It’s been a little over a year since I last posted an update which is a bit nuts when I think back to a time when I would update my blog on a daily basis. Times have changed!
After 22 years of racing I’ve decided to “retire” from racing. There are a few reasons behind the decision, but the main ones are that I’ve pretty much achieved everything in cycling that I wanted to. In some instances, I’ve exceeded my own expectations; I’ve won 4 US national champion titles; ~20 state championships; won mountain bike, road, time trial, criterium, hillclimbs, track (grass, concrete, and wood), and BMX races; finished ahead of World Champions, Olympians, and riders that went on to win stages of the Tour de France; held a US national record for a few months; broken a few course records; traveled to places I’d like never have considered if it wasn’t for cycling; beaten riders that I later learned were doped up (Note: You CAN race and win clean!); survived two stage races in Mexico; and survived being hit by cars three times. One of the biggest things for me is that I never resorted to doping yet still achieved everything that I have.
I’ve had asthma since my age was in the single digits. I can recall times when I was barely able to walk as a kid and had to be carried around. Times spent on a ventilator (both as a kid and at a MTB race)… To be leading a race and have to pull out with an asthma attack was pretty frustrating… At least I won the MTB race following that incident. I had some pretty crappy knee problems in the late 90’s which doctors reckoned was Juvenile Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis. Doctors were doing a great job at writing me off doing any sports seriously. Maybe without those challenges I’d never have pushed myself as hard physically and achieved what I have.
There were a few moments of “That’s it, I’m done!” (Master Track Nationals 2010) followed by “Just one more crack at it” (Elite Nationals 2013… Then Master Track Worlds in Manchester in 2015 where I narrowly missed getting bronze in the individual pursuit… I had serious thoughts of Master Track Worlds in Los Angeles in 2017, but winning the Individual Pursuit at Master Track Nationals (Stage 2 aka Make Up Event) on one of my “home” tracks is a pretty sweet bookend to years of flogging myself in the pursuit of the top step of the podium. Having my 4yr old and wife there to see me win was also about as good as it gets. They were there in 2013 when I got to pull on an elite national champion jersey (Something I never imagined I’d achieve) but my daughter was only 1yr old and the memory is likely limited to photos. Now, hopefully she will remember being on the podium with me on November 19, 2016 as well as her sneaking into the team pursuit podium photo the following day.
If it wasn’t for cycling I’d almost definitely never had flown in a Blue Angels F18, surfed with a world champion (Sunny Garcia), or ridden around O’ahu (Hawaii) with a Formula 1 World Champion (Jenson Button). Cycling can be the source of amazing opportunities!
I’ve had some amazing support over the years from family, friends, coaches, and some fantastic sponsors (too many to list) – Thank you everyone!
To steal and modify a quote I read recently “You come to cycling with dreams, you leave it with lifelong friends, sore legs, and some great memories!” – Mike
This is the event that I’d been training for since January… 3km of going as fast as you can from a standing start. Before Manchester, the best time I’d done was about 3:38. With the loss of speed going from altitude to sea level, but with benefits of living at altitude, I was thinking that a time of around 3:35 would be within reach. I was up against Juhani Tammisto from Finland in the qualifying and managed 3.35.158. A new PB which put me into the hot seat. It stayed that way until the final two heats which saw silly fast rides from 2014 silver medalist Henrik Scharling and the 2014 bronze medalist Axel Boland. Nick English (GBR) qualified just over 1sec faster than me so it was Axel vs Henrik riding for Gold, and me vs. Nick in the hunt for Bronze. Later that night Henrik took a convincing win over Axel and I missed Bronze by about 2sec behind Nick. I did what I could and put in my two fastest 3k rides ever, but just not quite fast enough to steal the bronze. The gold/silver medal times were in a whole different zip code so not much chance of getting anything shinier than bronze. At least I now know what I’m capable of doing and with some more tweaks to equipment and training, I reckon there are still time gains to be found.
