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This weeks free clinics and rides at Cycle U

This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am.  We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem.  Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!

Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop.  This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side.  We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder.  Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.

Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend. 

Ride with Cycle U

  

Other upcomming free events in May:

How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance. 
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop. 

Try Road Racing!  Clinic at Pacific Raceways.  info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways 

How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.

Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.

Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop.   Link to sign up, limited seating

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Push the pedals down…ALL the way down

The thing that most new cyclists don’t know, is that they won’t die.  They can push harder than they can imagine, and when I started racing I remember it was my biggest hurtle, learning how to suffer more, because that is where all the big gains are.  The more I pushed myself, the more I was able to push myself, the stronger I got, the more I enjoyed riding.  It helps if you get a little angry or remember when someone was mean to you, fuel for the effort.  Your not going to fall off the bike even if you are near exhaustion, your already sitting down! 

 The focus and willingness to work hard…

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The importance of your ‘Why?’

by Craig Undem

 

This time of year when we are all thinking of getting a good start to our training and keeping our dreams in focus it is nice to look at what motivates us. We coach people every day, and we are always asking them WHY they want to achieve certain goals. What is it that will motivate them to lose ______ lbs, train ________ hours per week, spend _______ on a new bike, or go out riding when the weather is _________ and anyone in their right mind is at home. Do you know why you ride? Do you know what the PAYOFF is for doing what you want to do?

When we ask someone to set their goals for the year, we ask them WHY they want what they want, and we ask it without mercy. We believe that the person with the biggest reason (the biggest ‘Why?’) will accomplish the toughest goal. If you “would like” to be in shape for the ride, that is nice. If you “MUST!” be in shape for the big ride, then it changes what you will do to achieve your goal. It changes the priorities of your day, week, and month. It gets you connected to what you will get if you stay on-target and work toward what you have decided you really want.

Many people look at us totally lost at first. “What do you mean WHY do I ride, I love it!” or “I have never really thought about it…my friend was riding and I began to ride with her and now I just want to go on this tour.” To get your training at the top of your “to do” list, think about the little things you will get out of being in better shape…things like the example you will set. The idea that if you are physically stronger and more vibrant that you will enjoy life more, have more energy for what you love and be able to make a bigger difference. Things like that…let you mind stay with the question…the answers sometimes take considerable reflection.

The winner is the one who can answer the question the best… for themselves. What motivates you? What gets you out of bed in the morning to do the early ride? What keeps you up late cleaning your chain the night before? What keeps you watching your calories, choosing broccoli instead of burgers, and brown rice instead of bacon? What works for you? What will you get? Why must you do it? Only you can provide your answer, and realize all that you can be.

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Expectations and Perspective: The Mental Game of Cycling

Athletics is entirely mental. Every season of cycling has further reinforced this notion for me. I have also, throughout the years, found out the golden race ratio: for every one time you succeed in racing, there are fifty times you either mess up or get screwed over. To be able to survive the mental damage these odds inflict you must intentionally strengthen your perceptive and meticulously analyze your expectations.

Let me speak in concrete terms: two weekend ago in Portland I raced the Alpenrose Challenge, which is a premier National 3-day Track Race poised on the steep and bumpy concrete walls of the aging Alpenrose velodrome.

Throughout the course of the three day event the temperatures persistently rose to the high nineties. The relentless heat reflected off the white track heightened the intensity of the event, creating an atmosphere of survival and restlessness.

Friday morning I was running late. The pursuit, which is an individual time trail event for 4 kilometers, began at 10pm. I arrived at 1030pm, a half an hour fashionably late, due to a lapse in foresight about the pace my forty-year-old pick-up could maintain on the highway. Luckily, the race directors knew me well and allowed me to register late and slotted me in last to go. This meant I had to get ready and warmed up in about 40 minutes, about 2 hours less than I would comfortably have liked.

Over the past six months my training has been sporadic. College loans and the necessity of having a consistent income has put a damper on the nomadic freedom of an elite bike racer. The inconsistency in income most domestic “pro racers” have–which consist mostly of prize money, even for riders on established pro teams–was not going to cut it when it came to paying off my fru-fru humanitarian degrees.

Because of this inconsistency in training, and lack of time and money to race, I have had to shift my perspective on training. If I were to try and train as much as I did when I was racing full time, then I would end up a complete stressed out mess. So, to avoid this, I decided that my training would be purely for fun, and I would do it only when I felt like it. This alleviation of pressure allowed me to actually train more, since it was more of a hobby as opposed to ‘homework.’

