Getting Back in the Saddle After a Crash

About 8 weeks ago I was post surgery for a busted clavicle and in the midst of a five day hospital stay after crashing out of the Cherry Blossom Challenge.  About 3 weeks ago I got back on the trainer for the first time since the accident, and since then I’ve been progressively trying to turn around 5 weeks of absolute inactivity (healing doesn’t count for inactivity though…)

It’s been an eye-opening experience, to say the least, and it’s made me think long and hard about the process I’ve been going through.  Click through to read deeper into it: Continue reading “Getting Back in the Saddle After a Crash” »

By |June 4th, 2015|crash, Indoor Training, Motivation, narrative, trainer|0 Comments

The Cost Of Bike Racing? (Podcast #56)

Dana Point GPSo you’re thinking about racing a bike, but you’re concerned about the cost.

You’re not the only one, apparently.

Recently, an article in the UK based Telegraph caused a little bit of a stir in the cycling world, claiming that the cost of racing was approximately £25,000.  £25,000!!  Adjusted to USD, that’s around $39,000!  That’s a salary for a lot of people!

And that’s completely insane.

There’s no earthly reason racing a bike needs to cost that much.  In fact, if you read other articles by the same author, you get a different impression: the author is racing at an elite level, attempting to recapture a lost opportunity of his youth.  He’s not starting off racing a Cat 5 criterium, or a weekend stage race where you’re competing against other guys who are coming out to have a little fun and maybe sprint for a pair of tires.  We’re talking two different worlds here.

But the article did get me thinking about what IS the cost of racing a bike?  And if you wanted to start racing a bike today, what would you need to lay out in terms of dollars and cents.  That’s what I’ll explore in today’s podcast, along with some helpful tips to get you ready to race for the first time.

Click through for a breakdown of what it takes to race on the elite level, and what you need to race on the local level:

Continue reading “The Cost Of Bike Racing? (Podcast #56)” »

By |May 18th, 2015|beginner, Coaching, equipment, Motivation, podcast, racing, Training|0 Comments

Crashing Out

Crashing out is a terrifying thing to experience, but it’s something that every racer, at some point in their career will experience.  I’d heard the stories, read about the pros’ trials and tribulations in returning from crashes and comforted friends and teammates who suffered ill fortune and broken bones.  I’ve even tasted the bitter pill of defeat before: A couple  years ago I released a podcast in which I described the ignominy of DNFing a race.  Almost 2 years to the day I last DNFed a race, I did it again, but this time it was something a little bit different.

This time I crashed out, or more specifically, I WAS crashed out.

And this time, my season crashed out with it.  You can see in the video below the sequence of events that put me on the sidelines for 3 months:

Continue reading “Crashing Out” »

By |May 11th, 2015|crash, Motivation, narrative, racing|0 Comments

Saying Goodbye To A Helmet

broken lazer helium bike helmetPost crash, one of the hardest things for me is saying goodbye to a helmet.  You see, for me, throwing away an old helmet is like saying goodbye to an old friend.  It sounds strange, but there’s something intensely personal about a helmet, almost moreso than any other piece of kit.  Sure, someone will point out your bibs are more personal, and they may well be from a physical standpoint.  But from a mental standpoint, I think the helmet is your closest confidant.

Think about it: it protects your most valuable asset (your brain) and it has an inherently intimate contact with your body in the process of doing that job.  Nothing in cycling is worse than the feel of a poorly fitting helmet, which can dig into your head, pinch your skin, chafe or flop around.  Finding the perfect fit, the perfect colour, the perfect shape are a time consuming process that leads many to purchase several of the same helmet to ensure a steady supply of them.

But spending a little time with your helmet can change it from a piece of kit to a trusted friend.

