Sunday, July 5, 2015

Musings from Canadian TT and Road Championships

I just won two National Championships on consecutive days. Makes me feel really, really good. For me it’s a good story but there’s a better one.

I’m getting old. I feel it every day. I have an artificial hip and an artificial shoulder, thank goodness. I’m getting old.

What doesn’t get old is the fight to win, whether it’s on a bike or any other playing field. It starts as a boy and after sixty years, it’s still there like I was a boy. I can’t quite figure out why it hasn’t gone away but I am happy it’s still there. I wish it on all my friends and hope it never goes away.

A hockey buddy of mine when I was a teenager said something to me once and I never forgot it. He said his father told him to always ‘play it like a man but enjoy it like a boy’. Why compete if you can’t compete that way.

I lined up with about 20 other guys yesterday, all 60 years or older and every one of them wanted to win that race like they were young boys. I love it.

Every one of us hurt until we couldn’t make it hurt more. I got in a break 25 kilometers into a 101 kilometer race with two other guys. For the next two hours we were a spur-of-the-moment team. Maybe it’s just something Canadian but it seemed to me that each of us shared equally knowing that only teamwork would keep us away. There was no sitting in or soft-pedaling when it was your turn to pull.

Of course the trick was to save just enough and figure out how to use that savings for that one fatal blow to knock out your ‘teammates’. Yesterday was my day to figure it out just a little bit better than the other two but, after only meeting them for the first time the day before at the time trial, I felt a connection to them and a respect for them that comes with the sharing of the pain. Kind of like young boys.

It’s the other part of this fascinating weirdness. That’s sometimes the cool thing about racing bicycles on the road, the impromptu creation of teammates that disintegrates into selfish aggression then strangely resurfaces as that connection again in the parking lot after the race is over. ‘Play it like a man, enjoy it like a boy’.

I did that yesterday and want to do it again and again and again and I wish for you the same. To quote Bob Dylan, “May You Stay Forever Young”.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Late bloomer

I was a "late bloomer" growing up.  14 years old, freshman in high school at 5 foot 3 inches, and 105 pounds.  Five years later I was 6 feet one inch and 210 pounds. 
I ran cross country in high school and college.  What a great sport where the top five runners help the team earn points.  I was never the best on the team but sometimes my scoring helped the team.  Running turned into Duathlons/ Triathlons and I was reminded about how long it took for me to get "good".  Specifically, I did this one run-bike event seven years in a row from 1984 to 1990.  That race helped to measure my improvement as my cycling speed moved from average (passed by 45 athletes in 1984) to good (stayed with the leaders in 1987) to fast (won the event outright in 1990).  Seven years of stick-to-it-ness.  Seven years of persistence and not listening to "you can't win this".
My junior teammates each have their own path of development.  This is just a short note to let them know that while I push them for improvements and progression, I understand that they have their own speed, and that their best years are still ahead of them!
Larry Nolan, Team Specialized Junior Director

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Stressing and Reflecting

Hello from Germany! I will race my second mountain bike race of this USAC trip on Sunday.

It's been a busy year so far, and a different one than I've had in the past. Before this season started I set out for myself what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to succeed in many areas and I wasn't going to back down in anything. I wrote my goals on a piece of paper, and it boils down to: I want to be top 5 at the mountain bike world championships, I want to go to worlds for road, and I want to get all As in school.

Come January, I was ready to give it everything I had and I was beyond excited for what lay ahead. Then February, I was putting in more base miles than I ever have and I finished 3rd in the VOS stage race GC. Our road team was riding well together and I was excited to race again.

March rolled around, and the season was in full swing. I was spending a lot of time thinking and occasionally doubting. I had decisions to make and things I had to sacrifice. I received a grade I don't wish to talk about on a math test the day after I finished my first UCI mountain bike race in Fontana, CA. I realized that I need to prioritize more and I noticed that I can't be there for everything in every discipline. I missed San Dimas because of the Pan American mtb championship in Colombia. I was not at all happy with how I felt and finished in Colombia, but I was confident in where I was with my training. I had to make a decision about whether to go to Sea Otter or stay home for the ACT and Prom. Sea Otter was right before I left for Europe and it would have also added more time away from school. The ACT registration deadline wasn't going to wait, and I struggled over the decision. The last thing I wanted to do was miss another team race. I had help from Larry, my coach, and my parents. I decided to stay home for that May weekend.

April was here and I was stressed. I received an invite for a trip with the national team to Europe, where we will race multiple stage races. I was thrilled and I'm incredibly lucky for the opportunity. However I was also conflicted. I  thought about the two Europe trips I now had before school ends and how I had to somehow tell my teachers I was going to miss a total of 5 weeks of school. How could I possibly do all that I wanted to? I broke the news to my teachers, and they told me they would support me as best as possible. My U.S history teacher helped me see the bigger picture. He said something like, "You don't want to miss out on an experience because of the risk on your grades. Life's much bigger for you right now."

As I sit in Germany I have relaxed and started to see that bigger picture. I am only 17 and I have a lot to look forward to. Juggling everything is a bit harder than I expected but it is definitely worth it. All of this helps me learn and grow up. Having to make a decision between two great experiences is a good problem to have. I am one incredibly lucky kid and I owe this to a lot of people. It's unfortunate that I've had to miss a couple team races, but I know that my teammates and Larry have my back. If the ACT wasn't the weekend of Sea Otter I would have been in California, opting to spend time with my teammates over my friends in Durango on Prom night.

