THE LOCALS ARE PAINTING MY NAME ON THE ROADS

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Tommy Chandler, Competitive Cyclist

Undefined enigma of sorts, PRO is an aspirational essence - one of those things that “if you have to ask…”. In fact, if you’re wondering why it’s capitalized, you’re probably on the right track. 

Opining in my never-humble manner while cooking dinner last Friday night (and after taking yet another rib about running a frame pump on a Dogma 2), I came to the conclusion that the concept of pro has little to do with sock cuff length, shaved legs, neon-yellow helmets, what you eat on rides, your FTP wattage, carbon tubulars, or even your past race results.

I began dwelling on my somewhat-harrowing San Dimas/Redlands adventure last month (possibly fueled by the fumes of reducing pear balsamic vinegar), and giving a fair bit of scrutiny to the mentality of our veteran riders; looking for ways that I could improve my own performance. Something hit me, especially while revisiting the last day of Redlands.

We were up against the wall, with Paco (our team captain, GC honcho, and Iberian vino connoisseur) down a good chunk of time from the GC lead. Our director sportif laid out the plan of attack to put Mancebo in yellow, being honest in his assessment of our capabilities/roles for the infamous Sunset Road Circuit Race. It became apparent that the brunt of the load for winning the race would fall to the shoulders of our strongest riders.  

It was then that I knew what made these guys, by definition, pro. We were all tired. We weren’t in what I’d call optimal spirits, and the rain forecast for the day wasn’t lightening anyone’s mood (especially after the torrential San Dimas road race the weekend prior). It was obvious Paco was a bit knackered, and probably would’ve much rather have been sipping Castilian wine at home instead of destroying himself in the final minutes of that race - in a frigid downpour. So, when he went off the front with about 20k to go in the bike race (and from our understanding at that time, had taken the lead), I was struck with a certain sense of awe and respect. He went out and did his job. Period. The circumstances didn’t matter - he and the strong guys around him left it all on the course, just what their team had asked of them. THAT, in my nubile rookie eyes, is PRO - win or lose. 

(top photo credit: Tommy Chandler, Competitive Cyclist; bottom photo badass bib-fixing credit: my awesome lycra-adept mom)

Posted at 10:21pm and tagged with: competitive cyclist racing team, cycling, nate king, San Dimas Stage Race, paco mancebo, francisco mancebo, redlands classic, gord fraser, htfu, one column,.

Disclaimer: I swear upon Tom Simpson’s memorial on Ventoux that I wrote most of this prior to my boss calling me out on his widely-perused blog, in which he also categorizes the joy and variety of stationary torture machines; which I’ll leave out for the sake of his rather astute coverage of that topic . Really. Carry on.

Surviving Aerobic Base:


The very mention of the phrase “Aerobic Base” sends chills down the spine of many a cyclist in northern climes - visions of frostbite, snow, marathon trainer sessions (with accompanying salty-sweaty patinas on random surfaces), spousal threats of divorce, and the pungent aroma of capsaicin grease (romantically referred to as “embro” around these parts) pollute the mind.

I’ve got bad news - it’s all true. The bitter three-month (typically) pill that plenty of cyclists swallow between November and February so they can fly come March; embodied by long, relatively slow rides, can be a torturous (and necessary) personal hell. Thankfully, using a vast array of insightful research approaches, my team of experts (note: me) has developed a number of useful ideas and techniques for dealing with self-inflicted torment during this magical time of year.  

A word of caution: I’ve traced a lot of mental, physical, and social dysfunction directly back to aerobic base. Pondering existential theory, questioning your own sanity, sleeping for 12 hours on a regular basis, and breaking up with girlfriends (or vice-versa) are all normal symptoms of the affliction of wanting to tear the legs off your fellow man come Spring. You’ve been warned.

BEHOLD - the (turbo) Trainer. Only slightly more civilized than the medieval stretch rack.




Whenever the topic of trainers comes up in certain circles, there’s usually an inauspicious level of banal groaning and mentions of a mental time limit, as if pedaling aboard one was a soccer match with a 90-minute stopwatch, or that you lack the stones to ride outside in the winter. These pessimistic attitudes towards the most efficient training method legally available are seemingly born out of what I’d like to characterize as a distinct lack of HTFU (as well as the likelihood that critics have never attempted to race full-time and work full-time with only eight hours of daylight). Yes, trainers are quite miserable - but minimizing the misery of your new malevolent mistress isn’t insurmountable. Knocking out a 4+ hour ride in one place isn’t a totally mammoth task if you’re prepared. So, a few quick notes.

-Come prepped to ride. There are few bigger motivation-sucks than getting on the trainer tired, hungry, or needing to take an epic poop.

-Entertain yourself in your own bizarre fashion. The weapon of choice in my world? Video games. Not any video games, mind you, but video games that require only fleeting focus and a click at your leisure. I’ve been known to stray to books, movies (specifically LifeCycles), general web surfing (even work email/IMs), but the games remain my top banana for distraction. They’re of the flavor that are so mentally unstimulating you wouldn’t feel pressed to play them off the bike (think turn-based strategy and “management” genres). Anything requiring significant action in real-time (racing, shooting, real-time strategy) is pretty difficult to swing if you’re riding at a solid endurance pace and actually getting a workout in. My two favorites, Civilization V, and Pro Cycling Manager, strike a happy balance between just enough going on to keep you interested, but not enough that you can’t hold 250w for half a decade. PCM also has a user community that turns out some interesting tweaks for the game, like databases that allow you to race with real (and historical) teams/riders/races/bikes, all the way down to a Continental level. Not only that, but it teaches a semblance of bike racing tactics (note: SEMBLANCE, my vaunted attacks on the Galibier with Cancellara leading out a Schleck seems decidedly unlikely) to a rube like myself. Besides, DSing the team I’ll be racing with next season on courses I’ve raced on? RAD.




