in getting to the podium, this would be the day.

First up in the morning was the 40 lap scratch race. I figured I had no chance of winning the race considering I was racing against some top sprint talent. My tactic was simple: lap the field or die trying. My Midweek Cycling nickname is Mark "Breakaway" which I got at Crit Provincials September by taking off at the start line and later getting in a 8 lap break away.

Day 1 of the Canadian Track Nationals came and went Saturday. I didn't have any races, but spend the time getting used to the track. The track was open for 2.5hrs, and I managed to get a hour's time in doing two 1K flying efforts and two standing 500m efforts before doing a cool down on the trainer.

Day 2 saw an early start as I got to the track to try on the big gear required for the flying 200m TT and find out the correct line to take to get the best speed. It seem to work because once I got my time on the track, I pulled off a 12.689sec flying 200m, a new PB. The best I had done before was 14 secs in Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills in the summer. Apparently, my time translates into an 8.8 sec flying lap at the Forest City Velodrome where I have never done better than 9.8secs. The time placed me 6 of 12 for the Master B category which was good enough for the concellation sprint (5-8) placing.

With track nationals almost upon us, I'm getting ask what events in which I will be participating, nevermind constantly being told to FOCUS. I gather people are looking to me for some good results considering I won a race against none other than Steve Bauer on the Forest City Velodrome a few weekends ago.

So, for those interested, tickets for the "show" at the Milton Velodrome are free. You can get them at this link: Tickets to Nationals.

The tech. guide for the event is available here (which contains the details of the times): Tech Guide

The events run from Jan. 3 through to Jan 6. I will be competing in the following events:

Dr. Jim Taylor is a leading high performance Sports Psychologist. He was recently interviewed by Achieve Training and Coaching for their blog. I have been hearly alot lately how it is the "off-season". Somehow, this means, the training regiment is stopped, and just riding around begins or worse: nothing. We all need a short break, but if we wait too long, fitness drops. This has been my experience the last two winters. I stopped any real training in the fall when I went to York University to take courses, and by the time January came along, I was back to build again...only to discover a general lack of race readiness until about June in the summer - you know, when race season is about over.

From the arcticle, I love this statement:

"ED: As a sports psychologist, how do you approach the off-season with your athletes?

JT: I am a firm believer that next season starts now. After a few weeks recovery its time to get back in the game. But it’s more than just going out a riding a whole bunch."

This is the same mentality put forth by Ed Veal and the Real Deal Performance team. There isn't really an off-season. I took a 2.5 week recovery break in September, but I intend to be ready to race for Track Nationals in January and for racing on the road in Florida in March and Georgia in April. Too long of a break, and your fitness will drop.

Check out the article HERE.

I don't know how to say it: commuting by bike in North America is taking your life in your own hands. The car culture is the problem and regardless of how many bike lanes are installed in the downtown core of cities, the problem is not going to get any better.

I read an article recently that blamed the culture shift on the auto companies back in the early days of the car when people/bikes/horses rules the roads and cars were the new thing. Back then (1920's), any auto crash was assumed to be the fault of the driver. Now, you can almost commit murder with a car and get away with it. Back then, auto companies saw this bad press as bad for business and setup marketing to change the blame to the pedistrian/cyclist/etc.. It worked all to well. Stories are abound with car/cyclist crashes where the driver kills or injuries a cyclist (or pedistrian), and gets away with it. It was the auto companies, apparently, that framed car crashes as accidents. They are crashes. Nothing is accidental about it.

That said, commuting to work can be fun...most of the time. One just has to understand a few "rules". Most of these items are common sense but it is worth repeating.

 

With the end of the road cycling season, everyone is thinking of moving training indoors as the weather starts to becoming variable and colder. While training can happen in the cold in the winter, training at -10C is much harder that at 20C. Nevermind the difficulty of getting movitated, but getting up to threshold in the cold  is just plain harder. Some are starting to think ahead and get set for the training camp in February and/or March. This fact reminds me of my experience of the last two seasons and the real purpose of the training camp.

For some reason, people think training camp is about riding hills, drinking beer, and have a good time. I find that hard to believe because it doesn't - or shouldn't - be the way one trains normally. Is it really supposed to be a vacation? I think most forget that training camp about bring back the form you had the year prior. So, to that end, what do climbing 20km climbs have to do with it? What part of climbing for over a hour resembles the type of training and racing one does here in Ontario? I can ride up Grey Rd #19 in Collingwood,ON in 16 mins and do Scenic Caves Rd is 11 mins. Effingham Rd in St. Catherines, ON on the Niagara Classic Road Race is what a 3min climb? Where is there an hour climb? For the most part, racing in Ontario is flat with some bumps in them. In my mind, it would be far better to train in a location that better simulars the normal racing environment - and I do mean train. What does everyone do the first ride in North Carolina? Drop the hammer and try prove themselves. We shoot for strava segments, etc.. Why? What part of this strategy is about training? I have always wondered what the point of training camp was when there wasn't really any training.

 

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