Tuesday, October 04, 2005

End of Season Wrapup

With the Rowdy Dawg done, my season is finished. Here I am going to summarize the past year and think about how to approach next year.

Overall Hours
Here are my hours training starting from February 2005 to Last week
hours 2005

This is just a real top level macro view of total hours. Those hours may have been intervals, or may have been just walking around the block. But as you can see I never went over 10hrs a week.

If you read a lot on the net, or talk to some coaches 10hrs a week often comes up as the minimum number of training hours required for someone who wants to be competetive in racing. My average over the course of that time was 5:50.

Now you've got to understand that a lot of these numbers are meaningless. During February and March I was doing VERY difficult intervals on the trainer where the whole ride lasted 50minutes but they were as hard as any 3 hr ride I've been on.



4/3/2005 1st Place Pipestem WV

5/1/2005 5th Place Douthat

7/17/2005 Last Carvin's Cove Time Trial *Took wrong turn, was on track for 1st place

8/14/2005 3rd Place VA Derailer #1

8/29/2005 6th Place Derailer #2

9/11/2005 5th Place Derailer #3

10/2/2005 3rd Place Rowdy Dawg

Got my best PR on a timed single track climb this year

I think it is fair to say that I am competive in the Vet Sport Class. Not sandbagging, yet riding near the front. So I am a good example of how someone with a family, full time job, and no genetic talent can put forth under 10hrs a week and be competitive in their class.

However keep in mind that I don't do ANYTHING else. No other hobbies other than bikes right now, no other sports, we don't even have cable except for the month of July. Family, work, bikes. That's about it. So you've got to add to the mix commitment and focus.

** Now please don't get the idea that I am fixated on results. With racing they are unfortunately the benchmark for measuring your performance, but results are NEVER a good goal. They are totally out of your control. My goals are based on things I can control, like focus, mechanicals, crashing, eating, drinking, timed hill climbs, the power I can maintain, etc.

As you can see there is a gap in the races after that first one. From the first day of the offseason last year I was soley focused on the Virginia Championship Series that I was able to take 1st place overall in 2004

These races are the pinnacle of mountain biking in this area. For the most part hardcore courses that have been humbleing me since moving to Virginia in the early '90s. You hear people talk about them with reverence. Dragon's Back (Where I saw a young Floyd Landis smoke the field), Douthat, Potts Mountain, Rowdy Dawg, Massanutten...

I cut short certain phases of my lifting in order to setup some endurance work before the bad weather hit the area, All to be ready for Dragon's Back in April. However the promoter who deserves tons of praise for running the series for the past several years had to cancel much of it due to family illness.

My whole focus was shot. On a whim I went to the Pipestem race and got my first win ever and did Douthat. But after that I was floundering. With no real races on the calendar to keep the compass pointed North my training really did waffle. I was riding yeah, but not really focused. During that time I spent a lot of energy just bike geeking out on Full Suspension frames, etc. which took a lot of focus away from the training.

I opted out of
Massanutten Hoo Ha and I wish I had gone instead as it would have been good training for the Dawg. And instead chose to go to the VA Derailer Series. Now these are fun races and it is super to see the energy coming back to mountain bike racing. However the courses are not my style and really aren't the best preparation for the races like Rowdy Dawg that are my priority. In hindsight I wish I had signed up for Vet Expert to get better training.

Though had I done that I had to be mentally prepared to die a thousand deaths and not consider my placing as sign of my self worth. It has been really fun racing in a class that I belong in and being competetive. To know the guys your racing against, and Like a in Donnie Brasco-

I'm Known

Sometimes I'm marked.

Years ago I moved up from Sport to Expert for the sole reason that I didn't want to race sport anymore not because I was an expert level. I put my head down and rode the Caboose section through every race, and was proud to just finish, but inside it did suck to be near last every time.

One area where my training was really lacking was in group rides. Group rides bring out the best in me, and work me harder than when I go myself. I wish I had made more effort to seek out some partners and group rides. But it is so hard when you train shoot from the hip style. A lot of rides are between 5pm and 7pm. When you have a family with small children these are known as the Witching Hours

One common theme you see in all my races is the muscle cramping. In fact this year I was cramping sooner than in previous years. At first glance it's counter intuitive. Training harder, stronger than last year yet I am cramping much sooner in the races.

