Yankee TT

The Yankee Springs Time Trial is one of my must do races every year.  The amount of people and riders at this particular race brings so much excitement to the sport I just can’t miss it!

This year I did not start first like last year, I started second!  Which brings up a very interesting topic, do you sign up early and get a top spot so that the real fast guys can pass you, or do you just sign up before the race so that you start last and are not humiliated?

I choose to be humiliated, and why not?  When a faster rider comes through, this gives me a chance to try and hang on for my life until I can’t anymore.  I believe this is a great way to learn and get faster.

I didn’t do too bad this year, placing better than last year in 13th, check out the footage and enjoy the commentary!  And most importantly, we are very happy that Tumble Tim was OK!

Racing Elite is like having a punching bag that only punches me!

I guess you could say I am somewhat new to the MTB scene, this being my fourth season riding the bike.  I still have a lot of questions, I still have things to get better at on the technical riding side, I still have to improve the engine and cardio, I still am not 100% capable of doing everything I need to maintain my bike on my own, but I have learned a lot over the last few years and have grown to really love the sport.

One thing I have learned as far as what category you should ride in is this; if you are beginning to mountain bike and want to race, start out in the beginner category for a couple races and see how you do.  If you like and want to get serious about it, keep riding and racing.  Once you have made a few podiums and/or won your age group at a race, it’s time to move up to the sport category.

Once you move to the sport category and start doing the same thing, getting on the podium, then it is time to move up to the expert category.

This is where it gets tricky, do you stay in this category even when you win and stand on the podium all the time, or do you move up?

Things to consider.

The Elite/Pro Category is a totally new animal, and I believe there are these same levels within this category.  There is a beginner elite, a sport elite, an expert elite, and a pro elite.  At the end of my second season, I tried one of these races and was a beginner elite for sure, posting one of the slowest times of the day in that category.

In the beginning of my third season, I decided to race this category for the whole season and actually raced my first REAL Pro race.  In the spring I showed signs of major improvement, I would have considered myself a sport elite, but I did hit a couple races that I would consider myself a low level expert Elite.  Since those spring races I have not been able to get my fitness there for a number of reasons, being sick, overtraining, and taking time of to recover from a race.

This year I sit around that Sport Elite level, and have not been able to get where I thought I would be, again, kids bringing bugs home from school, time off training to recover, winter dragging on which unmotivated me, etc.

Another thing about this category, there is no glory from where I sit.  I get my ass beat everyday at 99% of all the races.  If there are not a lot of fast guys that show up, someone makes a wrong turn,  then I have a chance at getting a low spot on a podium, but if the dogs show up, I am off the front group very fast as my level of fitness can’t hang.

Getting your ass beat all the time is tough, but I am not giving up.  Let’s see how the last few races shape up for the srping, and then how the fitness comes together for the fall.

What are your thoughts on the topic?

The Mohican MTB Race

I’m a little behind on posting, so I will try and catch up in the next few days with the recent races I have done.  First race of the year I decided to go down to Ohio and race the Mohican. I spoke with a couple of riders from Michigan, Marc and Jorden fast as shit guys, who were riding to see if it was something I wanted to do.  Of course after brief conversations I was in, who wouldn’t want to go race on one on of the best singletracks in Ohio, one loop for 25 miles!

SO I packed up the car the night before, and woke up pretty early to make the 5 hour drive, the day of the race.  The nice thing about the races in Ohio, they start racing at 12pm!  That gave me plenty of time to get on site, pick up my packet, get a warm up in, say hi, and get on the start line!  All in all they do a great job of putting on races, with tents, a well marked course, a fun finish, and good prize money!  Oh, and their crazy shorts post race, I should have grabbed a picture.

I do want to get back down and ride the Mohican trail with friends and enjoy it a little more, it was nice to have a guide (another racer that knew the trail) during the race.  My performance landed me 4th place in their Pro/expert 40+ category.  Check out the footage and see what the trail has to offer and how tough the race was for me, definitely was not great race shape yet, and not knowing the trail system did not help either.

Coldwater Mountain

Our journey to Oak Mountain was amazing, the weather was great, the southern hospitality was even better, and the park had a lot to offer not only for mtbers, but for the whole family.

