December 31, 2013

'13 Small Vignettes

As 2013 comes to a close, it's time to break out the way back -n- far out machine and remember...

Athletes - Once again my athletes delivered a rousing round of results over the course of the season...

#1 - Team Direct Asia -The boys on TDA put riders on podiums all year long, won some big races in Hong Kong, and even went back and grabbed their 2nd straight Team GC at the Tour de Bintan! So proud of these hard working guys and their comittment to excellence.

Kirk H proved once again that a National Championship is just a question of time and a truly hard enough race with another top 10 this year. How they can call a 5K run, 40K bike and 5K run the "Long Course" is beyond me...but next year we return to Zoffingen Switzerland (pic above), where truly hard men shine over the course of 8+ hours...can't wait!

Eric C made tremendous progress this year, all the way til the errant door took him out in June, but he bounced back and is well on the way to the holy grail of a 300W FTP. He was also a great riding companion and a good friend all year - thanks EC!

Yvonne W took another district title or two and pulled more than a minute out of her PR at Time Trial Nationals. She also took the series overall for her age group at Surf City on her "off season!"

Chris E threw down some pain in the Cat 3's, taking 3 wins along the way, then followed up with a very solid CX season.
Team Ole - A stellar goup of ladies - showed tremendous improvement for a first year club - and they came out to the Tuesday rides EVERY week...coincidence?

I spent some quality time with the Cushman and Wakefield team working on tactics and skills, and they've got another slew on the books for 2014! I'm really impressed with their commitment to rider development - they are having every member of the team take my Advanced Racing Clinic to help them perfect the small details that lead to success - they truly focus on rider development!

Race Team - If last year was a leaner and meaner team than 2011, this year was an hommage to the power of community. We were much smaller, but those who did show up brought their best each week. I am thankful for the commitment of Patrick Kitto, Jamie Willin, Kendra Foley, Darrell Sasagawa and Cliff Lee for coming out to race this season. Thanks guys!

Let's finish off with some comic relief and look at my personal 2013. Matt - By the numbers:
13 - April 13th was the first week I hit over 10 hours for the year.
12 - Long months this year - some great stuff happened, some not so great...but not riding much was a huge part of why this year was particularly tough. Here is the year laid bare:

11 - Years that Sterling Sports Group has been around. Something new is brewing....
10 - Total number of 10+ hour weeks I had for the year - more than the 6 from last year I guess.
9 - times 2 =  18% drop in my FTP "best" for 2013 vs 2012...I should ride mor
8 - (17)8 - my weight at the start of December!
7 - Total number of races I did in 2013 - if I get off my duff and race on Sunday...which I did, finishing last!
*Cross Vegas: 72nd...but an "amazing" 9th in Single Speed
*BASP's One: 11th, Two: 18th!, Three: 11th, and Five: 14th
*Surf City Halloween race: 17th
*NCNCA Districts: 13th (aka last)

6 - Number of weeks I had a 20 minute effort over 285 Watts!
5 - Number of weeks I had a 5 minute effort over 340 Watts!
4 - Actually 4:47 more hours than in 2012, but 3762 fewer TSS points and 487 fewer miles (read way less focused!)

3 - Number of Tubulars I glued this season
2 - S-Works Tarmac's that I now was a warranty replacement (still waiting to be built), the other a great deal from Larry N and the Specialized Junior/Masters team.
1 - Nice new Stevens Super Prestige Di2 Disc CX Bike that I have sitting in my house to build to help make a better 2014!!


November 26, 2013

'Cross Beer

I'd like to come clean. I have a problem that needs your help....I don't really like beer much of the time.

it's true, I don't spend my rides, or really any time at all pining for Pliny or desperate for Duvel.

Heretic, outcast, poser....whatever.

I don't know the origins of  the beer and cross tradition, but I'm pretty sure it started with the fans in Belgium (12 minutes of a beer tent!!)...and somehow became THE thing.

Which is not to say that I do not appreciate a good beer - indeed my old neighbor has lavished the team with a high quality home-brew such that I actually slept in my car at the BASP Night Race last year...that was a fun party!

