Cycle-Smart Blog

Don't call it a come back

It's been a while since I've posted here, and I shouldn't make any promises that I'll start doing so again regularly, but every now and then something pops up that deserves more than 140 characters or a Facebook post.

I got a question via email today that I realized would be useful for lots of folks, and so decided I wanted to share it here as well. Enjoy.


Hey Adam,
Congrats on finishing your road season in style this year.
A couple of years ago you were ready to hang it up "not a single UCI point this season..." etc.  There was a video interview of you wondering if you were too old, and speculating about retiring.  Then you found a way to have two (and more, I hope) great cross and road seasons and I kept waiting for you to write something about it.
Please do - did you change something big, or many small things, did you change nothing and stay the course...?
I think most of us (your fans) who are over 40 have that same nagging worry every time we have a bad day or a bad few months, "am I just too old?"
You know what you're talking about and you know how to write - so hey, share the story!
Good luck on the knobby tires this year.
My response:
I’m not sure how to answer this quickly, but I’ll try. Basically, it’s an effect of what’s happening off the bike, more than what’s happening on, though of course everything is related.
2010 was definitely my best ‘cross season. I did some things differently in the winter; lived by myself in Tucson, spent 2 months destroying training, spending time alone, not getting sick, and had a great first 1/2 of the road season. Then I broke my wrist in July, had 4 weeks off from racing and a huge August for training. That allowed me to come into ‘cross fresher than normal, and really fit.
That was also the year Jittery Joe’s didn’t pay their sponsorship, the team nearly folded, and I took over completely as the manager to save the team. So that extra work in 2011, 12, and 13, really took its toll on me. We hired better riders, I moved fully into a support role, and was spending countless hours running the team from my desk. Training less, sleeping less, stressing more. And so it put a ceiling on my form. Podiums in ‘cross in 2010 turned into top 10s in 2011, and top 20s in 2012. In 2013 I got on top of that stress, partially with the team, but also in my personal life and my relationship. When that turned the corner, stress turned to happiness, and what was a drain became a boon. So last year my ‘cross results were back at that 2011 level of top 10s. I also lost 13 lbs over August and September last year, and that was huge.
This year I didn’t have to manage the team. That created some new stress, but the net was that I got my life back, my business is going well, and my relationship is going well. So I did all the training, reached a level of form I haven’t seen in a few years, was free to race for myself, and was able to hold that level all year long. Whether that continues in ‘cross is hard to say. Things are busy now, my road season pushed into September more than normal, and I haven’t been able to do all the specific training and dieting I wanted to. I don’t know how good I’ll be in the early season this year.
Summary is, I know exactly what you mean. When you’re over 40, every bad day is like the sign of the apocalypse. I did not expect to get back to this level and see improvement again at 42. And to be sure, this isn’t the best I’ve ever been, it’s just back to my best. But to be as good at 42 as I was at 32 an even at 22 is nothing I would have believed possible until I actually did it. So the key is not to even think about how old you are. I don’t, at all. The only difference I see is that I don’t have the same peak power as I did back then, and so I can’t come around the top sprinters out of the last corner. I go through in the top 5, but when we all stand up to sprint, they accelerate away from me. Otherwise, it’s not your age. It’s the stress and responsibilities that come with being your age. My wife is 30, we don’t have kids, she has a great job, we like each other a lot. I don’t set an alarm clock, I take naps, and my commute to my office is through my kitchen. So these things contribute to letting me race at a high level. If I worked elsewhere and had kids and got less sleep, then I’d have additional challenges, and my level would look more like that of a “normal master.” Or if I didn’t also have to run a business on the side while being a pro, maybe my level would be even higher than it is. Either way, the game you play with it is the same. Manage your stress, be happy, skip some racing or travel for good training or extra sleep, and aim for overall health and well being. The good form should flow from there. I used to always say to clients that every year you don’t get worse after 40 is technically an improvement. But clearly, improvement over 40 is still possible, too, if there are changes you can make in your personal life that will impact it.
Hope that helps.



