Sunday, January 25, 2015

BMX Last Stand

The USA BMX Grand Nationals have been held in Tulsa, OK for many years. In November I raced in what was possibly my last Grands ever and came away with the win after avoiding a last turn crash. As I move to more of a full time mountain and road season I don't expect to do any nationals next year. I was happy to just be there that weekend and see everyone who I've grown up around for the last 12 years of racing. I can't put into words how lucky and grateful I am to have raced BMX and had the experiences I've had. It's made me into the person I am today, both on, and off the bike. There are so many people I want to thank who've helped me throughout the years. Thanks to Donavon and Haro/Promax for being the only team I've been on and the best team I could ask for; to the best coaches and mentors in the worldRich AndersonBubba HarrisJason RogersKenth Fallen and others; to everyone at USA BMX and Durango BMX; to any one in my age class who've I've raced with throughout the years; and the biggest thanks to my family, especially my dad who has been my number one supporter and right hand man at every race. I've got love for you all. Stopping BMX feels more like graduating to bigger things. This weekend was the best finish to this chapter of my life racing bikes. Here's to BMX!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Giving Back

Over the Holiday's I had the opportunity to work with the non-profit organization One More Move. One More Move is a local charity founded by a few local racers/friends that donates bikes to children in need (please visit and like their Facebook page link below). The director of the organization, Matt Hawkesworth, connects with social workers throughout Los Angeles County to reach with needy families they work with that have children that would be so blessed with a bike for the holidays. A few days before Christmas, organization members and I set out for South Central Los Angeles for a final giveaway day before Christmas. We stopped at 5 different homes and were able to meet and greet different families in need of early Christmas presents, with the grand present being a bicycle. I don't think I've ever seen children so appreciative and ecstatic in receiving their very first bicycle. The first boy we gave a bicycle to was so excited, he even invited us in his home to show us his new bed he gets to sleep in. It was the first time he's ever slept in a bed. Imagine his excitement of having  his own bed to sleep in and his first bike to have fun on. Sweet! This boy's excitement was emotionally overwhelming. The living conditions of some of these families helped me appreciate the life I've been so fortunate to live, to not take anything I have for granted, and to give back to my community. I am extremely grateful that I was able to share the joy I have for the bike with children in need who just want the freedom of riding their own bicycle.

A big thank you to One More Move for including me in this life changing opportunity to give back and for broadening my perspective on our everyday society. It's good to give back on something you are passionate about. Pay it forward, friends.

Please visit One More Move's web page and consider donating to a worthy cause.

-Nick Castellano

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sea Otter Classic 2015

April 16-19, 2015 is just four months away.  That's an eternity for some, but not for those of us that need to plan for nine NCCF Team Specialized juniors to compete with the best in the nation. 

For those that like to fly by the seat of their bib shorts, they will see today's entry fee rise another 10 to 20%.  I've helped out USA Cycling at Sea Otter in the past so I have first hand experience with the whiners that pay full price.  $65 for a race?  That's crazy!

I'm writing today to let you know that you can save 10% on your early registration just by using the code: EARLYBIRD2015

I just signed up for the circuit race.  For a total cost of $44.13 I find that one a good value.  Racing on Laguna Seca Speedway!  Being part of the FUN that is Sea Otter!  Supporting SRAM, Specialize and our sponsors... and, descending at 70+kph on the Corkscrew!

Larry Nolan, NCCF Team Specialized Juniors Director

NCCF Team Specialized Juniors at the 2011 Sea Otter Classic

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Specialized Shiv Masters Track World Record

In 2009 I broke the M50-54 2,000m world record on a Specialized Transition in Sydney, Australia... a road frame with track drop outs!
In 2014 I broke the M55-59 2,000m world record on a Specialized Shiv in Manchester, United Kingdom... a road frame with track drop outs!
Geeking out on a Sunday afternoon:  In the five years that have passed since my trip to Sydney, the UCI has outlawed the Transition.  I went for the Shiv for obvious reasons: fit, aerodynamics and total weight is just over the legal limit.  When you are racing in and above the 50kph range you look for speed in your training, and in your machine.  Here's how my 4 October 2014 world record went down...
- unmodified 2013 large Shiv, never built up for racing on the road
- ultra fast 2012 McLaren helmet borrowed from Don Langley (UCI legal)
- brand new 2012 Specialized large aero gloves
- brand new 2014 Squadra long sleeved large skinsuit
- brand new 2014 Specialized xlarge socks ;-)
- brand new 2013 Zipp super 9 disc wheel with new Continental tempo tire @ 160 psi
- borrowed 2014 Fast Forward front disc with new Continental tempo tire @ 160 psi
- relatively new 2014 Specialized S-Works 46.5 shoes
- Shimano 170mm cranks with 52x14 gearing at an average of 109rpms after start.
= 2:19.821 vs. old record of 2:20.413 (James Host)