When friends noticed I was down there, I had several messages telling me to MAKE SURE I stopped and rode Coldwater Mountain.  It wasn’t until the third or fourth suggestion that my wife and I made it a plan to get there.  The kids can miss another day of school right?

From Oak Mountain, it was only about an hour drive northeast to get to Coldwater, at least it was sort of on the route home.  My wife and I split time again, I went out and rode from the coldwater parking lot to the Anniston parking lot and back taking different trails.  While I did this, my wife took the kids to eat lunch and then to a park to play.  We switched and she took on the trail while I hung with the kids and ate some of the deep south cooking they picked me up for lunch!

Check out the video below of Coldwater Mountain, I highly recommend you try the trail out if you are in the area!

 

Oak Mountain State Park

Oak Mountain State Park was a real blast.  We had planned on a trip down to Brown County to ride the rad singletracks in Indiana, there were a couple problems.

The weather was going to be cold, but an even bigger problem was the 5 inches of rain they got the day before we were going to go down there!  Not to mention the freeze thaw cycle they were about to have while we were there too. I contacted the trail coordinator and a buddy I was going with contacted another trail coordinator of a trail system that was close by.  They both had the same thing to say, trails will be closed with all the rain and also with the freeze thaw cycle.  So the option was to get up early and ride when everything was frozen, or go somewhere else.

I was damn tired of all the cold weather, the spring felt more like winter, I needed to get to a place where I could experience that warm feeling of the sun.

Thankfully my wife did a quick search and picked either North Carolina or Alabama. We had some friends going to NC, but I looked at the weather and saw how warm it was going to be in Alabama and really wanted to go there. But my thoughts of Alabama where of swamp land, not mountains.  I did  little research and found that they had some cool stuff at Oak Mountain, so that was the ticket.

Day 1, we arrived and got out of the car, and the sun was shining and the wasps were flying!  I could not be happier. I quickly phoned my buddy Rob that was coming and they were at the store, so I threw my gear on and headed out, check out what happened in this video, I just wanted to get my legs moving after that drive!

After I finished riding my wife sent it as well, she is really becoming a good rider! After that it was time to get some southern food.  We ate and Megan wanted to get back in the park to look at other things the park had to offer.  She talked me in to riding another quick ride, so I did and hit pretty much the same trails I rode earlier.

Day 2  Rob and I had planned a long ride that included hitting a lot of the trails in the park.  We started off great, but things changed when I got a flat tire on a very sharp rock, you can watch that action below.

The flat was actually a blessing in disguise as we ran into Lon with singletrackskills.bike who provided me with everything I needed to motor on for the day.  MANY thanks to him! After we fixed my tire, we rode to Lon’s vehicle and put the fix it kit back on his car not expecting to bump into him again.

As Rob and I rode up the mountain past were the flat occurred, we bumped into Lon and his assistant on the hill.  They wanted to show us around, this was going to be epic.  These guys showed us some Big Boy Lines for sure!  The GoPro effect sucks, but it still looks pretty sick.

I still am amazed at what they rode while we were there, it was a great eye opening experience on what you can do on a bike!

Day three was a little cooler, but we dressed appropriately and made our way to a few sections that we did not ride to this point of our trip.  We rode the red road hoping to see a glimpse of the plane crash wreckage but were unsuccessful, so we made our way to a trail called Jekyll and Hyde!  Wow, this was a blast, let’s ride that again!

I highly recommend you check out Oak Mountain State Park.  Not only do they have trails for every rider, but the have fishing, swimming, hiking, wildlife, nature centers, a live Eagle-Owl that is not native to the US, a BMX track, camping, and much much more!  Hope you can get there and enjoy it for yourself!

Not Recovering

It has been awhile since my last post.  We have been busy catching up from two biking trips, you know all the bills and shit to do around the house and with work.

I have been staying on the bike, but I have also noticed that I have not been able to recover very well from workouts, and seem to have a persistent cough that I picked up from one of the kids.  Every time I would try and go for a hard workout my asthma would flare up with this cough, and I try and push through and not use the asthma medication.  I have not had an issue like this for over 10 years.

