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Our second day in Trinidad & Tobago started…early.

The first stage, a prologue of sorts up a “1km” (closer to 700m) hill in the coastal oil refinery city of San Fernando had a listed 7 AM start. This necessitated a 5 AM bus ride from Port of Spain down the highway, leading to a lot of groggy bike racers. Compounding the predawn stupor was a glancing blow from Tropical Storm Isaac, leading to occasional torrential rainfall throughout the night and morning. What made for a mesmerizing white noise concerto during slumber morphed into an annoyance on the bike and in the bus. 

Bikes were loaded onto flatbeds like freshly caught fish at the docks (thankfully Roger has been shuttling mine/Cesar’s Pinas in his car), and we were off. The prologue course was very wet and fairly steep. Luckily, I’d had the foresight of mounting some Vittoria Paves in the States before flying down - phenomenal shit condition tires. Experiencing Trinitime again, the stage didn’t get rolling until about 8, and start times were something of a fluid beast - all I knew was that I was 33rd in line to go. The race came and went. Short, intense efforts have never been my specialty, and I finished 30th, clocking somewhere around a 2:20, about 20 seconds off the lead. The road was pitched and soaked enough that any sort of acceleration out of the saddle made for a spinning rear wheel. Cesar nabbed 11th, and our other Colombian, Jaime pinned a 4th place finish as well as the U23 leader jersey, putting us in good position coming into the evening’s criterium. The finish would’ve given up a nice view up the coast to Port of Spain, but Isaac had other plans.

The evening would serve up a boulevard U-turn criterium in San Fernando, but first we had a 12-hour chunk of time to burn. We rolled through town towards the hotel where we’d spend the day, conveniently located up the street from the friendly neighborhood arms dealer. Sometimes (rarely) I value my life, so I left the camera stashed when the temptation arose to snap a photo of aforementioned establishment. The hotel was warm. And by warm, I mean “slightly cooler than a sauna”. The aroma of rotting garbage in the lobby, coincidentally the only location with a WiFi signal, made for an interrupted day of VERY important (oh, wait) Facebook and Skype use. Our German teammates took to calling our six-bunk room Guantanamo (bonus seatless toilet for ease of use). I thought about finding a battery and some jumper cables for a truly tasteless impromptu photoshoot, but Cesar and I decided to take a trip to the local supermarket.

Detour: The beverage selection. Fruit-flavored soda is popular, a la Fanta, as are more earthy selections. Like the pictured Mauby Fizz. I’m going to go out on a limb and call it an acquired taste, because I find it pretty damned revolting (which is fairly appalling, given my garbage disposal-like eating habits). The flavor is something like carbonated Jagermeister that’s had a cedar plank steeped in it for a few months with a solid helping of emulsified dirt. Anyway, I look forward to trying the coconuts and cane juice from the street vendors, because the soft drinks in bottles haven’t been anything to shake a stick at yet. Coffee is decidedly an afterthought. There’s a few knockoff Starbucks, but it seems like brown water and powdered instant stuff is the norm here, the latter of which is sufficient for the 9 PM criterium stimulant bender that’s been necessary. Beer is on the spendy side, but the island-style lagers are tasty, and Guinness Foreign Extra is amazing. It’s like a standard Guinness you’d buy in the States, but actually good - and 7.5% ABV. Akin to a solid imperial stout, but without the massive body, making it way too drinkable. Horny Goat Weed wine…I might give it a try when I need to feel extra virulent or something. Maybe. Instead, it was good for a laugh at the grocery.

12 hours, several cups of coffee, a couple beers, a few waterboarding sessions and approximately 47 photos with a crew of Nigerian refinery works who were stoked on us being in their hotel later, we cruised to the crit course. A fairly basic setup - 1.5kish long down a divided highway with a U-turn at each end. Our shredtime was pegged at an hour plus two laps, so nothing too hairy compared to what I’ve been subjected to this year. The race was fairly mellow, though a small break went up the road late in the race with Henner, one of our Germans, ending up third out of the sprint and putting around ten seconds on the field.  

So it goes. On tomorrow’s episode, Cesar and I go on a downtown Port of Spain adventure, I discover bliss in spicy chickpeas coupled with fried dough, I get chastised by a 17 year-old, and we almost get crashed out by a boat - during a race.  

Posted at 11:58pm and tagged with: trinidad and tobago, cycling, unity race, competitive cyclist racing team, petrotrin,.

Welcome to the lovely island nation of Trinidad & Tobago!

I’m here for a ten-stage race that’s part of their celebration of their 50th anniversary of independence from Britain - it’s called “The Unity Race”. Pretty rad stuff! CCRT teammate Cesar Grajales and I got an invite from a contact, figured we didn’t have anything else going on…and went for it. Being able to see places I never would’ve been able to before is a huge reason I race bikes at the level I do, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity! Thanks to PetroTrini (our composite team’s sponsor) and Roger Farrell (our manager) for the chance to race is in order, as well as to Reynolds for hooking up some race hoops last minute.  

