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 aero tuck lookback

    skill level: world champion

    (via 21-thechronicle)

    It is weird how sometimes you feel fine at the end of long rides - and then times like today you feel like you are dragging your feet just to make it home. Phew.

    cadenced:

    Michał Kwiatkowski’s Strava data from his World Championship winning ride in Ponferrada, Spain.  

    Michał Kwiatkowski - Mistrz Świata 2014 Elity Zawodowców ze startu wspólnego

    If you don’t have doubt’s you aren’t trying hard enough.

    Eyes on the prize.

    Back to Trusting the Science…

    When I first started cycling 5 years ago I was in a bad way physically. I’d just turned 30 and my only hope was to get my cholesterol down and lose a few pounds. But as I started to see changes ambition started to pick up. That’s when the emotional battle of getting fit, setting goals and trying to lose weight set in. But emotion is all over the place, not something you can depend on if you hope make progress.

    I had to settle on the facts, on the reality that our bodies are regulated by. The reason I was out of shape and 60+ pounds over weight wasn’t because it was my destiny, my genetics, or personality. It was because I wasn’t eating nutritious food, I was eating too much of it, and I wasn’t being active in life. My body doesn’t have a choice on how it responds to it’s physiology - it simply responds to what I give it. Trust the Science became my mantra through the tough times when it didn’t feel I was making progress in fitness and weight loss. It helped me get way further then I’d ever gotten before.

    Now, I’m in a different boat. Physically and health wise I’m better then I ever have been in my life. But, I want to continue to lean into being competitive at the elite level in bicycle racing. This is a different challenge because while I need to lean up, I also need to keep my energy levels up for training. This is where it really becomes important to get away from processed foods and empty calories - cause everyone needs to count. It’s also a reason to count calories in/out so I can make more precise - slower progress and still have plenty of energy for the work it takes to get strong.

    There is still plenty of emotion and doubt that can happen when you are taking the longer road. Where you are in for losing weight, but not at the sacrifice of performance. I don’t even have a direct goal of weight I’m trying to get too. I’m really trusting the science that as I eat better, and make slow progress in losing weight that I can arrive at the right weight for me and elite racing.

    I’ve written about this before on J2P but I wanted to put it out there again. As much as our emotions and doubts can stalemate progress - I always take a step back and gain perspective into the rules our bodies can’t avoid. Trust the Science and the progress of Fitness and a Healthy Weight will happen.

    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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