On Tucson

I went to Tucson to train for the first time in 1994. That hit me a few weeks into my trip this year; it had been 20 years since my first winter there. Since then I've been a snowbird in a lot of other places: Gainesville, Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa, Austin, Athens, San Diego, Winston-Salem. But eventually, once I was a full-time rider again (and single), I started going back to Tucson every year. Of all the factors (weather, terrain, riding safety/accommodations, community), Tucson may not be perfect in any one area, but it has the highest overall score. This winter, I had the best 2 months of training I've had in my career, on par with only one other year, from 2010. I did 80 hours of training in February, and 93 hours in March. I'm certain I could not have accomplished this, and stayed sane, in any other place.
There was a lot of national controversy while I was there this year regarding potential anti-gay legislation passed by the state government. A few years ago, a similar situation came up with SB 1070, the anti-immigration law, and HB 2281, which more or less banned Ethnic Studies in Arizona public schools. When those previous issues came up in 2010, I had to think hard about why I was going to Arizona, and why I was giving the state my money. And again this year while I was there, some friends asked the same question. “Why do so many pro cyclists go there in the winter?” The context being, “when the politics there are so terrible.” The answer, of course, is Tucson.
On my flight home this year, I continued to dwell on this question, like I had on so many of the solo 6-hour rides I'd done over the past two months. Tucson is the reason (with apologies to Danzig).
Why Tucson? Because of Mount Lemmon, Madera Canyon, Box Canyon, Kitt Peak, Gates Pass, Sonoita, Arivaca, Park Link Drive, the Shootout, and the Loop.
Because of Saguaro National Park, Coronado National Forest, and the Tucson, Catalina, Rincon, and Santa Rita Mountains.
Because of El Groupo, Bicas, and Tucson Velo. Because of bike lanes, bike paths, and ghost bikes that stay up when it goes badly.
Because of great local racing like the Old Pueblo Grand Prix and the Tucson Bicycle Classic. I wish there were more races like them in Arizona.
Because of the Pascua Yaqui and  Tohono O'odham, the latter of which allowed me to look across at a distinct peak the first time I rode Kitt, wonder what it was, and get an answer. Because of Baboquivari Peak, home of the creator god, I'itoi, who lives in a cave below the base of the mountain, and explains the “man in the maze” logo you see regularly. Because everywhere you stand (or ride), someone stood before you.
Because of Tuscon weather, with its 350 days of sunshine per year (the highest in the US), and 1 inch of rain per month in the winter when I'm there. But also, because of things like the UA Center for Climate Adaptation that studies and teaches how to live correctly in the desert. Tucson is not Phoenix, Las Vegas, or LA. Because my wife can fly here in an afternoon, and be hiking with me in a bikini top the next day.
Because of  Stella Java, Exo, Caffé Lucé, Epic, Sparkroot, Cartel, Le Cave's, Estrellas, Tap and Bottle, 1702, Che's, The Buffet, 4th Ave, University, Congress, and Broadway.
Because of guys from the rides like Conor O'Brien, Matteo Dal-Cyn, Zach Heskett, Eddy Kwon, Josh Berry, Todd Wells, Travis McCabe, Miguel Folch, Paul Thomas, and Ben Hoffman. Because of old teammates and friends I got to do some miles with like Isaac Howe, Morgan Patton, Clay Murfet, Chris Uberti, Stephen Hyde, and Andy Baker, and acquaintances I got to know better like the Mullerveys and Derek Ivey.
Because of locals who make the scene here happen on and off the bike, in and out of racing, like Gord Fraser, David Glick, Tim Carolan, Rob Alvarez, Joey Iuliano, Kathryn Bertine, Damion Alexander, Daniela Diamenta and Ignacio Rivera, Colin Holmes and Monique Laraway, Susan Frank and Kurt Rosenquist.
Because of old friends like Kyle and Mel Colavito, Vic Riquelme, Curtis Zimmerman, Eugene Boronow, Melissa Sotelo, and new friends like Liz Schmitt, Max Rich, and Kim Lucie.
Because of my “landlord” Dan Stein, who opened his 2-bedroom apartment in Iron Horse to me, and was the perfect housemate. Because being able to walk to downtown, 4th Ave, and University from home was amazing. Thanks for reminding me that it's ok to take it slow once in a while, and introducing me to Broad City.
Above and beyond, because of Kim Truitt, the best friend anyone could ask for. She was my taxi service, my study partner, my drinking buddy, my feed zone help, recovery ride company, comic relief, conversation partner, and therapist. I could not have accomplished all the training I did in Tucson, or stay sane doing it, without her friendship and support. And she is from Tucson.
So when you're reading all the national news about the weird politics in Arizona and wondering why I go back every year, you should know that Tucson is also Arizona, and Arizona includes Tucson, even if Tucson's signal sometimes gets drowned out. The riding is amazing, the weather is amazing, and most importantly, the people are amazing. They're as puzzled by the politics in Phoenix as you are. And they have their own thing going on.
Love you, Dirty T.


