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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    Salt Creek Crit Race Review - First Cat 3 Win!

    It’s a week delayed but the first road racing weekend for Oklahoma 2014 is over and was consistent in weather and as fun as past years. This Saturday Criterium and Sunday Road Race always has at least one day that is true Spring Classics weather and this year didn’t disappoint.

    Salt Creek Criterium

    This crit course really rides more like a short 1.5 mile circuit race with the rounded loops at each end and only one 90 degree turn. But the consistent up and down of the course makes it a challenge, especially with the last 200 meters being a 7% grade uphill power mash sprint.

    I had the benefit of a solid team mates in this Cat 3 race in Troy C. and Nemo C. Troy and I have been 3’s for a couple seasons (Nemo is a new upgrade) and have gotten used to riding together well. The weather for this race was pretty grim with 18 to 25 mph winds, the temperature hoovering right at 32 degrees F and the rain being very consistent. As we watched the Cat 1/2 race before us we saw that an early move shattered the group and the strong men were able to get away. We also saw a ton of flats as local sand thorns were getting washed onto the roads. That and some rough areas made it ideal for upping the pace initially - as getting into a draft would be more difficult and we could make it a hardman’s race early.

    As the race kicked off I took towards the front, joined by Judson C from Evoke and Troy and we made the first three laps as hard as the final three ended up. When you are at the front of a group doing that kind of effort you hope it is knocking some people off the back, but we were surprised to see just 11 guys still there after the first three laps. With 25 guys starting, those 11 ended up being the only guys that finished the race with the rest DNF’ing because of the elements or flats.

    After we were down to 11 guys Troy and I just stayed towards the front to cover attacks or look for opportunities of our own. Ben H. from a strong cat 3 Tulsa Wheelmen team jumped out into a solo break during the middle section of the race. He held strong with a 10-15 second gap for three or four laps. It was a strong effort but in an exposed course in those kind of elements a solo break was going to be really difficult for anyone. As we were at 5 laps to go we upped the pace to start reeling Ben back in and decided to setup for a sprint finish.

    The #1 mark in Oklahoma Cat 3 racing right now is the Tulsa Wheelmen team, especially Norman B. who is wickedly strong. I kept my eye on him the whole race and when he tried to bridge a couple times was on his wheel to either bring him back or go for the ride up to the break. You can tell he has put all the right work in on the bike during the fall and winter, and even dropped solid weight. I think the Cat 1/2s are as nervous about his eventual upgrade this year as we are in trying to figure out how to mark him.

    As we came into the final two laps Troy and I fell into our two man lead out routine. One is toward the front to help maintain pace and stop surging. The other focuses purely on the best position for a win at the finish. We are very similar in body type and ability so who does what is usually based on how we are feeling that day or just how the story of that race played out. This time Troy was the pace-maker and I was the position finder.

    Two laps to go Troy was at the front keeping the pace solid with everyone else pretty satisfied with waiting for a sprint. As we entered the final half of the last lap I started communicating with Troy so he knew about any gaps or if we needed to ramp it more or not. As we entered a cross wind section with 1.5 k to go I hollered for him to ramp it up as we had a small gap to the front four, and then at the last main turn at 1 k to go he jumped and that whe’d created a front selection of three guys sprinting for the win (Me, Judson-Evoke and Bob-Soundpony). Judson made an early move at 300 meters as Troy pulled off and Judson was sitting second wheel. Bob had fallen off of Judson’s wheel so as I’d liked to have been covered up until the based of the 7% 200 meter finish I was really just chasing Judson the whole time.

    After you hit that hill sprint it’s really just a matter of gritting your teeth, hoping you picked the right gear, and doing all you can to keep pushing the final 30 meters that flattens out on the top. Judson is lighter and super strong so I was just able to edge him out for the win, but he also was exposed longer in the sprint.

    It was crappy weather, a very Belgian race day, but it was also my first Cat 3 win ever!

    I think a lot of people underestimate the Cat 3 ranks. This was my first win after being a Cat 3 for 27 months. The fitness and competition here is hard and only few people can just ride and race their way through it into the Elite 1/2 ranks.