Lots of my friends drink beer after they race, but I always feel a little odd-man-out when I don't have that beer taste..which is what it comes down to. Post exercise it just doesn't taste very good sometimes. Must be my highly developed palate...then again wine is no more appealing. Back to the beer...

Seems there are about 170 different Belgian breweries making a wide variety of beers including an impressive six of only eight breweries that qualify as "Trappist" - meaning they are brewed in Monasteries with help from the monks and with income from sales supporting the Monastery or social programs they run. Here are the Belgian Trappist Breweries:
  • Achel, sells Blonde (8% ABV), Brune (8% ABV), Extra Blonde (8% ABV), Extra Brune (8% ABV).
  • Chimay sells Red Label (dark, 7% ABV), White Label (Blonde/Tripel, ABV 8%) and Blue Label (dark, 9% ABV).
  • Orval sells a "unique"[5] dry hopped 6.2% amber beer.
  • Rochefort sells three dark beers, "6" (7.5% ABV). "8" (9.2% ABV) and "10" (11.3% ABV).
  • Westmalle sells Dubbel (7% ABV) and Tripel (9% ABV),
  • Westvleteren sells Green Cap or Blonde, (5.8% ABV), Blue Cap (dark, 8% ABV) and Yellow Cap (dark, 10.2% ABV).

Of course, other monasteries produce beer, but these are merely Abbey brews (non certified), or they may simply have a monastic slant to their marketing, it seems pretty free form on that criteria, so in 1999 they came up with an Abbey certification to help differentiate and by 2011 there were some eighteen certified Abbey beers (from wikipedia):

  1. Abbaye de Cambron, brewed in Silly by Brasserie de Silly.
  2. Abbaye de Bonne Espérance, brewed in Quenast by Lefebvre Brewery.
  3. Abdij Dendermonde, brewed in Merchtem by Brouwerij De Block (nl)
  4. Abbaye de Saint-Martin, historically referenced to 1096, is brewed near Tournai by Brasserie Brunehaut.
  5. Affligem, produced for Affligem Abbey by a Heineken-owned brewery.
  6. Brasserie de l'Abbaye du Val-Dieu (nl) is located on the grounds of a former abbey.
  7. Bornem is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Van Steenberge (nl)
  8. Ename is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Roman (nl).
  9. Floreffe is brewed to fund a school housed in a former monastery.
  10. Grimbergen, made by the large Alken Maes brewery for an extant Norbertine abbey.
  11. Keizersberg is brewed in Oost-Vlaanderen by Brouwerij Van Steenberge.
  12. Leffe, the Abbey brand of Stella Artois, itself part of the multinational Inbev corporation, is brewed under licence from an extant brewery. It is thought to be the first such arrangement. Leffe has global distribution.
  13. Maredsous, the Abbey brand of Duvel Moortgat, Belgium's second largest brewer, licensed from Maredsous Abbey.
  14. Postel is brewed in Opwijk by Brouwerij De Smedt (nl).
  15. Ramée is brewed in Purnode by Brasserie du Bocq.
  16. St. Feuillien is a small independent brewery.
  17. Steenbrugge is brewed in Brugge by Brouwerij De Gouden Boom (nl).
  18. Tongerlo is brewed in Boortmeerbeek by Brouwerij Haacht (nl).

Then of course there is the glassware. Typically reserved for "Special" beers - those that are stronger or bottled, there are a variety of styles - wikipedia covers it pretty well...
"One of the more common types is the tulip glass. A tulip glass not only helps trap the aroma, but also aids in maintaining large heads, creating a visual and olfactory sensation. The body is bulbous, but the top flares out to form a lip which helps head retention.

A vessel similar to a champagne flute is the preferred serving vessel for Belgian lambics and fruit beers. The narrow shape helps maintain carbonation, while providing a strong aromatic front. Flute glasses display the lively carbonation, sparkling color, and soft lacing of this distinct style.
Chalices and goblets are large, stemmed, bowl-shaped glasses mainly associated with Trappist and Abbey ales. The distinction between goblet and chalice is typically in the glass thickness. Goblets tend to be more delicate and thin, while the chalice is heavy and thick walled. Some chalices are even etched on the bottom to nucleate a stream of bubbles for maintaining a nice head.[citation needed]

In addition to the profusion of glasses provided by brewers, some Belgian beer cafés serve beer in their own "house" glassware. "

I do find it all very, I guess I'll keep sampling beers and hope to find that one 'always on' type that will allow me to be accepted by my friends! 

