Saturday, May 12, 2012

Real deal training

I recently had the opportunity to go to the Olympic training center in Colorado springs, Colorado for a week long training clinic on race development. Being a grunge like mountain rider I had no clue what to expect from the week of training being new to road racing but I was very surprised at what transpired over the week.recently.

I arrived in the Colorado springs airport to find a reprieve from the so cal hustle and bustle of airport madness, luckily my bikes made it without incident and I was able to get things together and roll out to the ride to the training center.

It just so happened by complete randomness that two other racers on my team (Mason Poe and Freddie De los santos) were also attending the week of training, so it was a pretty welcome sight and good experience for the three of us to be able to mend before race week. once we left the airport the military branch bashing and general good humored banter commenced with full vigor.

 While we arrived at the athletes center, no longer than we had off loaded our gear and went inside our bikes and gear were whisked away off to our quarters by mechanics and coaches while we got our credentials and heading to lunch.

As you walk into the facility it is nothing short of an epic place to be standing. every wall you see are adorned with athlete accolades from every sport and year imaginable. there are numerous motivating quotes from superhero status athletes everywhere you look. Just the dining facility itself is more motivating than tony robbins riding  unicorn with a light saber.

One of the most impressive things about the whole week was the food. I am no stranger to institutional style food after being in the military and fighting forest fires for many years, but I have to say the cuisine was overwhelming every meal. The food prepared was unbelievable in taste and loaded with nutrition in mind. there were many choices each meal and it never failed to hit the spot. It was truly food I would have paid for at any high end place in town.

It was a marvel in itself just to be able to cruise the campus and see the determination amongst the other athletes prepping for the upcoming games. There was a dedication on the air that was thick as steel and it truly ruminated deep within myself during the week. Being able to Eat, train and mingle with some of the other athletes was really a gut check of dedication. I am not sure there is nothing more motivating sitting around a group of athletes that are the best in the world at what they do.

As the week started there was a definite force to be reckoned with, the elevation. The OTC sits around 6,000 feet of elevation and coming from sea level you definitely notice the difference as soon as you hit your first mile on the bike. This was a good lesson for me since I have almost always lived above the 5-6k mark and haven't really experienced the elevation deprivation. Since being in So Cal since December I been acclimated to the sea level life of training and didn't even consider the elevation, but I will talk about that in my next blog post.

Our first day in the training was basic bike handling at speed. I know what your thinking, now what could I possibly learn that I don't know all ready about cornering and braking? Well, quite a bit when you are on a tight course and there are 4 of the bet coaches around watching your every move and barking out your faults every time you come around the corner. Needless to say it was a bit of a wake up.

We got quite a bit of instruction on the velodrome as well. this is something I have never done before and frankly was never really interested in it. But when one of the coaches (also a mountain biker) said the resemblance was like a giant downhill berm, I was hooked. since we didn't have track bikes on hand we were only to run the track in one gear in order to keep everyone on the same playing field. I caught onto it pretty quick and was at the top of the turns in no time.

All the blocks of instruction were very eye opening to the finesse of road bike racing and the amount of factors that play into a good finish. We had blocks of instruction on climbing, descending, handling, gear selections, race strategies, nutrition, workouts, mental prep, and even paceline work and close quarters rubbing.

I would have to say my favorite day of the week was when we hit the grass. yep, that's right. the coaches took us out on the grass and we had to do a handful of very entertaining road bike drills such as cone weaving, rubbing other riders, slow races, and picking up water bottles while riding. Being a mountain biker I have gone down alot of times, but I truly have never been down so many times on a road bike as I did that day. I think it was one of the most confidence inspiring days I have ever had on a road bike. the drills were designed to be in a group of three or four riders and get the handle bars locked together, or rub wheels to the point where you end up going down in the grass. we were shoving elbows, pushing others off, getting so comfortable on the bike with others around it seemed natural. Working on the flexibility on the bike to be able to pick a water bottle laying flat while is definitely something to try if you have never done it.

We did several group rides in the surrounding mountains and areas through the week working on the skills we had learned during the week of instruction.  I was especially impressed with our ride the the garden of the gods. it was simply amazing to have this so close to ride everyday. It is truly spoiling.

Overall the week was a great benefit for me and the others who were lucky enough to be chosen.

Now for some elevation training!

Special thanks to the worlds best coaches on hand,

Jim Cunningham
Hector Torres
Glen winkle
Dan Shelby
and mechanic Mark Legg

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