Domestique of the Week
By Chris Lyman
In late October I started riding outdoors after a summer crash had sent me to the hospital for 20 days and three surgeries. Once back, I realized how much I missed and enjoyed riding, and was glad to again be at it.
But some days my thoughts are dominated by how much life nearly changed in July. My neurosurgeon often reminds me of how “damn lucky” I am – had my L1 burst vertebra moved a tad further into my spinal column I wouldn’t be walking, let alone gearing up to race.
Enter my newest feature for this column: the Domestique of the Week.
With race season about to get underway I’d like to call on you to recognize those who help make a win possible for their comrades. If you find yourself atop the podium thanks to the assistance of another, let me know about it. Or maybe you observed a teammate pull back a break, or drop a sprinter off at 200 meters so his/her buddy could take it. That deserves recognition, don’t you think?
It’s no secret that the best wins often result from someone who is off to the side, celebrating quietly, satisfied with the job he or she did in support of another.
Since the season has yet to start, I’d like to recognize my wife, Carm, who has been steadfast in her support and encouragement to get back on the bike. She knows how much I enjoy cycling and accepts it as part of my daily life (so long as I’m being reasonable). The decision to ride was/is a joint one, even more so considering this year’s trials and tribulations. Without her help I would have given up cycling and moved onto something else. Thanks to my domestique, I’ll once again be a bike racer.
Yet even buoyed with this support, there are days when getting out the door remains a challenge. Just last week while at a final rehab session, the anxiety about cycling’s risks once again descended on my psyche. Typically I can push through, but this one got the better of me, and I decided an outdoor ride was not going to happen. My fallback was trainer time. Leaving PT I feared that if I didn’t turn the pedals that day I might never again.
Just then I pulled out my phone to see a text from Lucas Euser, a dear friend and rider on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, who is in town for the holidays. “Hey buddy! Going to ride… Let me know if you want to join” read the message. 20 minutes later, Lucas and I were on the road logging some miles and my concerns faded.
A few years ago I had the privilege of accompanying Lucas on one of his first outdoor rides following knee reconstruction from getting hit by a car. I saw him struggle through it, but admired his determination to look forward versus back. Last week he returned the favor and so he’s also my Domestique of the Week.
As we turn the page on 2012 and look forward to 2013, these two important people have reminded me that with fear comes an opportunity for courage, and without support, little can be accomplished. For that, I thank them.
Drop a note to <Chris@cyclingillustrated.com> and share who you observed being a great domestique. Let’s make this a weekly feature that recognizes those important to our sport.
Happy New Year to you and your family.
Lucas Euser on the move to UHC!
Lucas Euser in “The Conversation”
’61 Metcalfe Continues to Improve With Age
By Chris Lyman
In 2011 at Masters Nationals, Kevin Metcalfe of Team Specialized Racing showed everyone clean pairs of wheels by winning the 2011 Time Trial and Road Race, and finishing second in the Criterium. In 2012 he packed his suitcase full of courage and repeated in the Road Race and finished second in the Time Trial, just four weeks after breaking his collarbone for the second time in eight months.
Class is in Session Starting January 5th with the Early Bird Criterium Training Series
By Chris Lyman
Tales of Cat 5 misadventures are voluminous enough to fill blogs faster than Google can build data centers. This is especially true when it comes to the weekend circumnavigation of an office park, with 50 comrades bumping bars as if steaming towards the finish line on the Champs-Élysées.
Thankfully, in the 1990s, Northern California promoter Velo Promo and a handful of highly qualified coaches set out to create a skin preservation program. The Early Bird Criterium Training Series was born and has since taught countless new riders about pack bike handling, race tactics and generally how to conduct themselves in a safe and civilized manner.
This year, five directors—Laurel Green, John Cheetham, Matt McNamara, Dan Smith and Larry Nolan—are putting the final touches on 2013’s clinics and training events, scheduled for January 5th, 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th and February 3rd.. Directors set a weekly curriculum and catch up racers who may have missed the previous week(s). They also coordinate 70+ volunteer leaders (folks comfy instructing 50 or more racers) and mentors (those helping smaller groups of racers) who help make the series possible.
