Coaches Corner – Part 1

Frtiz powering over the many bumps at BASP Candlestick

Many of you might not know but CX Nation (myself) also offers coaching services.  I am different from a lot of the cycling coaches out there, in that I specifically coach cyclocross racers.  Now this doesn’t mean that I have my clients only ride cross bikes.  Mountain bike, road bikes, track bikes and even cafe cruisers all have their place in racing, but I structure programs around cyclocross season, specifically.  Over the years I have seen a trend where more and more racers and just focusing on cyclocross.  This is great for the growth of the sport.  But with our season going from September to January, there are different aspects that a coach and racer need to take into account.  Not to leave you hanging but this post isn’t about those “aspects”.  I wanted to focus on the riders because I coach some pretty awesome athletes.  So I am writing some blogs on them…..

First up is Fritz Wisor….. When I started my business Fritz was my first client.  He is like that dollar bill that is framed on the wall of all businesses.  He’s worth more than a dollar though.  He raced in the Open B’s last year and then made the tough jump up to the Master’s A’s this year.  In the B’s he progressively moved up the placings and then in the final BASP at Coyote Point he lost the race by a bike throw.  As a new coach it was my proudest moment.  Here is a little more about Fritz… (Note: I did not change any of the wording in Frtiz’s original email.  It’s all in his words.)

1.  What is your bike set up?
Jamis Supernova- Sram Force, Avid Shirty ultimates and Edge Wheels (Tubulars)

2.  What category do you ride?
35+ A’s, raced Elite B’s last year and decided upgrade

3.  Highlight of this season….so far…
Um, it’s been a learning process.  No real highlights, but I’m learning
how fast I need to be able to corner in order to hang on to a group that’s
really jamming.  Accelerations out of corners are just wicked every time.
No real highlights though as far as results.

4.  How often do you get out and ride?
Twice outside, usually once or twice on the trainer or rollers in the garage.

5.  Is this your first time being coached?  What do you think?
Yes, it’s been great.  I’ve never really trained before working with Brian
last year.  My life is such that I don’t have a lot of time to spend on
the bike, and need to make the most of it.  I can stay motivated because I
love racing, Brian has been able to provide the structure I need to
optimize my time in the saddle.

6.  Favorite pre race meal?
Pasta the night before.  Usually buttermilk pancakes or waffles day of.

7.  Favorite type of food?
Burrito me.
8.  Beer or wine or coffee?
Coffee.
9.  Coffee?  How do you take it?
Short black and strong.

10. Do you eat the stems of broccoli?
Heck yeah, peel them, and add some salt or garlic salt, eat them raw.
Super food.
11. Favorite cross rider and why?
Men-Bart Wellens…  He knows how to treat the hecklers that don’t follow
the code.  Pure badass.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=salfFYuinwY
Women -KfC.  Nobody even close.  She’ll get her rainbow one of these days.
She deserves it.

12. Favorite course you have ever ridden on and why? 
Probably Golden Gate Park (RIP).  I like Singletrack oriented races where bobbles cost
you.

13. Disc or not?  In the future????
OK, In my experience cross braking is not just limited to the brakes, it’s
also about traction.  Disks are great for the dry stuff where traction is
good, but the current mechanical setups don’t modulate as well as a set of
canti’s, so the advantages of braking power are lost when it gets sloppy.
I know a lot of the top American men are running them, but the top Euros
aren’t.  I think that has to do with courses (the euro course tend to be
sloppier earlier in the season).  I’m running Avid Shorty Ultimates, and
have really never felt like I am being held back by braking.  Even riding
single track.
Also, if you’ve got one bike, and it’s muddy, you’re going to blow through
a set of pads in 60 minutes of racing.  If you’ve got a pit bike and a
mechanic to swap pads, you’re stoked, but the rest of us should bear that
in mind.
My first CXish bike was a converted road bike (Kona Sutra) with BB7’s, and
I’m not ready to make the jump back to them right now…
But, will I make the change in the future? Yeah probably, but I’ll need to
see a two things before I pay out for a new frame.
1- reliable hydros.  fully integrated into the STI lever.
2- longer wear pads for wet conditions.

Frtiz powering over the many bumps at BASP Candlestick
Frtiz powering over the many bumps at BASP Candlestick
Cornering on the hardpack...Superpretige Candlestick
Cornering on the hardpack…Superpretige Candlestick

The Roller Coaster

Into the sand pit with Jon M. in pursuit

Up and down and whipping all around.  Sometimes you want to get back on the ride and other times you want to lose your lunch in a rusty old garbage can.  In the past couple weeks I have ridden the roller coaster of cyclocross.  The first ride was awesome.  The next ride I ended up in that garbage can.  Sometimes you need to know when to say when.  I didn’t and paid the price.

I went back to Lembi Park in Folsom for some redemption of sorts.  I had a “rolling snowball” amount of bad luck there last year, ending up on the pavement with a jammed thumb and fair amount of road rash.  This year I wanted a redo.  So I headed up to Sac and lined up against some Berries and my Sac nemesis, Jeff Mitchell.  Jeff is the local and was leading the series.  I promised myself not to go out too fast and sure enough in the first turn I was dead last.