Anyway, T&T (as colloquially known) is an interesting place. Fairly wealthy by Carib standards thanks to a fossil-fuel boom, it’s a melting pot of culture, language, food, and customs thanks to being passed around by a few colonial powers, emancipation of African slaves, and the indentured servitude of East Indians in the 1800s. The people here are incredibly friendly, and the way of life is decidedly laid back. We’re learning that the islands run on “Trinitime” - you can pretty much count on everything starting at least thirty minutes after the stated time, and that’s perfectly okay. The dialect of English spoken here is sweetly melodic with some Creole spice thrown in.

Our first day here involved a mellow ride around the capital, Port of Spain, with some of my temporary teammates and a few other teams here from all over the world. Recently relaxed regulation and newfound wealth has led to mass-importation of cheap, relatively new (used) Japanese cars that can no longer pass stringent Japanese registration inspection for purchase by most of the populace of T&T. This, coupled with ridiculously cheap fuel prices, has lead to nightmare traffic problems. However, drivers are, in reflection of the concept of Trinitime, friendly as hell to cyclists. Traffic is a flowing amoeba with few discernable rules, but nobody is in a rush to get anywhere, making everyone rather agreeable. Nobody seems to ride for transportation, and I’ve only seen a single cyclist here not for the race - making us something of a novelty to motorists. Traffic follows British patterns, leading to this ugly American getting a little confused in the roundabouts, along with occasionally riding my bike on the wrong side of the road. Emile Abraham, T&T’s native cycling son, successfully negotiated the purchase of Cokes for everyone at a local market after we figured out that not everywhere in the world bows to the great American Dollar (see above). 

After the quick ride, we went to meet some of the government officials responsible for the race in downtown Port of Spain. Modern office buildings, most belonging to the government, are a reflection of the petroboom. Positivity is definitely the vibe from everyone here! T&T is very proud of its ability to maintain a peaceful, democratic state with so many ethnic and cultural groups. The nationalism on display is one proud of its internal accomplishments, unlike the variety often encountered in the US.

Enough babbling for now. Expect a prologue/first stage report tomorrow after a few Guinness Foreign Extras. It’s like Guinness…BUT GOOD.

Posted at 2:35pm and tagged with: the unity race, trinidad and tobago, cycling, competitive cyclist racing team, nate king, emile abraham, cesar grajales,.

The Hell of 2012: A Neopro Cautionary Tale

It’s the eve of the Tour of Utah.

The race that I’ve been wanting to do since I shot it in 2010 for PezCyclingNews. One of the many motivators for riding, training, and racing like a man possessed the year after. The local big show, where all of my friends and family would surely turn out to lend support and serious amounts of crushivation. I’m even on a professional cycling team that received an invite this year.

And I’m not racing it.

It’s okay. I’ve accepted it. In fact, I’ve accepted the fact that it would be a pretty unlikely event by the end of June. You know those stages of grief? I’m kind of through it. The hard part is answering the inquiry from everyone who pays attention to cycling in Utah - “Why not?”

To answer “Why not?” is to also answer the thought that bounces around inside my cranial nether regions, and has since a dismal showing at USPRO: “Damn, this year sucks.”

It took until late July to figure out why. 

Piles of blood tests. Piles of doctor visits. Revelations that my body was in complete survival mode. It kind of took me aback - I generally consider myself a pretty resilient bastard. I can usually thrash with broken bones, blood flowing out of every limb, and head injuries. No, my decrepit state couldn’t have just been from a few (fairly harrowing) wrecks and nasty interactions with cars. 

My family practice doctor, unfamiliar with the rigors of bike racing, suggested I had a brain tumor, and then she figured out just how much hell your average Cat 1/Pro cyclist in the US puts themselves through on a daily basis. She suggested training stress. Again, this wasn’t a solid answer - very little had changed from the prior season when it came to what I was doing. If anything, I was in a better situation - working less, resting more, eating better, more focused on training than ever before. In fact, it inspired a bit of guilt. In 2011, I was working full-time, training, racing, and partying like a relative rockstar. In 2012, I was hardly working, training, racing, and living like a monk…and yet, having trouble pinning the break in a local race. 

Then, while we (the doctor and I) were leafing through one of her huge tomes of medical knowledge (entertainingly, figuring out what was wrong became a joint exercise with the medical professional), it struck. She asked what my bodyfat percentage was. I knew from some spring testing that it was hovering around six percent. 

