CatDog

HEY!

I have, like, a lot to talk about because it’s been a while. *remember to insert that shitty Staind song from 2003*

Well, for one, here are some excuses. First excuse is about why I haven’t been posting and at first I just wanted to take a pause because I…moved to a new city! Second excuse is that I let my domain registration lapse and I kept putting the renewal on the backburner. So my brother transferred the domain and I setup a Google Domain transfer. And now, here we are, back for talk therapy.

As I mentioned, I moved from Kansas City at the beginning of March for a wide variety of reasons.

  • My parents live on Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas. Over the last 10 years, I haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with them and every time I visited it was a great time. Lately, they have been talking about eventually moving to Florida and I know if they move to Florida we won’t get to see each other but twice a year.
  • Every time that I would come visit, I would usually bring my bike and go on group rides with friends in Northwest Arkansas and lament about how much I enjoyed riding here and wanted to live here. Eventually, my friends coaxed me enough and I got a benefit offer from a local developing team, Bentonville Racing. it seemed like our objectives and ideals were in line and it would be a good fit.
  • I’m a web designer, so staying in one place isn’t that necessary.
  • I’m also an Airbnb host, and I really wanted be a host for cyclist. With Northwest Arkansas’s burgeoning mountain bike scene, it was a no brainer that I could start to really see that as a reality.
  • I really appreciate how much the city of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas in general reinvests back into it’s community with outdoor activities and arts and culture.
  • Kansas City was starting to feel stagnant, to be honest. I had been living there for 6.5 years and no doubt enjoyed my time and my friends, but started to feel the itch to move and start again. When opportunity knocks, you either answer the door or just wonder if you should answer the door.
  • I had a personal relationship that I needed physical distance from.
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      It was a lot to take in and contemplate. There was a lot of risk involved, but I had some really good ideas on how to mitigate the risk and make the move easier. The process of moving definitely messed up training schedule leading into the Joe Martin Stage Race, which was really unfortunate and created a lot of anxiety. One of my biggest races of the year and I may not even have the fitness that I needed to compete well. It turns out that it wouldn’t even matter. I also decided to commit to Tour of the Gila (which proceeds Joe Martin by two weeks) at the beginning of last year.

      A few weeks before moving, I went to a team camp with GP Velotek at Mt Magazine, Arkansas. The year before was a blast and I didn’t want to miss out again, so I became a Velotek club member. This year was really foggy instead of being super cold. I had a 1 hour power personal best of 352 watts climbing up the North side of Mt. Magazine (missed the KOM by only 26 seconds) and set some PRs on the south side while having a really good time with my old teammates. I also rode my first century!

      I kept positive spirits and thought about all of the long, winding roads I was going to ride in Arkansas before Joe and Gila. Confidence is a helluva performance enhancing drug. I had some really good rides after I got settled in and training consistently. It was almost like I tapered for my move to Arkansas. I picked up a mountain bike before I left town, too! It’s a 2013 Niner Air 9 RDO with SRAM XXO and a Rockshox SID fork. It’s a beastly hardtail that’s meant to tear up single track XC trail, which is perfect for Arkansas trails.

      Before Joe came, we did a road race in Skiatook, Oklahoma that a decent bit of climbing and good competition. There were quite a few early attacks and surges, but nothing really stuck. I got in a couple of the attacks and even chased down a couple of breaks. The last attack actually happened after chasing down a break, a couple of the guys kept going and the peloton let us slip away. We quickly got organized with 7 miles to go. We were holding a really high pace and even started seeing some of our gang dying. We held it together all the way to the finishing hill where I went early and had a good lead, but got nipped at the line. It felt good to start the season off with a podium. Somehow, with my second place that day, I also got 2nd in the omnium for the weekend, despite not riding the day before, so we made some $$, too.

      Joe weekend came fast, and while I was nervous, I knew there wasn’t much else I could do to prepare anymore at this point. I got to the time trial course Saturday morning at what I thought was a reasonable amount of time to get ready and warmed up, even lugging along my gigantic trainer. I set up my alarms and when it went off, I quickly got ready and rode towards the start line. I got a little ways away from my car and went back to grab a GEL. A stupid fucking gel that would not have made any difference. When I got to the start line, they had already called my name, so technically my TT had already started. I was about 45 seconds late–which is everything in a short, hill climb TT. I rode so hard for that first half, like way harder than I had planned, but I was anxious and angry. I ended up with a 9:18 (13th) and lost the TT by 45 seconds exactly. Luckily, my teammate Chad was in 2nd, only 11 seconds down from the GC. The road race was later that day and I helped reel in a break with the GC leader that was gone for 30 miles of the road race. I didn’t have any finishing power, but luckily my teammate Jared did and he won the road race. The downtown criterium was a hard fight with big surges and ripping corners that the GC leader ended up winning. By the time the weekend was over I had moved up two spots on the GC to 11th, Chad got 3rd and Jared got 10th. It was an okay turnout, but we all knew we had the firepower to have two people up on that podium. I learned a really hard lesson in being on time and being prepared.

