It’s been since Xanga since I’ve written a blog online. I got to see mine before it disappeared permanently and it was hilarious how dramatic everything was back then. I promise to be a bit more lighthearted this time around.
This blog is meant to serve as self reflection, feedback and a record of sorts. I’d like to think that I can keep up with it every day, but maybe I can build up to that. I would like to be able share where I’m at and where I’m going with my training and racing.
A little backstory is in order:
I grew up on a farm in Southeast Kansas. I usually ask people if they know where Pittsburg is.
Then, I ask them if they know where Girard is.
Then, I ask them if they know where Farlington is.
Then, I tell them that I lived outside of even that town with a population of 300 people. All around us stretched empty farmland and dirt roads for exploring. My parents never got me gaming console and I never had any interest of buying one on my own. It would have been disastrous because as soon as I could use a computer, I would waste hours and hours doing nothing. Actually, I still do. But, a lot of my childhood on the farm was spent outside. Sometimes, I would ride my Pacific full suspension bike to the top of the hill on our mile block of gravel and then ride down, going as fast as I could push it. Also, my parents were avid water skiers, so we would be at the lake on the weekends from the first time I can remember. I loved everything about the water (Except for one year, when I thought lakes had sharks. Took my parents forever to convince me this wasn’t true).
What I’m leading up to, is in elementary school, when I found out I was consistently at the top of my class for the mile. And then in middle school, I found out I was pretty good regionally. Before my freshman year of high school, I went on an Outward Bound trip. At the end of the 14 day hiking/camping/canoeing/porting the canoe/rock climbing excursion was a Personal Challenge Event that everyone who came back their own trips participated in this canoeing/porting canoe/run race. I don’t really know how many people were in it, but after some significant setbacks with the canoeing portion (We came in last), some decent results on the porting (We passed a few), on the run I hunted down one camper after another and came in 2nd. I knew I should go out for cross country instead of football in the fall.
After success in high school running, I got a scholarship to go to Fort Hays State University. After a very crappy transition year, I took a job in the summer in Estes Park, Colorado, where I could train at altitude. At the end of the summer I ran my first half marathon, winning the Estes Park Half Marathon in 1:23. I wanted to stay out there and keep training and to my parent’s frustration, I dropped out of college and hoped to re-enroll in Colorado. I put in heavy mileage (110 mpw for four weeks in a row) and was feeling fitter than I ever had, but before I knew it I was overtrained and injured with a stress fracture on my outside metatarsal. After a few weeks of trying to rest and then get back at it, I gave up and resorted to drinking very heavily and smoking cigarettes. Really, up until a few years ago, that’s about all I did.
I used a bike for transportation and fun when I moved to downtown Kansas City, but it wasn’t until I got my 1988 Schwinn Circuit with Shimano Sante that I started training and getting serious. My first race was the Stateline Road Race in 2014, right at the end of the season. I was on the front a lot and then broke away for a lap, eventually chased down and spit out the back. I was totally hooked.
I built a bike scraped together from parts and a 2001 Pinarello Prince with Campagnolo Record. The frame snapped when I took out the wheel after two weeks of riding it. Luckily, my tax return was able to buy a used 2013 Specialized Allez Race with SRAM Force. Two weeks later, my friend Tyler and I were hit by a car on Indian Creek Parkway. They replaced my bike with a check and I bought a used 2013 Specialized Tarmac Pro. In a matter of 6 months I upgraded 3 times from an 88 Schwinn Circuit to a 2 year old Specialized Tarmac Pro with SRAM Red. You’ve never seen someone so giddy.
In 2014 I worked through my Category 4 upgrade (Racing & finishing 10 Category 5 criteriums or road races), with some podiums on the way. Mostly, I was learning nuances of bike racing the hard headed way of making the same mistakes over and over. I would sit on the front of the pack too much because I was too nervous to be 5th or 6th wheel. Without any shelter from the wind, my energy would be sapped up and I would have no plan of action of how to win. When I finally upgraded to Category 4, I also joined a team, GP Velotek. My first race as a Cat 4 racer and a member of GP Velotek was the Truman Cup Circuit, a race well known for it’s mile long climb at 4%. With two laps to go, a natural break occurred with another rider and we went for it. He had thought that the race was over that lap, so he ended up spent by the time we came around for our last lap. We stayed together so we wouldn’t get caught by the pack and he gave me the win at end. I had finally made it to the top step and started feeling my old self back.
Over the winter, I hit it hard. I knew that my body responded well to high volume at low intensities, so I did hours on the trainer, catching up on Netflix (Lost, Narcos, countless movies). I searched for a used powermeter and started testing for improvement, seeing steady gains throughout the whole Base (Long Slow Distance) period. My workouts became structured and I even started paying attention to my nutrition. Every spring, the team holds a training camp in Arkansas’s Boston Mountains, staying on top of Mt. Magazine. After a few days of climbing mountains, I knew that my fitness was on point and it was going to be a good season.
My first A race was the Joe Martin Stage Race, a two day amateur race, four day UCI pro race in late April. The first couple of months of the year there are a series of tune up criteriums in Lawrence and two road races. Even in competition, the signs were good. A couple of weeks before, my teammates and I went down to Fayetteville to pre-ride the course and scout out the time trial. I thought I would try and give the time trial course a go, because it was a pretty straightforward segment on Strava. I ended up averaging 403 watts of power over 10 minutes. I knew I had a chance to win the thing. After the time trial, I had 30 seconds on 2nd place. I lost a little bit on the criterium on the last day, but I had won my first stage race and my parents even got to see my success in my new found addiction. I felt like I didn’t care what else happened for the season. I ended up crashing 6 times this last season, putting a damper on a lot of races, including my 2nd A race, Tulsa Tough. I crashed all three days of the event.
I’ve tidied up my season and taken three weeks completely off the bike. I’m self conscious about my cornering abilities and general bike handling, so it’s something that I want to work heavily on this off-season. To mediate this, I’ve been using my boss’s 2000 Yeti AS-R mountain bike. Trails can be complicated and frustrating sometimes, but I’m really starting to enjoy the dirt. I can feel myself get a little bolder, a little more carefree when going towards a familiar downhill or loose trail. I’ve endo’d and fallen over sideways more times than I can count, but I know everyone must start somewhere. My structured training wont start for another three weeks, so I’m planning on working on my bike handling skills until then.
I think I’ve covered way too much and probably came off of way to egotistical. My point is, I am genetically gifted for aerobic endurance and even (Unknowingly) started to develop it at a young age. This is what I was made to do, suffer. I love it.