I have recently found that not taking the medicine was probably a bad idea.  The Reason, well, when you push through an episode like this you build up free radicals in the body, and they cause damage or a lot of inflammation.   Another stimulus that isn’t helping the issue is the new dog in the house irritating the asthma as well.

I don’t like taking medication, but it looks like I am going to have to, and hopefully I can get this under control so I can get a few hard training sessions in to see some results for this season.

What am I doing?  I have a high quality vitamin that has anti-inflammatory properties that I am taking along with making sure I take the asthma inhaler to get this cleared up. My wife has also stumbled on a natural remedy that we will give a try too.  This has made it very tough to be ready for this race season, but with the knowledge, I am pushing forward and hoping for the best!

Stay tuned for the next article on our trip to Oak Mountain State Park!  Hopefully if you have the same issues I do this will give you insight.

OverUnders

I was not going to write today, tired from high intensity riding, a new strength routine, kids being home more because they are on spring break and still trying to handle the work and training schedule.   But I wanted to share with you my workout for the day in hopes to help you in your training.

Today I spent doing over unders, basically you ride just above and just below threshold.  In this particular workout I would spend 2 minutes recovering and removing the lactate while just under threshold (power was at 303 and heart rate was at 162), and then I would build the lactate back up again for a minute (power averaged 355 and heart rate 167), and follow it again with 2 minutes just below to train the body to get rid of it faster while continuing to ride at at good pace.  These numbers are both in the correct zones that I am suppose to be in for this particular workout.

This workout, if you have not guessed it already, is a great way to train your body to deal with being above threshold better, and at the same time, recovering faster when you drop just below threshold.

This type of workout is really important for mountain bikers as they need to be able to push above threshold many times during a race, and they need to be able to recover while still hammering on the pedals.  If you have not tried a workout like this before, you need to throw one in your routine!

As always the best way to perform workouts at the appropriate level is to to a test to determine what fitness level you are at.  After you do this test, you will be able to figure out what zones your power and/or heart rate should be in, in order to train effectively.  I cannot stress enough the importance of knowing what zones you should be with different workouts.  If I had to choose what method to train with I would tell you both.  By using both power and heart rate, you can easily identify if you are starting to over-train.  If you have access to only one method, I would recommend using the power meter as it is instant feedback and you know you are on the right path.  Using the heart rate you will get lag in your readings because the heart responds to what you are doing, it does not react instantly.

Good luck and let us know what your last hard workout was!? Feel free to ask any questions that you may have regarding over unders.

Staying Certified, A Little Background

I can’t believe that I have been a personal trainer for almost 15 years.  That sounds crazy when I even say that, after all I am only 23 years old…right?

Shit…I’m 40, 41 this year…

Time does go by way too fast, I need a pause button, who’s with me?

My certification is through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  To get this certification you have to have a 4-year degree, which I have through the University of Detroit-Mercy over there off Livernois Ave  in that gated and security guarded campus.  Without the 4 year degree I would not be allowed to take the all day test, which upon passing warrants the certification.

I wanted to work with athletes when I was in college, and I still do today. There is not a better feeling as a coach/trainer than making someone better, even if it doesn’t seem like much! I actually had some really good opportunities that I turned down because I valued my family time more than being away all the time.  One of those opportunities was given to me by my college strength coach, Jim Kielbaso, who knew that Eastern Michigan was going to hire an assistant strength coach for their program.  He hooked me up with that program and I spent a week working with the athletes and coaches of EMU.  Don’t get me wrong, it was fun, the coaching staff was great, but I would never see my family.  The other opportunity may have been through Jim as well, but I think this was me reaching out and having long conversations with the Chicago Bulls strength coach Erik Helland at the time.  Again, after thinking things over and listening to what Erik had to say about the schedule and travel, it just was not going to work for me.

I decided to go into personal training from there and have not looked back since.  I have worked with athletes my whole life, in all sports, and have seen great success with all of the athletes that I have worked with at the middle school, high school, college, amateur, and pro levels.

