Welcome to the pool!

Yesterday I got an email from USADA welcoming me to the National Testing Pool (NTP). From what I can tell, and added bonus of being a current US National Champion is that your pee can be demanded whenever and wherever. What this means is that I need to provide quarterly updates to USADA on my whereabouts so that a Doping Control Officer (DCO) can find me for whiz testing whenever they want to. Slight pain in the ass, but it’s all in the name of keeping sport clean, so I’m all for it.

Felt

After a few months of trying to find a bike sponsor for 2014, I’ve picked up Felt! As such, I spent half of last week hitting F5 and tracking my TK1’s shipping progress from CA to CO until it’s final arrival on Friday. Thanks to training and life in general, I didd’t get to sit down and build it up until Sunday evening, but it’s finally 99% complete. All I need to do now is trim down the NBA-length seatpost, install a magnet for the SRM and speed sensor, then just drool over it. The 2014 TK1 is definitely one of the coolest bikes I’ve ever owned and the Bayonet system is a masterpiece!

Japan

I’m back to blogging after a two week hiatus spent in Japan (first time), meeting the in-laws, being a tourist, and eating enough sushi to satisfy the hunger of a sumo wrestler. I’m probably very close to having mercury poisoning and in need of some detox! No bike (although saw plenty roads I want to ride some day), and no work, made for an awesome trip. United managed to forget to put out bags on the flight from LAX to Narita, and our return flight from Narita to Denver was also delayed, so that was a bit frustrating. Flying in the Boeing 787 dreamliner with free wine and watching Hangover 2 and 3, and Batman – The Dark Knight Rises made it more bearable. Supershuttle in Denver boiled my blood as usual. Almost an hour of waiting around for a shuttle van that I’d made a reservation for in advance. This was the second time I’d given them a chance and is definitely the last time I’ll endure their BS.

Going from two weeks at close to sea level in Hiroshima back to ~5400ft in Denver results in a HR of 175bpm for an easy endurance ride! Day 2 wasn’t so bad with my HR cruising at 158bpm. I got in a couple good final rides in before Daylight Savings Time came to a sad end on Sunday. Time to figure out how to fit in my training around dark / cold winter evenings in Colorado! At least I’ve got a new coach (Bert Glennon) on board to dish out some whippings over the winter in prep for the 2014 season. Lofty race goals require more detailed planning and sometimes it’s better to leave the details and analysis to someone that can focus their time on vs. my trying to not overtrain myself.

A weekend in the mountains

Last week I attended AIA Colorado’s practice and design conference in Keystone, CO (Elev. ~9200ft), then stayed in the mountains for a bit of a weekend getaway! The drive from Denver to Keystone was fun as it was snowing on I-70 from Loveland Pass all the way to Keystone. Minus a recent small snow flurry this was the first real snow I’d experienced since 2003.

Sat night was spent in Breckenridge (Elev. ~9600ft) and I stayed on 4 O-Clock Road which I guess is also the name of a ski-run which ends up back at the condo’s I stayed at. Before checking into the condo I drove south over Hoosier Pass to the town of Fairplay which is what the cartoon South Park is based on. Very unique little town to say the least.

One takeaway from this trip was that I need to do a training camp (cycling) in Breckenridge… So many awesome roads to explore and scenery to soak up.

Bad place for a flat tire

Last night I headed out east of Denver on a route that I’ve been using for endurance rides… At the half way point I realized I had a slow front flat so I pulled over… A few feet from this guy! Holy s**t. So far all the snakes I’ve come across on my rides have been dead and well baked, but this one was glossy and rattling away. After snapping a few photos from what seemed like a safe distance I rode farther up the road to a safer location to fix the flat.

Snow!

Last night I had one of the best training rides I’ve had in a long time. It was just a short 1.75hr scoot but I felt like I could cruise at 250+ watts without pushing all out. The power was flowing nicely!