1st Henrik Scharling DEN 3.24.932
2nd Axel Boland NED 3.28.998
3rd Nicholas English GBR 3.34.069
4th Michael Zagorski USA 3.35.158
5th Emmanuel Vignard FRA 3.37.305
6th Jonathan Harris GBR 3.38.271
7th Julien Muselet FRA 3.38.277
8th Lewis Elliot USA 3.38.418
9th Juhani Tammisto FIN 3.41.623
10th Andrew Kruse USA 3.43.106
11th Justin Layne GBR 3.43.689
12th Alan Holmes GBR 3.48.831
13th David Percival GBR 4.30.437
I did my research on most of the riders that raced the points race in 2014 so I would have an idea of what wheels would be the best to follow. On rider that hadn’t come up on my radar was Anthony Gibb. Had the start sheet said “Tony Gibb” then I’d have realized sooner that I was in for an ass kicking. Gibb was a track specialist back in the 90’s about the time I was making my move to live in the US. Not sure what his best result was, but he competed in some Sixes and had a silver medal from track worlds. I told myself to NOT contest any sprints or try and take a lap early in the race and managed to stick to that plan. I racked up points for 2nd in a couple sprints and a handful of points here and there, narrowly avoided eating shit when forced down the track onto the cote d’azure, chased some attacks, sat on some wheels… By lap 100 I was 1 or 2 laps down and not showing on the leaderboard and decided to call it a night with the thought that I might be riding a team pursuit 2 days later (That ended up not happening). I did what I could and rode a smarter race than normal, but was simply outgunned… Out of 14 starters only 6 or 7 finished, so that shows how brutal it was.
Last week I made a quick overnight trip to Utah so that I could roll the dice at the USA Cycling Master Road Nationals Time Trial – 34km/21 miles on an out and back course on Antelope Island near Ogden. With Master Track Worlds coming up in October I decided to skip the Road Race and Criterium (crash avoidance!).
The bike completed its journey from DIA to SLC sans any TSA inflicted damage. On Tuesday evening I got in an hour of on the trainer in the hotel and felt great, and followed that up with watching Mission Impossible 5 at a nearby cinema. Having a 3yr old and family living thousand of miles away, going to a cinema has become as rare as an Aurora Borealis sighting in Colorado! I was so excited that I rushed into the cinema, got my ticket, food, and sat down thinking I’d missed the first few minutes of the movie. 10mins later I realized that I had just watched the final 10mins! F**k. I got in some Skype time with the family then went back in to watch MI-5 from the START. The movie was great, as was having an electric reclining chair to slouch into. It was getting late so I bailed out as soon as it got to the point where I knew the ending. It kind of worked out!
Back at the hotel, there was a raging party; however, the music seemed to fade out around 10pm and I actually got in some decent sleep. The next morning I whipped up some oatmeal at 7am, lazed around, rior to leaving the hotel, busted out the 3M #77 and glued on my race number (Not the easiest task, but I got it done and it seemed solid), then drove over to Antelope Island.
I got in my warm up, and still felt pretty good and ready to put in a decent effort. A quick swig of fluids then I rode to the start line 1/4 mile away. Just as I arrived I reached back to feel my number starting to peel off my skinsuit. Fortunately, one of the official was nice enough to source some pins and secure my number. I would later discover that the pin job was not great and I had raced with a flappy number.
The race started off with a climb. Not huge, but it definitely felt like it dragged on for longer than I expected it to. What goes up, must go down, so there was fast decent (close to 50mph) to follow. I got passed by one rider about 3/4 of the way to the turnaround so either they were going to blow up, or I was now 30+sec behind fighting for the top podium spot (assuming said rider was going to win). I passed a couple guys before the turn and we had a bit of back and forth which was kind of irritating, but whatever. After the turn I could see last years 2nd place finisher Jamey Yanik already closing in on me. He started last, 2mins behind me, and seemed to be hauling along at a fast clip. It wasn’t much longer before he passed me. Not that much faster, but fast enough that the different in speed resulted in a substantial time gap by the time we both finished. Yanik destroyed the field and took the win by a large margin (adding to the short track MTB national title he won earlier in the year). Yanik went on to solo his way to the 35-39 road race title 2 days later so was clearly onto some excellent form.