October 'Cross Season Update

Sponsors and friends,

Welcome to a long overdue update on the 2013/14 SmartStop/Mountain Khakis 'cross season. We're 6 weeks and 1/3 of the way into the year, so there's a lot recap, and I'll do my best to keep things brief!

Things were incredibly busy for the road team in August as we built towards Tour of Alberta and the final NCC and USA Crits events of the season. The heavy lifting for the 'cross season happens in that same window, and as in past years, Pat and Jamie turn the 'cross season planning over to me. There was so much work to do, with very little time to talk about it. This season, instead of only me flying the team colors for the fall, Travis Livermon is joining me out there in the mud. It's great to have two us representing the team, but it also means twice as much commitment for the equipment sponsors. We're lucky to have so many of you returning and stepping up to keep us both going. With the switch over to Ridley disc brake bikes for both of us, as well as SRAM Force 22, there was a lot of retooling to do for this year, for Mercury and TRP especially. In addition to SmartStop, Mountain Khakis, and Happy Tooth as title sponsors, our equipment suppliers this year include Ridley frames, Vittoria tires, Champion System clothing, Mercury wheels, SRAM Force 22 components, TRP Spyre disc brakes, Mavic shoes, Hawley-supplied EIS bars/stems/seatposts, Lazer helmets/glasses, Crank Brothers pedals, Selle San Marco saddles, Enzo's chamois cream and embrocation, ProGold lubes and cleaners, Toko gloves, and SwissStop brake pads. All in all, it's an exciting program for us. CX Magazine even did a feature on the bikes already:

For me, the 'cross season kicks off with our annual Cycle-Smart Cyclocross Camp in early August. We have 50 riders of all ability levels show up from around the country to spend the weekend with 6 Cycle-Smart coaches working on 'cross technique. It's also a great way for me to sharpen up before the hard training begins, and introduce a lot of 'cross riders to the equipment I'm riding.

The racing started in earnest for Travis and me at the Nittany Lion UCI events in Trexlertown, PA. For both of us right now, staging is a challenge. Travis is coming back from a season off due to illness, and I had a forgettable 2012, so our call up positions are much further back then either of us are accustomed to. Nittany was a success, though, with me making the front group for the first time in a long time, spending much of the race off the front, and hanging on for 7th on day 1 and 4th on day 2, making the first weekend of this season more successful than any weekend from last season. Travis took his first steps back with top 20 rides both days.

The following weekend was the opener for the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, which I organize. The Vermont round is a challenging, hilly course both days, and I came away with 12th and 17th. Not the top 10s I was hoping for, but good photo coverage on Cyclingnews nonetheless:

Interbike and 'Cross Vegas was next. The hardest part of 'Cross Vegas is not the race, but getting there, and then having to "work" the show. Add the USA Crits finals back into the mix on Thursday night, travel home all day on Friday, and the Boston Crit that Saturday, and it's a difficult week. I had a respectable ride to finish 29th, and felt great the next night in the crit riding for the team. Escaping that trip without getting sick is a victory in its own right.

Travis skipped Vegas to focus on the Charm City UCI races in Baltimore the following weekend, and his gamble paid off. Saturday he was still looking for a good ride and finished 13th, but Sunday he showed everyone why he's a guy we believe in, making the front group and narrowly missing the podium with a 4th place. That's a great result, and those points will pay off when the new rankings are posted after the first World Cup next week.