I remember attending an EB Crit to get my final Category 4 upgrade point as a soon-to-be former triathlete. Even as a newbie I recognized the World Champion stripe-bedazzled jersey on the imposing figure of Larry Nolan, who was riding along mentoring the action.
For those who don’t know Larry, he’s earned 14 Masters Track World Championships and needs a storage unit for all of his Masters National gold medals. I still laugh with Larry about that day because just two years later we ended up as teammates, and I was able to absorb much more knowledge from him about how to how to race a bike.
Back to today, or perhaps January 5th, Larry & co. will be back at it, offering a helping hand to those new to the sport and/or wanting to improve handling & race skills. If you missed it the first time, mentors include a WORLD CHAMPION with double-digit titles to his name – someone who can teach most any of us a thing or three about bike riding.
Early Birds are just $15. They kick off January 5th with an evening clinic at Palo Alto Bicycles and introduction by Jim Ochowicz. Outdoor action commences January 6th at 8:30am with numerous category events taking place throughout the day. Cat 5 participants receive 1 point per training race and .5 points for each clinic. Cat 4s receive .5 points for each clinic that they complete. Details and registration information at http://www.velopromo.com/ebcr-ent.htm.
Now, since not everyone lives in Northern California and is able to attend in person, Larry was kind enough to proffer a few tips and suggestions as we head into race season.
Larry’s tips and facts for the new racer
– Early Bird mentoring starts with group drills. Presumably a friend proclaimed how strong you are and that “you should race.” Congratulations! We’ll help you get more comfortable in a group, but the Early Birds should not be your first group ride.
– A 75-minute clinic is not enough time to get you race ready. Best to continue to learn and develop race skills from teammates, friends, coaches and by attending other clinics outside of EBs.
– On the road, protect your front wheel. Assert your position in races. Do not race passively or aggressively.
– Be humble and never pretend that you have all of the necessary skills to race through a corner at 30 miles per hour, shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers.
– The 2013 Early Birds comprise five weeks of “training races,” which is to say that no one tracks your finish placing. Therefore there’s no need to sprint at the end for a result. Practice your sprint in your training and if you’re not yet a fast sprinter, then continue to practice and observe how others go so fast.
– Come back to the Early Birds years from now when you’re experienced and ready to help others. There really is no greater feeling than giving back to a sport that gives us all so much.
Moore Or Less
by Chris Lyman
As a member of the Cal-Giant Cycling Team, Jesse Moore has been a recognized fixture of the Northern California Pro 1-2 peloton. After years of dishing out the hurt, in 2012 he began the transition to masters racing and in a moment of questionable judgment, triathlon.
By day Jesse is the owner of Moore Performance Coaching with a roster of athletes stretching from NCNCA (myself included) to ProTeams. In search of a “Moorism” I asked Jesse about leaving the Pro 1-2 ranks behind, coaching masters racers and 2013 plans.
Jesse, thanks for taking the time to chat.
Happy to do it
Starting off with coaching background, you studied under Dr. Max Testa. Aside from the obvious, what did you learn from him?
I’m not sure if I’ve learned it yet, but the one thing that I’m always striving for is Max’s bedside manner. What I mean is that he has this amazing ability to connect with athletes of any ability and make them feel like they’re the center of the athletic universe. I’ve seen countless athletes walk away from a conversation with him full of self-confidence and empowered, with real knowledge about their bodies that will help break through barriers. Anyone who has talked to Max knows what I’m saying, and I hope to get there someday.
Who are some of the notable athletes you coach?
Andrew Talansky, Andy Jacques-Maynes and Max Jenkins are the ones you might see in the media but I’ve worked with some very accomplished masters riders like Chris Lyman, who I think might be even more notable. I say that because of what they achieve while balancing very busy “real world” lives. Taking a nap is pretty far down on their list of priorities for a given day and I’m inspired by them all the time.
Speaking of masters athletes, where do you see age start to take its toll?
I don’t look at it as an age so much as a life stage. I think life events have more impact on performance than chronological age. For example, I see the first decrease in performance with full time employment and the next significant drop usually coincides with having kids. On the flip side I’ve seen people retiring or becoming “empty nesters” have increases in their performance. Those events can happen at any age, and generally performance has a lot more to do with hours available for training and recovery than your birth date.