I “ran what I brung”, but that was only good enough for 6th… Not exactly what I was hoping for. I’ve spent about 80% of my training either on the TT bike or track bike (same position) and had expected to go fast, but just didn’t have the watts to seal the deal this year. Comparing my time to other guys that I raced against in Colorado that also competed at nationals, instead of losing a minute to them, I’m now gaining a minute. At least that’s one positive to take away… I’ve improved steadily throughout the year.
Yanik moves to the 40-44 age group for 2016, but it looks like most of the other guys will still be in 35-39 for a few years to come. Depending on the location of master nationals next year, I may have another crack at a title.
Last Saturday, the final Colorado State Track Championship events for 2015 were held at the Boulder Valley Velodrome. The velodrome was PACKED… I ended up training in one of the tunnels under the track with a few others, which probably was a good thing as it was bloody hot! I raced in the 4k Individual Pursuit around noon which was a bit of an unknown as I’ve been training for the 3k distance. My heat had me up against Colby Pearce… Goal #1, don’t get caught! I decided to start off conservatively, but in hindsight I started WAY too conservatively as Colby said he almost caught me! I ramped things up from Lap 3 onwards and managed to regain some of the ~7 second deficit to finish in 4:52.30 and Colby rolled a damn fast 4:46.50. Kevin Nicol stormed around to finish in 4:45.29 to take the win ahead of Colby, Ian Holt took 3rd 2sec faster than me (4th) and Steven Herzfeld was 5th.
After the IP, the real endurance event started… The LONG, LONG, LOOOOOONG way for the Team Pursuit. We finally got to race that at about 430pm. There were two teams and we were second off which was nice as we got to watch the first team do their ride. Jeff Anderson, Jeff Wardell, Zach LaBry, and Ian Holt clocked 4:39.20. We (Kevin, Colby, me, and Steve Worley) has gone a bit faster two weeks earlier and I thought we would be shooting for about 4:35. Not a huge ask. We had the same team with the exception of Andrew Kruse vs. Steve Worley. and most of us have ridden a TP together so it was our race to lose. We had a steady start with no hiccups and were quickly doing laps in the mid 16’s. After one of my laps I heard 5-6 (which means 15.6sec) and that hurt me pretty good for the remaining laps. Andrew put in as much as he could before peeling off and letting me, Kevin, and Colby wrap things up. I was pretty fried and with 3 laps to go took a 1/2 lap pull vs. the 1 lap pulls we had been doing. A few more laps of low to mid 16’s and we crossed the line. Between trying to breathe and the noise inside of my aero helmet it was impossible to hear what time we had done. I eventually found out that we had one and done a 4:31.28, beating the other team comfortably. They didn’t have a Co State TP championship in 2014, and I won with some other guys in 2013, so that’s 2 out of 2! Later on Saturday night we realized that we’d beaten the US national record for the 30+ and 35+ team pursuit – records set by some seriously talented riders who have gone on to win master world championship titles etc., (but there’s a catch…):
Dan Vogt, Curtis Tolson, Kenny Williams, Leif Clarke
Colorado Springs, Colo., 8/13/06
Jason Meidhof, David Bozak, Joshua Frick, Daniel Casper
Colorado Springs, Colo., 7/29/12
Kent Bostick, Richard Meeker, Jeff Fillerup, Larry Nolan
Colorado Springs, Colo., 8/13/06
Curtis Tolson, Kenny Williams, Chris Charlson, Dean Peterson
Colorado Springs, Colo., 7/29/12
Robert Black, Andrew Buck, Scott Butler, Christopher Regan
The catch is… No one realized we had broken the record(s) until we had already left the track… A requirement of breaking a record is that the bikes used need to meet UCI rules. Only one of our bikes was measured so no record. F***… I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was frustrated. It sucks knowing the ride we put in and that it isn’t officially recognized. No doubt we will take another crack at it when schedules work out… and maybe we’ll break the 4:30 barrier!
