Monday, March 23, 2015

Cycling: A Family Affair

Cycling is a highly competitive sport. It's easy to get caught up with the stresses of life and forget how you even started this crazy sport--why you actually love it so much. For me, it all comes full circle. Last week my family and I celebrated my brothers 19th birthday by, of course, going on a family ride. While out on our ride, I was reminded why and how it all started for me. For me, competition began early on with my brother and sister. Growing up in Asheville, NC we were always out riding either on the trails, the road, or just around our family farm. It was always a competition! Who could climb the hill the fastest, descend the fastest, track stand the longest, and who could come up with better ways to ride up and jump off mom's picnic table. Our poor mom has not had a picnic table in years that hasn't had chain ring damage.
Having a family that loves and supports you is everything. Being there for each other through the high and the low points in this challenging sport is what makes it all worthwhile. We all started racing road bikes at age ten (the earliest possible age to race at that time). We attended our first National championship at ages twelve (me), and fourteen (Grayson) in Bend, OR in 2010. The next year, my sister joined us and we have now attended 11 National championships, all with each other by our sides. You can be certain that we push each other towards excellence, and sometimes we don't like the criticism we dish out to each other. But one thing is for sure, we all want each other to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, and will never stop helping each other to reach that point. Being there on that ride last week and helping my baby sister climb up those same hills that I did at her age, all the while smiling and laughing, did remind me why I ride.








  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Experiencing a new level of cycling.

I've been racing for 4 years and i was blown away with the level of racing.
I  never had a teammate/teammates with me in big races, for example Valley Of The Sun I had both Sean and Jules. I've learn quite a lot from those two,but I am still learning new racing tactics and proper conditioning from other teammates as well. New race tactics have helped me, and I'm still curious on how the team will race together instead of racing different junior categories.  There will be more racing soon I can't wait!  I'm looking forward to training on mountains this year since where I live lacks elevation and fun roads. I've learn throughout team camp that I enjoy climbing. I haven't mastered the skill of descending yet but I want to conquer it. The thrill of switchbacks are breathtaking. The Ride was different. The feeling on the bike was different. As I progressed more down the mountain with the sun near to set, I had learn many things from descending.
Larry (team director) told me at camp, how we should always think for each other, rather than just ourselves. Never had junior teammates and now I know how it feels to be part of a real team. I'm definitely looking forward in making this a superb year. Not just for me ,but for my teammates as well.

-Sandor Jr

Friday, March 6, 2015

DNF

DNF, ala "Did not finish" might conjure a few negative ideas in your head, but to me it means you tried something new and different.  DNF could be the test that brings out the real bike racer in you.  DNF might be something you should try.

As the former NCNCA upgrade coordinator I saw all sorts of requests, but as I poured through results trends jump out... too many people race their strengths!  America is the land of crits, so let's admit that there is a HUGE difference between sitting in the field in a pro/1/2 crit and a long road race.  I'm not suggesting that we have different categories for different disciplines and venues, but getting tossed off the back of a real pro/1/2 road race and ending up with a DNF might just be what you need. 

Pulling in a DNF every once in awhile helps you stay grounded, it helps you play your strengths as a teammate or friend, and it helps to motivate you for the next big race.  You are working on your weaknesses, not just flexing your strengths.  Turning a DNF into something good is not easy and takes time, but above all, bicycle racers are a very determined lot of people.

Cheers, Larry Nolan

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Metamorphosis

Weeman they called me; I was the domestique of Team Specialized. In priority events, working for my teammates, helping them succeed. Deep down though, I wanted MY success. What I didn't realize at the time however was that through the process and moments being the underdog, I was actually being prepared for my future cycling career. To help me reach my success, Larry, my coach, enlightened me on the philosophies of racing and provided a well thought out training plan for me to take advantage of. From him I've learned about base miles, recovery, intervals, phases of training, peaking for priority races, tactics, and just about everything else that's helped me progress as a rider; I wouldn't be the rider I am today without this knowledge. My teammates inspired me to be greater because I've always looked up to them and they gave me the determination to try and become the best racer I could be. This team has helped me progress from a young up and comer to a full fledged racer. The motivation and support I've received from this team is what I truly owe to my achievements. Thanks to Team Specialized, they now call me

-The Man.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Training in the U.P.