Recent age related research is showing us that most of the health and fitness declines we used to associate with aging can really be traced back to declines in body use and training as we get older; life just fills up our days. There are certain inevitable losses with aging, but I don’t think they happen as rapidly as people think. I really try to approach coaching master’s athletes with this philosophy.
Does this change your approach to masters athletes?
What changes is how much rest I need to weave into training. Ultimately, performance comes down to how much training stimulus an athlete can recover from. But a lot of factors determine that, not just age. This is why it’s really important to look at each athlete as an individual, rather than categorize them in a box based on age or any other factor. I really try and look at how much an athlete has going on in their lives and get a picture of how much “total life load” they’re going to be trying to recover from and how much rest they will need to do that. From my perspective you only have so much capacity to absorb stresses whether they are coming from training or the rest of life. You need to take it all into account when putting together a training plan for someone, not just their age. I’ve got guys in their 40s who can recover from a lot higher training workloads than guys in their 20s based almost entirely on how much more they have going on off the bike.
Not to pour salt on an old wound but in 2011 at Elite Nationals you finished 3rd in the TT, 4th in the crit and 2nd in the road race, garnering best overall rider accolades. From the outside: an enviable accomplishment. Internally, it’s gut wrenching. What council would you give an athlete to shake it off and move forward?
My therapist thanks you for bringing that up again!!! In all seriousness I’m a big fan of initially letting emotions run their course. I think it is ok and perfectly healthy to be disappointed or even angry when falling short of a big goal. I don’t think it’s ok to be throwing your bike around or negatively impact other’s experiences by being a poor sport, but I actually get worried if an athlete isn’t upset after missing a goal.
To achieve big things you have to be fully invested emotionally. If you don’t feel anything after missing the mark, you weren’t all in and you can start your post race debrief on what went wrong right there. So I council athletes to let their emotions ride for a time and to really digest what went wrong so they can learn from it. However, at some point it’s unhealthy and unproductive to keep dwelling on a bad result. The time to do something about it has passed and it is time to circle back to doing what it takes to have a positive experience next time. Take the lessons learned, set new goals and re-engage the future.
“The time to do something about it has passed.” One of my favorite Moorisms.
Speaking of racing, you more or less transitioned from Pro 1-2 to masters last year. What struck you about the change?
Honestly, what struck me the most is how much work I have to do in my own head to be ok with the change. It’s a great group of guys and I like that I can still be competitive with a more balanced life off the bike. However, I’m still struggling with things like not having the physical weapons of even a year ago, or watching the pro field roll out and not be in there testing myself. It will come, but it is harder than I thought it would be to step back.
What’s your favorite race on the calendar?
I think Mt. Hood would have to be it. The stages and conditions bring out everything I like about myself as a bike racer and I’ll always have fond memories of sleeping in my car at the start and loving it because it was my first NRC stage race.
Northern Cal 35+ guys want to know: what are your 2013 race plans?
Oceanside, St. George, Coeur d’Alene and hopefully Kona (triathlons). There might be some bike racing cameos, but I’m really focused on learning this new sport.
As a bike racer I’m obligated to give you a hard time about participating in the “sport” referred to as triathlon. What led you in that direction?
My reference to ‘emotional investment’ is what started the transition for me. I remember standing on the top step of a podium, hands up, and feeling nothing. I also remember finishing off the back of a different field later and feeling the same nothing.
That was when I knew it was time to start looking around for something that would get me excited or disappointed again. Challenges that force me to grow as an athlete and person usually do that for me, so I looked around for something I was afraid of and would truly suck at– swimming was an obvious fit. I’m really enjoying being on the steep part of the learning curve again, along with being totally anonymous in the triathlon world. No one, myself included has expectations for me and it doesn’t stoke my ego. It’s perfect!
Does this mean your bike racing days are over?
Bike racing fits me. I’m sure I’ll be back.
You used to lead an infamous, weekly fall/winter base ride into the far reaches of the Auburn foothills. No set route, no ego-driven hill surges, no waiting for flats, no “tour de mini-mart” food stops, and one brief pause for water at a school drinking fountain. Five hours after 40ish enthusiastic riders set off a handful of cracked guys would return. It was pretty much awesome. What’s become of the “Jesse Is A Jerk” ride?