Here is my speculation as to what is going on:
Yes I am stronger, Yes I can push higher power than I used to. Yes I am faster. And because of that I can actually ride with the lead group off the start of races which is fairly new to me. I get caught up, lose sight of the sutainable pace I need to be at in order to finish the race strong. And invariably burn my legs up and then cramp. The intersting thing is that I am riding in very high placing by the time the cramps come and then it's a toss up whether I can hold my place or lose them in a nose dive.

The exception was the 1st race of the Derailer series. I actually felt like I wasn't riding that hard and was upset with myself that I didn't push myself harder yet I finished my best placing in that series.

On one hand I can keep doing this until my fitness eventually catches up to the length of the race. Or I can get better about how to pace my self, or both. It is just one of my biggest fears is letting everyone go at the start, and then being left alone losing focus and then I'm right back where I was years ago riding caboose. But obviously I'm a different rider now. The time trial I did in Roanoke, with the exception of going off course, was a phenomenal ride for me. Perfect pace, just on the edge of reason, picking off riders one by one. I am thinking that that is what I need to be shooting for, and damn the fast start and just find my happy place.

This year I also lost a few pounds of body weight. 3 or 4 pounds or so. But at 135lbs that is a fair amount. I didn't really focus on it, I just started to eat less. And had a smaller appetite. You can still find Reese's wrappers in my car, and empty soda bottles in my office. But in general I just ate less. It wasn't for lack of trying though. At my house any snack food is eaten within 48 hrs of purchase. And shopping is only done once a week. So after that no matter how many times I open the cupboard or fridge there isn't anything to eat

, unless I want to make something, but I am lazy. So many times I'd be going to bed with that hungry feeling instead of having a late night snack.

Lessons Learned
-I need a race every month or two to keep my focus and keep motivation
-I need to make more of an effort to ride with groups and other people on the road and off road
-I need to learn the right pace to maintain for a race in order to finish strong

The most important thing to me is that I am building upon what I did last year. Taking that hard work and combining it with this year's hard work, the true goal is to keep taking it to the next level. Training is often viewed on the micro levels of weeks and months, and then also at the season view. But the way the pros look at it is in 5 year blocks. I'm on the 5 year plan.


At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Derek B. said...

Hey Ashwin. . . I have been reading your blog for about a year now and love to see all the parallels in the life of another MWC, FTJ, NGT. . . except that I happen to be a full-time Dad. Needless to say, I have seen almost exactly the same year you have in terms of racing and training. Average about 5.5 hours a week, lots of trainer time in the winter, never over 10 hours a week, lots of top 5 placings in the Sport races and a few wins here and there (including VT State Champ in Sport Men 30-39. . . woo hoo!). Then raced a few expert races at the end of the year and got spanked. Looking to carry this fitness and all that I learned this year into next. Kids are a bit older, may have a few more moments to ride next year. . . but, again, it is the same. . . nothing else but riding. No other hobbies allowed. And for only 5.5 hours a week. Crazy, but allows you to be sane at the same time. So, anyway, keep writing and I'll keep reading. Enjoy the trainer this winter. . . or go do some snow biking on the snow machine trails like we do up here in VT. Later.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger GMitchell said...

Mee too to what derek said. I've been reading since spring and its nice to see another MWC FTJ NGT succeeding. I don't have near the time right now to devote to the level of training that you accomplish, but maybe in a couple of years. Good luck next season.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Warren Schimizzi said...


First let me say congrats on your strong finish at the Dawg. Having raced there several times, I know how hard that course is. Great job! Second, I enjoyed racing with and against you in the Derailer series races. I hope that you find the "sweet-spot" in your training that allows you the most bang for your buck. I admire your work ethic and commitment to becoming the best racer you can be. It's hard to make time to train, so getting the most out of each session is critical. The most important lesson I learned this year was to relax and have some fun. Last year I worried sooo much about how I was going to place at every event that I worried myself silly. Thus, my training became like a second job. I HAD to win next time, so I pushed harder. Then on race day I'd get smoked. So I trained more and harder, only to get slower and slower. This year, my number one goal for every long ride, every trip to the gym, every yoga class, and every single race was to have fun. I tweaked a few things that seemed to work well also, don't get me wrong. But overall, the biggest change was what my goals were. I stopped worrying about winning, and started to relax. My number one goal for the season was to have fun at every event. Then,the results improved. I had a blast this year. Next year I'll be moving up to Expert and have every intention of having more fun racing than ever. Who knows, maybe I'll even have a good result or two.


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