Thank you Specialized for making such great products.  Larry Nolan, Team Specialized Junior Director (and still loving to race)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Aimless? NOT something you see in bicycle racers

“Your son is getting an F in physical education” was the story my wife shared with me this morning.  She was fresh off “parent-teacher meetings” last night.  Surprisingly, both parents and the failing student showed up!  That doesn’t happen very often.   
How does a freshman in high school fail PE?  It’s rather easy if you don’t show up and dress up.  Must be present to win!
How is this story related to our NCCF Team Specialized Juniors?  Well, besides some cyclocross racing, we are into the “off-season”, or put differently “between seasons” which makes it’s the perfect time to reflect on what went right and what you should be worked on.  We have been in this assessment cycle for the past month and we’re getting ready to move into the “Goals” phase.  This will be a deep dive into what the juniors want out of themselves and their teammates.  We’ll take the assessments and goals into our December team camp to ensure we are on the same page, to ensure what we are shooting for is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T).  Going through the assessment and goal setting process is invaluable to our team and itself is an exercise to bring us together.  The juniors are not fond of the extra time required when they might want to relax with friends and take a break from the bike, but it is completely worthwhile!
A special thanks goes out to every parent that appropriately pushes their child to be all that they can be.  The parents of the “F” student didn’t give a care about their son failing.  As you might imagine, I get pretty fired up about this kid wasting our tax payer’s money –and- my wife’s time and energy.  Thankfully bicycle racers are very goal driven. 
Fact: none of our junior teammates are failing any of their classes! 
Cheers, Larry Nolan, NCCF Team Specialized Junior Team Director

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Goal setting

I have been working with a coach for the last four years in an effort to improve my fitness and cycling ability.  Every year, even before we start working on the racing schedule, he has me fill out a goal sheet.  There are three sets of goals that I fill out.

The first set are the three goals that you want to accomplish for the season.  For me, this included 1) Podium at Elite Track Nationals, 2) Upgrade to Cat 1, and 3) Become a dominant M123 rider.  This established my main focus for the year.  As the season progressed, Elite Track Nationals didn't fit well in the schedule and got skipped over.  However, I was able to make good on the other two.

The second set of goals are process goals.  It is fine to want to win something, but how are you actually going to accomplish it?  Things on my goal sheet included 1) Maintain 10-12 h/week of training, 2) Continue to improve on descending, 3) Work on communication to execute team tactics, 4) Post a sub 17 min climb on Old La Honda, etc.  These gave me clear, tangible goals that I could work on throughout the season.  If I was starting to hit some of these process goals, I knew that obtaining my season goals were within reach.

The last goal is your dream goal.  For the last two years, my dream goal was to win a world championship. Honestly I though that would be my dream goal for years to come, or at least until I started to outlast my competition.  However, I put it down as a reminder of what I wanted to aspire to.

As it turned out, I took my first shot at a world title this year and it paid off.  The experience was unbelievable, but I had confidence in myself knowing that I had been able to hit most of my process and primary goals.

The point is, make sure that you are thoughtful of your goals this season, Make sure they are clear and the processes are defined, but also don't forget to be a little bit bold.  You might just hit them.

Now to figure out next years goals...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Game 7 - similarities between baseball and cycling

Game 7 of the 2014 World Series is tonight.  Baseball was my first love, so I wanted to share this one. 

Let's admit it, people look at baseball and see it as a slow sport - "My god, another pitching change?".  People also look at cycling and see it as boring - "It doesn't look like they are riding hard when they have their jerseys stuffed with water bottles". 

On the surface, both sports can make most sleepy (except that the grand tours start in the early morning).  What's great about baseball and bicycle racing are the nuances of the sport: is the pitcher "on" tonight?  is the pressure getting to him?  did that leadout train drop their sprinter off too early?  bringing in the left hander made sense for those first two batters but what about the next three?  with only two teammates over the last 50km has the team leader been able to hydrate and eat for the next climb?  and, so on.

Another exciting aspect of both sports is the arousal levels of the athletes/ players.  Sunday saw the Giants blow out the Royals, and Tuesday saw the reversal.  I doubt the baseball manager is yelling at his players to pump them up before their game.  The fans yell at the players, but the fans "get" the nuances of the sport (right?). 

I would love to see tonight's game come down to the 9th inning, so that we can watch the real pressure that these players are under.  If that happens, it would be like what cycling fans got to see with the 1989 Tour de France where it came down to the final meters of the final 21st stage time trial when Greg LeMond beat Lauren Fignon by just eight seconds, after 87 hours, 38 minutes and 35 seconds of racing over three weeks.  Truly, one of our sports most exciting moments!

Larry Nolan, Team Specialized Juniors Director