Thursday, December 30, 2010

o ¡por fin!

I'm really glad this year is over.

We still haven't made a final decision regarding accompanying my mentor to Notre Dame, but at this point we're leaning towards staying in Columbia. The unfortunate consequence of that decision is that I'll probably discontinue my graduate school (abandon the PhD) and head back to finish med school...which although that won't be good for competitive cycling, I'm actually super motivated to get back to medicine!

I just read my friend's blog about his awesome accomplishments in bike racing this year and felt like writing my own version of a 2010 reflection. However as I sat down, I don't think I have enough to say about bike racing to write much. I had 2 goals for racing: 1. To win a bubba A race and 2. Top 5 in the state race

Other than that, here is a year in pictures:

Next year, more camping and more mountain biking are my goals. The end. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Huge life decision ahead and winter training

After returning from Oregon, my PhD mentor with whom I've worked for this last year sat me down and told me that she got an incredible job offer as the director of a new cancer research institute at Notre Dame.

Now, the question of British punk band The Clash is on our mind.

There are lots of incredible career advancing and debt reliving benefits to accompanying her. But, it ain't so bad around here either. Anyway, big decision.

In terms of winter time and physical activity, I always hit the weight room this time of year. When I played Lacrosse in college, I learned how to squat, deadlift, press, and clean and IMHO those are about all you need in terms of lifting weight. One thing I learned early, is that even if I'm eating 4000-6000cal/day, I don't build ridiculous amounts of muscle...I just get stronger. Which for a power-endurance athlete is great.

Over the last year I have gotten much better at assessing weaknesses and understanding what I need to do to correct them. In general, I find that the key to a cyclist's lifting program is mobilizing the tissues which limit range of motion, e.g. hips (mostly stretching flexors and strengthening/activating extensors and rotators), ankles, and shoulders.

My sessions consists of about 10 minutes of foam rolling and digging into any tight areas with a lacrosse ball...see here. Then some dynamic exercises like high knee walks, lunging around, push-ups, etc. Next lifting. Right now my goal is to strengthen just about everything and stretch/mobilize the hell out of my hip flexors and quads.

My plan is 6-8 weeks of a 4 day per week split. 2 days will be 'full-body' days, one dedicated upper body, and one lower body only. Here's a sample for those that care:
Full day 1:
A) Front Squat for Speed: 6x2 at 60-70% of 1RM, 45s rest between sets
B) Stiff leg romanian deadlift: 3x10/side, 40X0 tempo (time for: eccentric, bottom, concentric, top)
C1) Alternating Low Incline DB Bench Press: 3x6/side, 31X4
C2) Chest-Supported Row, Pronated Grip: 4x6, 40X0

Lower Day:
A) Snatch-Grip Deadlift on Podium- Initially perform 10 sets of 3 reps on a 50X0 tempo, resting 3 minutes between sets. Keep the weight constant until able to perform 10 sets of 5 reps; then add 5 to 10 kilos (11 to 22 pounds) to the bar so back to 10 sets of 3.
B) Barbell Reverse Lunge — Front Squat Grip: 3x8/side
C1) Pallof Press Isometric Hold: 3x3/side (10s hold at lockout)
C2) Glute-Ham Raise (un-assisted: 3x8

A1) Bench Press: 5x5
A2) Neutral Grip Pull-up: 5x3
B1) 1-arm DB Push Press: 3x8/side
B2) Seated Cable Row — Neutral Grip: 3x8
C1) Ab Wheel Rollout: 3x8
C2) Side-Lying External Rotation: 3x10/side

A1) Back Squat: 4x6 (form just like that video, but slower eccentrics)
A2) Feet-Elevated Push-up: 3x12
B1) Standing 1-arm Cable Row: 3x12/side
B2) Walking DB Lunge: 3x6/side
C1) Landmines: 3x5/side
C2) Supine No Money w/Band: 3x4 (10s hold on each rep)
D) Farmer's Walk: 3x40yds

Since the role of abs/core in cycling is stabilization this program emphasizes that. Actually, I challenge you to find any sport or real life activity in which a crunch or sit-up actually leads to better performance. The anti-rotational and stabilization function of the 'core' absolutely trumps trunk flexion for injury prevention, low-back health, and performance.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bend and Cross nationals

A lot of time, money, and energy has been spent to get me and my wife to Bend, OR along with our friends Matt and Lizz James. When we first started talking about the trip back in August, we've gone back-and-forth about the affordability, feasibility, and utilitarian aspects of this undertaking. With a 2-year-old at home, a limited budget, demanding jobs, and having already spent a few months with bicycle racing dominating virtually every weekend from Sep-Dec, there were many reasons not to make this trip.