It’s still going on every Saturday morning from Folsom bike at 10 am. That ride has a long history and has been led by several different people over the years. I’m still there most weeks but am transitioning leadership over to Max Jenkins. Hopefully he’ll carry it forward until the next likeminded individual comes along.
By the way, when you head out for a run after bike practice, the rest of us are drinking coffee or adult recovery beverages. Just sayin…
I’m ok with that. For now.
Slick talk with Gnarlube Racing
by Chris Lyman
Gnarlube Racing made a splashy entrance to the Northern California masters scene this year, rolling up in high style. With long time racer Gregg Betonte as Director, the new squad made it’s mark and racked up some impressive results. We connected with Gregg for the scoop on the team, plans for 2013, and perhaps the raciest lube in cycling.
Tell us about the product and why bike racers should know about it– who is behind the company?
First off , I’d just like to say thanks for contacting us, Chris! Gnar Lube came to be unlike any corporate plan to just cash in. Sixteenfifty, out of San Diego, is owned by Robert Wells who has been a friend of mine for many years. They are a creative company producing all things media with and edge. Film, video, print, web… Rob is a long-time cyclist both on and off road, so, out of pure enthusiasm he decided to make a “fun” cycling lube.
He hired a well-seasoned lubrication engineer to work directly for Gnar. After six months this lubricant wizard produced the Gnar Lube lineup. Each lube was lab-tested and crushed everything else on the market! All that was left was a splash of scents (yes they make your car smell wonderful when your bike is in there). BUT, you need to understand, this is all just for fun, none of that really mattered, yes there are lubes, crazy kits, sweet pink socks, and clothing all sold thru the site: www.gnarlube.com and a great cycling community based all on having fun on a bike has emerged – unicorns n rainbows…. #powerofthepinksocks – it’s crazy, I get pics from allover the world of people in the pink socks and a bunch of people with tattoos of our logos!!! WTH? Right? Simply put, it’s a bunch of people supporting those supporting our sport!
Gnarlube / Landshark Racing is a masters squad. Why did you go this route instead of P-12?
We really did not make a decision in one direction or another. Three of us came from the Safeway Masters team, as well as simple age put us there first. We do still do P-12 races, but focus is the Masters 35 & 45. Also we were only five guys last season so it was hard to spread things too far. Plus, those P-kids are fast!
How is the team helping promote the product?
Well the obvious, racing. We raced in SoCal, NorCal, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Wisconsin this past year. Many times we have the truck there and have a BBQ for all or just help people out at the races. One race last year we had a bunch of homeless guys with their bikes at the truck getting all lubed up and all left with new pink socks!
Just spreading the good cheer that cyclists / racers are approachable and fun. This year we will be supporting CAF – Challenged Athletes Foundation. We also donate all race winnings to charity.
I think it’s cool to see some panache and edge brought into masters racing, much like Monster Media did in So Cal. Were you looking to shake things up?
Absolutely, the race scene can be so stiff and we just wanted to say “hey, we are all bike freaks, and we all do this for the same reason, it’s ok to have fun!”
Well, we had lots of great races and I think over 45 podiums. The one win that stands out to me is at the Sea Otter Crit where we got Jens in the break with ex-pro Roy Knickman, and I was back at the front of the chase keeping it together. I could see him and pass signals of support to Jens as we doubled back on each lap. In the end it was Jens decisively winning the sprint- always a great race when someone who is in a support role on the team gets a win like this.
How about 2013? What are you looking to accomplish?
Like all teams we’d like to win at Nationals, and the State Championships. But really it’s to keep everyone safe and healthy, and have fun on our bikes.
Any new riders? If yes, why did you add these guys?
Yes we have three new guys. Reasoning was it’s really hard for a team of five out there. At one point I had a really bad separated shoulder and Joe had a broken collarbone – bang, there’s half the team gone… so the necessity of adding riders was obvious.
The new guys are David Albrecht and Jeff Galland who both have long racing career’s and one young gun M35 named Neil Bartley.
Where will you guys be racing in 2013?
Right now the plan is to race CA as well as go back to Tour of Americas Dairy Land in Wisconsin, and of course Nationals.
