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Track Season Gains Momentum

by Dan Harm

June 24, 2009

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Track racing in the Northwest begins to hit a peak in late July. National caliber events–such as the FSA Grand Prix in Seattle and the Portland based Alpenrose Challenge–lure out the fastest track racers in the USA and Canada with prize lists boasting upwards of $15,000.

After returning from a hard education of track racing in Europe through the winter, Coach Adrian and I raced the track full-time last summer–including the FSA Grand Prix and Alpenrose Challenge, as well as multiple other Nationally ranked races–with the specific focus of crushing the Madison (which is an event consisting of multiple two-man teams and involves complex tactics and pure endurance).

Our ambitions were often met with big wins and healthy pay-days. But, there were also numerous disappointments, such as a second place in the Madison on our home turf at the FSA Grand Prix, losing to a team we had beaten both at the Alpenrose challenge and at the larger event, Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minneapolis. There was also the time at Alpenrose Challenge when I missed breaking the track record in the Pursuit by a mere second. This record has not been broken since the 80s.

This Summer much has changed. Adrian will be out of town for both races, choosing to focus on pursuing his goal of professional road racing, and thus putting track racing on the back-burner. I have chosen to do the opposite and focus solely on the track, yet real life has crept up on me and my usual free time to train for the track has been filled with work obligations and worries about paying off student loans.

Track races season culminates down in L.A. in early October at National Championships. Will Adrian be rusty at the Madison from missing very important races? Am I going to be able to keep up my high level of fitness from past years?

There are a lot of unknowns and variables this summer, and this will undoubtedly add to the suspense of how Adrian and I are to defend our reputations as two of the fastest track racers in the USA. I will keep you posted with inside perspectives from all the upcoming races. Stay tuned.

In the meantime: Come see the races for yourself!!!

-The Seattle FSA Grand Prix is at the Marmoor Velodrome July 25-26. There will be festivities, a beer garden, and events for kids, as well as insane track racing action!

-The Portland Alpenrose Challenge is July 17-19.

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Major Taylor Project Rocks Flying Wheels

by Coach Dan Harm

June 24, 2009

 

Youth from the Major Taylor Project are gaining momentum as they train and prepare for the much anticipated Seattle to Portland bike ride. Flying Wheels was seen as fun-filled preparation day for the youth focused on completing the S.T.P.

During the week the Major Taylor youth, with the guidance of program instructors and volunteers, bike together on scenic training rides. Through the course of these rides the youth learn fundamental bike maintenance and proper riding safety. On the weekend the club ventures out on longer, more epic rides that explore areas of Seattle many Major Taylor youth have never even seen before.

Danielle Rose, an instructor and coordinator for the Major Taylor Project tells her story of Flying Wheels:

“On Saturday, June 13th, thirteen youth ages 14-18 from the Major Taylor Project at Global Connections High School and the YES Foundation of White Center joined 3,000 other riders for Cascade’s Flying Wheels Summer Century. The students arrived at the Velodrome at 8:00am and looked nervous and tired, faced with the day’s ride ahead of them. Most were signed up for the 45-mile loop in preparation for the upcoming STP ride. One of the youth who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, on only his second day riding with the Major Taylor Project and using a hand cycle borrowed from Outdoors for All rode the 25-mile loop. He plans to ride the STP, if Outdoors for All has a hand cycle available for him to use.

During those 4-hours, the students seemed affected by the transformative effects of pursuing a long and challenging ride. When the group congregated in the parking lot at the end, there were many friendly volunteers and fellow riders to thank for their encouragements along the way, and stories to share of near misses and endless hills. The most commonly asked question at the end of the day? When are we riding next?! Now the group is training intensively for STP, with 10 youth signed up, and 6 more possibly joining us, we’re going to have a big group. Thanks to all of the riders in advance who will cheer them on as they work towards their biggest riding accomplishment ever! If you’d like to volunteer or donate, please let us know.”

 

Major Taylor Link

Click to read more about the project

 

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Coach Adrian Keeps the Results Coming

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I am writing this race update for Adrian since he is currently recovering from a long weekend of racing by taking a nap. Somehow, for some odd reason, he has been napping for three days straight.

Last weekend, in Baker City, Oregon, racers competed in a regionally prestigious stage race, The Elkhorn Classic, which is known for its uncanny ability to predict the next up and coming Pro Northwest rider. For the past five years every winner of this grueling three-day/four-stage event has landed a large Professional Contract for the next race season.