Then this morning I woke up to cold weather, ice on the windows, and snow on my car! Not a ton of the fluffy stuff but definitely a solid sign that fall/winter had landed in Colorado. The last time I experienced snow was in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2003… It’s been a while!

I-70 Lemmings

One day a week I drive out west to Golden to get in some quality training on Lookout Mountain near Golden (The front range’s equivalent to Hawaii’s Tantalus, except 6000ft higher). For me to step into a car to go training is a rare occurence and something I definitely hate doing, but sometimes you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. I rode to Golden once after work via Colfax Ave (Ghetto) and it was pretty miserable. I’ve also done it on weekends via various bike trails which is better but still time consuming. The first two times that I drove to Golden after work I got stuck in traffic, and last night was no exception. Sure enough, someone managed to crash their vehicle despite roads being dry, crystal clear visibility, and a wide open smooth road. I really do wonder how these people handle winter driving based on their lack of ability to drive in late summer. There are definitely a lot of people here who prefer to concentrate on their non-hands-free phone conversation vs the task that they should be more attentive to… DRIVING!

So, after 1hr + to go 20 miles, I had to hunt down a store to buy some kind of fluid for my ride. I thought this would be a simple task but the best option I could find in Golden was a Subway (sandwich shop). I got in there, grabbed a drink, and stood in line behind a couple teenage girls who were busy ordering 14 sandwiches. Can’t just ring me up for the one item I’ve got and let the two indecisive kids take the next hour to figure out their sandwich construction so that I can get on my happy way? Nope, no can do… I had to sit it out, blood boiling, before finally getting to pay for me drink. As the girls left, the Subway employee said to them … and please NEVER come back”. At least he was understanding and apologetic.

The ride, once I finally hit the road, was awesome. A lot of give for a little take, but it was worth it!

 

Surviving the storm

The past few weeks in Colorado have been pretty wild the one-in-a-lifetime rain event being the biggest one. We’ve been pretty fortunate that when we moved to Colorado we chose to live in Denver vs. somewhere like Boulder (Very tempting with the great access to riding in the mountains). Thanks to mothernature, a lot of the canyons that provided access for Boulder cyclists into the mountains have been wiped out, so their winter training, even training for years to come, probably won’t be the same.

We had some flooding in Denver but we’re far enough from the mountains that we didn’t get any walls of water rushing down canyons into homes etc. Some minor inconveniences, but in the grand scheme of things, missing a couple days of training is a small sacrifice compared to less fortunate people. It’s funny how small decisions you make in life can result in very different outcomes.

My off-season training is in full swing and it felt like fall had arrived on Sept 22 with the mercury hovering around 40F in the morning. However, a couple of days later and it was up above 50F in the mornings and hitting 90F during the day. Colorado weather can change pretty damn quick. I’ll have a few more weeks of pounding out the miles before off-season Part II when I go to Japan for two weeks. I’m hoping to do something there to maintain fitness but nothing set so far. One thing on my to-do list is to check out some Keirin racing in Hiroshima.

The pro-team sponsor search is still ploughing onwards and hopefully the plans for 2014 will be a bit more clear by mid-October.

Negative

35 days ago I took a very long time to pee in a cup for USADA after winning the Elite Men’s Team Pursuit at Elite Nationals in LA. Throughout those 35 days, despite not taking any illegal substances, there’s always that nano-percentage of thought running wild thinking “Man, what if something turns up in my sample”. That would pretty much be the end of my competitive cycling, which is something that I live for and get excited about every day.  Yesterday I got the email from USADA with subject “USADA: Result Notificati​on”… I need to go to USADA’s website to check out the notification letter, which require re-setting my password. Finally I gained access and got the letter. Squeaky clean. Negative. If you’re getting tested by USADA that’s a good sign as it likely means you’re doing something right… You’re competing in a race big enough to matter, and finished far enough up the results to get selected to provide some pee, or you were simply randomly selected. So, to win a race, provide the sample, and pass, is awesome.