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!

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)