A simple explanation, a simple problem, and a simple solution. When bodyfat dips below certain levels, the body begins to shut down non-essential processes in order to survive. In my case, it began taking down most hormone production - stuff essential for drive, recovery, motivation, and that ever fleeting “HTFU”. In May, still in recovery from a broken wrist and Speedweek thrashing, my hematocrit was well into anemia and I had the testosterone levels of a menopausal woman. A few crashes coupled with a malnourished state was all it took to push my body over the edge, and make me feel like a shell of a human being for a few months. I didn’t want to ride. I didn’t want to write. I couldn’t have an intelligent conversation. I didn’t want to do anything. I wasn’t depressed, I was simply vacant, like I had a permanent “Out to Lunch” sign hanging from my neck.

I presented the answer to Kevin Nicol (my coach), who in turn consulted Dr. Inigo San Millan. The answer? “Duh.” Their collective response was something along the lines of not seeing healthy racers under nine percent bodyfat. It made sense. I’d become hell-bent on getting as skinny as possible over the winter. I’ve always had a really screwed-up body image of myself. Body dysmorphia is pretty common amongst cyclists. I was convinced that if I were to be competitive in anything with a hill, I needed to drop to around 145-150lbs with minuscule bodyfat numbers, even though the year before with good form I was able to hang with the best climbers in the US at 160lbs. So, I ran massive calorie deficits through the winter. Our title sponsor accused me of being “skinnier than a starved cat”. He was right. At my lightest, I was tipping the scales at 147lbs. I’m 6’1. And I was still convinced I needed to lose more weight. 

When the theory of the causality for my anemic performance surfaced, I immediately began eating. A lot. In fact, so much that when I journeyed to Boulder at the end of July to do some testing with Kevin and Dr. San Millan at the CU Anschutz Human Performance Lab, I was shocked I was able to pack on so much weight in about 2.5 weeks (somewhere around the weight of a standard Santa Cruz V-10 downhill frame) - and successfully brought my bodyfat up to the acceptable 10% metric. 

Immediately, I started feeling better. I could train and recover. I felt like a cyclist (and a human) again, instead of a corpse on a bike. While it’s too late to save 2012, the lesson I’ve learned this year is invaluable. I won’t hit 2011 fitness levels before the year is out, but I can once again race without feeling like I’m on the verge of collapse every time the shit hits the fan. 

I’m going to miss the Tour of Utah. It’s going to be hard seeing the team line up and crush it without me. It’s going to be tough knowing that I can’t contribute on the roads I’ve ridden hundreds of times - but I’ve learned. 2012 might be a wash from a racing perspective, but the hell it’s been has armed me to the teeth with wisdom that few others can match.  I’ve got a few more races this year, and then I’ll be heading to warmer climes as fall turns to winter. I know exactly what I need to do, and exactly how to do it. 

The future is bright.  

Posted at 1:12pm and tagged with: full width, cycling, training, eating disorders, competitive cyclist racing team,.

