Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Less of a blog, more of a press release!

Hey everyone.  Today is technically blog day, but we have some pretty cool news and I thought that all four of the people that read this would like to share in the excitement!  We are very excited to say that one of our elite cyclocross riders has been selected to represent our country at the upcoming cyclocross World Championships in Bieles, Luxembourg.
Tubeless tires at the world champs.  Cool.

Rebecca Fahringer, riding for the Amy D Foundation Team will race the 50 minute event on Saturday January 28th.  We are pretty excited.  This is pretty cool since only five US women are chosen and the moderately complicated qualification process started at the first UCI C1 race in Rochester back in early September and ended this past weekend in lovely downtown Hartford.  Ah, the wonderful places that sport will bring you.

Speaking of armpits in the middle of nowhere, Luxembourg is one of those weird ancient countries in Europe that still has a King or something.  It is actually 20% smaller than Rhode Island.  Seems about perfect for the hard-core working class type of sport that was the origins of cyclocross.  
Those countries always have "u" in them.
The training build up to a world championships like cyclocross is actually not much different from any other race this year.  The weather and course will be very similar to what the riders have seen so far, actually I feel a slightly colder version of the Race Formerly Known As Providence back in October.  You may remember Rebecca took the podium there.  You may remember the boots.
I assume pic by Nick Cz.  Used without permission.  :)
So training and racing will go as normal albeit a few tweaks to prepare Rebecca for the specifics of the event; no details here as this is pretty much top secret stuff and there may be spies for other countries reading this blog.  It is possible.  That would mean five people.

When the road racing world championships were held in Qatar in October of this year, the preparation for that race was really different.  At over 150 miles in length and held in 120 temperatures of an almost completely flat course, there were stories of riders doing epic long rides and then climbing into saunas to help prepare themselves for the abusive heat and conditions.  Yuck.
Laying pipe jokes are my favorite.
Rebecca leaves tomorrow for Italy where she will race in the World Cup there and then back to Belgium for another World Cup in Hoogerheide the following Sunday.  From there, it is a short six days to the World Championships.  Just the biggest race of her career, no sense in being rested.  But seriously, the racing is part of the build up; cycling is not like running or triathlons were there are long taper periods.  It is more like Formula 1 car racing, engines run best when hot. 

Racing in cycling world championships are weird.  Everyone will wear a Team USA kit, but in reality, only one person gets to either win or even have a good race.  Add in the nature of cyclocross racing itself, and the team aspect goes right out the window.  So you have to race for yourself even though you are racing for your Country.  It is a delicate balance and the competitive process getting to this point is sharp and competitive.  Unless you are from Belgium, they seem to pull off racing as a team and winning.  They are usually short though, so it all evens out.
Sven Nys, 2013.  Like it's hard.
This blog is wandering a little bit today.  But please congratulate Rebecca whenever you get a chance and if you are feeling generous, donate to the Amy D Foundation to support woman's cycling development and a good cause.  It is a legit charity, so please give early and often.  We will post information on how to watch the race from your home.  Yikes.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I always add an "r" to the name of this race.

One of our favorite client-athletes is a quiet guy from a fishing town in New Brunswick, Canada named Andre Landry.  The rider that is, not the town.  You may remember reading about him and his exploits at the Leadville 100 on this blog last year or even his training camp back in March.  Humphf, we seem to blog about Andre a lot.  Andre is one of our favorites because he is a helluva bike racer, a helluva nice guy and is kinda funny in a quiet way.  In addition to being a long time client of ours, he also has a sweet van.  
Not the actual van.  Nor the actual Andre.  Still sweet.

An Autumn Goal
This year however, Andre couldn't get away for that race in Colorado, so he concentrated his efforts on one of eastern Canada's hardest and more prestigious marathon mountain bikes called the Elgin 120 in early October of this year.  It is a very difficult and long mountain bike race that is a full 120 kilometers long.  For those of us South of the Border, that is a crushing 75 miles.  On a mountain bike.  NOT ON ROADS.  Yikes.  Well, Andre won this race, and we are here to chat about it today!
Successful Lessons Learned
Of course in 2015 Andre had won this race, so he was especially motivated to repeat his victory in 2016; anyone can win a race once, but a true champion wants to crush souls every time they toe the line.  Back then, Andre had a companion for almost 80km until he was finally able to ride away so we went into the event with a different mindset.  In the past the competition was strong enough that "riding" away from someone was too much of a risk for victory so we adjusted his training to both include the massive ability to resist fatigue as well as the high end intensity required to be race ready.  It was a little tricky.
 This chart from WKO4 shows the 90 day lead in to the race and Andre's Performance Management Chart highlighted on the day before the race.  You can see he has a very high 99 TSS CTL (fitness) value but with a well rested 64 ATL (fatigue).  It is critical that a rider doing such an event this long and difficult is recovered well but maintains the fitness needed to survive such an event.  You can also see some of the highlighted power values that Andre was knocking off as well.  Very strong but for this particular event, very fit and rested.

Yet Another Chart
Now, one of the other charts we use for Andre and his type of racing is one that tracks the 42 day long rolling average of Andre's Intensity Factor of his rides.  This is the ratio of the Normalized Power of a ride into the rider's Functional Threshold Power.  Basically how hard the ride is.  You see, we can get a huge CTL number with just very long easy rides, but the athlete still won't be race ready, just skinny. Big difference.  Called the Chronic Intensity Load it shows us how hard Andre is training at any given point, including a trending value (SLR) and how those number coincide with each other.
When you look at that blue line along the top of the chart, you can see how the difficulty of Andre's training peaked just as the date of his race was approaching; but also exactly as we were tapering his volume to make sure he was rested.  You see, coaching and racing is also a bit of an art as well as a science.  Winky face.
In His Words 
"On the first climb I went a bit harder and managed to drop the last two riders in the first short single-track and I then kept the pressure on for the first 40k loop to get a good gap.  From there I just kept the pressure on the climbs and rode my pace for the single-track sections not taking any unnecessary risk."
Gosh, I love this.  You see, Andre has a tremendous capacity for work in training and in racing so for this sort of event he is a coach's dream.  All we have to do is give him some tools to use on race day and he just goes out and destroys the competition: lots of hours, lots are hard workouts, lots of winning.  Lots.  But by giving Andre the high intensity ability to drop his competition but with that crazy high fitness level to keep in up, then he was impossible to beat.
Admittedly, Andre was going so hard that he might have forgotten to eat enough during the race and darn near bonked himself to the sidelines, but he was able to recover in time so we forgive him.  Kinda. 
He was a little bit hungry.
 We are very proud of Andre all year long and his willingness to train hard and of course his trust in Finish Fast Cycling to tailor his training especially for his goal events.  Thanks Andre!  If you want to be like Andre, then give us a call!  And learn French, and carpentry, and plumbing and how to drive a plow.  A lot of stuff really.
Thanks for reading and hopefully we will see you next week!
PS: "The Jtrain."  Wouldn't be the same if I didn't mention her at least once.  😍