Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rest and recovery

The experts all tell you that you have to take a bit of time off the bike at some point during the year, otherwise you will mentally or physically burn out. You would think it would be easy and welcome but I have to constantly remind myself to ride easy this time of year.

And in a setting like this I sort of find myself wishing I was at home buzzing around on studded tires or skiing. Sort of! The truth is that I get sick of the 40 degrees and raining that we have most of the year here- and some change in the weather is always welcome. Whether that is Mexico or an ice storm at home. Too bad they happened at the same time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Is USA cycling losing their relevance?

Interesting article on junior cyclocross participation over at cyclocross magazine. No surprise that Oregon has the best participation at the junior level. The article states how it was accomplished: a dedicated junior race in a good time slot, and reduced registration fees for junior riders. Made possible by OBRA, an independent (non USAC) sanctioned body. Ask any junior rider or their parent what USAC has done for them lately. Todays juniors are the future of the sport.

Another recent article at cyclocross magazine describes how USAC took over Colorado's independent cycling body and is now taking aim at OBRA.

Its a shame because the two largest cyclocross series by participation in the country and probably the world are independently sanctioned: the Cross Crusade (OBRA) and the MFG series here in Washington. I doubt it is coincidence. These guys are trying their best to introduce young riders to the sport, and it seems USAC is really only trying to stifle it. Or forcibly take over once the grass roots folks have grown it to the point that USAC senses there is some money to be made.

I just saw some results for the single speed cyclocross race at Nationals in Wisconsin. I had to laugh, because USAC pretended that single speed cyclocross didn't exist until a million people started showing up for ironic "single speed world championship" races. The womens field at Nats was 15 deep. That is maybe 10 percent of the privatteer "world championship" race.

I just renewed my USAC license for 2012. The USA cycling officials really do a great job at local races around the northwest and I don't mean to disparage that. I just wish USAC would throw a little bit more of our money towards junior development.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bring on the new year!

2011... For the world at large was kind of a bummer year. A lot like 2010. There is still a global financial crisis. I'm losing more faith in the white house every day. Wait, I lost all of my faith sometime last year. At least the war in Iraq is over. Or is it? A lot of natural disasters. Sometimes it seems like the wolves are knocking at the door.

Luckily for my family, in the northwest, it was a great year. We all have jobs we like, awesome kids, good food to eat, and good health. I count those blessings every day.

The bikey highlights of 2011, from my perspective:
1. Increased number of people riding bikes out there, and increasing blowback from the media and car culture as a result. I guess that is to be expected. One fundamental problem is that the vast majority of cyclists also own cars. The reverse is not true. When I drive I have no problem whatsoever sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists. For a lot of motorists it doesn't work that way. They probably have never ridden a bike for transportation in their life, and can't see it our way. The solution? Support your local bike advocacy groups, ride a lot, especially for errands/commuting, and always be courteous and wear a smile. Lucky you, you're on a bike and having fun! Invite a non cyclist to go on a casual fun ride.

I intended to spend 2011 getting acquainted with the track, but managed to get some good results and was booted up into the elite category. For better or for worse, Viking Sport split up- the triathletes and some of the cyclocrossers will stay with Corpore Sano, the track and road racers are now First Strike Racing. I felt somewhat caught in the middle as I focus on both track and cyclocross, but it was natural to go with First Strike as we picked up a lot of great riders in 2011 on the track and have even more for 2012, including a guy named Kenny Williams that some of you may know. First Strike is looking to dominate elite/masters track racing in Seattle. For my part, I'm going to have to change the way I "train" to keep up in the elite races. By train I mean busting out the heart rate monitor and doing intervals or something. Something more than the ride easy in the winter on my commute, then ride harder as the days get longer that I did last year. No power meters or fancy stuff though- just can't do it.

3. I snagged a podium finish in a Cat 3 cyclocross race this year. I wanted an upgrade to the elite category but it didn't quite happen. I had fun racing cyclocross this year- it might be better to be an instigator in the Cat 3 rather than a clinger-on-for-life in the elite race.

4. I accepted a position at a great veterinary hospital that is much closer to my house. Gone is the 2 hour daily bike commute- its now 10 minutes each way. Its already made family life so much easier. The kids respond differently to me when I am at home so much more. l aim to get in some more longer training rides in the morning; hopefully I can maintain fitness with the reduced commute time. I still don't subscribe to the "junk miles" theory of road snobs. No such thing as junk miles. Any time on the bike is worthwhile.

Happy New Year!