The Hell of 2012: A Neopro Cautionary Tale
It’s the eve of the Tour of Utah.
The race that I’ve been wanting to do since I shot it in 2010 for PezCyclingNews. One of the many motivators for riding, training, and racing like a man possessed the year after. The local big show, where all of my friends and family would surely turn out to lend support and serious amounts of crushivation. I’m even on a professional cycling team that received an invite this year.
And I’m not racing it.
It’s okay. I’ve accepted it. In fact, I’ve accepted the fact that it would be a pretty unlikely event by the end of June. You know those stages of grief? I’m kind of through it. The hard part is answering the inquiry from everyone who pays attention to cycling in Utah - “Why not?”
To answer “Why not?” is to also answer the thought that bounces around inside my cranial nether regions, and has since a dismal showing at USPRO: “Damn, this year sucks.”
It took until late July to figure out why. 
Piles of blood tests. Piles of doctor visits. Revelations that my body was in complete survival mode. It kind of took me aback - I generally consider myself a pretty resilient bastard. I can usually thrash with broken bones, blood flowing out of every limb, and head injuries. No, my decrepit state couldn’t have just been from a few (fairly harrowing) wrecks and nasty interactions with cars. 
My family practice doctor, unfamiliar with the rigors of bike racing, suggested I had a brain tumor, and then she figured out just how much hell your average Cat 1/Pro cyclist in the US puts themselves through on a daily basis. She suggested training stress. Again, this wasn’t a solid answer - very little had changed from the prior season when it came to what I was doing. If anything, I was in a better situation - working less, resting more, eating better, more focused on training than ever before. In fact, it inspired a bit of guilt. In 2011, I was working full-time, training, racing, and partying like a relative rockstar. In 2012, I was hardly working, training, racing, and living like a monk…and yet, having trouble pinning the break in a local race. 
Then, while we (the doctor and I) were leafing through one of her huge tomes of medical knowledge (entertainingly, figuring out what was wrong became a joint exercise with the medical professional), it struck. She asked what my bodyfat percentage was. I knew from some spring testing that it was hovering around six percent. 
A simple explanation, a simple problem, and a simple solution. When bodyfat dips below certain levels, the body begins to shut down non-essential processes in order to survive. In my case, it began taking down most hormone production - stuff essential for drive, recovery, motivation, and that ever fleeting “HTFU”. In May, still in recovery from a broken wrist and Speedweek thrashing, my hematocrit was well into anemia and I had the testosterone levels of a menopausal woman. A few crashes coupled with a malnourished state was all it took to push my body over the edge, and make me feel like a shell of a human being for a few months. I didn’t want to ride. I didn’t want to write. I couldn’t have an intelligent conversation. I didn’t want to do anything. I wasn’t depressed, I was simply vacant, like I had a permanent “Out to Lunch” sign hanging from my neck.
I presented the answer to Kevin Nicol (my coach), who in turn consulted Dr. Inigo San Millan. The answer? “Duh.” Their collective response was something along the lines of not seeing healthy racers under nine percent bodyfat. It made sense. I’d become hell-bent on getting as skinny as possible over the winter. I’ve always had a really screwed-up body image of myself. Body dysmorphia is pretty common amongst cyclists. I was convinced that if I were to be competitive in anything with a hill, I needed to drop to around 145-150lbs with minuscule bodyfat numbers, even though the year before with good form I was able to hang with the best climbers in the US at 160lbs. So, I ran massive calorie deficits through the winter. Our title sponsor accused me of being “skinnier than a starved cat”. He was right. At my lightest, I was tipping the scales at 147lbs. I’m 6’1. And I was still convinced I needed to lose more weight. 
When the theory of the causality for my anemic performance surfaced, I immediately began eating. A lot. In fact, so much that when I journeyed to Boulder at the end of July to do some testing with Kevin and Dr. San Millan at the CU Anschutz Human Performance Lab, I was shocked I was able to pack on so much weight in about 2.5 weeks (somewhere around the weight of a standard Santa Cruz V-10 downhill frame) - and successfully brought my bodyfat up to the acceptable 10% metric. 
Immediately, I started feeling better. I could train and recover. I felt like a cyclist (and a human) again, instead of a corpse on a bike. While it’s too late to save 2012, the lesson I’ve learned this year is invaluable. I won’t hit 2011 fitness levels before the year is out, but I can once again race without feeling like I’m on the verge of collapse every time the shit hits the fan. 
I’m going to miss the Tour of Utah. It’s going to be hard seeing the team line up and crush it without me. It’s going to be tough knowing that I can’t contribute on the roads I’ve ridden hundreds of times - but I’ve learned. 2012 might be a wash from a racing perspective, but the hell it’s been has armed me to the teeth with wisdom that few others can match.  I’ve got a few more races this year, and then I’ll be heading to warmer climes as fall turns to winter. I know exactly what I need to do, and exactly how to do it. The future is bright.  

I’ve never received a skidlid compliment. Ever. Bike, kit, sunglasses, cyclocomputer, frame pump (really), and even my waterbottles have all been subject to adulation by others this season. But never the helmet, at least until today. Let’s start with the events leading up to this momentous occasion, shall we?

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. She’s one of the most rad people I know. However, like most rad people I know, my mom has one rather glaring character flaw. It’s related to the delicious nectar secreted by wooden deciduous flora somewhere in the vicinity of Vermont. And Quebec (where, coincidentally, Paco continues to earn my enduring respect with lines like ‘“It’s not over for me for the GC – I’ll attack tomorrow or after tomorrow to go for the yellow or podium,” he said. “For me, seventh on GC is nothing.”’ when he lost yellow in the Tour de Beauce TT). Anyway, now they you’re good and lost, back to my original point: The Flaw. My mom doesn’t buy real maple syrup. Ever. I can’t really fault her, US Grade A Dark Amber is probably more expensive gram-for-gram than a liquid gold/Johnny Walker Blue cocktail. Hell, I didn’t know I was eating fake maple syrup growing up until I moved out at the tender age of seventeen.

All that said, I’m a food whore with twisted cyclist logic. If I’m blowing calories on liquid sugar, it’s gonna be some DAMN GOOD liquid sugar. So, when I had the brilliant idea to cobble together Chicken and Waffles tonight for Father’s Day dinner, I neglected to factor in the complete lack of heavenly amber liquid in my mom’s house until I was halfway through today’s ride. Route detour was enacted, and I found myself wandering the aisles of the local supermarket to liberate a $12 thimble-sized bottle of syrup, clicking through the aisles and attempting to keep my Pinarello from making contact with any lesser surfaces (namely, wayward children).

At this point, you might ask “Where the hell is Nate going with this story?”

Answer: Checkout line. Carton of buttermilk and Burlington-born fructose. Stinky bike racer in kit. Attractive (female) checker.

Checker: “Badass helmet!”

Me: Gazes wistfully at syrup with visions of waffles and crispy poultry dancing in head. “…guhhh, thanks?”

Checker: Sums up purchase. “No, really! Making waffles?”

Me: Smitten, realizes what’s going on. “…hunnnyyeah?”

Checker: Gives odd look. Confused. Takes money.

