As is typical for my writing, this blog post may be a bit lengthy. We want to update you all on what we’ve been up to over the last week and a half; as many of you know, it tends to involve our most-intensive training of the year. We raced the last two weekends – first in Louisville, then in St. Louis – and we stayed in Bloomington for Spring Break to train on the track. It also pushes us in new ways, like how John and I realized we would have to step-up and cook meals for the team, without Kyle Knight (’16) or AJ Sood (’16) saving us from food poisoning.
Our goals for the week were: 1) train hard, and recover harder; 2) transition the mindset and lifestyle to prioritize bikes at all times; and 3) begin thinking about our plan for April 22nd. In my opinion, we crushed all three. Each workout was preceded by rolling out sore legs, and each workout was followed by recover foods, stretching, and sleep. Our diet bid a difficult farewell to junk food, while we welcomed in fruits and vegetables. We watched several races together, dissecting and analyzing different moves and strategies. And, most importantly, we spent a full 11 days with each other, growing closer and meeting on the same page.
As I mentioned earlier, our “break” began in Louisville, Kentucky, to race in the Long Run Park Circuit Race. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. to make the 8:00 a.m. Collegiate D’s race, where Colten and JJ brought-in solid pack finishes. Jack suffered a mechanical when someone ran into and broke his back wheel on the last lap, so he had to withdraw from the sprint. Sam, too, experienced his first collegiate race, and hung on through the first few laps, getting visibly more comfortable throughout. John cranked through a fast Collegiate B’s soon after, but he fell out of contention when a wheel he followed exploded and missed an important move. Later, though, Jack finished near the front of the Cat 4/5 race, with Colten close behind. John hung on to a very fast 3’s race, and finished in the middle of the pack. Because spring races created a 3 cm crack in my collarbone last year, causing me to miss the Little 500, I chose not to race; instead, I got a long, intense workout in on my road bike.
Overall, we had some positive results, but our trip to Louisville still left something to be desired. We returned to Bloomington committed to crushing a long week of training.
We started the week with a gracious delay in the track’s opening (we welcomed the extra sleep), as the cinders froze overnight. Our morning workout thus began at 1 p.m., with an emphasis on exchange work and individual track sets. We ate, napped, and returned to the track at 7 p.m. to begin what was arguably our favorite workout of the week. We were lucky to have the track to ourselves, while snow fell swiftly and settled on the track. We ran through a blistering individual workout, followed by a fast team pursuit effort, and left the track knowing we made huge improvements that day. A long-time friend of Beta Cycling and AXO rider Lexie Kolar was closing the track down that night, and she captured the magnitude of the moment with an awesome picture.
We awoke to temperatures well-below freezing Tuesday morning. We opted for an indoor spin in the morning to loosen up the legs and stay warm. At night, Coach Eric Anderson joined us at the track for more fast exchange work, before concluding with a team pursuit effort. Fatigue and cold weather sent us home a little earlier than expected.
Wednesday morning, again, we opted for an indoor spin to avoid the harsh conditions outside. The team was noticeably anxious that afternoon in anticipation of the night’s workout: the “workout that won the race,” a ruthless ITT-based team effort that originated one dark, snowy night in Spring Break of 2013. Even though you are racing around the track alone in this workout, noticing little other than your breath getting louder and your heart pounding in your throat, we all felt the team’s presence with us while making pushes in this workout. Anderson and AJ Sood (’16) were couched in Turn 1 screaming splits at us while we worked to make each effort faster.
Thursday required only one workout for us, though we did spend more than 3 hours at the track. We were apprehensive about our ability to get a workout in, due to excessive traffic and very loose track conditions. But, we began with more fast exchange work, before running two all-out team pursuit efforts. There’s absolutely no better feeling on the track during training that crushing a team pursuit effort with the team. With wheels inches off each other, smooth transitions between pulls, and silent communication, we made a great deal of refinement to our paceline. Again, Anderson took the liberty of screaming splits at us, and we all took turns punishing ourselves and pushing our teammates at the front. We finished with a few Quals runs for time; at this point, though, our legs were absolutely screaming at us. After a long cool down, we headed home, done with the track for the week.
We rode a light road spin on Friday, before heading to St. Louis. We stayed with the Mower family, who has graciously hosted us the last three years. We were off to a rocky start on Saturday at Carondelet in the Cat 4/5 race, when Sam went down in a scary crash (but got up just fine), and Colten dropped back after chasing a break on his own for the first 15 minutes. But, JJ was able to hang on to a fast race, and brought in an impressive pack finish. Jack dominated the Cat 4 field and took 6th in the sprint; he really grew into his own in this race. John, too, held fantastic positioning throughout a fast Cat 3 race, and after making an impressive acceleration on the backstretch, finished at the top 10 spots.
On Sunday, we moved over to the Forest Park race. Jack, again, worked the pack in the 4/5 race and finished 5th in the sprint after launching a little early. Colten suffered a crash caused by a sketchy rider toward the end of the race, but he, too, got up okay. JJ and Sam fought their way through the race on dead legs and finished behind the pack. Jack also raced the Cat 4’s, but he flatted halfway through and had to pull himself. John, again, sat in through a blistering Cat 3’s race and held strong positioning. A break of two went off the front to win, but John did well in the field sprint.
With the week over, we’re ready to relax and recover ahead of the 2017 Little 500 Qualifications on Saturday. The team will take the track at 12:00 p.m., situated shortly after the second track roll and among other strong teams. We’re ready to throw down a fast time, and we’ll let you know when we do.
Before I sign off, I want to give an enormous thanks to Mr. Mower for hosting us this weekend, and to Mrs. Hagedorn for saving us a night of cooking and taking us to dinner Wednesday night. We also want to thank Anderson for flying in to help us train during the week, Kyle and AJ for making themselves available at the track, and Tom Laser and Will Kragie for getting on the phone with us to discuss our five-week plan before the race.
Please keep an eye on our Facebook page and blog in the next few weeks – we will have a lot of content coming! It’s an exciting time.
In __ kai __ ,