Joe to Pro Cycling

In 2009 I'd been inactive for 8 years, had just turned 30, weighed 240 lbs and had enough. This blog is the journey of starting brand new in the sport of cycling, regaining fitness and aiming to compete in the Elite ranks of Amateur racing.



Current Weight: 180 lbs


Road Cat: 2


Cyclocross Cat: 2

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    The Interesting Priority Changes That Happen the Longer You Ride

    It is interesting to see how your priorities change the longer you are a cyclist. I don’t know that the priority change has anything to do with performance or what category racer you become. But more the accumulated wisdom you gather from others, and your experiences along the way.

    When I first started riding I was fascinated with strong riders and high performance bikes. Because anything beyond entry level was beyond my budget it was easy to get convinced that the guys dropping me all the time were that fast because of their strength AND their bikes. It’s easy to get fixated on the gear, the helmets, the materials and performance marketing around cycling.

    But what you don’t realize you aren’t considering is things like; ride comfort, cost of maintenance, durability, braking performance, cost of better nutrition, cost of coaching or training plans, hubs before rims, simply wearing things out, etc. You try to solve problems of “I keep getting dropped on group rides” with “I need a set of Zipp 404s.” You try to solve problems of “I’m a slow climber” with a bike that is 2lbs lighter and $4,000 more expensive then your aluminum road bike.

    I’m not judgmental of these ideas - they are very similar to ones I’ve had myself as I’ve gotten into cycling. And it’s only been in the last year that I’ve started to try to see past them and move towards a much more practical and enjoyable stance on the line of what resources I have and how they should be invested in cycling.

    I’m much more focused on what will keep me riding versus what will give me 5 second a faster time on a Strava segment. Here are some examples of recent priority changes I’ve made, not that they are perfect or “the right” way, just the point I”m at:

    1. I’m seriously geeking on what makes a great every day training wheel. Aero isn’t a part of the equation. Aluminum braking surface is a must cause I want them to last a long time and I don’t want to worry when it’s rainy or foggy out if my brakes are going to work. The hubs are everything - how nice to they roll and how little maintenance do they take. I’ve not ridden every wheel out there, but from the ones I have Shimano Hubs take the cake. I’m looking at the RS81 c24 or Dura Ace C24 Tubeless wheel-set. This is in contrast to riding Specialized Roval Rapide CL40s for racing and training all year. They are a killer wheel-set for racing - I love them. Light, fast, agile - just what I want. But for an every day wheel they just aren’t the tool.

    2. “Don’t buy upgrade, ride up grades.” I’m not sure the source of the quote, probably Merckx, but it’s where my head is at for cycling gear. My main budget is going towards better nutrition, supplements that help with training and recovery, compression tights/boots and coaching from Source Endurance (All of which is focused on “better” time on the bike). Any gear buys are all focused on helping me to keep riding - fall/cold weather gear, a better cycling trainer for workouts in the winter, and travel for training trips (focus is “More” time on the bike). Keeping what I have fully up to par in maintenance (cables, BBs, chains, tires, etc) and riding what I have into the group (shorts, jerseys, jackets, etc.). Any extra $$ I spend is all about making the process of pushing a pedal more likely and more effective.

    3. Enabling the solo ride. Group rides are fun, addictive even. But they can be very hit/miss to get you towards training goals. They are good for easy to ride volume, but getting to the next level is about getting specific and pushing the limits. It takes a while for me to get used to - and motivated for solo training rides. Music helps but I’ve found Audiobooks from Audible to be the best. Getting lost in a good story or an industry focused book is a great way to get out on the road and pound out the miles. Better training is found in solo rides, period.

    These are just some of the priority changes I’m having where I”m at in cycling. There is a lot of wisdom out there to learn from from people further down the road. If I was going to make it a simple statement I’d say, “Chase after the better experience versus the better performance.”

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    The past month my training for cycling has seemed much more difficult then normal. It is the busiest part of our year the the shop - but I have the same hours in the day. It is the hottest part of the year in Oklahoma - but the heat hasn’t really effected me much this year.

    It was sleep. The past couple months I’ve gone back to old habits of only giving myself 5-7 hours of sleep a night. When it came to early workouts, energy to prep food and more I was just too tired or sleeping in too late. Early in the year - the first 5 months - I was getting a minimum of 8 hours a night or more.