In September and October, it looked like it wasn't a good idea to make the trip. It would be too much to fly and then ship bikes, then requiring a rental car big enough to transport the bikes. Leaving out daughter also seemed like a terrible idea since she is every bit of a 'needy' 2-year-old right now (not sure if needy is the right word, but if you have kids or know many 2 year olds, you probably know what I mean).

Slowly however, we began coming up with solutions.
-First and foremost, grandparents offered to take time off work and come to our house too keep our daughter on her own turf. Unbelievably kind. Best christmas/bday present to us ever!
-Maggie and I got to use her parents frequent flyer miles for our plane tickets, again, an incredible bday/xmas present. Thank you SO much.
-We'd find the cheapest rental house possible and split it with Matt and Lizz. We can cook, do laundry, and relax in our own space!
-Bikes would be provided for us by the Specialized demo truck! These were full sram force equipped Cruxes with Zipp 303s and Dugast Rhino tubulars! All, because Specialized is an amazing company with a ton of great people working for them.
-Because we'd have bikes waiting for us, we could split a cheaper and smaller rental car with Matt and Lizz! Amazors!

The lingering issue was the question Maggie and I had about the trips' selfishness with respect to our family and our jobs. Was it worth it? Should we devote so much time and energy to a weekend away at a huge bike race? I'm not a pro cyclist and have no intentions of ever being one. The chance of doing well in the race was realistically the chance of a top-20 finish in the Master's 30-34 category. If we're going to take a vacation, why not just a cozy weekend away at a B&B in Missouri?

At this point, the cyclocross aspects of the trip have made every ounce of energy poured into bike racing completely worth it. The race is over and now it is time to just enjoy this incredible state and town of Bend.

The race yesterday was unreal. Matt and I started in the 5th and 4th rows respectively and both battled our way to middle of the pack finishes (41st and 31st place out of 74 racers) and easily had one of the coolest cycling experiences I've ever had. There were 6in deep water puddles, long quick-sand mud sections, a drum core marching band, hundreds of cheering fans, tons of cow bell, and every person I raced with seemed to be very positive about it.

Plus, our biggest fans were there to support us and put up with our silly passion for riding curly bar road bikes around a small loop in the grass, cold, rain/snow, and mud. My stress level right now is zero. In my own crazy mind, that makes me better as a husband, father, scientist, and person.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

MO state champs! Cat 1/2!

A year ago in Herman, Matt James and I crossed the line in the cat 3 race second and first respectively. This year, the race was in the birth place of Charlie Parker, home of Arthur Bryants, and after reading on wikipedia, apparently a large enclave of Irish Americans...KC, MO. Although we were only a stones throw away from Kansas, it was still the MO state championship.

I didn't know what to expect going into the race and was a bit disappointed that half of the KC cat1/2 field wasn't in attendance. Devin was sick, Jeff Yielding had already raced (and won) earlier, and Schottler resting. Plus, the race was on saturday so many folks, had to work. So it left Josh and I battling for the jersey. In addition, Andrew Coe was in attendance and proved to be a very worthy competitor as he pretty much crushed everyone there.

The race went something like this:
-1/2 lap in, Josh was at the front and I was on his wheel. Coming into the first set of barriers, there was a sidewalk crossing and unfortunately I slipped and scraped my knee pretty good but managed to recover and chase back onto Josh's wheel.

-Josh fell in the sandpit, just like in October ;) I passed and soon it was Andrew and me at the front. I haven't ridden with such a strong rider this year. He was attacking out of every corner and really riding well. A week ago, I think I could have ridden with him longer but this week, I just didn't feel on. It was a struggle and the hurt began early.

-After a few laps, I smacked the back of my knee with my pedal coming out of the sand and Andrew was gone. I hobbled around until Josh caught me and then tried to recover on his wheel for a few laps.

You can actually see the blood soaking through my right knee warmer here along with a cut on my shin. At this point, I'm not exactly sure what happened. Josh is my friend and I have a ton of respect for him but for some reason he and I have a hard time communicating non-verbally. I wasn't sure if we were working together to bring back Andrew or if he was trying to shake me off his wheel. All I knew was that I was hurting and wished my legs felt like the week before.

With 2 to go, Josh yelled at me to pull. So, I put in a big effort to try and catch Andrew. I guess my adrenaline got the best of me and I rode myself into a hole. With 1 to go, Josh came around me and I just couldn't match his pace. It was painful watching him ride away. Especially given the crappy week that preceded the race (had to travel to Houston to get another bump on my neck looked at).

This week I've come down with a nasty cold and am really hoping to feel better before leaving for Bend on Thursday. Maggie, Matt James, and his wife Lizz are coming with. Cassidy is staying with GaGa...very nervous about leaving her for so long, but we're also really looking forward to the trip.

Congrats to Andrew, Josh, Jeff Yielding, and as always T-tocs and storm for some impressive races and superior attitudes and states of mind.