Thanks to Boulder Valley Velodrome moving their Saturday Time Trials to mornings from the previous evening schedule, I was finally able to get in a time 3k pursuit effort on the track. I had a stack of 1min intervals to get through on Friday, but reduced the number slightly so that I wasn’t feeling those on Saturday morning. Despite doing less, the legs were still not feeling so chipper 14hrs later. I planned to do 3x 3km efforts on different gears, but those plans changed when I asked Colby Pearce (2x Olympian) if he was game to do a 4k Team Pursuit effort. I figured it would be decent training (race speed for the duration, and race speed and power when I was taking my pulls). First, I did my 3k effort and rode 3:39.32 despite riding a more conservative evenly paced race. Not setting the world of fire, but good enough to chop ~15sec off the 18-39yr old track record. After a few more riders did their distances of choice, I lined up with Colby, Kevin Nicol, and Steve Worley for 4km of fun. Zero practice… Just run what ya brung! Kevin was riding a monster gear of ~104″ and was second man, and that didn’t work out so well at the start, but we got things together quickly and for the most part had a smooth ride. Part way through we lost Steve and were down to 3 men, which made for shorter changes. I underestimated that and was going too far up the track, and getting back on took some leg searing work. The last 2 laps were a bit horrible as I spent them trying to close down a bike length (or more) gap to Colby and Kevin as our finish time would be based of me as the third rider. Ugh. We ended up with a new track record of 4:39.13 which was ~6sec quicker than the previous one. We’re not done yet and plan a few more TP efforts so it will be interesting to see how fast we can go when we’ve got the kinks ironed out. I hadn’t done a TP since winning US Elite Nationals in 2013 and it was fun to finally do one again!
2015 is my 20th year of competitive cycling and I’ve raced pretty much everything other than CX. I can now put a check in the box for Keirin.
On July 22 I headed up to the Boulder Valley Velodrome for the second Pro Am series event which included the CO State Championship Elimination Race. I loved racing the event on the grass at Highland Games where it’s known as “Devil Take the Hindmost”. Before that race, they decided to hold the Keirin State Championship that didn’t happen two weeks earlier due to rain. I had no plans on racing it, but that changed when I was told I was in Heat 1, at which point I was in a mad scramble to change my bike from 51×16 to 51×14. I got the bolts tightened up just as the national anthem was starting.
Heat 1. I drew lane 5 (highest on the track) which wasn’t ideal, but at least I wasn’t in 1 and obligated to take the moto. I tried to get into position 2 or 3 when we got rolling but no one was budging. There was no way I was dropping back to the tail end so I ended up sitting out in the wind. I think I made my move with 2 or 3 laps to go which was a bit early, but it managed to hold off a fast charging Ian Holt for 3rd place by a whisker. The top 3 from each heat advance so that put me into the final.
In the final I drew lane 3 which was a relief. It was me, Jake Duehring (Has medaled at PanAm’s, raced world cups, worlds, and we won the elite team pursuit in 2013), Samuel Fogel (Young and fast – Will be racing Junior worlds), Colby Pearce (2x Olympian… nuff said), Chris Ferris, and Steven Herzfeld. If you asked me who was going to win a week earlier, my money would have been on Herzfeld. The race itself was fairly uneventful… I slotted into 2nd or 3rd and held my position for as long as possible until the attacks started. It was pretty much Jake vs. Samuel who opened up a gap, then I held onto 3rd. Jake went on to dominate the night’s racing taking wins in the Pro Men Tempo and Elimination State Championship.
Another fast night of racing, and another significant increase in my 1min power that I’d PB’d the previous week. Not peaking yet, but making some consistent improvements in power.
One of the perks of my job is that I get a day off for my birthday… I decided to use that day later in June with the goal of summiting a 14’er (Mountain in Colorado over 14,000ft). There are a LOT of options, but I eventually narrowed it down to Longs Peak. Probably not the best choice as it’s one of the toughest ones (ranked about 7th out of 53 peaks). Trying to persuade someone to join in my little adventure was proving to be a challenge until I posted on the 14ers.com Facebook page about my planned hike. The day before I got a message from a guy wondering if I was still planning on it. A bunch of messages later and plans were set!
