Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Want The Win

With the road season behind us (for most of us) and CX season here, many racers can now look at their past season and asked the questions of whether it was successful or not.  Also, what will the cyclocross season hold.

What makes a successful season?  I think for most racers it is a higher than last year number of wins.  What if you are not a winning cyclist?  How close did you come to that win?

These are the type of questions I have asked myself.  These questions along with some serious realizations have really shaped my mindset and motivated me for not only the CX season, but for next year's road season as well.

How many times has this been you?

How about this?

This last year I started becoming very interested in sports psychology.  I bought a book called "Mind Gym".  There was a section in that talked about athletes self-destructing themselves because they were afraid to win.  Afraid to win, seriously?  Then I thought about cycling.  What are the efforts that many times put you in a winning position?  They are hard and explosive.  If they don't succeed you stand a great chance of being dropped.  Is being dropped embarrassing to you?

One of the things I did this year was put on my stem a saying.  My stem had the phrase "Want the Win".  It reminded me that I needed to want the win more than I feared the loss.  I don't think that I completely did that this year.  I think it helped improve my confidence but I don't think I totally moved from fearing to lose.  A perfect example was the final race of the year at Bay Days.  I wanted to win and even asked my team to help set me up.  That request really put the fear of the loss high up.  When you tell people you can win, you should probably win.  My team did the perfect job.  I should have attacked on the last lap in corner number three.  That distance away is my specialty.  However, I feared that if I went too early and failed, that I would be embarrassed and let the team down.  Instead I followed an attack that occurred and waited until the final stretch where I wasn't able to go around.  I played it safe and lost.

My wife just got me a Road ID.  The saying on bottom is "WANT THE WIN".  That is how I plan to race from this point on.  It may mean being dropped at times when I put it all on the line, but I want that win.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Building Mad Skills: Cycling Skill Drills

Its the time of year to dust off your pride and start working on skills.  Some take this opportunity to practice CX skills exclusively and others use it as a chance to work some well needed road and handling skills. 

How many racers out there actually work on road skills?  Do you meet up with teammates and practice cornering, pack riding, bumping or control drills?  How many feel that if you have been racing for more than just a few years you probably are beyond the skill drills?

It is commonly said that if you think you need to work on skills you probably do.  If you don't think you need to work on them then you absolutely do.

I have taken this chance with my young racers to get them in the habit of working skills.  For them it is something different.  Both of these 10 year old kids will race cyclocross this year so these bike handling on control skills will benefit them in that aspect.  More importantly though is that these skills are directly targeted to get them more comfortable on the road bike and improve their pack riding, corning and confidence.  Probably more important than all of that is that these kids are having a real good time.  More fun than just going out and doing intervals or long rides right now.

Here are a couple examples of their drills and things that can easily be done with a group or simply a pair of racers.

Narrow alleyway drill.  I started with them slowly riding elbow to elbow through this alleyway that is just about 4 feet wide.  The idea here was to get them used to riding next to someone else.  We took it a step further and made them approach it at speed.  Great confidence builder.

Bumping and handling drills.  A small square area was set up using the flag.  One rider enters and sees how long he can stay in.  At least every 30 seconds he has to change direction of travel.  After comfort is built doing that, the second rider is introduced.  They both attempt to stay in while avoiding or riding around each other.  Finally they get the chance to bump each other.  They start using tactics like cutting to the inside and forcing the other out.  Its good fun, great confidence and increases bike handling and comfort.  Its important to maintain control of the bike by holding the drops.  This will help prevent handlebars from tangling.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hampton Bay Days Race Report and Pics

A race on 9/11, a race on the old Bay Days course I competed on as a junior, a race on a downtown course with a festival all adds up to some very good racing.

The Virginia Beach Wheelmen participated in the Cat 4 race with Zach Kyler taking 7th place, the Cat 1/2/3 race with Kevin Horvath competing and then the Cat 3 race with Kevin Horvath, John Gray, Mike Tamayo and myself.

I really wanted to win this race.  It would have been a perfect set up for my first win.  As a firefighter I wanted to race while showing a tribute to 9/ll.  I have also been close this year with a 3rd place at Fort Lee and a 2nd place at Bryan Park Circuit Race.  I asked my team to for the support.  I am usually the leadout man but this time I was asking to be set up for the win.

Kevin was our first line of defense.  He went with early attacks with the idea that if I didn't win, at least a Wheelmen would win.  Next Mike and John took turns in making bridges and getting to the front to ensure a steady pace.

I kept an eye on who was attacking and definitely had a pick on who I was going to follow.  About midway through the race there were numerous attacks from racers that I had marked.  I went, bridged and chased a few of them down giving my teammates a chance to recover.

With 10 laps to go Mike told me to get on his wheel.  He kept me in 3rd position.  If an acceleration occurred that he couldn't fully cover, he would get me close to launch me.  He then would recover and come right back up to me.  A true teammate and friend.  John at this time also helped cover some moves and make sure everything stayed together.