    Honestly a win hasn’t even been a close consideration until after I’ve seen the improvement and solid progress from being paired up with Zack from the Source Endurance group. All the race strategy in the world can’t make up for the difference in fitness between just riding a lot (previous plan) to intentional plans, workouts and recovery (2014).

    The season is still early with plenty of hilly road races (not ideal) and crits left (yeah baby). Excited to see it progress!

    Two Options for Tuesdays that will help you Harden Up in OKC #rule5

    Two Options for Tuesdays that will help you Harden Up in OKC #rule5

    This year Tuesdays are all about finding a group to ride with and riding hard! There are two great options in the city for you to chose from that will not only make you a better cyclist but will surround you with a great community.

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    Tuesday Night Worlds – 6:00 pm

    Here at Charley’s Bicycle Laboratory we will continue to have our popular Tuesday Night Worlds ride that rolls out at 6pm. We go 37…

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    Hitting the four month mark on winter weather is pretty draining as a cyclist. Phew.


    Fabian Cancellara and Zdenek Stybar on the attack at Paris-Roubaix

    Can’t wait for this race this year - especially with Stybar and Boonen coming in strong.

    Because being unwilling to attempt it is the first failure.

    (via basically-yasmin)

    More Selfish, Less Social

    It’s an interesting thing, continuing to push yourself to bigger goals and achievements in cycling. I’m realizing that it’s not been energy or ability to train more that’s kept me away from my goals - rather social lifestyle and other interests (vs. passions). Working with my new coach (Zack from Source Endurance) I’ve really been putting in solid work the last two months. And surprisingly doing the workouts has not been the hard part - that part is a blast because I get to just “do” and not have to try and figure things out.

    The hard part has been the relational and lifestyle changes I’ve had to transition to make the workouts possible. A lot of us gear our cycling pursuits in parallel with our social lifestyle - there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s both fun training and social interaction to join group rides through the week. But as you start to go after something bigger you quickly realize that the group rides aren’t effective training at all. OR as you increase the volume of your riding (I’m averaging 12–20 hours more per month) the scheduling and timing of your rides has to change to make sure you can value the key relationships in your life.

    Yes, you literally need to sacrifice some relationships and social experiences to pursue big challenges in cycling. I would describe it as your riding needs to become much more selfish. If you need 4 hours on the bike but the start time of your favorite group rides makes it such that you aren’t really going to see your family all day - let the group ride go. Ride early solo and be with your family.

    Will members of your team start to wonder where you’ve gone? Yep.

    Will you have to experience going to those same group rides and realizing their pace and structure really aren’t helpful for someone aiming to race? Yep.

    Will group rides start to feel more like babysitting? Yep.

    Will you need to stop using discomfort as an excuse for not using the trainer in training? In my experience, Yep.

    I finally understand why I’ve always seen the higher elite guys in my area only ever riding in groups of 2–4 guys at a time. It’s not “eliteism” on their part - it’s more simple then that. They just want to be able to ride without someone dropping off the back the whole time. To keep a pace that keeps their huge goals on schedule - like 80–100 mile road races and the incredible efforts they will need to be able to dish out in the Spring and Summer.

    Practically, I am finding that being willing to do more training solo and utilizing time on the trainer as the two biggest positive changes in approach for me this year. It’s not that I’m all business and won’t be riding with people this year - it’s just that when I do it’s got to be when the pressure is off because I’ve done the training at other times. That way I can relax in a group and simply enjoy the experience.

    I also realize that my approach has to be more focused then a lot of guys looking to race at this level. I’m an owner in a fast growing business, the father of four amazing children and dedicated to my wife. I’m not willing to sacrifice those foundational things for racing bikes. But 3–4 group rides a week, social pressures, alcohol, cheeseburgers, Hulu, lazy mornings, and more - I am willing to sacrifice for the goals I have in racing. It’s just taken up’ing the pressure in my training to force the decision.

    What are you willing to give up for your goals?

    60 degrees - knee warmers or no?

    my ride today had llamas, country roads, gravel, dirt, head winds, hilarious jokes and 70 awesome miles. i love a fun, let’s just find our way, ride with friends.

    Never underestimate just riding by feel and for fun - especially as the sunshine comes back out.

    A Group Ride For Everyone - Spring Rides Just around the Corner!

    Route Instructions

    [The week of March 10th is when our group rides will start again every Monday…

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