The season is well underway for me and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. We’ve been racing in Argentina, Australia, Oman, Qatar, and Taiwan but we’ve just begun our season her in the US. When we race here in the US we are the team to beat. Especially when it comes to the criterium circuit. We’ve worked hard on race strategy and tactics. We’ve worked hard on our fitness and we started the season off well, but have missed the top step so far. It hasn’t been from a lack of trying or good racing. It’s what happens in racing and that’s the beauty of this sport. You have to be strong and tactically smart but sometime you have to get a little lucky too.
This past weekend at the US Pro Criterium Championships we raced a great race. It’s always a little different having new team members coming into a system you have so dialed, but the new guys did great and fell right into their role. You can watch the full race replay here or forward to near the end. I was really proud of the team for racing so well. Lots of people see what we do and say it’s easy but if it were easy everyone would be doing it and they aren’t. Everything was going to plan until the final corner our riders scrubbed a little speed and Brad Huff got a good run and had a great kick beating us. It’s always tough losing especially when everyone raced well and we were so close but that’s how it goes sometimes. Brad had a great run and sprint and earned it.
We’re now in Arkansas getting ready for the Joe Martin Stage Race. We have an uphill Time Trial followed by two road stages and a criterium. Even though we lost the team has high moral and expectations going into this race. Last year we were able to win 2 stages and the overall on the last day.
“That tour’s in the bank boys, miles in the legs, they can’t take that out. ” ~Karl Menzies
Tour of Qatar started off with a 15 hour plane ride from Miami, FL and an 8 hour time change. Not 30 hours from landing we were racing full speed in the gutter with wind whipping sand across the road.
“Qatar is not a normal race. It’s special.” ~Marco Canola
This is a special race. Everyday everyone is fighting for position because an echelon will form and the road is only so big. Everyday there are crashes. Everyday the field will split into groups and no matter if you’re in the front group or last group you’re going as hard as you can. For this race I had a 54 tooth front chainring, and yes, I spent a bit of time in the 54×11 as we hit top speeds of 50mph on the flat dessert roads with average speeds between 28 to 30 mph for more than 100 miles.
We gave it our best shot. The team had some strong performances against some world class competition. Personally, I felt like the legs were coming around each day for the effort that is required at race pace compared to training. The team started moving better together by the end of the race and Marco Canola was 10th on the final stage. Not a result that we are normally happy with but we have to be realistic in the end.
We’ll take what we got from here and move onto the next race which starts in just a few days. We have a little down time today to enjoy the nice place we are staying before flying out to Oman. Oman is more of a “normal” race. By the looks of the profiles there will be lots of climbing.
Join us for a Valentine’s Day Fat Bike Ride…Sunday, Feb 14 2pm at Riley Trails in Holland. All speeds, levels and abilities welcome! Post-ride beverages at Itty Bitty Bar.
After a couple months of preparation it’s time to get this 2016 season underway. This year my season starts at Tour of Qatar. This will be my first time racing Tour of Qatar. I’ve heard plenty of war and horror stories about this race. If you’ve seen pictures you can tell the race blows apart every day due to cross winds. There’s no such thing as easing into the season but sometimes you can hide. In Qatar there is no where to hide.
Are you ready? I get asked this often before the first race of the season. Many of you know I live in a very opposite climate to Qatar. The Michigan winter has been pretty tame for the most part but winter and snow are not friends to a professional road racer. Going into the first race of the year is always tough to know where the body and form will be. It’s a long season so I prepare physically and mentally the best I can and then give it everything. If it goes well then great! If it goes bad there’s a lot more racing to come. I’ve had fun preparing for the season with fat bike rides, nights rides, and very few trainer rides. The mental freshness is important heading into a long season. Even if I suffer a little in the fist few races it was worth not pounding out crazy hours on the trainer.