The helmet is an ever alert sentry, waiting for an opportunity to defend it’s owner.  Throughout its life, it sits upon your head, a silent sentinel constantly guarding your skull from harm.  It may shrug off tree branches, bees and other hazards.  It dutifully holds your glasses on those long climbs when you flip them and stick the earpieces in the vents.  It even helpfully funnels air onto your head to help keep you cool in the searing heat.  And throughout its life, it becomes more than a piece of kit.  It almost becomes a friend.

So what happens when that helmet gives up it’s life to save yours?

Upon returning home from the hospital and examining my old friend, it became immediately clear that she was dead.  Crushed on the right temple, with broken supporting ribs and plenty of road rash, she had done her job of shielding my skull from the pavement.  Upon the dawning of that revelation, a wave of sadness washed over me as I contemplated having to say goodbye to my old friend.

We’d been through so much together.  A couple of different jobs, tens of thousands of miles of training rides, two different team kits and dozens of friends come and gone.  She silently witnessed centuries, hill climbs, white knuckle descents, mountain bike rides, charity rides and probably a half a dozen different bikes underneath her owner.  She was the consummate teammate, racing with me in no less than 100% of the races I entered.  She’s seen sprints, narrowly avoided crashes, been with me on the podium and in the pack.

She’s been my most trusted confidant, my biggest constant…but now, it’s time to say goodbye.  She gave her life to protect mine, a last noble sacrifice and last act of devotion.  There will be another to replace her, and the cycle will begin anew.  I’ll form a new relationship with a new helmet that will stand tall, willing to give her life to protect mine once more.  And the cycle will continue to repeat as long as I’m willing to assume the risk of riding.  At least I’ll have a trusted confidant with me at all times…


See ya old girl.  Thanks for everything.  You were with me for everything in the past couple seasons, witnessed it all, but ultimately did the job you were chosen for, and I thank you a million times over.

Without you I may not have been able to ride again, let alone write your eulogy.

Thank you…

By |April 23rd, 2015|crash, Motivation, narrative|0 Comments

The “Do’s and Don’ts” of Embrocation

The ritual: embrocatingEmbrocation.

  1. a liquid used for rubbing on the body to relieve pain from sprains and strains.

Embro. Leg Lube.  Belgian knee warmers.  Whatever you call it, it’s something that has fascinated cyclists for decades.  It is an essential part of cyclocross, but has become an accepted and even necessary part of fall, winter and early spring road cycling.  It’s something that many people speak of in hushed tones, in reverence and wonderment.  It’s akin to leg shaving in terms of the depth of puzzling looks received by those new to the sport (and indeed, those outside the sport.)  It’s a skin protector.  It’s a leg “polish.”  It’s a warming agent.  It’s as close to the very essence of cycling as one can get without chattering over the bergs of Belgium on a steel Bianchi.  But why is that so?

If you’re new to embro, you may rightly be wondering what the fuss is all about.  “It must be easy to just rub it in and ride off into the sunset, right?”  Sure, your legs will shine like gleaming beacons of power and destruction, and they will tingle with the a warmth indicative of the spring classics.  But beware, for circumstances can go horribly awry and end with an eye opening, possibly life changing (and certainly nether-region demolishing) experience.

As with all things in life, there’s a right and a wrong way to undertake any task.  And the correct method of embrocating bliss is to speak of “The Ritual” which should accompany each embrocating experience you undertake.

First, you’ll probably need some embro.  I’m personally a huge fan of Mad Alchemy Gentleman’s Blend for cool days, and Mad Alchemy Warm Weather for warmer days (the warm weather variety has no heat to it at all, just some delightful spearmint oil to wake up the legs, facilitate a solid pre-ride massage and protect your skin from sun, dirt, etc.)

Now that you have your embro, you need to apply it.  But before you do read more after the jump.  To help you out on the path to righteous embrocating, I’m going to go through some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” of embrocating, along with the ramifications of each.

Continue reading “The “Do’s and Don’ts” of Embrocation” »

By |April 2nd, 2015|Embrocation, humor, Motivation|2 Comments