I’m not afraid to admit it: I was a little envious of that big rig you guys rolled in. Will it be back again?
Oh, for sure at selected races and events- our hope is for the appearance of a 45-foot custom painted Freightliner to show at Masters races is that it helps the sport and all of masters racing, as well as the promoters.
What other companies have stepped in as sponsors?
Yes. There were those who “got” what we were going to do right from the start.
Land Shark Bicycles custom built all our bikes for us – everything John does at LS is custom from the ground up. It was the first time they had sponsored a team and they were just as stoked as we were with the bikes! I have to say it’s the best bike I’ve ridden, he wired up my Di2 to a RC car battery hidden in the frame and told me I’d not have to charge it all season – and I still have not.
We also have Pactimo Clothing for our kits, which we used at Safeway and is awesome technical cycling wear. Super easy company to work with as well as very supportive as it’s headed up by former racers –makes a difference.
We also have a relationship Hunter Allen’s Peaks Coaching Group- we had coaches for all the guys. I have to say, they were great to us, and really a part of the team.
Bicycles Plus in Folsom CA took care of all the teams shop needs. Owner John Crews was a pro in his day and has been a gracious supporter of cycling and everything we do out there. It’s critical for a team to have a shop sponsor for all the little things that go with a season of racing. Athlete Octane is our last but not least sponsor; they produce a great drink, which works both for prep as well as recovery.
Any parting words?
Hope to see everyone out there in 2013!
Director, Gnarlube Racing
I live in Northern Cal and have been a member of Team Specialized Racing (masters squad, not juniors) for the past three years. With the spirit of a rouleur trapped in the body of a TTer, I managed Masters National Time Trial wins in 2009 and 11. In 2009 and 10 I also won TT silver medals at Masters Worlds. Some of you asked if it’s akin to kissing your sister and while I have no first-hand knowledge of such matters, it seems like an apt comparison.
Like most masters racers, I have a salt & pepper mop, to which I added a handful of salt this summer as a result of hitting the deck. A week before Cascade Cycling Classic, I was descending Trinity Grade, that crash reared up–the one that rarely happens but lurks in the back of our minds. It came replete with a care flight, more broken parts than a weekend of cat 5 crits, three surgeries and 20 days in the hospital. Fast-forward four months and I’m on the bike again and charting a course back to the masters peloton.
For an inexplicable reason, BJ feels this qualifies me to cover the Northern Cal 35+ scene so I’ll be bringing that to you as we head into 2013. I might have failed to mention to BJ my affinity for sarcasm, so take what you read with a grain of… salt.
Teammate to Teammate: Seven Questions With Masters National Crit Champion Jason Walker
Chris Lyman to Jason Walker.
Q: How was your season leading up to nats?
A: It was a bit rough actually – up and down. I had a couple good results, 2nd at Cat’s Hill and 4th at Nevada City, then I got really tired. I raced the Little City Stage race hoping to build some form for Cascade and Nats but I couldn’t suffer like I traditionally can. So I was concerned. Then I got really bad news: Chris Lyman breaks himself badly. It was hard to get passed all the “Is Chris going to make it… Oh my god, this biking thing is dangerous…” And then it became really selfish; Chris and I are a great 1-2 punch for Cascade and Nats, and that’s now gone. Cascade became training for me, which was fine, but I still didn’t feel good. I got a boost of confidence the next weekend at Tour De Nez and got focused on good training and losing some weight. I started feeling really good the couple weeks leading up to Nats.
Q: Between your family and career, like many masters riders, your schedule is pretty full. How do you approach the racing season to balance all aspects?
A: I wrote out a plan, set goals for myself, put all my races/rest on a timeline and posted it on the refrigerator. I then talked about the season with my wife. She’s supporter/enabler #1. I also had to get much smarter about my training. I thought I got that all figured out last year but realized this year (see note above about being tired) that I have a lot to learn.
The really interesting variable this year was the impact both kids being a year older would have on me, my wife, being a family and trying to race. It was exponentially harder this year compared to last year. Our oldest son, Louden, is 3 and wants to be really active. It’s rough taking off on the bike when he’s holding his helmet or going away for the weekend to pedal circles. Then our youngest was just entering full danger-zone, needs 100% supervision 100% of the time during the summer; he was falling off curbs, putting rocks in his mouth – doing all the things that freak out parents and I’m off worrying about my tire pressure. It was rough on my wife. So we changed the plan. We decided I would be going to nats solo among other things.