I was feeling good about the whole situation.  We came up on the bell lap with Jeff Craddock setting the pace, Mike on his wheel and me on his.  Out of the 3rd turn an acceleration was made.  I was forced to go around Mike's wheel to cover it after he got me very close to it.  As soon as it was covered, another attack occurred.  I once again jumped on that wheel.  Out of the 4th turn on the home stretch I stood up to sprint around the Carrytown racer.  I was in too big of a gear.

The picture says it all.  Lost in the sprint.  My first win still has eluded me and it looks like it won't occur in 2010.  It was close and I know I need to work on my sprinting speed and technique.  With more work I know in 2011 I will have many 1st place finishes.

For now, though, I was happy with my 2nd place.  I was thrilled with the team effort and I think the team was happy with the results.  The ability to work together as a team toward the common goal, and sacrifice your own results for another's glory is what team racing is all about.  I would rather share a 2nd place with my team then earn a win on my own. 

By the way, great racing by everyone in that race.  It was fast and steady with many attacks.  I was pretty surprised it ended in a sprint.

The following day I raced the same course for the 30+ Virginia State Championship.  It was raining and very slippery.  There were crashes in every race of the day.  After the 2nd lap when I nearly went down and many racers behind me did crash, I never felt comfortable.  So about half way through I simply pulled out and decided to end the season safely.

All photo's taken by Pablo Custodio.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Racing Tribute to 9/11

Three local firefighters, three Hampton Roads Cities, one team.  Mike Tamayo of the Chesapeake Fire Department, John Gray of the Suffolk Fire Department and me, Joshua Goyet of the Virginia Beach Fire Department, all of the Virginia Beach Wheelmen, could not think of a better tribute to 9/11 victims and heroes then to race our bikes.

Also racing for the Virginia Beach Wheelmen on this day was Kevin Horvath, who as a City of Chesapeake mechanic, helps ensure public safety stays on the streets.

Why race our bikes on 9/11?  BECAUSE WE CAN!  The terrorist may have changed a lot 9 years ago, but they did not take our freedom.  On this day, remember what happened, but remember what happened while having fun and exercising your freedoms.

That is what we wanted to do on this beautiful Saturday morning.  I circled this race on the calendar when I saw it being held on September 11th.  I trained for it, prepared for it, and asked my team to support me for the win.

Support is exactly what was given.  Then again, what would you expect from a bunch of firefighters?  So the Virginia Beach Wheelmen arrived in Hampton ready to race and to show mourning and support of 9/11 victims in our own way.

My race number, by special request was 343.  That is number of firefighters that died 9 years ago.

On our calves were written the numbers "911" and "343":

On our thighs were written the words "Never Forget":

Our team logo draped front and back of our jerseys:

In our hearts and on our minds we carried the thoughts of that day.  Where we were, what were we doing, how was this going to change our lives?  Nine years later, there we were racing our bikes, hanging out with friends and enjoying life as an American.  Sure things have changed, but thanks to our brave men and women in the armed forces, we are still free and we can still have a good time, even on September 11th.

Live every day like it is 9/12/01.  Remember how we all came together and how many American Flags flew on that day and the months to follow.

For those that protect our freedom, thank you for letting me race my bike.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Getting Ready

In the words of Snoop Dog "I stays ready so I don't have to get ready".  What am I getting ready for?  For starters, the last race of the season, Hampton Bay Days.  I really want to do well in this race.  Then I am really looking forward to CX season this year.

Last Thursday when I got off work, Earl was lingering off the coast and threatening to ruin a perfectly good weekend and five day break for me.  So I made sure I got out on the bike for a good tempo paced ride Thursday afternoon.  It was already windy but I was feeling so good that I hardly noticed it.

On Friday, as the rain and wind fell but the storm stayed off the coast, my teammate and I had planned an indoor ride at HybriFit so we didn't have to mess with the conditions.  In reality by the time we rode it would have been fine to ride outside.  Anyway we did an hour workout centered around anaerobic capacity.

On Saturday I decided to partake in a group ride.  I don't do many group rides because I can't control the pace, effort or other people's mistakes.  Once in awhile its nice to get out, see some people and mix it up a little, especially when its been a little while since the last race.  After two loops with the Saturday morning Virginia Beach ride, I rode home to ride an hour with 10 year up-and-comings Carter and Dane.

On Sunday, Zach and John met me at Red Mill for an hour and half tempo paced ride in Pungo.  After warming up we did a three man pace line with 30 second pulls for 20 minutes.  On the return trip it was another pace line for 20 minutes but this time you had to sprint from the back to the front.  It was fun, hard and nice to ride in a small group.

Monday morning was our team's traditional holiday CX ride.  Jon, Mike, Tim, Jennifer, Zach, Zach's Mom (not part of our team but well welcomed for the ride) and I met at First Landing State Park for some cx riding.  We rode easy out, picked up the pace on the back half a little more.  Easy back, then did a hard 3-mile pace line interval.  It was a strong will survive interval, in which most of us did not.

Today is a rest day for me and I am feeling good about the rest of the season.