October 31, 2013

A Classic Juxtaposition

I'm a sorta sentimental guy, always have been. I like a meaningful remembrance of time well spent.

A classic example is my poster signed by Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the 35th Anniversary dinner and fund raiser for their statue on the campus of San Jose State University. Unless your daft (no, not Zef) you probably know at least a passable amount about their Black Power protest at the 1968 Olympics. It is considered among the most symbolic acts of the Civil Rights Movement and a bold move that had long term repercussions for each athlete. They were both from San Jose State University, and the Associated Students, where wass the Fitness & Adventures Director, threw a blow out party to honor these fine gentlemen.
It was a great night capped by a personally signed poster from Tommie and John. Awesome! Check it out...

Fast Forward

In November of 2011 I was asked by a friend to come and help out with Team Garmin's 2012 team building day at their winter camp in Boulder, CO. I flew out, ran a couple of stations on group problem solving, and even did a bit of drinking with the team after their media launch (well, maybe more than a bit). It was pretty cool so I took the initiative and had a slew of them sign a team poster knowing that I'd want to mount it as a way to remember the event.

This one sits on the wall opposite Tommie and John. So here's my dilema...I am vehemently opposed to DOPERS and their impact on cycling in the last 20 years, and unfortunately Team Garmin has shown time and again (3 for 1 on that one!), and again, and again that they embrace the dopers even while claiming to be a clean team in opposition to doping. It sickens me that these guys continued to race and draw salaries even after admitting their past. It cheapens the sport and forces me to question every result of every race...and I'm a naive 'believer' in what I'm watching, in the racing...or at least I was..


Do I keep it or sell it?

October 07, 2013

Latest Pez CyclingNews Article!

Cyclocross has started to sneak its way onto the pages of Pez. This annual changing of the guard is often looked at by road racers as the down season or winter break, but nothing will serve your road cycling training better in the run towards 2014 than a stint of cross racing this season.

Cyclocross has become all the rage over the past few years. Everywhere you look companies are coming out with cross bikes, now disc equipped cross bikes, espousing the fun and camaraderie of the sport, and pulling riders across the spectrum into its tangled web of mud, crud, and barriers. As the season begins in earnest, let’s consider what it is about cross that makes it a nearly perfect winter sport.

Cyclocross. It’s just plain, dirty fun.

Short on Duration, Long On Intensity
“Sixty minutes of suffering” is a common refrain, and a truism at that. Then again at most race sites only the elite men and women are doing the full sixty, for the rest it likely ranges between thirty and forty five minutes, a completely reasonable duration for head to toe suffering! 

We’ve assuaged your fear of the duration, so let’s talk about intensity! Yep, it starts hard and fast. I like to tell first timers and those questioning their fitness to start at the back and see how many people you can pass. A similar strategy is to take the first lap at a reasonable pace and then light it up. Of course this may eliminate you from contention, but in that first race of the season results are a bonus anyway.

Here’s the thing about cross. It is VERY easy to go too deep at the start and spend the rest of the race playing catch up of the aerobically destroyed kind. If you aren’t carrying some decent road fitness, or have trained specifically for ‘cross season, then avoid those 9 and 10 level efforts right off the line. You simply cannot dig a huge aerobic hole in the first lap and expect to recover and get back on a rhythm because you are riding at the frayed edge of composure anyway just trying to negotiate the various obstacles and try to retain some semblance of your placing. 

Embrace The Technical 
Perhaps the greatest addition that CX brings to your game is in the realm of bike handling skills. I’m sorry to say it, but too often riders upgrade without the proper skills set to manage the faster categories. CX can cut that learning curve dramatically. You’ll learn how to handle your bike out of problems quick, how to anticipate and avoid problems to begin with, and how to navigate varied terrain surfaces ranging from pavement to grass, gravel to mud, and everywhere in between. 