Exit Me. 

Moral of story: Wear a sick-looking helmet while buying an expensive glorified breakfast condiment, and picking up the opposite sex will become elementary…if you’re cognizant of it. So what are you waiting for? Get the helmet. NOW.

Posted at 5:10pm and tagged with: catlike, competitive cyclist racing team, helmet, nate king, training,.

I’ve never received a skidlid compliment. Ever. Bike, kit, sunglasses, cyclocomputer, frame pump (really), and even my waterbottles have all been subject to adulation by others this season. But never the helmet, at least until today. Let’s start with the events leading up to this momentous occasion, shall we?
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother. She’s one of the most rad people I know. However, like most rad people I know, my mom has one rather glaring character flaw. It’s related to the delicious nectar secreted by wooden deciduous flora somewhere in the vicinity of Vermont. And Quebec (where, coincidentally, Paco continues to earn my enduring respect with lines like ‘“It’s not over for me for the GC – I’ll attack tomorrow or after tomorrow to go for the yellow or podium,” he said. “For me, seventh on GC is nothing.”’ when he lost yellow in the Tour de Beauce TT). Anyway, now they you’re good and lost, back to my original point: The Flaw. My mom doesn’t buy real maple syrup. Ever. I can’t really fault her, US Grade A Dark Amber is probably more expensive gram-for-gram than a liquid gold/Johnny Walker Blue cocktail. Hell, I didn’t know I was eating fake maple syrup growing up until I moved out at the tender age of seventeen.
All that said, I’m a food whore with twisted cyclist logic. If I’m blowing calories on liquid sugar, it’s gonna be some DAMN GOOD liquid sugar. So, when I had the brilliant idea to cobble together Chicken and Waffles tonight for Father’s Day dinner, I neglected to factor in the complete lack of heavenly amber liquid in my mom’s house until I was halfway through today’s ride. Route detour was enacted, and I found myself wandering the aisles of the local supermarket to liberate a $12 thimble-sized bottle of syrup, clicking through the aisles and attempting to keep my Pinarello from making contact with any lesser surfaces (namely, wayward children).
At this point, you might ask “Where the hell is Nate going with this story?”
Answer: Checkout line. Carton of buttermilk and Burlington-born fructose. Stinky bike racer in kit. Attractive (female) checker.
Checker: “Badass helmet!”
Me: Gazes wistfully at syrup with visions of waffles and crispy poultry dancing in head. “…guhhh, thanks?”
Checker: Sums up purchase. “No, really! Making waffles?”
Me: Smitten, realizes what’s going on. “…hunnnyyeah?”
Checker: Gives odd look. Confused. Takes money.
Exit Me. 
Moral of story: Wear a sick-looking helmet while buying an expensive glorified breakfast condiment, and picking up the opposite sex will become elementary…if you’re cognizant of it. So what are you waiting for? Get the helmet. NOW.

Tulsa. Featuring an appearance by CCRT’s one and only Ian Burnett. 

Love. 

Posted at 11:45am and tagged with: Competitive Cyclist, Competitive Cyclist Racing Team, CCRT, Ian Burnett, Tulsa Tough, Tulsa, Cry Baby Hill,.

Upsides to recovery weeks: Riding with people I normally wouldn’t be able to! In this case, my 14 year-old little brother, Alex.

As you can see, Alex is a bit of a Schleckian waif, and goes uphill like it to boot. I attribute this to his carefully-researched diet that mostly consists of cereal, cheese, Wonderbread, and sauceless pasta (and possibly his freakish adolescent metabolism). None of those crazy-exotic things like fruit, vegetables, or protein-heavy foods to upset this budding racer’s delicate GI tract. Dysfunctional dietary ribbing aside, Alex competed in his first race Saturday, taking second in his category on his miniature BMC. Stoked!

We went out the day before the race for a mellow spin, where I taught him some racer essentials. The magic of drafting, spinning fast on the flats (especially useful for the juniors on 14-tooth cassettes), doing as little work as possible until it counts, and finally (and in my humble opinion, the primary reason for a bike ride), the coffee shop stop. But seriously - teaching others about racing/riding, and sharing my experiences as a racer is one of my favorite things as the cyclist-next-door. Or, in Alex’s case, in the basement. It not only gives me the general warm-fuzzies, but it makes me feel like I might be paying forward (in the slightest bit) all of the help and support over the years that I’ve received from everyone around me.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to see if Alex keeps it up, though I’m not quite sure about how my mom feels. I’m sure she’s thrilled at the prospect of more gut-wrenching crit racing with another wayward member of her offspring!

Posted at 1:30pm and tagged with: alex king, nate king, training, racing, competitive cyclist racing team, competitive cyclist, caffe ibis, logan, utah, bmc,.

Contrary to popular belief, I am, in fact, still alive!