-Get a methodical, comfortable setup rolling. Mine is pretty basic (read: cheap and functional) in the grand scheme of things, but it works well. A big LCD monitor hooked up to my laptop (I recommend a glossy screen to better showcase your progressively ripped legs/waifishness through the winter), a set of some cheap speakers (for your presumed thumping of the greatest trainer song ever), and a wireless keyboard/mouse on a rolling hospital bedside table keep everything electronic functional. The ceiling fan keeps all things perspiration to a minimum, and being able to open the huge bay window next to the bike is key (also to successfully ensnare the 60-something neighbor lady who often stares at me from her kitchen). The window shelf makes a most excellent spot to stash hydration/food/sweat towels/copies of Peloton/Rouleur/diaries about how sad you are.



-Eat and drink liberally. Remember that you’re being quite a bit more efficient on the trainer with output than on the road (doing more work in a shorter amount of time), so adjust your food accordingly. Added bonus: The trainer lets you eat some really…interesting stuff since you don’t have to carry it with you. I’ve been known to make big plates of freakish food combinations for long trainer days. Tell me, have you ever had Lucky Charms, spongecake, pumpkin pudding, and ribs on the bike - from a casserole dish? That’s what I thought.


Yes, sometimes even with this myriad of truly staggering distractions and amenities of the First World, the trainer sucks. Sometimes all it takes is a heavy dose of HTFU. Imagine - you could be outside getting frostbite. Or mining for diamonds in Sierra Leone. Or getting slow whining on the internet about guys riding their trainers in November. Ah, the little things.

Posted at 10:32am and tagged with: one column, htfu, trainer, training, competitive cyclist, nate king, food, pro cycling manager, training, indoor training, aerobic base, cycling, racing,.

Patrick Brady,  ”The Seduction of Suffering”, Peloton Magazine,  Dec. 2011

http://pelotonmagazine.com/ 

Posted at 8:52pm and tagged with: peloton magazine, patrick brady, cycling, hardman, htfu, training,.

The difference in fitness between the typical couch potato and a professional cyclist is as profound as comparing a dog house to the Giza pyramid.

Oh hey embro, knickers, taking forever to get ready for a ride, numb digits, five-hour trainer sessions, shoecovers, frightened baristas, post-ride hot buttered rum, and staring at the crude “HTFU” on my toptube like it’s an apparition of the Virgin Mary as snow batters my insufficiently swaddled face in the midst of a Zone 1 slog. Here’s to hoping I don’t have to get to know you so intimately well as during last winter’s Bataan Death March into JUNE, you frigid annual four-to-seven month bike racer menstrual cycle.

Today was my last in shorts for 2011, at least anywhere 50 miles north of the Utah/Arizona line. Coincidentally, it was the first time I’ve hit snow during the 2012 training schedule. I’d be a overjoyed to say it’s the first time I’ve seen snow in awhile, but that’s a complete lie, thanks to the previously alluded-to epic winter we experienced in Utah last year.

I’m thinking a thermos cage might be in order. And a handle of Bulleit.

Posted at 11:33pm and tagged with: cycling, winter, htfu, training, cold, nate king, salt lake city, racing,.

Oh hey embro, knickers, taking forever to get ready for a ride, numb digits, five-hour trainer sessions, shoecovers, frightened baristas, post-ride hot buttered rum, and staring at the crude “HTFU” on my toptube like it’s an apparition of the Virgin Mary as snow batters my insufficiently swaddled face in the midst of a Zone 1 slog. Here’s to hoping I don’t have to get to know you so intimately well as during last winter’s Bataan Death March into JUNE, you frigid annual four-to-seven month bike racer menstrual cycle.
Today was my last in shorts for 2011, at least anywhere 50 miles north of the Utah/Arizona line. Coincidentally, it was the first time I’ve hit snow during the 2012 training schedule. I’d be a overjoyed to say it’s the first time I’ve seen snow in awhile, but that’s a complete lie, thanks to the previously alluded-to epic winter we experienced in Utah last year.
I’m thinking a thermos cage might be in order. And a handle of Bulleit.

The first three months of the 2012 mash/destroy training schedule are in.

During the pictured weekend, I may very well sequester myself in a cave in Arizona with pasta, tuna, and a foam roller…though a 12-hour weekend in the middle of December in Salt Lake City could be entertaining.

Posted at 4:05pm and tagged with: cycling, man training, htfu,.

The first three months of the 2012 mash/destroy training schedule are in.
During the pictured weekend, I may very well sequester myself in a cave in Arizona with pasta, tuna, and a foam roller…though a 12-hour weekend in the middle of December in Salt Lake City could be entertaining.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Posted at 10:44pm and tagged with: bike, bike racing, cycling, htfu,.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.