It is the skills component, in the end, that outweighs fitness. Give me two riders of nearly matching fitness and I’ll take the one with the skills for the win almost every time.

Certainly riders can get by on fitness. Three time Olympian Eric Wohlberg rode for my team for a few years and was pretty dreadful in the skills department, but his fitness level was so high that he pulled top 10s out of nearly every race despite his technical limitations. Of course over several seasons he developed a repertoire of skills that took him onto the podium regularly as well. 

You will be amazed how easy and ‘sticky’ the road feels after a season sliding around on dirt, grass and mud!

Equipment Lovers Rejoice
The common refrain is that cyclocross requires a big equipment investment, and it’s true, but not to the level you might think (or indeed wish for?!). While two bikes are often deemed a necessity, the truth is that you can race a full and complete campaign on just one bike if necessary. Now, should you opt to have a second bike most people will tell you to set them up exactly the same, but I don’t necessarily see it that way. I have run a single speed as my second bike the past couple of years and it works just great on 90% of the courses we use. In addition it opens up a whole new field of racing. 

Wheel and Tire Choices
Wheels, or more specifically tires, on the other hand, are a necessary and vital accommodation. The first question is tubes, tubeless, or tubular. Tubeless has come a long way in the past few years, but I still defer to tubulars for durability, reliability and performance. They have the distinct advantage of permitting much lower tire pressures. In addition, tubulars permit much more supple movement of the casing, resulting in much better grip and traction.

Generally tires are broken into three different styles:
• All conditions – characterized by tires like the Challenge Grifo, Clement PDX, and the Dugast Typhoon, are good for most any race year round and should be your primary set of race wheels, or only set if that’s what you can afford. 

• Mud tires like the Dugast Rhino or the Challenge Limus offer spectacular performance in muddy conditions, so if you race in mud regularly, get a set or two. 

• Lastly there are file treads, the closest thing to a road tire on offer, they have a very fast tread pattern and usually a mediocre set of knobs on the edge of the tire to help with cornering. File treads are fast if you can corral them!

You Have to Stop Sometimes
The second most important component on your CX bike are the brakes. In this case, cyclocross is a harbinger of things to come, namely disc brakes. Legal on UCI cross courses for a few years now, it is a sure bet that they will UCI legal for road races within two or three years. When Shimano and SRAM get behind a technology it’s a near sure bet that it will be race legal and each has a full hydraulic disc offering. In addition there are two new systems from TRP Brakes, including a hydraulic caliper that is cable actuated, that easily installs on all existing disc bikes using traditional cables. 

V-brakes (or linear pull as they are called) and cantilevers are the other two brake options. Cantilevers are classic “old school” and generally perform well enough to slow you down, but a step or two below your road bike calipers. Into that void stepped linear pull brakes a few years back. They offer impressive stopping in an easy to use system. Once you’ve ridden linear pull it is difficult to go back to cantilevers, spoken from personal experience!

Plan It Out
If you are going to jump into the fray, you should consider a couple of training adjustments. First, if cross is merely a weekend distraction then there isn’t much need to train for it. The racing will act as your weekly intensity in the off-season if you are hardcore about road, so don’t fret that. 

If you find a gnawing desire to be competitive, or if you want your weekend distraction to be a lot smoother and more fun, then you’ll want to throw down a couple days of skills practice. Make one of them an interval workout. Recall that cyclocross is sort of like a time trial except that it has 10-20-30 little sprints every lap, so easy! 

If you are doing intervals then I have my riders focus on Neuromuscular type efforts mixed with VO2 intervals of appropriate duration. Typically that’s a 3-10 minute block of 15 seconds on/off with lots of corners acting as the starting point for the “on” portions. That type of workout can alternate with a more VO2 type effort of 3-5 minutes duration. It’s a very time-efficient workout and you only have to do it a few times to get the payoff! 

Whatever your level of fanaticism and focus, cross can make the winter fly by and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the retention of top end acceleration and snap as your road season commences. Give it a try this “off” season!

