The first half of the season went really well for us as a team. We had good success in each race situation, learned a ton on working together for a common goal, and at this point still hold the top spot as a team in the Pro Road Tour standings. This year, our team was not invited to Tour of California so we had a bit of a break before some of the one day races like USPRO, Winston-Salem, and Philly.
Most of the guys took a bit of a break, but these three races are in my wheelhouse. The constant changing in elevations and technical nature of each circuit, these types of courses suit my ability to endure a heavy load of kilojoules, whittling the race down to a select few, and then having the tactical and physical ability to finish the job off. With that in mind, I basically went straight to work with my training following Tour of the Gila.
I've been working with Adam Mills from Source Endurance for 4 years now ( http://source-e.net ) since I started racing for Elbowz Racing in 2012. He was able to help guide my training as I began recovering from a broken collarbone in March of that year, and it rounded out my aerobic ability which helped me to become a factor as a teammate late in a race. Or, in the right situation, to go for it myself.
Adam and I had a chat regarding the best plan of action for me to train up for these races, and to come in ready to compete for the win. With the team and the early season races having some Time Trials and uphill finishes, I knew that it would be likely to find myself on the front of races to help protect the yellow jersey, or ride for it. This had my fitness at the 90-95% throughout the beginning of the year. As the race went on, I'd still be decently fresh for the latter parts of the stages, and not burnt out come time for the one day races.
We came up with a plan that incorporated some decent endurance days, ramping interval work, at least one day for roller skis ( more on this later ), as well as time motor pacing to keep the leg speed up. Historically, the month of May in Arizona is when you will see temperatures of 100+F ( 38+C ) late on your rides. Because of this, I had begun taking to the early to bed, early to rise routine to get the proper training in before it's too hot. Another reason for this, as some may know, I am also a Chiropractor and see patients throughout the week.
Most can identify with trying to find that balance of getting the training in prior/following work, holding a job, or running a business. Time with family and friends, taking care and giving a good life to your pets, and any other social activity that might be on ones schedule away from the bike.
The thing is, a 3 a.m. alarm to knock out 4-5,000Kj rides before you see patients until 6 pm is not likely the way all these other pros are conducting their time after training sessions. Not to mention, trying to stay present and giving back to a loving, supportive, and understanding girlfriend like Rachel. At times, the amount of energy physically and mentally that is delegated to this sport, training, recovery, and travel is pretty overwhelming ( and honestly for me, feels a bit selfish at times ), To have people and family in your life that are willing to help you along the way is crucial and I'm very lucky with those in mine. It takes a village.
I think it's fair to say that I will always wonder what could happen if I were to only focus on training and recovery, that question of what may be possible. Is there another couple percent I could eek out of my ability ? I also know, that at this time, it's likely a question that will never get an answer. So I choose to make the most of my place here to show up the best I can in every aspect. I also understand that what I do and implement can really help others with similar circumstances and goals. Helping them find their success, as well as minimize injuries and issues doing what they love.
With the patient base I primarily see being active lifestyle, with a tendency towards endurance sports ( cyclists, triathletes, runners, mountaineering, etc ), I can relate to the experiences they are going through, give guidance and recommendations, refer to other practitioners and providers, draw upon clinical outcomes and steer the ship back on course for those applying the principles necessary to do so. This is the core, the essence of where success and failure can intersect.
It is such a deep topic. So much so, that what you will find throughout these entries that I share, will be little tidbits of information that, when implemented, can greatly increase the chance for overall health. Likely coinciding with the environment for optimal performance.
If you click through the photos above, there should be a few words about each image. In general, I wanted to share a few of the sights I see on a regular basis that perhaps are not out of the ordinary for me. But when I share them in this way, it can help show the many pieces of the puzzle, as well as makes me more present with the things in my life that one can take for granted as we encounter them as routine.
An image that may stand out is the roller skis. I've typically done these throughout the off-season as it allows some differing training, while still having some benefit of aerobic work. Taking into account that I am a Chiropractor who works side by side with a physical therapy group, Endurance Rehab, we regularly see the imbalances that endurance sports produce. Using critical thinking ( logic ) why would I not be subject to those same imbalances ? ( in fact, one could argue, with a bigger genetic engine, I may be subject to greater imbalances as the output is higher ) We regularly see with the focus on the ability to run a certain speed, hold a certain wattage, hold a certain pace in the pool, etc., the measure of which we focus our attention dictates if we feel we are improving or not. ( in my opinion and experience clinically, it may also contribute to overtraining/under-recovering, burnout, and injury )
For instance, looking down at a power meter as one tries to do a specific wattage/output for a set amount of time. Most will feel the "legs weren't there today", or "just didn't have it", or "lungs gave out", or "just didn't feel fresh", "didn't sleep well last night", the list goes on. What one may not think about, is actually where that power is being generated from, or where those forces are being dissipated to.
Imagine throwing a 500 horsepower engine into a Prius. Exactly, the wheels, tires, chassis, etc. will eventually become overwhelmed by it's power. So you're subject to the weaker link being the limiting factor. In humans, let's attempt to make an analogous situation, the strength of your core ( not just abs ), how healthy is that spine, those knees and hips, the range of motion of your joints, and so much more. Do you ever stop to ask, when you power down on the pedals or propel yourself forward with a run, that the stronger the core is, the more force you can elicit?