SISU is a Finnish word. The word is well known in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and means toughness. The UP gets 200+ inches of snow a year, which makes training for bike racing tough to do. All of my work in the winter relies on two things, cross country skiing and rollers. Most of the winter I ski both classic and skate ski. I ski for the High School team and in previous years competed in nationals. Normally early March, I transition my time from skiing to riding. This year I'm committed to NCCF/Specialized and made my transition much earlier. I was racing on skis every weekend competing with kids that train for skiing year round. I found out a lot about my body this past cross country ski year. I found out the harder the event, the better I did. I ended with a very respectable ski season, winning the 24k Skate Noquemanon.

The transition from the skis to the rollers was a tough change. Normally I'm tired of skiing and ready to ride, but this year leaving the ski season on such a high note made the transition super hard. I knew that I have a huge race coming up (Valley of the Sun). Knowing that, I have been motivated to get the trainer miles in order to be in the best form as possible. It's tough on your mind to sit in the basement on the rollers looking at the snow falling and seeing all your buddies' pictures on Facebook and Instagram.. This is when I think of the word SISU. I always remind myself that all the hard work is paying off, the thing that keeps me the most motivated to keep on going is my love towards the sport.

Coming off of the ski season, I will be going into Valley of the Sun with pretty good form. I'm looking forward to sacrificing a lot for this cycling team. I'm excited  to be wearing and representing NCCF/Specialized to the best of my abilities.

So when the times get hard and I'm really working hard I will think of one Finnish word, SISU.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Date with the Best

    



Tábor 2015, a goal I have been working towards before the host city was even announced. My entire cyclocross experience to this point had been building up to being named to this team.


What an honor it was to receive that email. Everything I had worked for, stressed over, and learned had become worth it in a blink of an eye.

Training that extra month was exciting, after cross nationals in Austin, TX the cyclocross community began to go into hibernation. Thanking people for help and talking about their season overall. Yet this inspired me, that I was one of the few that still could spend another month chasing my dream in a discipline I love so much. My local Bend, OR community was more than amazing that month. There were two juniors going to Tábor, myself and Lance Haidet. I think that speaks in itself for the type of cycling community there is in Bend; and the junior development programs we have in place here.

When it was finally time to go, when I packed my bags and left the Redmond airport, it was not nerves I felt. More of excitement, I spent a lot of time talking with Geoff Proctor about the difference between anxious and excited. This was definitely excitement. As majority of travel in the winter goes there was a problem I ran into. As I boarded my flight from Portland to Amsterdam the gate agent stopped me. She “Im sorry but I cannot let you board this flight, your passport expires within three months.” I had never heard of that rule and neither had my parents. I was crushed. All the excitement, the work, and the accomplishment I felt was “expired”. At this point most logical people would swallow their pride and head home. But when asked by the agent if I wanted to be put on a flight to Redmond I declined. I called my dad and we came up with a plan, that at the time seemed incredibly unlikely.

The plan was, to go to Seattle, where there was a US passport agency. Get a passport in hopefully a few hours then leave to Prague the same day. This is the plan we went with and my selfless dad left Bend and got on the next plane to Portland to meet me. We drove late at night to Seattle, and prepared for what would be the most nervous day I have experienced. Get it all right and the trip is salvaged, any problems and I am stuck home. When morning came we bolted to be first in line. I could see the stress on my dads face and I was sure I was as well showing signs. After many hours of stress and work we packed up and boarded a one pm flight. From Seattle to Amsterdam, with new passport in hand!

The rest of the trip went smoothly. My arrival in Prague, pre ride of the course, and hanging out with all the other USA juniors. The entire atmosphere was different this trip was different. Camaraderie was higher and competition within the USA hotel was lower. And when it came race day the excitement was greater than anything I had seen prior. We did our warm up, headed to the line, got called to staging, and went off. The race was special, not just because the Czech crowds were so big and so loud you could barely think. But during this race three years of preparation kept popping into my head.

Unfortunately the result was not at all what I had hoped for, and did not reflect my fitness. 39th was the best I could muster, but given all the circumstances I was just happy to be there. Worlds was unlike any racing experience I have ever had, I hope to be back next year in Zolder, BE. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people at Cyclocrossworld development team, USA cycling Cyclocross, and most of all my parents. I cannot wait to begin with this NCCF/Specialized team soon.










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!