After finishing in the lead group on the stage one road race, Adrian assumed the lead after taking 2nd in the stage two Time Trial. He held this lead all the way to the last day, a day full of unexpected drama.

The last stage of this event usually consist of a 105mile road race which ends in a brutal 10mile climb to the finish. Yet, this year, despite the spell of sultry summer sun the Northwest has had, the morning of the final race in Baker City began with 30 degree weather and a snow storm. The official referees of the race decided for the safety of the riders to shorten the race to the last 25 miles.

This put Adrian at a serious disadvantage. His skill set as a racer is best suited for long, hard-man races, not pure climbing. And now he was forced to jump straight into an epic climb without the ability to tire out his competitors in the previously planned 90 miles leading up to the climb.

The final results of this race are still not decided upon as the official results have not been publicly announced.

Here is a first hand account from Adrian of the final moments of the race:

” I think I won? I finished in the front group of about 5-10, one guy won solo by I think 30-40 seconds and I had 54 seconds on him at the start of the stage. I also crashed 1k from the base of the climb and rode the whole way with my bars twisted to the side and my front wheel rubbing.”

Let’s knock on wood and cross our fingers for Adrian…

Here is a sneak peak at a part of Adrian’s race resume–don’t tell him I showed you!

2009 Highlights

Cherry Blossom Classic Stage Race

  • 1st, 8-Mile Time Trial
  • 1st, Columbia Gorge Road Race
  • 1st, Volunteer Park Criterium

1st, Frostbike Time Trial

1st, Icebreaker Time Trial

1st, Carnation TT Series #2

1st, OSU Collegiate A Road Race

1st, UW Collegiate A Criterium

2nd, Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium

3rd, Athens Twilight Crit

3rd, Computrainer Grid Qualifiers

3rd, Carnation TT Series #1

5th, Stage 4, Mt. Hood Cycling Classic

11th, Stage 2

Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race

  • 2nd, Wilson Hollow Time Trial
  • 3rd, Waitsburg Road Race
  • 2nd Overall

Collegiate Road Nationals

  • 4th D1 Omnium
  • 6th, D1 Road Race
  • 7th, D1 Criterium

-Dan

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Coach Adrian 3rd at Athens Twilight

Athens Twilight Podium

Athens Twilight Podium

Last Saturday, April 25th, 2009, in Athens, Georgia, at one of the biggest Criterium races in the World, The Athens Twilight Criterium, Adrian Hegyvary secured the biggest result in his racing career, a third place finish.

Now, you must understand, cycling results are very different from most other sports. In most other athletic disciplines, you win or you lose. Whereas in cycling, a high paying professional athlete may go years without ever winning a race. The esteem of a bike racer depends upon their ability to help secure “results,” whether it be by helping a teammate win, or by placing top ten in a world class race. Adrian placing third at the Athens Twilight Crit is a monstrously amazing example of this.

What is even more amazing is how Adrian got to this place in his bike racing career. Last year Adrian had had one of his worst racing seasons ever. He had an entire year of no results on the pro road racing circuit (though he did kick butt on the velodrome), and ended the season with a horrific crash that put him in the hospital with a torn shoulder that would prevent him from attending track National Championships, where he would have been a favorite to win the Madison and other endurance events.

In the Fall Adrian began attending the UW Law School. Doubt concerning the direction and possibility of his future racing career haunted him. On several occasion Adrian was on the verge of hanging up the bike and calling it quits. After seven years of solid dedication to cycling, his ambitions seemed to be leading nowhere.

But, despite the stresses of life and school, Adrian decided to just keep on doing what he loved. And what he loved was to train and ride his bike. In all honesty, it is quite frightening how much Adrian loves bikes.

You see, the point behind all this is simple: there was no magic new training plan that Adrian did that took him to the next level. There was no fitness fairy that came from Never-ever land and sprinkled Adrian with lactate threshold dust. Nope. Adrian’s jump to the next level as an athlete occurred solely because he did not quit. He kept on training, stuck to it, and after seven hard years he is finally seeing the results that will land him a high-paying professional contract.