Hence the skate skis / Roller skis. What I realized from past off seasons, is that I do not particularly like the small stability band and exercises done in the clinic. So I have incorporated an activity that provides that lateral stability stimuli, as well as the balance and coordination of the core musculature to handle the workload that I am able to produce on the bike. But also, when I am drained from the training, I am still required to bend, pick up, maneuver, and adjust patients. So with that I need to have a lot of stability and endurance there.
Perhaps at another time I could go into the neuromuscular facilitation and what is activated in those movements, but just the take away from it for everyone is, it's much more than doing the sport you want to be your best at. As we become more specialized, and only provide our body with one stimuli, the adaptation will happen to a certain extent. Make sure the other areas of your body can handle it. Don't be the typical "i'm just getting old". Ask yourself how old that other knee is, or how other parts of your spine are not blown out. The same with your knees and shoulders, maybe you can do the exercises we prescribe for patients now, to not allow imbalances to be created :)
Another image is taken as I pull up to my Chiropractors office. I'd be hypocritical to not utilize the care I recommend and prescribe for those in the office. The long and short of it goes back to the above discussion on trying to maintain balance in the body by having it better able to handle the forces being generated. Again, using critical thinking ( logic ) to see where people become off track in their spine, I am checked on a weekly basis. What does it help for, and how is it applicable?
Remember that analogy of the engine being too big for the chassis, etc? Same story, think of the output one can do in a 4-5000+KJ ride, let alone a 5 min all out effort. Ever think you may overwhelm some of the core? Some of the stabilizing musculature? Ever ask yourself what really needs to take place for a disc to herniate? Or have you been told "your hips are twisted"? (Like, what kind of environment lends itself to that? )
Well, it's just that (in my clinical and personal experiences ), Imbalances. Imbalance in proper range of motion. Imbalances in muscular strength and the forces generated. Imbalance of proper stress with proper recovery. Basically, some areas are stressed more than others with the specificity of our lifestyles, and the adjustment is helping restore that range of motion to those areas overwhelmed. I'm using it to help ensure I can still have my body go through that full range of motion, that I can still use those tissues ( so they don't become weakened, if you don't use it you lose it ), that I don't create an environment of inflammation and swelling because of these imbalances which may lead to pressure onto the Nervous System.
Pressure on the Nervous System can impact the function of the body, and what most of the people reading this far are looking for, is the function of your physical ability. Remember, there is MUCH more coming out of that spinal cord than just using muscles, it's the communication pathway for everything that happens. Just something you may want to think about. ( OR!, like a lot of people, just keep on with no awareness to possibly what is going on, "all of a sudden" have back pain that "just started" a few weeks ago or you slept wrong, and when we image with x-ray/MRI be sure to have an explanation for 5-10-20+ years of degenerative change to the vertebrae and discs. I'm a hardass on this because we should be better at not making the same choices others have which create these issues. )
A few places to take hikes, a few miles out of the way, but it always seems to be so worth it. The dogs clearly love it, and there is something about seeing them so happy in any place that it's a bit contagious. Also the stark change from busy traffic and our similarly filled schedules ( hers is busier than mine ) is really amazing for that timeout from the go-go-go. When I first moved here some 8 years ago, there has been so much growth in building and spreading out of communities. It is becoming less and less that one can find a quiet space to unplug, and so far of riding to be with little traffic. I want to really enjoy it while it's still here. It seems that because money seems to rule choices made in our society, it will only take so long before these places are gone. Interestingly enough, I can't help but ask the question of, just because you made money that way in the past do you have to continue to make money that way? Or could you switch to something different and not use as much of the land and resources, and shift that to sustainable and recycled practices? When is it ever enough? History tells us we end up answering that question too late.
The #fullgasmustache picture is there just prior to me taking it off. It's a bit of an tribute to my father who worked tirelessly in a less than fulfilling job, working as a welder at an open pit iron-ore mine in Upper Michigan. He did endless swing shifts and overtimes to help provide our family with the means necessary to get to where we are today. All while donning a mustache. It's a bit of a bummer that his job did not allow for travel and seeing the world. Not for us, but for him. When you grow up in a small community, especially before the advent of the digital age, sometimes one can not be aware of the limitlessness in the world and what we can do for each other. Nonetheless, as these weeks leading up to the races pressed on, I'd regularly press down upon my 'Stache to remind myself of the dedication I saw as a child, and that application of discipline will get me to where I need to go.
I could go on and give a race report on each event, but I won't. I'll just share that I lined up to win each day and I was capable given the right circumstances. Sometimes we try too hard and force things. Sometimes it's not to be. I'll just show up prepared to take advantage of each opportunity, and hope luck is on my side.
Next racing for me is Cascade Cycling Classic at the end of July, with a week fowling it's conclusion the Tour of Utah. ( did you see the route for that? ouch ). Somewhere I'll have to get some legitimate altitude training in. The rest of the team is lined up at the Vuelta Columbia for the next two weeks. Wish them luck.