October 05, 2013

Lombardia - Quick Hit

The last classic and in many ways the least well known, the Giro Di Lombardia is coming up in a few hours and I wanted to bolt down a post because it struck me that I know very little about the race. Certainly the Ghisallo climb and the fallen leaves mystic is there, and I can pull winners names from memory at least a little, and there was an amazing video about it that I saw a few years back, but I dont' really know the race.
Here is another -  Coppi and other greats on thru Saroni, Moser, LeMond, and Kelly...73 minutes long!

I won't go into details on this years race...lots of others cover that better than I (great looking race though)! The thing that caught my eye was the climb of the Muro di Sormano. This little brute was introduced in 2010 and though often referred to as the Colma di Sormano, a pedestrian 1.2km at only ~7% or so that is nearby, this is the Muro di Sormano - 1.9Km averaging 15%:
The full route is twisting and in a gorgeous setting near Como Lake:
It's not the Angliru, and coming as it does before the Ghisallo, some 82 kilometers from the finish, it's not the traditional game changer either...but those pitches and the road caught my attention. Running from 15 - 27%, averaging 15.8%. That's steep. It looks spectacular in videos. Here is the video from last year (listen at about 4:15 for confirmation of the two Sormano's, which I found after I posted this intially, I promise!)

A good approximation around here (NorCal) is the Blackberry Climb in Los Gatos - 1.6 miles at 12% gaining just over 1000 feet, but really it's the last 1/2 mile or so that is the approximation, averaging around 15% with max gradients of 26.6% on strava (yea, I know).

Of course there are other climbs on the route, and the real drama of the race will likely play out a bit later -  but I hope TV coverage picks up early enough that I can see the Muro di Sormano and learn a little bit more about this race...

August 10, 2013

Finding The Good Stuff...

Friday Night free time and I'm left in wonder... See, I've got that all-too-common affliction that drives me to follow cycling just about 24/7. As such I'm constantly on the hunt for good, new stuff that's worth reading...and it's a typically unsatisfying exploration most days. Fortunately, there are a few moments of light to be had Steve Tilford - he writes EVERYDAY and probably 80% of them are worth reading. He's opinionated and sometimes runs a rant a bit too far, but he's also very good at showing the inside angle of the sport. I think of him as a cycling savant curmudgeon super hero. Cosmo Catalano / Cyclocosm - He has the most brilliant series of "How The Race Was Won" videos...I've enjoyed nearly everyone, and learned something often times to boot. He sees big picture stuff that often escapes me and delivers it in a way that is effective and laced with cycling nuance. Watch it, follow his strava, check the tumblr - maybe we can generate enough of a following that he can give up the commuter rides that permeate his strava and make a ton 'o cash too! INRNG - Here resides one of the most insightful and inquisitive approaches to cycling commentary. He writes things that are far outside the daily norm, a recent post included reference to epistemeology and the moon landing in defense of Nairo Quintana having not "arrived from nowhere." You don't read that everyday! As Cross season approaches the return of Cycling Dirt starts to creep into my mind! Colt and the gang drop solid stuff all year, but their cross action is the best! It's less about a daily kicker and more about gobs of content with these guys...but I check in every week for the CX Rankings, so that matters. VeloNews - To say I am surprised at the addition of this storied masthead to the list is an understatement. They seem to have spent years wallowing in opinion-as-news mediocrity, but then about 6 months ago a slew of new voices helped to resurrect VN from the also-rans. Guys like Matthew Beaudin, Dan Seaton, and Chris Case are writing actual JOURNALISM with the added benefit of good research, solid sentence structure and even aplomb! Whee... Then there are the classics... Joe Lindsey - Knows more than most, writes better too...I think it comes down to contacts and perception. He's real good at both. Red Kite Prayer - I don't read it as much as I did when they debuted..but the quality of staff makes it worth a visit now and again. I've spoken with Patrick Brady a bit, seems nice enough. I'm less enthused about the move towards regurgitating industry news that seems to be trending on the site. They do best writing those esoteric pieces that resonate...I don't really look to RKP for insight on Felt's new line. Too bad...but I guess they have to keep the doors open.

February 28, 2013

Epiphany At Worlds...

 I had an epiphany recently at Cyclocross Worlds...

Big Crowds! Big Exposure?
Every team is built on the relationships it has with sponsors...we need their support and covet their products. We hope to gain prestige each year so that we may reach the lofty heights of those who receive free products and, hope-hope, money too!