Let’s just say this spring has been…well, it’s been a little rough. Not rough like “I hate tomatoes, asked for no tomatoes on my burger, and they STILL put tomatoes on my burger” pick-that-shit-off rough, but rough like “I’ve got a fatal-convulsion-inducing peanut allergy and decided it’d be smart to eat at a restaurant at the George Washington Carver National Monument" rough…if that made any sense at all.  Compared to last year’s nearly straight-up trajectory, this one has been decidedly…not. All that mopey-sadness aside, I’ve learned SO MUCH more this year than last - and that makes me stoked. Not only that, but if I were to carry the same "Cat 5 to 1" basket of badassedness into this year, I’d probably not be getting any wiser as a racer. Making the stupid rookie mistakes at this stage in my career is so much more valuable than if it were to happen two, three, or four years down the road. Plus, I’ve now got the sponsor support that really helps to cushion the blows of things like wrecks and bad races. Everyone from our staff, teammates, management company, Gita (Pinarello/Giordana/DMT US distro), Reynolds, Competitive Cyclist (title sponsor AND employer), my family, friends, and our team supporters (here’s looking at you, Barbara and John Dowd!) have been incredibly supportive, patient, understanding, and accommodating for the rookie ascending the steep learning curve of pro racing. 

So, in that vein, I’ve made a pretty serious long-term career choice in moving to working with a full-time coach after some heavy-duty searching and vetting. After gathering a list of coaches I’d had interest in from various sources and speaking with all of them (as well as their clients), I finally decided working with Kevin Nicol from Dr. Inigo San Milan’s Human Performance Lab at the Univeristy of Colorado was my best option for squeezing the absolute most pedal-crushing out of my pasty body. Kevin is incredibly knowledgeable and scientific with his training methods (not to mention a total beast on the road), I’m super-pumped to be working with him and employing the methodology used by a number of top ProTour guys! 

With new instruction comes new direction, and in the interest of coming back swinging for the remainder of the season, most of June has been converted from riding my guts out into being professionally lazy - AKA, recovery. This meant scratching a couple races I was really looking forward to (Mt. Hood and Nature Valley), but I’ll be back on the road crushing in a couple weeks or so. For now, short coffee cruises and wallowing in the fact that the veins in my legs aren’t totally bulging.

Bike racer problems. Seriously. 

Posted at 12:04pm and tagged with: full width, competitive cyclist, competitive cyclist racing team, training, racing, kevin nicol, inigo san milan, coaching, recovery,.

Contrary to popular belief, I am, in fact, still alive!Let’s just say this spring has been…well, it’s been a little rough. Not rough like “I hate tomatoes, asked for no tomatoes on my burger, and they STILL put tomatoes on my burger” pick-that-shit-off rough, but rough like “I’ve got a fatal-convulsion-inducing peanut allergy and decided it’d be smart to eat at a restaurant at the George Washington Carver National Monument" rough…if that made any sense at all.  Compared to last year’s nearly straight-up trajectory, this one has been decidedly…not. All that mopey-sadness aside, I’ve learned SO MUCH more this year than last - and that makes me stoked. Not only that, but if I were to carry the same "Cat 5 to 1" basket of badassedness into this year, I’d probably not be getting any wiser as a racer. Making the stupid rookie mistakes at this stage in my career is so much more valuable than if it were to happen two, three, or four years down the road. Plus, I’ve now got the sponsor support that really helps to cushion the blows of things like wrecks and bad races. Everyone from our staff, teammates, management company, Gita (Pinarello/Giordana/DMT US distro), Reynolds, Competitive Cyclist (title sponsor AND employer), my family, friends, and our team supporters (here’s looking at you, Barbara and John Dowd!) have been incredibly supportive, patient, understanding, and accommodating for the rookie ascending the steep learning curve of pro racing. So, in that vein, I’ve made a pretty serious long-term career choice in moving to working with a full-time coach after some heavy-duty searching and vetting. After gathering a list of coaches I’d had interest in from various sources and speaking with all of them (as well as their clients), I finally decided working with Kevin Nicol from Dr. Inigo San Milan’s Human Performance Lab at the Univeristy of Colorado was my best option for squeezing the absolute most pedal-crushing out of my pasty body. Kevin is incredibly knowledgeable and scientific with his training methods (not to mention a total beast on the road), I’m super-pumped to be working with him and employing the methodology used by a number of top ProTour guys! 
With new instruction comes new direction, and in the interest of coming back swinging for the remainder of the season, most of June has been converted from riding my guts out into being professionally lazy - AKA, recovery. This meant scratching a couple races I was really looking forward to (Mt. Hood and Nature Valley), but I’ll be back on the road crushing in a couple weeks or so. For now, short coffee cruises and wallowing in the fact that the veins in my legs aren’t totally bulging. Bike racer problems. Seriously. 

@gitabike Graal dialed, ready to rock tomorrow at the @usaprocycling ITT National Championship!

