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.
There is no magical formula for when you should train or not train. So this time of year it’s best to plan your training days around the weather. Normally I would have seen the weather for today and put in a good one yesterday, but we were celebrating birthdays and Christmas over the weekend. I want people to know if you’re scheduled for a long day but there’s cold rain falling outside and the next day looks nice it’s best to push the ride back a day. I see a lot of people get stuck in what they’re training has them doing on that day. Training can be flexible. I’ve seen it were there’s a fun group ride going out and someone says they can’t go because they have their own training they have to do that day. There’s a time for that and there’s a time to be flexible. It’s the same with rest days, interval day, and big training days. I understand for a lot of people their schedule only allows them to train certain days so they have to make the most of the time they have no matter what the weather or circumstances. I’ll expand on my training philosophy in a post sometime soon. I’m excited to have a bit of an easy week on the bike this week as we head into the Holidays.
While having a blast ripping through the woods I noticed my front tire losing air as I was going around a corner. No big deal I have a spare tube and Co2’s. I did pass on the pump because I was going on such a short ride (mistake number 1). I pulled the thorn out and put the new tube in. Excited to see how many Co2’s it would take to fill a fat bike tire I took out my old Co2 canister that I hadn’t used in years (mistake number 2). I screwed one Co2 on and broke the plastic head right off. WHAT!? Don’t buy anything plastic that you want to last (mistake number 3). Not knowing how to ride a wheelie for 10 miles I started walking. I called my wife to the rescue and then the phone died (mistake number 4). Hoping she got my location I sat and waited. Sure enough there she was with the kiddos picking my sorry butt up. I now have my high volume pump, better Co2 cartridge, and I’m thinking of putting a little sealant in my tubes. Not sure I want to set up tubeless right before winter. So next time I flat, which I’m sure I will again someday, I’ll be even more prepared then I was before.
The feeling you get when you get a new bike never changes no matter how many bikes you have or how old you get. Today as I headed to ride my new Salsa Beargrease the heart rate was rising and I was as excited as I was when I got my first bike. I think the feeling was magnified because it was a fat bike and I was going exploring in the Allegan State Game Area. It’s my favorite riding at the moment. Tons of trails to ride and explore down there.
Nobody really likes starting a ride in the rain, but sometimes that’s what you’re dealt. Before kids and owning a bike shop the schedule was a little more open. This allowed me to stare at the rain for a while and hope it would let up so I could get on the bike without getting soaked to the bone. Now it’s now or never so we put on the rain gear and go. I’ve had teammates ask me, “how come your race well in the rain?” I figure we race in it I might as well train in it. I’ve also always been an opportunist rider. At the first drop of rain most of the riders have already lost motivation. That means my odds just went up! When I feel the first drop of rain I attack!
Gear is everything when training or racing in the cold rain. I remember one of my first cold rainy races. It was Tour of California 2009 when we had 3 days of high 30’s low 40’s and rain. After making a fist to ringing my gloves out for the 10th time Chris Horner came up to me and made a fist and no water came out of his gloves. My jaw dropped! He smiled and said he remembers being in my situation. Before the next race he dropped $500 on good rain gear. I ditched the cleaning gloves and bought some of the good stuff.
When preparing to train in the rain essentials are: a good rain jacket, rain gloves, booties, cycling cap, clear lenses, rear fender, and a plastic bag for your cell phone. When racing you can get away with very little but you better be in the breakaway or you’ll freeze. All riders in the peloton have a ‘rain bag’ in the teams follow car behind the race. Inside there they have all their rain gear and spare shoes incase something goes wrong. After training or racing it’s hard, but it’s time to clean up and make sure you’re ready for the next day. That means hosing your bike off and re-lubbing the chain. The most important thing is getting those shoes dry so you’re not putting on wet shoes the next day. On the road we stuff our shoes with newspaper to pull the moisture out. At home I have little bean bags that dry them out.
Some other tips I have for training and racing in the rain are: Run lower pressure in the tires. I run as low as 90 psi when I race in the rain. Carry more fix a flat stuff out training. When it rains it washes all the crap from the side of the road into the road. This cases more flats then usual. Keep moving! It’s easy for me here in Holland MI but keep the ride flat were you’re putting out a steady effort. If you climb you’ll stay nice and warm but once you have to go downhill you’ll freeze. Wear something bright or have a rear blinky light so you’re visible. Railroad tracks and wood bridges are extra slippery so slow down and be careful. Allow more time for stopping. Unless you have disc brakes on your road bike rim brakes don’t stop very well when wet. Last try and smile because you’re on a bike!
Was happy to have some good company on a little wet day training today. Pigeon Creek is one of the best places to cross country ski in lower Michigan. There’s no snow but it makes a good place to rip around on the bike.
The team usually has a training camp before Christmas every year. I usually count on that to jump start my base for the season ahead. Since this year the team doesn’t have a training camp I decided to do my own with a few guys from the team. I flew down to Horse Shoe, North Carolina just outside of Asheville for 5 days of base miles. The weather was great and we put in over 21 hours of saddle time. I had good company with some teammates from previous years and a couple new teammates. The two new guys were Matthew Busche (current US National Road Race Champion) and Ty Magner. Both solid guys who I am looking forward to racing with next year.
The views along the Blue Ridge Parkway are some of the best in the world. I took a few photos and captured a bit of video that you can watch below. Now I’m back in Michigan taking a little rest to let the body recover before the next block of training.
My goal going into the 2016 professional road season is to make it through the Michigan winter with very little time spent on the trainer.
Being a professional cyclist living in Michigan is not ideal, but I’ve made it work since 2010. What many might not understand and what makes this difficult is as a cyclist is that the bulk of our volume and training happens in the months of November, December, and January. These months in Michigan don’t have the ideal weather or road conditions for road cyclist.
I do enjoy winter and winter sports like cross country skiing, which has helped build my fitness in past winters. I’ve also spent MANY hours on an indoor trainer. I’m not talking an hour a day because that wouldn’t have prepared me for Paris-Roubaix. We’re talking a minimum of 2 hours but many days 3-4 hours. Although the trainer would kill me physically and mentally it was great preparation.
The 2013 winter going into 2014 I went from the trainer in early February to the Sun Tour in Australia back to the trainer then to Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia were I won stage 5 of the 10 stage 2.HC race back to the trainer to the Queen of the Classics Paris-Roubaix.
Throughout my winter training in Michigan I’ve always been one to get outside and train whenever possible. Last year I spent a little time on the fat bike mixed in with cross country skiing and the trainer. This winter I plan to be exclusively outside so that means more fat bike. Over the past two years I’ve enjoyed the fat bike, where it can take me and the workout I can get even in the worst of weather.
This year I plan on sharing with you my adventures and training. It’s a lot of alone time so it’ll be nice feeling like I have others joining me. Hope we can hook up out on the road together! Although I taught 6th grade I don’t claim to be a good writer so I hope to bring you more photos and videos then writing. I also will be posting on Strava, Instagram, and Twitter if you want to follow there too.