I myself have been involved in sports my whole life, I thrive for the competition, even when I am getting my ass kicked like I did all last season in MTB racing.  I played sports in elementary school through high school, ran for a little bit at a Division I college, tried out for a semi-pro football team, tried out for a pro basketball team (I wish I could find some video on this, this experience was one of my greatest accomplishments to this day and brings out a lot of emotions when I think about this experience, when an NBA Finals Champion walks out on the court to embrace you and tells you ‘that was good shit little man’ you don’t forget that feeling), and now pushing my limits on the bike.

Mountain biking was not my first love, anyone who has known me over the years could tell you that I love basketball first and foremost!  It wasn’t until my brother and a friend, and then my wife’s friend, introduced me to mountain biking that I became hooked and started a new passion.  I have worked on myself in a few short years with training, and have seen good results, and I hope to continue doing so this year and beyond.  Sky is the limit right?

This brings me to my certification, this is why I continue to learn and study. I complete the needed coursework and tests to maintain my certification so that I can attain knew knowledge that can help others get better and see results. So that I can continue to test things on myself to see what does and doesn’t work.  So that I can see the excitement and satisfaction on clients faces!  Without the cert, I’m not sure how I would gain trust in others to listen to what I have to say, or what I have created.  I would not be on this path without guidance from coaches, friends, and family.  I am so grateful for everyone that has helped me, and allowed me to help them!

Riding in GEORGIA!

Quite a few guys on my cycling team and from Michigan had made a plan to go to Chatsworth, Georgia to do a spring mountain bike training camp.  I was on the fence because my wife works in an industry that can change at any moment, so I told them I should be able to go, just couldn’t fully commit until we were about a week out.

Things worked out and I was in touch with the right people to make sure there was still room for me to go and there was.  I decided to drive my car with another teamate, Alex, because my car gets great gas mileage and has AWD.  Why was AWD important?

We left in a blizzard, and it snowed from Spring Lake, Michigan all the way through Indiana and Ohio.  So the Subaru Impreza was loaded up with two bikes on back, one inside, and all of our gear inside as well!

We had to stop for gas a few times and during these stops we would knock the ice off the bikes that had formed.  The good thing about this storm, we left before anyone had put any salt on the roads so the bikes did not get salted.

It took us about 11 hours to get to Fort Mountain State Park where we were staying, and we both wanted to get on the bikes ASAP because it was around 4 o’clock and the sun sets just after 6pm, this was just before the spring forward time change.  We quickly unloaded everything into the cabin, which was really nice BTW, and each headed off in our separate directions, Alex on the road bike and I on the mountain bike.  Luckily right out of the gate, I ran into some friends, Dan & Keegan, that decided to ride a little more with me.  During this ride I was strangled by a pricker vine and luckily was wearing a long neck cycling thermal jersey.  See the footage below of my first ride in Georgia, which entailed roughly 9 miles and 1800 feet of elevation gain.

Again, I am very glad I had two long neck shirts on! That pricker still ended up tearing the outer shirt and managing to scratch my neck through it.

After this ride everyone got together and went to a nice Italian restaurant and most of us smashed pizza!  After this it was time to head back to the cabin, foam roll, stretch, and get some sleep!

Day two we headed to Jake Mountain with a huge group of about 25 riders, the biggest group rides I have ever been on in another state!

This ride was a fun ride, with some good climbing and fun downhill sections, we even stumbled on a bear running away from us and towards the trail we had just came down that others were coming down.  Luckily there was not an incident.  The day consisted of 3 separate rides for me, the first two were at Jake Mountain, ride one was 25 miles long and 3400 feet of climbing.  Ride two was shorter and only a few of us went back out for another 8.5 miles and 1100 feet of climbing.  My third and solo ride of the day was after we arrived back to Fort Mountain, I wanted to explore a little more and was able to do another 8 miles, 1200 feet of climbing, and snag a KOM.  See the first ride below, we had a lot of stream crossings, including a deep one that only two of us attempted.

After the rides on Thursday we had food, watch basketball, foam rolled, stretched, and made our way to sleep and recover, I still can’t believe we ran into a bear.