I ate a ton of food the day before and made sure I took in a lot of fluids also. I attempted to go to sleep at about 8pm on Sunday, although it was more like 9pm by the time I was out. I woke up at 11:45pm and by midnight was on the road to Rocky Mountain National Park – I nice 100 mile drive! I consumed fluids and food during the drive so that I’d arrived at the trailhead ready to rock!
My new hiking partner for the day, Virgil, arrived at about 2:15am and by 2:30 we were on the trail. The hike up Longs Peak is an approx 14 mile round trip and takes 10-14hrs to complete! It was going to be a LONG day.
Up until the Boulderfield and Keyhole is just regular hiking. From the Keyhole onwards, it was full winter conditions (this is supposedly late in the year for Longs to be like this).
This part of the hike is marked by “bullseyes” spraypainted onto the rocks marking the route – Very helpful. Fortunately, most were still visible and now covered in snow. The start of the Ledges section was dry granite, then a patch of snow that required my first use of crampons, followed by more granite.
After making it across the ledges, the next section to tackle was the Trough. It was full of snow, so unlike summer (conditions that would see hundreds of people attempting the summit) it was a full on couloir. Great for skiing down, but definitely a workout to go up using crampons and an ice axe. Add in the factor that I’m a fit cyclist, but not exactly fit mountaineer, and it’s a challenge. Just looking up it at a couple other climbers near the top made me question if this was the point that I’d be turning around. It was a long way down (if I slipped), and a long way up. Virgil and I just got down to work and plugged away at it taking a few rests along the way to enjoy the view, and get our breath back at ~13,200ft elevation. We talked to one guy that decided he wasn’t making it beyond the trough as all he had was yak-trax / microspikes and hiking poles. Definitely a wise move as a guy fell a couple hundred feet the day before (Reportedly with no foot traction devices and only one hiking pole – No business being in that kind of environment!). We exchanged words then got on with business. At the top of the trough there’s a fairly large rock that needs to be navigated carefully. I got over it, took a seat on dry granite, and was in total awe at the view. For the previous hour we had been hiking up a couloir mostly shaded from the sun with a view behind us, but the view looking east at the top of the trough was amazing. Definitely one of those moments where I consider myself lucky to live in Colorado, and lucky to have the youth and fitness to get there.
This section is basically a ledge along the east face of Longs that requires careful footwork. Nothing too crazy but not the place to be if you don’t like heights. It was just nice to get the damn crampons off and hike along horizontal rock!
At the end of the trough, the route turns left and heads up a steep section of granite, although on this day it was a mix of snow and ice. This is where the guy had fallen the day before and another point where I questioned if I was going to get up it. We had come this far, weather was perfect, and there was no good reason to turn back so we pressed on.
5.5hours after leaving the trailhead parking lot and I was on the summit with Virgil arriving shortly after. Holy shit, we actually made it! Online reports claim that approx. 36,000 people attempt Longs annually; however, only 50% make it. Virgil had made a few previous attempts but had to abort for various reasons – mostly weather. I was pretty stoked to be on the summit at my first attempt and happy for Virgil to have made his summit also. The summit is about the size of two football fields and pancake flat, but with amazing 360deg views. We saw up there for a while, talked to a couple other guys that summited before us, signed the register, took some photos, and entertained a couple super friendly marmots. Some clouds started to form in the previously clear sky so we decided to head back down versus staying up there exposed to a potential thunderstorm.
