This year I am learning, through my coach largely, that winning requires suffering. Intuitively, I do understand this fact in relation to most other things in my life. I am currently learning that it applies even more so to cycling and winning bike races. There is nothing easy about being the leader of the race. The cross race I did over the weekend prove enough that the winners are the ones that can suffer the most. I spent 44 mins in low zone 4...and I have never done that before. To win at cross, I figure I have to be able to suffer in high zone 4 and still be able to ride, get off the bike, run, and everything else in between along with improving my handling skills.

Here is a good quote from Eddy Merck on that topic:

"What is talent, really? Is it the fact that your heart pumps more volume than the average person's, or that your blood turns less acidic when exercising so that you recover faster? No—talent has to do with your capacity for suffering. You just learn to suffer more. In the end, maybe, there is no explaining. Why are some people so intelligent? Why is a brain surgeon so deft with his fingers? What is about his vision that makes a man a great artist?"

-Eddy Merck
I rode with my bike cam on the bike at the Hardwood Cross. While is shows how "bad" a cross racer I am, it's interesting to watch the first 5 mins anyways until I get dropped on the first runup. I will create an edit with commentary at a later time. For the time being, you can see me race a 40 min race in 46 mins....46 mins in Hell....damn is cross hard.

First, the race was 40 mins long...but it took me 6:31 long than the leader to complete four laps of the course. Yes, I did my first Southern Cup cross race on Sunday, October 30 at Hardwood Ski and Bike. I am happy. I didn't finish last. Originally, I bought the cross bike in 2009 used to be used as a commuter bike. After a dismall result in Paris/Ancaster in 2010, I decided I needed to learn to actually ride the cross bike and did the Midweek Cross through the fall 2010. This fall, I returned to Midweek and found I was better at riding the course, but still quite the beginner. When I started cross back in September, I promised myself I would do one cross race. I picked the Hardwood Cross because I trained the course in September. However, it was still a hard effort.

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I think one of the best things I read recent came from an email conversation I had with my coach, Ed Veal. In it he said something that made so obviously, made so much sense, yet seems to alude more bike racers: "Train to race, not just train". Ed is a guy that just doesn't talk that talk, he walks the walk (rides the ride?). Recently, I received an email from Ed that he sent to all his clients. It describes his weekend training session. Due to family commitments, he was stuck training indoors. He describes how, ever though fatigured, he pushed hard and continued doing sprinting efforts. I will let you read the email (slightly edited and posted with his permission) for yourselves:

It was an indoor weekend for me even though it was awesome out. Two awesome days on the trainer (3hours both days) my body feels great.

Today, I did a very solid day on the bike and as the 2 hour mark passed started to feel a little fatigued. I continued on for another 30 mins at a very solid tempo before deciding it was time to do some sprints. I figured sprinting late in the ride was the best time to do it because that's when I would be sprinting in a race (I'm training to race btw). Every 30 seconds on the mark I stood and cranked things up a bit. I hit 900 watts most of the time in the first 5-6 sprints and then got into the groove getting over 1000 and then 1200, 1300, 1400 a few times in a row. I did about a dozen in a row with only 20 seconds rest in between each sprint. I went on the 30 - sprinted for 6-8 seconds and then held 200 watts for 22 seconds until the next one. This was a great workout and an awesome way to finish the ride. I mention it because you may not realize the kind of effort I am putting in right now at this time of year. This kind of finish to an already hard 3hr indoor training ride would kill most people. I'm alive and stronger because of it and I am writing you because I really believe there is more to sprinting than just physical power, strength, speed, etc... I think is really is a skill. I think it is something I have excelled at because I have had initial success with it. Since then, I have continued to put the time and effort to improve and refine this skill. The efforts that I am putting in explains my sprint is getting better and why my sprint isn't the same as it was last year or the year before that.

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When I saw the posting on the Canadian Cyclist website that the Redbull Minidrome was coming to Toronto, my first thought was to go watch the fun. The more of thought about it, the more I was thinking, as a guy that rides the Forest City Velodrome, I should ride it. The Forest City Velodrome is smallest indoor track in the world at 138m on the black line. I never expect to win anything at the Redbull event because some of the bike couriers and trials riders in the city are far better bike handlers that I am. My only goal was to get a photo on that tiny track. Arguably, the Forest City Velodrome can no longer claim to be the smallest track.

On the Friday before the event, I went over to register at one of the local fixie bike shops. On the Saturday, I packed up my track bike and rollers. I wore my Vitess Racing kit. I figured the change of my crashing on that track was very high. A friend of mine gave me 4-1 odds of crashing. If he told me beforehard, I would have bet against myself. I expected to crash.

Toronto weather
It's that time of year again when the leaves are turning brown (well, up here in the Great White North they are), the days are getting shorter, and the cyclocross bike is becoming the bike of choice. It is time to evaluate ones goals and accomplishments for the year and to set the goals for the coming year. Of course, if you live for Cyclocross, your season has just begun.

For 2010, my goals were quite simple:
  • Do OCUP road races for the experience.
    • I did the Bike the Bruce, Ninth River, Toronto Crit, Niagara Classic, etc. to name a few.
  • Get a Time Trial bike, do the weekly time 15km time trial, and be able to average 300W.
  • Be able to ride hard in the middle of a long ride (cycle to the Midweek Crit, race it, and ride home as well as cycle to the Real Deal TT, race it, and ride home)
  • Cycle to Niagara Falls from home on my own
The goals for the year were pretty simple. My racing schedule was rather adhoc and I did races when I felt like it. Given the M3 races I found rather easy, I usually did not taper back before a race. I paid for that by never being able to place better than in the teens in most races and in some races, finish way back in 30th place. However, for the most part, races were for the experience and I viewed them as a hard workout. So, I did a lot of silly things like go off the front on the first lap, stay at the front on the Toronto Crit, etc..


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