I have learned a lot about the things that are important to me. I continue to learn how to improve time management and decision making. I don't have to stress so much if I can work hard and work smart. This has been a great season so far, even if I am highlighting the stressful parts in this post. I still have the same goals on my mind and I still have the drive to get there. However I've made sure I relax and enjoy myself, and know what the bigger picture looks like. I'm excited for seeing every one on the team. Everyone involved in Team NCCF/Specialized contribute to painting the bigger picture of not stressing and enjoying bike racing.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Injuries and Victories
        I'm sure most people can comprehend that injuries suck, but you can't look at it that way. You got to take that frustration and think about what lies ahead. About 2 months ago, I broke my wrist in a mountain bike race. I lay there in my hospital bed, waiting to get my wrist popped back into place and I keep thinking too myself, "Could I have least finished the race" but that wasn't the case. Not knowing if I'll need surgery if their not able to put my wrist back in place was the least of my worries but what drove me crazy was not knowing how long I'll be off the bike. Fortunately my wrist was fine after 8 weeks in a cast which I actually just got off this Monday and I can't even explain how good that felt. As soon as I got that damn thing off, I hopped right on my bike and started really training and for me that was victory. You take the little things as victories, for example getting my cast off, and take every step at a time. After missing San Dimas and Sea Otter, I will finally get back on that starting line this weekend at Barrio Logan with the intent of winning. Whether it's Jules or I, I'll make sure that one of us is on the top step.
                                 Thanks for the support by NCCF and all our sponsors, see you next time,

Monday, April 27, 2015


"It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward" 

Valley of the sun; the champ; the man; the metamorphosis. It all came at me so abruptly, and I let it get to my head. Right after VOS I had the biggest training week of my life with about 30 hours and 500 miles logged during my February school break. After that, poof! All my motivation was gone; I rode maybe a couple times a week for about a month. San Dimas approached and I was not at my best. However, my fitness from that big training week still lingered within me so I did ok in the 2s, but nothing noticeably great. It was a disappointment and a failure in my eyes and I believed that it would be enough to kick start my training again. But, unfortunately, it was not. Still, I sat around the house, getting lazy and unfit. Sea Otter approached all too quickly and this time my low fitness was all too noticeable. I got lapped by people I had beat by 3 minutes at Valley of the Sun! What a bummer. I knew it was all my fault too, which made it that much more disheartening. I was the one who hadn't trained; I was the one wasn't ready. I disappointed pretty much everyone that knew about my cycling, and especially my uncle and team, who were there to watch me gasp to try and stay in the pack. And to those who watched me flounder like a fish out of water, I am sorry. I learned a lot from sucking that much; this sport ain't easy. You get out what you put in. I can thankfully say that this race has motivated me to train again. There's no way I'm going to let that happen again at nationals. I also learned that self training is extremely difficult to do because, well, it's all you baby. If you even slack off just the tiny bit, it can escalate out of control because no one's there to tell you to stop. So I've decided, along with encouragement from my Team Director, Larry, and my uncle, Andy, to get a coach. Roger Young, who I've had as a coach for track before, will be my coach for road as he's very experienced and honorable. Now that I have a coach, all I have to worry about is sheer training; I'll have someone to lean on when I need support. I am very thankful for that as it takes a huge load off my shoulders. I'm now back on track for nationals and it's never felt so good.

Thank you for your understanding and support,


This April to me has been spent miraculously. Training went deeper in the pain cave than usual. The halfway point i can say to nationals and other international races on the road. But it has been a great time at Sea Otter Classic. Going away from the heat for a bit was refreshing. The Borg Motel was an excellent choice to stay. As "lazy time" was well spent on the rocks nearby. The racing was tough. Circuit race has a punch at the back side of the course so i used it to my advantage. Then i found myself alone in the race with 45 minutes to go and actually did a time trial. So that was new to me, haven't time trialed for so long in a mass start race.  So continuing with April, training is getting longer and better. Its been getting really hot here which makes it better for losing weight and refining skills and training even longer because of the heat and somewhat longer days. April will end with Athens Twilight Criterium in with i place 3rd in qualifier and 5th in finals.May is around the corner meaning i have state Time Trial on the 2nd. Which after that, i am looking forward to nationals as my primary goal this year.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

North Carolina Isn't Very North

This past week I put on 34 hours in the car and 22 hours on the bike for spring break.  My destination was North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. My mom, brother and I decided it was time to leave the frozen tundra, also known as the Upper Peninsula. The trip had two objectives:  look at potential colleges and get some road miles on my legs. 

The first school, Lees-McRae, is located smack dab in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Banner Elk.  I loved the environment, the school and students.  I rode with at least fifteen riders on several mountainous routes.  We never were at a loss for challenges or conversation.  Matter of fact, the twisty roads and switchbacks were some of my highlights.

The second school was Brevard College, about two hours away from Banner Elk and close to my teammate, Colton Brookshire.  I contacted Colton before my arrival hoping to have a chance to ride in his neck of the woods.  He met me the first day, where we went for a three-hour ride in Brevard. The ride seemed epic; we climbed above the clouds while it was raining with hail below.  Needless to say, my mom was a bit worried. Colton and his father were gracious enough to join us for dinner in Asheville at a burger joint called Farm Burger. The make-your-own burgers and legendary draft root beer seemed perfect as an after-ride dinner.

The following days included riding with a former teammate, Janelle Cole, and a student-athlete named Wyatt.  Wyatt made quite an impression on me.  We'll just say we were similar and different in many ways.  The ride seemed so gratifying that the 4.5 hours just slipped by.

Some things that I learned on this trip......  The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful;  Lees-McRae and Brevard, and all that went with them, were worth every minute of the long drive; white squirrels are good luck (spotted some); and cyclists are the same regardless of where they ride.