Day three, just like all the other days, you get up, eat a good breakfast, get dressed, load up equipment and bikes, make sure you go to the bathroom, and get on the road.  We headed to Snake Creek/East Armuchee for the toughest challenge yet.  Most of us went a new route that had not been explored before by guys that have been there, while a handful of guys went up a route they had been on before.  Day three was going to be tough, overdressed for the temperature makes it a little harder, two days of riding prior to this adds to that, and 33.5 miles and 5100 feet of climbing add to that! Check out the action in the video below.

This was the only ride we did this day, pretty much wore everyone out. I had planned on trying to do the other side when I got back, but I ran out of fluids just over halfway on this ride (forgot my extra bottle at the cabin) and that would have left me totally depleted to start without some refueling and rest.  We did manage to surprise ourselves while on this route, grabbing a couple KOM’s and a few top 10 trophies!  One of my KOM’s was stolen by Chad as soon as he uploaded, and left me in second, while the other KOM I kept, with him in second.  I will say that this would not have been possible without Chad being there, he really made me push myself on downhill sections (after my eyes stopped watering) more than I would ever do on my own.  I should also mention that everyone at the camp pushes you in some way, and that is what is so cool about riding with others!

After everyone regrouped, we loaded everything up and went to a pizza brewery that had our pizzas out faster than any place I have ever been too!  It was simply amazing, and the food was great!

Same routine when we arrived back at the cabin, showers, foam rolling, stretching, basketball, cards, and sleep.  We also talked about the weather for the next day because rain was moving in and the forecast was conflicting.

Day Four, by the time I woke up and realized that everyone was leaving early due to the rain, I had 30-35 minutes to get everything ready!  Alex decided to stay and ride the road bike, and only half of us made the trip because of the threat of rain.  Today’s challenge was Bear Creek.

Basically this trail is a huge climb up, and a huge downhill back to where you started.  Chad and Noah wanted to go up farther than they had before to see a second overlook, so some of us agreed to add more climbing in(Dan, Keegan, Terry, Chad, Noah, Tom, and myself)!

This ride was an absolute riot on the way back down!  This ride below was about 18 miles and 3300 feet of climbing.  I also came back and rode in between the rain for another 8 miles and 1400 feet of climbing in Fort Mountain and discovered that the Gahuti trail really isn’t for mountain biking.

I also came back and rode in between the rain for another 8 miles and 1400 feet of climbing in Fort Mountain and discovered that the Gahuti trail really isn’t for mountain biking.

I also made this video shorter with my excitement portion of the Bear Creek ride.  It started raining, I thought of Danny Hart.  Someone dropped a chain, I thought of Aaron Gwin.  Check out the shortened version below.

Overall this was a great trip, in three and a half days riding I accomplished 110 miles and 17,000 feet of elevation!  Alex and I made great time on the way home and were excited to see our families!  Thanks for reading and watching, hopefully you enjoyed the journey!  What has been the most elevation you have conquered in one day?

Family Time

There isn’t a better way to spend the day than riding bikes with the family, especially when everyone has fun riding a bike!

The kids love going mountain biking, Brevin now likes to ride his BMX bike on mtb rides which makes him really fast and I can’t keep up without working hard.  Little Ava loves riding on the tag-a-long and controlling the steering with her amazing body shifts into corners.  She will actually get mad if I turn the bike!  Mom loves being in the woods and on the bike, so she is in heaven, and the new dog had his first voyage with us in his harness that he still needs to grow into!  The dog actually liked the ride and
I could feel him moving his legs like he was air running from time to time.

We rode from one end of the park to a lookout area where the kids like to play around for awhile.  Megan and I just relaxed and took in the sunshine out of the wind, who doesn’t love sunshine!

We were going to spend a little more time riding, but none of the bathrooms at the park were open, and they did not have a porta-potty set up.   If you have kids, when they have to go, you know you need to get them to a bathroom ASAP!  I actually felt bad for any of the older people out hiking, I am sure they have the same issues.

If you like riding bikes, get the whole family involved.  Riding in the woods adds another natural benefit to the equation that is good for all of us!  Hope you enjoyed our ride as much as we did!  What is your favorite place to ride with your family?