I always remember that books and documentaries note that the descent is where shit usually goes wrong, so I made sure that we took our time on the technical sections. We weren’t out to break any records so it was better to get back to the car a little later than get airlifted out! By the end of the ledges I was pretty damn tired. By the keyhole there was some light hail and we could hear rain on the summit above us. The Boulderfield sucked about twice as much as expected it would with tired legs / brain. The rest of the hike out just felt like it took a bloody eternity. We joked with a few younger guys on the trail “Got any pizza? Beer?” and that got some laughs. I think we were 120% serious. I’d have destroyed a pizza! A little after 4pm and we were back at the car. A bit dehydrated, hungry, and sleepy. The drive home was miserable and I had to do a McD’s drive-by to get some much needed calories and caffeine.
As previously mentioned, I’m a fit cyclist, but definitely not hiking fit. This was clearly evident by the DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) that reared it’s ugly head the following morning and lasted for about 3 days. Stairs were far from fun and the two large blisters on my heels were not enjoyable either. Regardless, it was all totally worth the experience. First 14’er by foot (I’ve done Mt Evans by bike and Pikes Peak by car), first use of crampons, first use of an ice axe… and I lived to tell the tale!
Yesterday I ventured out for a bit of tabata type torture on the TT bike. A brutal workout on paper, but I was mentally ready to knock it out of the park. By interval 2 or 3 (a little under my target of 400-410w) my legs didn’t feel right. Getting to 400 seemed like a chore and things didn’t get better. By the end of the first set I was starry-eyed, close to throwing up, and wanted to pass out. I rolled around for 20mins noodling in Level 1 as my legs were so blown, Level 2 wasn’t appealing. I got the second set done which was just as brutal as the first and made one final dig on the last interval. Thank f**k that was over… Lots of cussing, facial contortion, and damn sore legs. When I finally downloaded the file I realized that I hadn’t switch back the SRM’s slope from my track to road powermeter (24.0 vs 28.3). Turns out those intervals should have hurt as much as they did because I was churning out closer to 500w than 370-400w. At least I know I’m not getting weaker. In 2003 I was told “1 years from now, the only grade that will matter is the slope of your driveway”. Kind of true, but as I’ve experienced, SRM slope is more important!
What a weekend… Raced a TT on my doorstep on Saturday. Took 12th in Pro/1/2. Not quite the result I was hoping for, but new PB power so I’m still making progress. On Sunday I made the drive up to Erie for another track workout on the Boulder Valley Velodrome. I got in a few good efforts but soon realized that my legs were trashed from Saturday, so I shut things down prematurely. When I got home and looked at the data I added another 26w to my 1min power which made me wish I’d pushed through the last couple of efforts.
That, combined with some yard work has my body feeling rather beaten up today – which is also my 36th birthday. I should be in the mood to celebrate, but found out that one of my friends back in Hawaii is going through an unimaginably tough time right now. A situation that leaves me questioning why seriously bad s**t happens to good people. Life isn’t fair… Make the most of every day!
Since my last update I’ve checked off a few more states that I’d never been to – Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. I think that brings the total states I’ve visited in the US to 17. Still a few more to go! I also spent a day in Austin and as I was so close to Mellow Johnny’s (Lance Armstrong’s bike shop) I checked it out. I swore I’d never go there, but I wanted to check out the Train Hard studio in the basement run by retired pro Kevin Livingston (who coached me back in 2003 and 2004). Unfortunately he wasn’t there, so I looked around Lance’s shop. Ignoring the doping shenanigans and ongoing related legal battle, the store is pretty cool. Yellow jersey’s on the wall and lots of Lance’s bikes from his Motorola days through to Radioshack. It’s all history I guess, but his Motorola bike is definitely my favorite.
A couple weeks ago I finally managed to make it to Erie and get in some training on the Boulder Valley Velodrome. It looked cool in photos, but it’s even more impressive in person. Not perfect, but a lot less bumpy that the velodrome in Colorado Springs… Toilets in the infield… Plenty friendly riders… Just a cool place to hang out and get in some quality training. My legs were destroyed for a few days after my first ride there; however, they seem to already be used to the track as I didn’t have the same experience after my second ride there.
My Kickstarter / SRM mount project is making progress and should be back from anodizing within the next day or so. It’s been cool to experience taking a project from idea, to sketch, to 3d model, to 3d printed prototype, to the final CNC’d product.