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Reports from the front: Black Diamond Sprint Triathlon 2012

Cycle U Coach Colin Gibson, a category 1 road cyclist, did the Black Diamond sprint triathlon on a whim and won the whole race. (Full disclosure: he’s a former collegiate swimmer. But it still shouldn’t be that easy!)
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I am a weak-upper-bodied cyclist, so I decided to try out the Black Diamond sprint race to see if my arms still worked after several years of using them only to spread Nutella on toast. When Cycle U employees Mary and Dameon caught wind of this, they started giving me all the essential triathlon tips and accoutrements. My game plan was simple: 1) get a wet suit and some KY jelly for speedy transitions, 2) intimidate other racers by peeing in the water before the race, and 3) don’t completely suck at running.

Race day, I met up with Mary and a couple other Cycle U racers, who were in the transition zone (TZ, as the pros call it) for the ceremonial sizing up of the competition. Mary provided me with several spray bottles of a substance to apply to various parts of my body/pieces of equipment to make them slippery. I also covered my bike with this substance because I read on slowtwitch it gives you +5w.

It was clear and cold for the start of the 800m, clockwise, diamond-shaped swim, and I lined up on the far left of the beach, which was like 20 yards closer to the first buoy than where everyone else was lined up. We started, and I kicked and clawed my way toward the front, following the leaders. My arms felt like the arms of an inflatable flailing-arm tube man. At one point, some milfoil touched my toe and I screamed. I wound up fourth out of the water, 20 seconds behind the leader, by which time my arms were dead to me. I must not have used enough lube on my wet suit because my transition lost me another 20 seconds to the leader. I took off on the bike wet and angry with the pace car in sight.

I figured that the bike is where I would make or break my race, so I set to put my head down and giv’er. I took over the lead at about mile 4. By the start of the run, I had about 2 minutes on 2nd and 3rd. At this point, I almost decided to skip the run and just observe the procession of Olympic-distance racers making incredible pratfalls on the topographically complex and water-saturated grass of the transition area. Remembering the undoubtedly huge cash purse available to me, I thought better of it and took off running for the first of two laps on the dirt trail around the lake.

The run was only 2.8 miles, but I had no time checks to my pursuers, so I was running like Jerry Seinfeld after he stole a loaf of bread . Still, after a mile, I heard the pitter-patter of steps behind me, and saw a runner approaching. Figuring my goose was cooked, I slowed up to let him catch me, only to realize that he was on a relay team! We worked together to set pace for the second lap, and then I attacked him with a few hundred yards to go to cross the line clear.
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For my efforts, and beneath a banner advertising a gluten-free nutrition product, I was given a loaf of wheat bread and a trophy.

Thanks to Mary and Dameon for the support and advice, and finishshots.com for the picture!

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Racing Dispatch – California Dreaming

by Lang Reynolds

This spring while preparing for the San Dimas and Redlands Classic Stage Races in California, I raced the Madera Stage race in Northern Cal with a few of my teammates. The race consisted of not one but TWO time trials in less than 24hrs, an industrial park crit, and one tough “road” race.

I call it a “road” race because half the course was on pavement so bad you could barely call it a road. Imagine a road subjected to a fortnight of carpet bombing followed by several hundred years of Metro bus service and you’ll have a rough idea of how bad this road was. Most of the dirt roads I’ve ridden were in better shape than this road.  Of course, bike racers love “epic” courses and anything that resembles the storied Paris-Roubaix so the race is a reasonably popular one in NorCal.

The race started fast, and on the first time through the pave I could tell I was going to be in trouble. I’ll blame my lack of bodyweight for my troubles on the rough pavement, but there was also a stiff crosswind which made things hard if you weren’t at the very front of the pack. My teammate Kennett had beaten me to the punch and made it into the early break of the day, so luckily all we had to do was patrol the front and watch the GC leader’s team set tempo.

While the situation was tactically simple, I was still getting destroyed every time through the pave. The penultimate time, the race exploded at the front and before I knew it we were guttered out in the crosswind riding through two-foot-deep potholes. Guttering (when the race splits into echelons) is pretty rare in Washington road racing, but it happens when you get a strong cross-tailwind and motivated riders at the front of the pack.

These riders form a front echelon and everybody else is left fighting on the last possible inch of pavement (i.e. the GUTTER) in an attempt to salvage a tiny bit of draft from the rider in front and not get dropped. Experienced riders will recognize the situation and forma second echelon as soon as possible, limiting losses of time and pride.

Before I knew it, I was in the gutter and getting dropped, despite giving it everything I had. I tried to get a second echelon going but nobody was interested or capable of thinking straight enough to do so. After a few more minutes I was definitely dropped, riding in the carnage off the back of the pack.

I thought briefly about throwing in the towel and just riding easy to the finish, but decided to keep riding hard for a bit. I linked up with a few other guys who had been dropped and we started working well together. When we got off rough stuff and back on to the pavement, I could see we were making up time on the peloton.

After another few miles we were back in the pack. I could see that some attacks were going so I waited for a lull and then went right to the front and covered an attack. In addition to having Kennett up the road, we also had a teammate in 2nd place overall, so I wasn’t obligated to work and sat on the move.

My companions yelled at me a lot for sitting on, but with a teammate up the road and our GC guy in the pack, I had no reason to work. It certainly killed me inside to not work in the move, since it’s not my style to sit on, but I had to think of the team situation and wait for the move to play out a bit more before I could do anything else.

In the end, my group almost caught Kennett, who was sprinting for the win out of his small group. Out of respect, I didnt sprint the group I was with when we came to the line, but still finished in the top 10 on the day and both Kennett and I moved into the top 10 on the overall GC.

One of the (many) great things about road racing is that just about anything can happen, and this race was a great example of that. You can go from suffering and being dropped one minute to off the front chasing the win the next minute. As long as you keep riding hard and never give up, good things will happen. In some ways, it’s a metaphor for life itself.

Keep riding hard!

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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.