    I experienced the most rapid weight loss and strength development from training when I was getting good sleep. After a year of coaching, and very intentional training, effective supplements and more - I would say learning the lesson of proper nightly sleep, weekly recovery and block training with adequate rest is over and above the most important.

    A lot of you will say you just don’t “have time” for proper sleep each night. You do. You don’t have enough time for proper sleep and binge watching Netflix or browsing the web or video games or the things we do at nights to “chill out” that actually rob us of the sleep that would help us restore and repair from the day and its anxieties.

    I’m back on the program of solid sleep. Two days in and its like magic.

    2015 Road Season Training Tires - Installed.

    Stepping into the Real Race

    On a late Saturday a couple weeks ago I lined up for my first Cat 2 Criterium. It was a good offering of the 1/2 racers in Oklahoma with strong finishers like Jacob White, Bryan Duvall, Evan Bybee and Micah Newell in attendance. And as much as I feel like I’ve raced in the past 3-4 years it felt like I had just gotten to the beginning of being in the “Real Race.” The fastest race of the day, all the other categories are setup in a development cycle to help people on the amateur level get to this point. Everyone in this race is strong, committed and making sacrifices to be here.


    Going into this race I had zero expectations. I hadn’t hit a crit in 8 weeks, was into strength and endurance training preparing for cyclocross, but had been feeling alright after a big race scheduling leading up through June. I also didn’t really know the players in the game. In the Cat 3 world I knew which attacks were legit, and which ones were always bound to come back. I knew who to watch in the sprint, who’s early move was dangerous, and how my fitness fit into the rhythm of races in that group. At this level all bets were off.

    I was lining up with the names of guys who’d been dropping me on group rides for years! The ones in the races at the end of the day that you had a hard time seeing who was who as they flew by - now I had to figure out how to hang onto that whirlwind.

    I’ve heard these guys talk about their races as being “smoother” then the other category races. I would have to agree in a sense - on a scale of 1-10 we were going between 8.5 and 10 all night - HA! My goal was to find team leaders in the pack and stay around the protective bubbles their teams were creating. I had no intention of being in any break, but with a fast and flowing course I didn’t think a break would stick anyways.

    There were several laps of 31mph where gaps would start to form, sometimes because I couldn’t hang, sometimes cause others couldn’t. I think the “win” of the night was that I never felt like it was so hard I wanted to quit, everything, even it if was closing the gap and getting back to the lead group through a couple hard laps, felt doable. But if you were going to term my racing for the night you would call it “passive.” I wasn’t looking to be in the move, I was just looking to be efficient and there at the end.

    The problem with passive racing is that you are basically trying to avoid the redline if you can. You get into a rhythm with the group, the lines you take, the position you are that lulls you to sleep. As you get to 5 laps to go and on, especially in this group, unless you can give yourself a slap in the fact to start racing aggressively for position - you will finish were you go through the line at 1 to go.

    That is what happened, I didn’t get to ever use a Sprint or Jump cause I waited too long to even consider it. I was able to hold onto a long line of guys going for the sprint and knab 11th; Which I was both pleased and displeased with. I’ve failed and learned the lesson of getting lulled to sleep in a race - of when you need to switch gears - but I was so new to the group I let the passive “just race” mentality creep in instead of always slinging your bike for the win on the line. But getting near the top ten in a race with those guys was a great entry into this new category of racing.

    I don’t expect any race to play out the same way as I move forward. Team racing is a significant part of results at this level, not everything, but important. I’ll still be racing solo a large majority of the time as we develop our road program on the Bike Lab team, but that’s okay since it’s mostly all I’ve know (barring our killer Cat 3 crit crew this year.) And this was just a local race - the big 1/2 races you are going up against Pro’s and Semi-Professional racers that us local guys can most times match but rarely ever shake.

    The Enid race was a good confidence booster going into the fall.

    My son has been getting into riding and racing a little. Its probably the best thing ever. I love his enthusiasm and fearlessness.

    I don’t know a better way to spend a Sunday evening then watching the Rapha Continental movie in Vimeo with a solid drink.

    (via swimbikerunenjoysmile)

    Did our own Gentleman’s Ride this morning.

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