How do you deal with the heat coming from Michigan? This is another question I get asked a lot. Luckily the temperatures don’t look too bad but it will be an adjustment. That’s not the only adjustment we’ll be dealing with. Usually we get in a few days ahead of the race. After 27 hours of travel and an 8-hour time change we’ll have one day before we start racing. It’ll be crucial to hydrate as much as possible while flying. We’ll be in the Middle East for about 3 weeks. After the Tour of Qatar we stay and Race Tour of Oman. Oman will be more hilly which is a race that riders like Contador and Froome do well at where Qatar is more for the Classics riders like Boonen and Cancellara. A lot of the guys who want to be flying at the classics use these races as preparation. I’m not sure of exact schedule yet I but these races will get the legs going for the upcoming season.
Park Tool School at Velo City Cycles – a novice class
3-week classes – Mondays, February 8, 15 and 22 (second class March 7, 14, 21)
Tuition Cost: $150
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike)
- BBB-3 Textbook
- Expert knowledge and demonstrations
- An overview of the entire bike focusing on cleaning, inspection of bike, tires & tubes, repair and basic adjustment to shifting and breaks.
Spots are filling up! Call today to reserve yours! 616-355-2000
1-on-1 Mechanic Training with Brent or Nate
Learn to tune-up your own bike, while actually fixing it at the same time! Get some 1-on-1 training with your favorite mechanics. We can customize the training to whatever gaps are in your knowledge.
$120 for a two hour class
Stop in or call to schedule a your training! 616-355-2000
Call to schedule your tuneup 616-355-2000. Or simply stop by the shop and drop off your bike! 326 S River Ave Holland, MI 49423. Next to the library.
A lot of people say to me ‘you’re so lucky to be able to ride your bike everyday’. It’s true it can be great, but like anything that you have to do it starts to feel like work. If you’re an endurance athlete and you’ve trained for an Ironman or marathon you’ve trained so much you really don’t want to train anymore. It only takes being off of training for a week and you want to start back up, but in the middle of it you sometimes just want to skip that workout. If I do I don’t only let down myself but my sponsors and teammates too. What I’ve enjoyed about the fat bike this winter has been it’s helped me enjoy my training. I’ve mixed it up a bit during my base with some night rides, fat bike rides, destination rides, and even yesterday with a photo shoot ride with my Salsa Beargrease around Holland, Michigan. Today I wanted to get in a bit of an endurance ride. The roads were clear enough to pound out miles on the road, but instead it sounded more fun to take the fat bike for a long ride through the woods and dirt roads. It’s already January and I’m still excited about the bike and training!
It’s that time of year to sit down and reflect on the past year and look at the year to come. It’s always fun to think of the year ahead. Set goals high and dream big. It’s good to reflect on the past year no matter how good or bad it was. During this time you’ll learn from what you did right and what you did wrong. My season will start early this year with the Tour of Qatar Feb 8-12 and Tour of Oman Feb 17-22. Since we’re 6 weeks to race time, it’s time to start adding some intensity and structure to the training. It was fun today to just get out and enjoy the beginning of the New Year with a fun ride through snowy Michigan woods. I’d say a good start to the year!
During the holidays I never really take a break from training. One because we usually go to see family and all of them love to ride and or cross country ski and second we eat way to much food. This year there was no snow up north until our last day in the Traverse City area. So I got some good riding in on the fat bike. Hit up a ride in the Glen Arbor area, Vasa trail for some Dirt Church (fun fast ride), a nice new trail at 45 North Winery, and a ride in the snow on the way out of town. I’m planning on a few easy days to make sure the body is ready for what’s to come. Time to start adding some intensity to the training. Below are some videos and pictures from the weekend up North. It was nice to ride with some family and great people who live in the area. Thanks Sean Kickbush, Jordan Wakley, and Cody Sovis, and Eli Brown for a great ride on Sunday at the Vasa Trail.
I was so bummed after I got back and realized my video camera was in Time Lapse. I was really excited to see this footage from an awesome morning of riding.