But, the lack of training regiment does have its downfalls: security. I had no idea what type of shape I was in. Over the years I have dominated the pursuit, and I did not want to embarrass myself now.

As I briefly warmed up I ignored the condition of my body and focused rather on my mindset. Half way through my warm-up an Australian Professional cyclist set a blistering time, nearly one second off the course record. His time was two seconds faster than my fastest time last year when I had won.

Initially I became downcast. There was no way I could beat that time, I said to myself, I am out of shape!

But then, I stopped the complaining thoughts and starting checking off the list of advantages I held: I knew the track better than anyone. No one has beaten me in a pursuit besides the alien genetic experiment also known as the Taylor Phinney trust fund.

So, I decided that no one else was going to beat me. And this meant today.

I was up in two heats. Usually in a pursuit you race with another person who starts on the opposite side of the track. Originally I was going to go solo, but a last minute change from the officials had me racing a heat earlier with a different rider. This would not have been an issue if the officials practiced standard protocol of having riders race with similar ability levels.

At the start line I knew I was going to pass the other rider in my heat quickly. What I did not realize was that I would pass him twice when I was on pace to beat the course record by over two seconds.

On the last lap, coming into the finish line, I had to pass the rider a second time, which caused me to have to accelerate over him on a 47 degree banked wall, which is the equivalent of having to sprint up a wall after holding near 600 watts for 4 minutes and change.

The clock stopped with me missing the record by 0.5 seconds and a bunch of money for breaking the record.

I was disspointed.

But why? I had won? Who cares if I missed the record?

I had two options: I could complain about missing the record. Or, I could look at the moment and say, “Damn Dan, you crushed this pursuit harder than you ever had and you aren’t even training. Nice work!”

It was a tough decision, one that I could not make, so I, like a good human, decided to do both.

 

As an athlete it is so hard to ignore the negatives and only focus on the positives. So hard I would argue it could be impossible. We, as humans, learn from mistakes, and usually the important mistake–the ones that teach us the most–are the ones that are hardest to forget.

 

The next event was the Madison Race–a race consisting of two man teams racing together in a tactically mind boggling endurance event. The team of two racers literally grab hands at 30+ miles an hour and throw each other into the race amongst 30 other competitors.

The Madison is hands down my favorite race because of the tactics, speed, and adrenaline. Last year, my former Madison partner, Coach Adrian, and I dominated the National Madison circuit. Our season was cut short by him breaking his shoulder in a road race…

Since Adrian is racing on the road this year, I had Jamie as my Madison partner. He is strong as all hell, and we suit each other tactically. From the very beginning him and I were establishing ownership of the race. After the first sprint I attacked and punished the field.

The next lap, as I came sprinting into an exchange with Jamie, his wheel hopped up from a bump in the infamous Alpenrose track surface. When his wheel touched ground the force ripped off his tire, causing him to plough into me. The force of the impact swung my handle bars ninety degrees.

My wheel was now in a precarious position of having 190 pounds of me pushing into it the wrong way. The wheel decided to lose and literally, not figuratively, literally snapped in half, sending me flying over my bars, shoulder first, into concrete at 30 miles and hour.

My shoulder broke. And my bike was now 1500 dollars cheaper from all the damages. I had expected to go home with at least 500-800 bucks in prize money for two days of work, and instead I was in the hole big time. The head impact caused me to have long lapses of brain inactivity, also known as space-case-ness.

In these moments one single word crept to the forefront of my brain: QUIT. Yes, it is time to quit. The crashes, the money, the stress, the unavoidable golden ratio had me tired and worn out.

 

On the three hour (ahem, I mean four hour) drive back to Seattle I had a lot of time to think about how racing fits into my life. In less than a year I have gone from thinking unquestionably that I was going to be a lifetime pro cyclist, to deciding to race regionally for fun so I could pursue other artistic interest, to now thinking about giving up the sport entirely.

Something was not right. I had to figure out why there had been so many shifts. I knew there is something about the sports that keeps me coming back for more? For me, it is the feeling of pushing my bodies limitations. The competition is merely a way I can gauge how hard I have gone.

 

Thus, the story ends simply: Despite having a broken shoulder, the next weekend I went out to race the pursuit at the FSA Grand Prix, which is the Northwest’s premier track race event. Because of my shoulder injury I could not race any of the mass start events, but the Pursuit is a solo event. Just me against the clock.