Q: In the crit at Masters Nationals you went solo about 20 laps in. What was going through your mind? You had lots of time to think…
A: At first I was just trying to keep the race hard, making sure if there was a break I was in it. It was the only chance I had to win and played very well into our teams #1 strength, our sprinter, Dean (2011 Masters National Crit Champ). I was fine doing work all day knowing Dean was in the pack waiting to do his job.
Not only was I not trying to go solo I was 99% sure I’d be joined at some point by Demarchi, Andres, Johnson or more. After a few laps I said “uh, oh” to myself. I won the TDN in basically the same way, so I knew I could do it but this was Nats – whole different ball game.
Mostly I thought about being efficient and keeping my head low but yes, a million things go through your head. Examples:
· Wait – they just said 12 seconds but the previous corner said 22 seconds – which is it?
· I think my tire is soft
· Don’t hit your pedal on turn 5
· The conversations will be so much better if you just win.
· Roemer (teammate) looks awfully comfortable over there drinking wine
Q: Bigger win: 2011 Masters Nationals Road Race or this year’s Crit?
A: They are both so different but if I had to pick one I’d say this year’s crit but let me give a bit of context.
Last year I had my entire family with me, and I mean entire: Mother, brother, sister, all the in-laws, nieces, dog and of course Kerri, Louden and Lander. I’m not sure I can properly explain what it meant to win the RR in front of them. They’ve all seen me race but I think they understood how different this was. I mean, they were all there to watch and support ME (okay, grandmas were really there for the boys). I got “close” in the crit and they all knew I was a bit disappointed. To win the RR and be able to share that experience with them was really special.
This year was a 180 – not one of them was there. Sure, they all wanted to be but it couldn’t be expected. The hardest part was Kerri and the kids but we’d already made that decision. So how could this be better? A few reasons: Bubba (Melcher, teammate) and I had a conversation last December about Brian McGuire – arguably one of the best masters racers ever and how he’d never won a national title. Brian had stressed to Bubba how special it was to win one but also how “any jackass can win one.” Bubba then expressed this to me but what they were trying to say is that winning the 2nd one was harder, and if you can do it, it says a lot.
Secondly, I was bummed after the road race this year. I knew the course didn’t favor me because of the longer climb but I was much closer than I thought I would be. To be that close again and watch the awards presentation got to me a bit.
Finally, there’s really no feeling like winning a crit solo. Crits are hard, scary and so fast you don’t usually have a lot of time to focus on the crowd. I had about 35 laps to focus on the crowd. Bend came out in a big way to support all the races and I love the place. It was amazing to hear all the cheers, see all the faces, get all the splits, etc. When the gap got down to around 10 seconds with 8 laps to go I could see it in their faces. Everyone kind of got bummed; they stopped giving me splits. They were feeling bad for me but in a good way. That really fired me up.
Q: You’re a bit of a gearhead. What was your race day setup?
A: 54cm Specialized Venge Expert with SRAM Red, Zipp 404 Firecrest clinchers, Quarq power meter with Rotor Qrings.
Q: Fall/winter is the time to chop wood for the following season, but you take this to a new literal truth. What are you up to during the offseason?
A: Chopping wood, turning over the garden, watching football and getting ready for ski season. I like to build my base in the backcountry of the Sierra so hopefully we’ll get some snow this year.
Q: What are your goals for 2013?
A: Honestly, I want to camp more, mtn bike more and be a better father/husband. I know this sounds cheesy but I had some good revelations this year thanks to my wife. Really, I’m not bad but I can do better.
On the bike specifically I want to do the following:
1. Have fun with my teammates and pay them back.
2. Do better at Nevada City.
3. Be a factor at Cascade.
4. Either win or help a teammate win a national championship.
5. Top 5 at mtn bike marathon nationals.
Jason Walker and Chris Lyman are teammates on Team Specialized Racing. Based in Northern California, the team is one of the top junior development cycling programs in the nation, and among the most competitive masters teams in the world. Facebook.com/TeamSpecializedRacing