      The important thing about racing is that you can’t let the stink hang on you. Bad weekend? Tough luck, there is going to be another weekend with good luck. Gila was in a week and a half, it was time to wipe the slate clean and focus on the future.

      Gila was an 18 hour drive, 5500 ft of elevation, and a 5 day stage race. It would be radically different than any other race I had ever done. The first stage was a road race and we let a two man break get away. At the bottom of the main climb they were 1:30 up the road and by the end we had closed the gap down to 25 seconds. On day 2, there was a hard early climb that I pushed a lot of and we shed about half the field. We descended on a very technical, crappy road and I almost lost the group. In the valley we brought back one break and then I somehow ended up in a break with a really good junior and the guy who was 2nd in the GC. We worked hard back and forth, and eventually dropped the guy in 2nd on the GC because he was too tired from the day before. The junior ended up dropping me on the final climb, winning by 3 minutes and I hung onto 2nd place by an extra 3 minutes. I had moved into 2nd place on the GC with a good amount of cushion. I rode the time trial the next day Merckx style and ended up in 10th, but still kept my 2nd place in the GC. Stayed safe in the stage 4 downtown Silver City, New Mexico criterium and had no change in GC. The last day was Sunday and it was going to be a monster. There was an early move 6 miles in to the stage and then we let two teams that had guys in the breaks control the pace. By the time we had hit the bottom of the finishing climb, we were over 9 minutes down from the break. That was honestly the most I’ve ever hurt during a race. It was a sustained climb with a dip in the middle. At one point, someone took a corner too hot and slid out, taking out the guy in front of me and myself. I immediately got back up and chased on with another crasher, but it was too late. The GC was shook up and I got bumped to 4th with two of the guys in the break taking 2nd and 3rd. I was a bit disappointed with a tactical error, but still super thrilled with my overall fitness and performance. Our times climbing that day were in the top 30 for all classes, including pros. I felt on top of the world.

      The next weekend was Velotek Grand Prix. The time trial was too short to be in my power wheelhouse, so I finished 8th. I threw out a big attack on the last 5 laps of the criterium, but got pulled back, so it was a pack finish. On the 2 lap road race, I knew I would have to do some hard work be able to make up spots. After cresting the finishing climb on the first lap, a junior and I kept pushing to a 2 man break up the road. We worked together well and kept the pace high. In the last 6 miles we dropped the two we picked up and it was just going to be a head to head finish for the junior and I. In the end, I made and early move and kept it for the win, my first of this season. I even moved up into 2nd place on the GC, so an excellent weekend after Gila.

      The following weeks were really good. I set a new personal power best for 20 minutes (385w), 5 minutes (488w), and 1 minute (701w). It had been roughly a year since I had seen improvements. I’ve put on a little more weight since then, but it’s still a higher watt per kilogram ratio. I had a really good century on my birthday, averaging around 265w for 5 hours (I didn’t catch the first hour).

      I’ll start another post for my Oklahoma adventures.

Ren

I took the day off yesterday. The plan is to do 6 days per week. Today, I had a 1 hour recovery ride. Recovery from what, you might say?

With my new FTP values, my recovery wattage is right around 100. It’s really boring, but super necessary. Last year, I ended having some training overload right around January. Overload is good, but you have to make sure the balance of recovery is there. This year, I’m going to really force the easy wattage on my designated recovery days. I would rather undershoot and stay healthy then overdo it and end up injured or experiencing early burnout. I’m pretty sure I tried to average 12.5 hours last year, which I lowered to 12 for this year. I hit quite a few spots of burnout last year and I’d like to avoid that as much as possible. It’s really frustrating to be putting in a ton of work and dedication and feel like that’s going the opposite direction. To me, lots of burnout means that I wasn’t plateauing and that there are still plenty of gains to be had at that level.

Honestly, I would be so ecstatic if I could just train full time. I just really love to ride. It’s easy to get over ambitious and over trained, though.

I’ve got to decide now if I want to do Tour of the Gila. I think it would be an awesome experience and that I’ve got the skillset to be successful, but it’s a huge time and money dedication. Between race fees, gas for travel and food and lodging, it would be a very expensive race. General Classification payout for Category 3s is $500. A lot of money for a race, don’t get me wrong. Joe Martin paid out $275 for Category 4 last year, but TotG is a 5 day stage race vs. a 3 day stage race. I imagine that $500 would get pretty close to breaking even after expenses. Maybe my parents would want to visit Silver City, NM? That would be pretty fun.

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Hi

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.