And I won. I was 8 seconds slower than my time last year. But, this did not matter. Beating my best time was not my expectation. I knew my body would be tired and worn from the crash. My only expectation was to win, and the reason I wanted to win was to prove to myself that I, despite the rough stretch of racing luck I have had, could still maintain a positive perspective, the perspective necessary to never give up.

 

-Dan Harm

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The Big Moment

March 1, 2009

by Dan Harm

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Today I was asked a question: “what was the one big moment in cycling that motivated you to take it to the next level?”  For a few moments I sat in silence. My mind reeled backwards through the five years I have been racing bikes. Various emotions and visceral moments trudged their way to the front of my brain where I could look at them with mixed feelings of excitement, satisfaction, and ultimately, confusion.

Bike racing is such an integral part of my life, I just can’t narrow it down to one moment. Though it may sound odd, I see bike racing almost as a relationship. A relationship full of hardships, trying moments, doubt, and broken expectations. And, like any long-lasting relationship, there is a tremendous amount of commitment and dedication I have towards racing that allows me to work through the hardships, helps me make compromises in order to “save” the relationship.

My life mentality is simple: that which takes the most effort is the most rewarding. Effort usually consists of commitment and hard work. This mentality holds true for every aspect of life. When I was in school, homework never bothered me. It boggled my mind when my peers would complain about essays and tests. My reply to their complaints was, “You do realize you are in school?” It seemed obvious to me that if I were to enroll in a University then I would have homework; so, why complain about the obvious?

This dedicated mentality holds true for my other passions in my life as well: my artwork, my music, my lovers, friends and family. The more effort I put into a relationship with a drawing or a lover, then the more rewarding the outcome will be. Then, if I keep on putting effort into these relationships over a long period of time, I will learn so much more about myself and the person or object or sport I am involved with.

I know I am going on a bit of a tangent here, but there is a point, and it is this: there was never a big moment in racing that brought me to the next level. What has kept me racing was my willingness to dedicate myself to racing even during times when it seemed absolutely pointless.

You see, I have another life theory: one must dedicate themselves the most when everything seems hopeless. Every relationship would fail if it were not for dedication, because, as I mentioned early, every relationship will have struggles, and dedication to the relationship will sometimes  be the only glue holding everything together.

For many years I struggled with being an unorthodox bike racer. I was not gifted with the narrow and intense focus necessary to be a life-career professional racer. Every since I was a kid I have always been distracted by others facets of life I find interesting. Art, music, traveling, adventure, and a little bit of chaos has always captivated me, and trying to enjoy all this while being a pro racer is not possible. I found this out the hard way this past summer. I was trying to juggle many life passions and I was dropping all the balls everywhere. At the Tour of Utah, one of the USAs most challenging professional stage races, I gave up. The months of traveling on the road, the years of having to go to bed at 10pm every night while my friends were partying, the years of training for hours and hours in frigid temperatures all caught up to me as I raced in 100 degree heat at 8,000 feet elevation with the fastest riders in the world. I cracked hard.

But, instead of quitting racing all together, I found a compromise. I realized that I needed to re-evaluate WHY I race. The only answer I could come up with was typical: I love racing. I just love racing my bike. And, even if I don’t have the personality to be a career pro racer, I can still race my bike because I love the sport, the adrenaline, the healthy lifestyle and the people involved within its community.

Once I realized all this I actually began to excel for the end of my race season. In a matter of months I went from “breaking up” with bike racing to “convincing” my bike that it should get “back together with me.” Three months after I broke up with my bike at the Tour of Utah we took a trip together down to L.A. We went down to L.A. to compete at the Elite Velodrome National Championships. All the fastest guys in the USA would be there. My bike was a bit nervous about my fitness. Everyone there was second guessing me and my commitment.

I did not want to let myself down. I did not want to give up on the five amazing years I had racing my bike. After all, bike racing has taken me all over the world, it has given me my amazing job as a coach, it has given me a healthy body, and it has taught me so many life lessons. With this in mind I raced my heart out and took  2nd place at National Champions.

So, to conclude, when I look back and remember all the experiences racing a bike, it is not the happy moments of winning and traveling that has kept me going. Rather, the tumultuous moments–the moments where I wanted to give up and quit it all, the moments where I wanted to walk away and never look back–these are the moments that motivate me and make me appreciate so much more that I am still on my bike racing stronger than ever. Racing is my life long love.