As part of that process we continually talk to sponsors. Current sponsors, previous sponsors, potential sponsors, doesn't matter. Maybe they are a step higher on the totem pole of prestige. Maybe we need to fill a category or replace a partner. So we talk to folks, we send sponsorship packets, we make calls in the quest to once-again field a competitive program.

I had a couple of these conversations in Kentucky. A couple were with potential sponsors that I am really excited about, and the feeling seems mutual so far. They make great products and we fit a nice niche for them - we're a good size in a great market!

Another few were with what I'd term - the industry standard - brief, somewhat awkward and usually non-committal on anything. I've been on their side of that conversation and it typically isn't anything more than a small budget and a limited heft of the program in question. Nice enough folks, but there is a little bit of standoffishness in their tone and obvious non-committment. I'm learning not to take it personally when I'm on the receiving end.

I had  a particular conversation with an industry 'heavy' - he's forgotten more than I know. So I'm making my pitch - we have a good program, we've had XYZ riders, we have an open category and can help them establish in this market, etc.I'm my usual optimistic self with an small dose of defferential thrown in - I do respect his time and product. It leads to a deeper conversation about the industry in general. We agreed that by-and-large sponsorship is corporate benevolence on the part of the sponsor at most levels. Only a few teams have the heft to request and receive high end support. He was polite and friendly, but didn't seem that interested in what we are doing or what we need...I sort of had that deflated feeling as he walked away to catch up with someone else.

...and here is where the epiphany kicked in

Mr Heavy walks up and starts talking to another Mr Heavy - only this one owns one of the most successful teams in the World - home to National and World Champions...and Mr Industry Heavy really wants Mr Team Heavy's team to ride his product next year! How do I know...that same polite and slightly deferential tone kicks in as he seeks entre and approval...and Mr Team Heavy has the same politely detached attitude that was just emanating from Mr Industry Heavy, it was poetic.

At every level there is a bigger fish to catch and everyone - EVERYONE - plays both sides of the game...

Big Fish Meet Small Fish

I've always lacked a certain confidence when chasing sponsors - it just doesn't come easily, it's a tough thing for me to ask for stuff...feels awkward - hat in hand awkward. I learned something from the whole yourself, be nice and try your best to be a good person. Honestly, they are lessons I learned watching a high school buddy who embodied each of these characteristics day in and day out. What I'll add to the mix is a stronger sense of detachement about the outcome.

Do I want that sponsor? Yes, I do...but I can only manage my side of the equation. We need what they make and it'll help the team rise, but I won't chase too hard. Their decision has no bearing on whether or not I'm a good person or worthy of their association or product.  It's one of the reasons I've largely eschewed branded products except the ones I really trust and believe in - I simply don't want to engage in the popularity contest that seems to permeate the industry. So instead I'll continue to ride mostly black stuff and enjoy the freedom that comes from working with who we care about and buying what we need*.

And when I start up the next round of conversations I'll remember that epiphany...we're all little fish to someone.

Light On Branding - Heavy On Heft!

*yea, we'll try to pull as many top notch partners as we if you're looking for a NorCal progam on the rise...drop me a note!

February 25, 2013

*UPDATE* How To Pin Your Flippin Number

OBRA - Oregon's answer to USAC's World Domination has put out this little diddy that might help answer the "how do I pin my number" question....why can't NorCal produce something this good?

Then again we do have Chuck Hutcheson, so it's kind of a push...

February 22, 2013

Belgian Opens

Shortly....a few hours actually....the "REAL" race season kicks off, as it should be, in Belgium. Far more erudite and experienced race prognosticators can walk you through the history, the favorites, and the course specifics.

Me, I'm interested in the spectacle of it all. The new kits, new riders on new teams (well, they are new to me since I haven't read any of the other race stuff this year yet). The narrow roads, the cobbles, the mud and grime and dirt. The snow and cold and cloudy skies. The race.