Posted at 4:38pm and tagged with: competitive cyclist racing team, pinarello, graal, cycling, time trial,.

@gitabike Graal dialed, ready to rock tomorrow at the @usaprocycling ITT National Championship!

A day overdue…but this one’s for my mom.  

Phenomenal ballet dancer/teacher, tutu-throwing-down-kit-fixing seamstress, impromptu EMT, automotive financier, and litany of other haphazard professions under the mothering clause (not to mention often mistaken for my sister), she pretty much kicks ass on an astronomical scale. I owe her for nearly everything I’ve accomplished so far, and for that I forgive her when she goes into automatic “MYBABYBOYISGOINGTODIEmode” when I race a crit. It’s a rare day when I buy into mush dispensed by a corporate marketing agency, but this P&G ad nails it. Enjoy.

Posted at 6:45pm and tagged with: mother's day, cycling, competitive cyclist racing team,.

Why yes, I have The Flava.

Rather unknowingly, I entered into a compact of sorts with my teammates during our “Great Southern Revival” tour (aka, the week of Fast-and-Hard-as-Balls Crits). The original details? If anyone wrecked during the week, they’d get a head shavin’. While Tommy was our lucky first contestant with a quick spill at Twilight, he preempted the clippers by turning himself into the sporting version of dear Nikita the week before he got to Georgia.

And thus, the burden fell to me, going for a brief skitter on the second day of racing at Roswell. Given my rather creative and indifferent past hairstyle choices (ranging the spectrum of colors and various methods to make it stand on end), I was pretty open to whatever the uh… extremely dextrous clippers of Mr. Cole House could sculpt. Sadly, as you might be able to tell from the “before” image, things went a little south (think preschooler fingerpainting meets cosmetology school). I let the bizarre amalgamation of the skullet, mohawk, and “creative” designs last a whopping three days before deciding to lop it off in our temporary home of Greenville, SC. 

I initially proposed piloting myself to the nearest Supercuts for a quarter-inch shave, but our super-soigneur (and portion of our management staff, and not actually a soigneur) Eric took serious issue, demanding that I visit a “real Southern barbershop, specializing in black hairstyles” (note: He probably wasn’t that eloquent). If you’ve ever met me, I’m northern-European pasty-white Utah boy, with the hair to match…and I’m always up for a challenge! So, I popped “barber” into Google Maps and found the closest barbershop with the most badass name: The Flava. A quick phone call ensured availability, and we were on our way to what appeared to be the sketchiest barbershop on Earth. Upon entrance, Eric and I had a bit of an Animal House club scene moment. Hilarity ensued, and a guy with the moniker “The Mangler” welcomed yours truly into his chair. The Mangler, real name Keith, was rather aghast at Cole’s coiffure creation, and promptly went to work with no less than eight sets of clippers. As soon as he learned I was visiting from Utah, he told me not to mind the nutjobs and that I was already family at The Flava. Eric proceeded to make himself at home, arguing amongst the regulars about the lack of an upcoming Pacquiao/Mayweather fight. 

We left the Flava, me $20 poorer, and yet, my mane had been tamed in the fashion of one of America’s greatest role models. Rad.

Posted at 10:10pm and tagged with: haircut, nate king, hairstyle, cycling, mr. t, mohawk, bike racer, competitive cyclist racing team,.

The Audible Mellow

Music is a huge part of my life. Following the natural course of things, it’s only innate that it ties in with my riding pretty intimately.

Last week, after what was nothing short of a fantastic 75F spring ride in seasonally emerging Northern Utah, I built a nice spring playlist on Spotify. Don’t have Spotify? You’re missing out. No, really, you are. Most everyone I’ve forced it on has had a moment about an hour in - middling somewhere between divine revelation and epiphany. The best way I can sum it up is like the bastard child of the iTunes Store and Netflix, with playlists distributable to nearly all devices (with offline availability), and an EPIC social component built in. It has completely replaced my gigantic MP3 library - iTunes is nothing more than another unused app on my computer now. It’s backed by the major record labels, and while not everything is available for listening, I’d estimate that 90% of what I want comes up when I look.

Anyway, enough about how awesome Spotify is. Like I said, spring riding playlist. It won’t make you feel like you want to tear some legs off (there’s other lists for that), but it might put you into an over-the-top happy mood while cruising in some perfect temps with some perfect people on some perfect roads - AND you’ll get a solid dose of my own bizarre (euphemistically referred to by many as “eclectic”) tastes. Go, download Spotify onto your computer/AndroiPhone, listen, and ride - preferably with a pair of Skullcandy Fix earbuds. Best. Riding. Phones. Ever.

Check out the playlist here: Spring Cycling Extravaganza.

Posted at 10:52am and tagged with: full width, competitive cyclist racing team, music, training, spotify, spring, riding, cycling, playlist,.

