This year I’m looking at getting back into the consistent personal journey voice on this blog that I started with 3 years ago when I entered into competitive cycling. There has been plenty that has happened in the slow burn that is the journey of getting month over month, year over year, stronger in an endurance sport like cycling to report. But I’m also getting step by step close to the goal of being competitive in the Elite ranks of amateur racing.
"Close" maybe a generous term. But the further down a road you get the better idea you get of how far away the top of that mountain really is, and what it is going to take to ascend it.
In the last three years I’ve settled into focusing on the disciplines of road racing and cyclocross - enjoying both and appreciating how their seasons compliment each other. While I didn’t meet some goals through this cyclocross season, I didn’t learn to win a couple of different ways on different courses, and earn enough upgrade points for the automatic jump to Cat 2 on the last race of the season.
As I have mentioned on here before Cat 2 is a no man’s land where your races are now with the best of the best for those competing at that event. The 1/2 event is always the show-down of the big dogs who are there to throw down on who is the strongest - not just in their category or age group - but strongest over all. Being able to compete (not just line up and get dropped) is in essence the major goal that this blog was started to document.
With the new upgrade to this rank in cyclocross and the potential of it in road racing I have realized a couple of very important things about myself and situation.
1. For the first three years of racing I’ve ridden my bike A LOT. But I’ve “trained” very little. Even though I’ve read many of the books on training seeing the information - and knowingly executing it takes perspective outside yourself to really accomplish. Don’t get me wrong, many of the people who talk about training honestly just need to stop having excuses and ride their bike way more. But as I stand peering into the Cat 1/2 ranks, like looking over a cubicle at the bosses office, I realize what had gotten me to where I am wasn’t enough to get me where I want to go.
2. I’m a binge rider. I can get motivated and ride like hell for a few weeks, but then I burn myself out, need to recover and then get back at it. It’s part of my personality - and recovery days and weeks isn’t something that I really comprehend enough to do well and consistently. But knowing the level of riding and efforts I need to get to the next level - recovery needs to be an intentional effort.
3. Now, as a co-owner in a bike shop there are a lot of riding demands I need to manage. Group rides that are fantastic for business (slower endurance rides that aren’t as intimidating for timid beginners) only occasionally line up with the kind of riding I need to accomplish to keep my fitness moving forward. Riding is better then not - but again I need some outside perspective to help me understand how to juggle the “business riding” and “tony training” as I’ve come to call it.
4. The desire to compete at an elite level is as strong as it has ever been. With our OKC Velo Bike Lab team entering it’s second year, full of strong and ambitious racers, we are heavily invested in building both fitness but also legit skills and tactical practices to raise the level of racing in the area. We just love it.
In some cities many of the needs for better riders around me, those with years of experience in riding, former pros or elites coming back into town - would all help to provide relationships and direction as I look to make this next jump. But in OKC we simply don’t have that kind of environment. For all the enthusiasm and growth cycling is seeing here, we are a far cry from the legacy communities found on the coasts, and in places like Bolder.
All this hit me in the fall, in the middle of the cyclocross season which motivated two goals.
1. Save for a crank based power meter.
2. Get a legit coach & coaching group involved with our team/myself.
Being a shop owner made the first goal easier for me then most and I’m thrilled to be riding with Specialized’s S-Works crank and Ant+ Spider now on my Venge.
The second goal I took more seriously. I didn’t want the “guy” someone’s friend was using. I wanted a legit group that was full of guys who not only raced, but also had degrees in the world of sports science and who you could tell had prepared for coaching - not raced a bunch and had opinions. After checking out groups in Dallas and Colorado I decided to roll with Source Endurance.
They will be leading our road camp for our Team in March - but more importantly towards my goals I jumped into 1-1 coaching with one of their guys - Zack Allison. Even after a month I’ve noticed a big difference from “just riding a lot” to training. During some of the worst months of the year I’ve put in more riding per week, felt fresher at the end of them, and taken better recovery then before.
The focus of having a coach is really a positive experience for me so far, and I’m excited at seeing how that will help to create results this year - and for our team.
That’s a long update - but it’s the start of getting back to the roots of this blog’s purpose. Talking about a guy who turned 30, weighed 240 lbs, hadn’t exercised in 8+ years, hadn’t done an endurance sport, and hadn’t ever done cycling - and wanted to aim high.