Soon enough I started to weave my way through the traffic and made it near the front.  Lembi is possible the best course in all of Norcal.  I wish more people came up to race it.  It has all the classic cyclocross feature – grass, off camber, road, mud (since it had just rained), run up and even a sand pit, which they put us through twice this year.  This course has lots of elevation and a great local crowd.  There were 4 of us after the first selection with this mountain biker taking massive pulls.  Jeff, Jon the Berry and I just tucked in.  By the 4th lap I knew we had to get rid of this mtb guy so I attacked.  Jon followed and then Jeff.  Mtber, gone.  As I was pulling all the air in Sacramento into my lungs, Jon attacked me.  Oh, I hated him.  I tried to follow, but to no avail.  Jeff went and I got dropped immediately.

So I was in no man’s land just finishing up when I noticed the Mtber coming back. What?!  So I was determined not to let him pass me.  By the last lap this outright fear turned to elation as my efforts where pulling Jeff back closer to me.  I caught him after the sand pit, then attacked (like the crit rider I was) on the pavement where I crashed last year.  I held him off and by the end I was gassed.  Jon the Berry had won, but I had really dug deep on this one.

Into the sand pit with Jon M. in pursuit
Into the sand pit with Jon M. in pursuit

The roller coaster was on a high that day.  It would all drop the next day as I tried to do the double and race Stafford Lake CX.  I had a feeling that I was not on top form and I should have listened to that feeling.  Murphy Mack set up a course with a few circus obstacles which I was not really pleased with – a 4 foot tall wall and a 4 foot deep pool of water.  Not really my idea of a CX course.  I was just about to pack up and leave when I heard that there was at least a bypass to the water pit.  Ok, I will race.

First half lap I felt good chasing the two more Berries – Brian F. And Gannon M.  But as the first lap came to a close I knew the engine room was losing power.  I should have stopped then, but I didn’t.  I just had too much pride.  Well, that pride hurt me more than I thought because after the race the ball of my foot swelled like a softball.  I ended up having to stay off the bike for two weeks, go on prescription meds and lose a lot of fitness.  Point being…if you conscience says don’t do something….don’t!  And the roller coaster hits rock bottom…

The Venue….

It’s all about marketing – CX Nation snow fencing at the Santa Rosa Cup

Not many cross racers really know what goes into putting on a race.  Yes, we volunteer, participate and sometimes talk to the promoters, but you don’t really know until you jump in the trenches with (insert a city or county or some other governmental agency) and try to negotiate.  It all goes well until you tell them that you are going to be tearing up their beloved turf.  “Where is Fifi going to go number 2 or where will the drug dealers deal their drugs?”  Well, it is only for a day.  Can’t they go somewhere else?

So we approached the city of Santa Rosa a few years ago with a proposal.  Give us this land because we want to make a cyclocross course.  I had teamed up with Carlos and his Bike Monkey crew to “up the ante” with Santa Rosa cyclocross.  Carlos had been running a group of races in city parks, but with the majority of races in December, January and February…well you get the idea.  They were great fun for participants, not so much for the people who used the park afterwards.  We needed a new plan.  When we asked the city to use some land in A Place to Play Park, they just said, “Yes, do whatever you want.”  I literally fell over.  But then I realized that this park really was wasteland.  Really…A Place to Play Park was built on old wastewater ponds.

It didn’t matter to me though.  I just wouldn’t tell the racers.  So we went about forming a cyclocross park.  If you have ever been to the park or to a race there, you know that it is made up of two baseball fields and 6 soccer fields, but we couldn’t use those, the grass was too nice.  So they gave us this scrub brush area and we made our own park.  With the help of Brian Neary landscape and his box scraper I formed the course over a couple days and then revamped it this year.  The clay-like dirt makes it a little worrisome for rainy days, which we have had both last year and this year for the second race at the park.  We like mud though, right?  Well, this mud eats derailleurs for breakfast.  8 to 10 last year and baker’s dozen this year.

The first race of the Santa Rosa Cup was held at the park.  We had some rain a few days before the race, but by race day it was 80 degrees.  Typical October weather in California.  I decided to not only do all the set up and race directing (9 hours the day before and 10 hours the day of), but I was determined to race this year too.  So after all those hours I lined up next to a small group of 15 or so for the 35+ A’s.  Local hardman Big Miguel Crawford took the whole shot and immediately drilled it.  Mig runs the chaos that is the Grasshopper races that are so popular in the Santa Rosa area.  I tucked in like a former crit rider and went for a ride.  By lap 2 he had dropped the field except for 4 of us.  Once there was a slowing that’s when former pro rider Brian Finnerty (another Cal Giant Berry! Ugh…they keep propagating, like the berries themselves)  saw his chance and drilled it even farther.  Bye-bye Brian see you at the podium ceremony.

World Champion Don Myrah took it from there, dropping Big Mig for the remainder of the race, except for the last lap.  I could’t believe it when Miguel punched it past us on really the only place on the course where you could pass.  Myrah and I tried to follow, but the heat was too much, by which I mean the pace, not the weather.  Finnerty had already accepted his bouquet by the time our panting tongues crossed the finish line.  Big Mig second and the Champion 3rd.  Me 4th. Another great race…. And it seemed like everybody else was having fun too!

It’s all about marketing – CX Nation snow fencing at the Santa Rosa Cup
It’s all about marketing – CX Nation snow fencing at the Santa Rosa Cup
Chasing Myrah yet again…
Chasing Myrah yet again…