One last thing should be said about this all. One of the main reasons preventing Adrian from quitting–even when quitting seemed logical (just ask him about his European racing experiences…)–is that Adrian loves racing his bike. He is not doing it to prove his self-worth, or to prove anything to anyone. He is doing it because he is passionate about it and it fulfills him. This mindset is absolutely mandatory to make any life passion sustainable.

All to often people burn out because they are trying to prove something to themselves or to others, and they begin to forget the simple pleasures of their activities, and when this happens the little voices of failure begin to get louder and louder. So, always remember to do something because you love it.

Take it to the next level.

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Weight Loss and Cycling

March 1, 2009

by Coach Lang Reynolds

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Like most American kids, I participated in a lot of sports when I was growing up.  Over the years, I have played basketball, baseball, football, ultimate, and lacrosse.  I have rowed crew, ran cross country and track, wrestled, and raced bikes.  Amont those I was exposed to, I eventually gravitated towards the endurance sports, and over the last ten years have spent most of my time outside either running or riding my bike.

Cycling and running are both fantastic sports; I am very thankful to have discovered them at a relatively early age and have already enjoyed a decade of participation.  They also have in common, however, something you don’t get in stick-and-ball sports: a certain neurosis (shared with their sister sport triathlon) at the competitive level with regard to body weight (surpassed only by another sport in which I’ve participated, wrestling, which gives most every participant a bona fide eating disorder by the time they graduate).

This obsession stems from the cruel reality of the physical laws we all learn in high school (you must produce a force to accelerate your mass) and also from the many images of the sports’ archetypes and heroes.  Take Lance Armstrong’s famously meticulous weighing of food on a gram scale, or the incredibly gaunt Janez Brajkovic, celebrating his second place in last October’s Giro di Lombardia.  This image has changed over time: compare, for example, Eddy Merckx, Raymond Poulidor, or Bernard Hinault with Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov, or Carlos Sastre.

In looking at these images of athletes at the top level of the sport, we must understand a few important facts.  Putting aside the question of doping (a whole can of worms for another day), these athletes are professionals for a reason, namely that they are prodigiously talented.  This is not to say that they do not train and prepare vigorously, but simply that a high level of talent is a prerequisite for achievement at the top level of the sport.  Talent has many facets, one of which is body type.  Simply put, the Darwinian process of victory has selected for athletes that not only have huge engines but are also predisposed to being relatively skinny.  More importantly, though, is the fact that being at the top level of the sport requires attention to every detail that affects performance.  They have already maximized the effectiveness of their training, perfected their position on the bike, and ensured the relative supremacy of their equipment.

During almost every group ride or training session I overhear talk of losing weight or being overweight, and I must confess being guilty of participating in such talk at times.  When it comes down to it, however, performance gains realized through weight loss are usually quite small, depending on how much weight an athlete has to lose, especially compared to the performance gains realized by concentrating on increasing sustainable power.  Even on a climb such as Crystal Mountain, the state Hill Climb Championship course, a 5 lb weight loss is easily out-matched by a 7 watt gain in sustainable power for an average rider.  Moreover, the side effects of trying to cut weight too quickly and the reduced quality of life inherent in counting calories can also outweigh the potential performance gains.  In other words, chill out people.  Significant progress can be made simply by maximizing your nutritional regime with respect to your training as well as general food intake.  Rather than thinking simply about weight as holding us back or something to reduce, we should think more broadly about general health and proper nutrition first.  You will probably not be able to “diet” your way to being faster on the bike, but if you take a hard look at what you put into your body and ensure you eat a selection of highly nutritious food and leave out those foods we know are “bad” for us, you will enjoy better overall health and weight loss will probably follow.

I am not a nutritionist, and there is plenty of information out there on healthful nutrition for the endurance athlete.  It’s pretty simple, though:  eat food that our bodies can use efficiently and provide valuable nutrients in addition to calories, and don’t eat those that do not (refined sugars, alcohol, refined grains, etc); time food consumption around ride time; eat moderate amounts.

Body weight is, strictly speaking, a component of performance.  It is, however, one small component that frequently receives far more attention than it deserves among other components that have a much larger return on investment for improving performance, in terms of time and energy spent.  Here in the endurance sport community, we need to re-frame the topic of weight loss in terms of overall nutrition and health.  For all the time spent thinking about how much weight we need to lose, going on a diet, breaking that diet, bonking on a training ride, we could be thinking about and affecting real changes in our complete nutrition that benefit our overall health and are sustainable for years down the road.