The Audible Mellow
Music is a huge part of my life. Following the natural course of things, it’s only innate that it ties in with my riding pretty intimately.
Last week, after what was nothing short of a fantastic 75F spring ride in seasonally emerging Northern Utah, I built a nice spring playlist on Spotify. Don’t have Spotify? You’re missing out. No, really, you are. Most everyone I’ve forced it on has had a moment about an hour in - middling somewhere between divine revelation and epiphany. The best way I can sum it up is like the bastard child of the iTunes Store and Netflix, with playlists distributable to nearly all devices (with offline availability), and an EPIC social component built in. It has completely replaced my gigantic MP3 library - iTunes is nothing more than another unused app on my computer now. It’s backed by the major record labels, and while not everything is available for listening, I’d estimate that 90% of what I want comes up when I look.
Anyway, enough about how awesome Spotify is. Like I said, spring riding playlist. It won’t make you feel like you want to tear some legs off (there’s other lists for that), but it might put you into an over-the-top happy mood while cruising in some perfect temps with some perfect people on some perfect roads - AND you’ll get a solid dose of my own bizarre (euphemistically referred to by many as “eclectic”) tastes. Go, download Spotify onto your computer/AndroiPhone, listen, and ride - preferably with a pair of Skullcandy Fix earbuds. Best. Riding. Phones. Ever.
Check out the playlist here: Spring Cycling Extravaganza.

Fantastic weekend! Little bit of local stage racing, little bit of cruising with my progenitor masquerading as Alejandro Valverde 20 years removed from racing (bonus: I think he likes my Dogma), little bit of ice cream, corned beef, and burgers, little bit of mashing for four hours on Sunday. 

From the Friday mailbag:

How did you get hooked up with the CC team? 

Long story. Kind of. I started working at RealCyclist (CC’s future owners) in November of 2010 putting ordered bikes together in the shop, as well as doing a lot of warehouse logistical fun. Shortly thereafter RealCyclist sponsored the team, and I met Gord when he took a tour of our warehouse sometime in the winter (though I doubt he remembers - he commented on my UHC team shirt and I got some warm fuzzies). Fast-forward a few months, and I’d embarked upon my overly ambitious season-long Cat 5-to-1 campaign. I’d also transferred over to doing bike photography for BC, giving me a lot more latitude when it came to bailing out of work to race. 

Anyway, I first met RealCyclist’s athelete sponsorship/cat herding guy, Jonny Atencio, in April at Gila where I was riding in the 3’s (and would eventually take second in the GC). He was a little confused when I begged him for some team kit to give to my New Mexico housing host, but chucked some lycra/beer coozies my way and patted me on the head. I tried to remain in contact with him on an intermittent basis (read: I’d email and beg him for stuff) throughout the season, as we worked in different offices.

Enter early August, right before the 2011 Tour of Utah. Fresh off winning the Cat 2 GC at Cascade and a local stage race, I headed up to DealerCamp in Park City for work and free margaritas. Serendipitously, the then-RealCyclist.com Pro Team was there, meeting sponsors and mingling with the kind-of public. It was there that I met one of the team owners, Jason Kriel, and I asked the rather baldfaced question: “Is there a chance I could ride with you guys next year?”. He asked me to send him a resume, and I wormed my way into going out for a four-hour ride with the team the day after (for the locals: The PC/Guardsman/Emigration/Parley’s loop), a nice 2000 meter, 115km day.

During the ride, we got to talking about the weekend’s upcoming Utah State Championship road race, and myself/Evan Hyde (then Park City resident and team member) managed to con Rabou and Paco into doing it. Coincidentally, my parents live in the town near where the race is held, about 150km from Salt Lake - built in host housing for the crew of four (sidenote: also where I’d find myself the following spring)! The race ended up going 1/2/3 RC, with my ass dragging up 4th.  By nature of elite amateur competition, I was awarded the state championship.

The Tour of Utah came and went, Backcountry/RealCyclist fulfilled my dreams of shooting bikes like Competitive by buying them, and the days went on. Enter October (I think), and I got a message from Jason: “You want a spot?”. I had to contain the news for a few weeks, and was a little on the verge of exploding into a bludgeoned pinata of joy for awhile.  

So, there’s the novella. Connor Bondlow over at ROAD Magazine did a far more eloquent job of detailing things in the May issue (free digital subscription). 

Posted at 11:58am and tagged with: competitive cyclist racing team, usu classic, nate king, paco mancebo, evan hyde, thomas rabou, gord fraser, jason kriel, pinarello, competitive cyclist, backcountry,.

photo: http://cottonsoxphotography.com/ alt title: “How not to win a circuit race.”

Testing waters on a new Friday gig: Ask me anything, and I’ll write a blog post about it?

Posted at 12:10pm and tagged with: nate king, competitive cyclist racing team, training, racing,.

photo: http://cottonsoxphotography.com/ alt title: “How not to win a circuit race.”
Testing waters on a new Friday gig: Ask me anything, and I’ll write a blog post about it?