It's easy to become a bit complacent about the racing after 20 years deep in the sport - another race and there will be one on Sunday. Then they'll line up and do it again all season...but here's the thing, it's about the race. It's the battle that goes on everytime they tow the line. That's why I'll get up early and tune in - to watch the action develop over the last few hours and I'll do it again on Sunday - and I'll love every minute of it!

Here is Saturdays' course:

Omloop Is Punchy!
Sunday we get K-B-K....Podium Cafe has a nice review, including pictures! I'll admit that K-B-K carried more sentimental weight as a younger fan....maybe it was more covered by Winning, so it resonated more. I don't really know the course by heart...but it's straight out of Flanders so it must be meritous!

Video is always fun too....

January 01, 2013

How To Pin Your Flipping Number!

This is the first in an as yet-undetermined-how-many-series on pet-peeves...


This is often put out as an issue for officials - in fact there is a webpage dedicated to it from the Western Pennsylvania Officals! Maybe go look at it and see how you can help those much maligned officials help you!

Let's be honest,'s really about aesthetics and looking pro... and bad pinning ain't pro Joe! Examples? ...well, thanks to the blog link above we've got a few and I've pulled a few of my own thru 'diligent research' (I swear I read at least 4 articles on pinning, no lie!) and luck. Let's break 'em down for ya. I look at pinning in two categories: Placement and Pin Technique.

First placement:

The High Hip: Where to start. First, no access to the pocket (hello, how do you put your 'kerchief back?), second the fact that it's no even readable is sorta a gimme...but you get the point.
image from W Penn Officials Page
The Parachute - needs no explanation and is the sort of 'rook-look' that almost guarantees no podium. This isn't an ideal example, but it's pretty good.

image from W Penn Officials Page

The "I Have No Clue":
image from W Penn Officials Page
The Upside Down: You can't really pick on this one..they just need your help, so help 'em!

image from W Penn Officials Page
Now that we've covered the basics of what NOT to do, let's talk about what's right.

Ok, first, crumple that number! Every official says not too (heck USAC has a page on it in the rule book - text is below!), and more and more race directors say not to too...don't want to miss that crucial sponsor placement! To that I say phooey....crumple that number nice and small. Don't fold it, don't leave it as new...CRUMPLE!

To pin it right you're going to need five pins. Fools that say seven obviously need something to occupy their time, but since it's also "PRO" to show up late to the start you don't have time for barely have time for five..but FIVE is the number*.

*In a pinch you can get away with four...or if you are well versed in pin-ology you can possibly do it in three, but not really b/c you're not that good

Those five pins should be used in the following locations: 1 at each corner and one in the middle of the leading edge - that's it. No creativity needed...

The real ART TO PINNING is how you pin the number aka

The Technique! where the rubber meets the road and the real point of this entire ramble. First, let's review the bad.

1. Using the actual pin holes - come on really?
2. Using the single puncture, or hanging chad style - stick the pin thru the number and once thru the jersey... fun with floppiness is sure to follow!
3. Pinning your jersey pocket might need that pocket!
4. Over pinning - our friends at the Western Pennsylvania Officials page were kind enough to have an 11-pin example. Unfortunately, they seem to actually LIKE this version...oh the horror b/c this is not pro...
image from W Penn Officials Page
Instead, you want to create a platform that supports the number in an unmoving ode to perfection. Start by figuring out which side the camera is on (simple), then grab a seat and spread the number across your knees with one of the arm taut at your knee cap. Set it on the jersey so it covers about half the side panel (sorry to those sponsors) and rests about 3 inches below the arm pit. I usually start at either the upper corner near the shoulder blade, or the lower corner near the arm pit as it allows you to position the jersey parallel to the side panel stitching (yea, this is where it gets a bit overboard). When inserting the sure to push thru the number, then into the jersey, then..and this is key...allow a few milimeters between your entry hole and exit hole, that's what keeps the number taut. Then simply re-push it thru the number and clip it. Be sure to pull the number tight and move on to the next...easy!

I want to get this up, so I'll have to come back and add the "CORRECT" photos later...but there ya go!

1N7. Racing numbers.   ( Page 58 in the 2010 USA Cycling Rulebook )
(b) Riders shall place their numbers as prescribed by the officials and in such a way that they are visible when the rider is in a racing position. When shoulder numbers are provided for cyclocross, they are worn on the upper arm to be visible from the front. Hip numbers shall be attached securely at least at the four corners with pins and no accessory or hair may obstruct a clear view of the number (riders with misplaced, obscured or unreadable numbers will not be placed). If shoulder or frame numbers are provided, they too shall be placed as prescribed. Numbers may not be folded, trimmed, crumpled, or otherwise defaced. [Replacement of the numbers at riders' expense if noted before the start, otherwise warning or relegation.]

Happy New Year

One of the things I like about cycling is the time it affords one to think.

Ideas come to me on rides and I occasionally remember them all the way home and write them down, or better yet act on them. More often then not they are spur-of-the moment pearls of wisdom and insight that i promptly forget when the next hill or interval comes along. 

Such was the case on Saturday. I hadn't been on my bike much at all since the last BASP at Coyote Point December 9th, and District CX was coming up on Sunday so I thought a little blow out might help, and it did. During the ride I had one of those epiphanies...a thought that was SURE to revolutionize my training, my coaching, my life, the sport of cycling, or something equally impressive...but I forgot it and can't seem to pull it back. 

I hope it comes was pretty good. I'm kinda the same about memories in general. I simply forget, so I wanted to take a quick look back at 2012 before it gets lost. Let's break it into simple categories: 

Mitch Going Fast!
Race Team - Smaller and leaner this year....Sterling Cross p/b Fusion IO was still in all a success by the numbers. We had ONE elite rider - Mitch Trux...but he pulled a bunch of podiums and was constantly in the top 10, usually the top 7! Our other standout cateogry? Single Speed A's! We pulled a podium at almost every race we did this year. Either myself of Patrick Kitto...weird that we couldn't seem to put it together at the same events...had solid rides at all the BASP's and a host of other events in and around NorCal including:
  • WIN! BASP #1 Candlestick Park - Patrick Kitto
  • 2nd BASP #4 Candlestick Trippel - Matt McNamara
  • 2nd BASP #5 Coyote Point - Patrick Kitto
  • 3rd BASP #3 Sierra Point Night Race - Matt McNamara
  • 3rd Santa Rosa Cup #3 - Patrick Kitto
  • 5th NCNCA District Championships - Patrick Kitto
  • 5th Surf City #1 Aptos HS - Matt McNamara
  • 6th NCNCA District Championships - Matt McNamara
I think that's about all the races we entered except for 2 mechanicals and a terrible mud race at Manzanita...not bad. Next year....we're going bigger badder and faster!

A Jeff Namba Photo

Athletes - This year I had the pleasure of working with an Elite Team in HONG KONG...Team Direct Asia! They were awesome to work with and the topped it off by taking the OVERALL GC and TEAM GC at Tour De Bintan..a big race in SE Asia. I also had the pleasure of working with some juniors - two talented sets:
  • USAC Regional Development Camp - This is my third year working with Larry Nolan and the other coaching stalwarts at the camp, but this year we did it a little different..we divided into teams and got to work with our riders individually the whole week - AWESOME! 
USAC Campers

  • Matadors HS MTB Team - I kinda lucked into this one, but it was time well spent as our small 3 rider team finished 16th in the team overall standings for Division 2 in NorCal...a pretty huge accomplishment that was only possible with a true team effort by each rider! 
Matador Racing 2012
My other athletes were also consistently strong and impressive. There are too many to go rider by rider, but suffice it to say that we won some races, reached some new personal bests and I don't think anyone took a major digger this year, which is huge in my world From KMH killing Du's all year to Adam Carr racing the Tour of Vietnam (UCI 2.2) and Joe Carpenter slogging off several top rides in 8+ hour MTB races! Can't wait to jump deep into 2013 and see what turns up...

Personal - This year started off slowly with almost no riding from January til May..then I dialed up a solid summer and hit some of my best power numbers EVER, including new PR's on 5, 20, and 60 minute efforts. That fitness carried me thru a gradual decline in the fall that culminated with almost NO riding the past 6 weeks...

SO - HERE'S TO A BIGGER AND BETTER Happy New Year to all...(yea, done with 1:20 left in 2012, I'll post pics to this shortly