The first two Shimano Series races followed in the weeks after that at Gloucester and Providence. I'm also part of the organizing group for the Shimano Series, so these weekends see me wearing multiple hats. I do my best to focus on being "just a bike racer" when race day comes, but there's always a lot of peripheral stress to manage. 21st and 24th at Gloucester, and 33rd and 21st at Providence were again just fair results, but improvements over last season, and not without challenges. At Day 1 of Providence, I was caught in a huge pile up in the start, and rode from 80th place through almost 50 people to get that 33rd. It was one of my strongest rides in a long time, and I only wish it was for the top 10.

Crash video here:

Gloucester post-race interview here:

In between Gloucester and Providence, we have two amazing mid-week nighttime 'cross races that are part of what we call Holy Week: The Midnight Ride of Cyclocross in Lancaster, MA, and The Night Weasels Cometh, in Shrewsbury, MA. Both races have UCI-level prize lists, great courses and production, and big crowds. This year, I was excited to actually win one of them, taking the sprint from a group of five for my first victory of the season:

Midnight ride post-race interview:

Midnight Ride race video, including podium:

Night Weasels is a much hillier and taxing course, I was wary of going too hard here and not being recovered for Providence. 7th place was an ok ride with that in mind, including a few bike changes for mechanicals:

Race recap video, including Mr. Jeremy Powers as the race DJ, if you want to see what a great event this is:

With the stress of Vegas, Gloucester, and Providence finally behind us, it was time to take a break this week and try and catch my breath. I opted to recover Monday-Friday, avoid the travel, and take advantage of the great local racing New England has to offer. As a result, I ended up on the podium both days, getting 2nd at the Casco Bay 'cross in Portland, ME, on Saturday, and again at the MRC 'cross in Lancaster, MA, on Sunday.

I lost contact with Dylan McNicholas after a rare mechanical that saw me off my bike for about 30 seconds, leaving me with a gap I couldn't close, so I was happy with the ride:

I was disappointed to lose the sprint on Sunday and not get the win again after a strong race, but it was a great weekend and felt good to ride well in front of the home crowd:

Next up, Travis and I will both be at the UCI races in Rochester, NY, and after that is my weekend, the Cycle-Smart International in Northampton, MA. Today is a day for some big choices in the schedule, though, and making the call between a big road trip to the UCI events in St. Louis in between, or staying home to rest, train, and manage the stress that comes with organizing the oldest UCI event in North America.

Ideally I'll be moving these updates over to the Cycle-Smart Constant Contact account, and sending out them out on a more regular basis. Weekly would be great, if I can manage it. Thanks to all of you for the support!


2013 'Cross Camp is filling up fast!

If you missed it, 'cross camp registeration is OPEN, and there are only 18 spots left! This year we've pushed the field limit out to 50 riders, and as of today 32 people have registered. Camp will definitely fill, so don't get caught out!



"Thanks for going training today."

I haven't blogged in a while. I know. I've been too busy to think in more than a few tweets at a time. But every now and then something spills over.

I got a special email today. It meant a lot, and I just wanted to share it. I've edited a few things out, but this is 99% of it. I don't think it requires any additional commentary from me.


"I haven't really taken time to digest all of these doping confessions that have come out over the last few months. Mostly because I am too busy and to disconnected from personally being competitive in elite races now. It feels like a different life. The Crawford thing stung. I mean, we all "knew" all of this long ago. The person that mailed the epo for Crawford told me a list of names in 2002 and 2003 that included all the names listed in the Velonews article plus some others. Who knows.

And Crawford and Tyler are still making money in cycling off of their connections and affiliation with doping. That is what stings. The other thing that stings is that a lot of us never got the chance to compete in a clean sport. I mean, look at my career overlap with the dates and what was out there. My experience in Europe and what the doctor told me to do is a whole different story. But here in America, trying to eke out a living at the bottom and retroactively seeing, or 100% knowing how many spots were taken by dopers, is now hard to swallow.

I guess when I read the Crawford thing this morning it made me want to reach out to you and make you aware that you are riding for our generation, or at least as a spokesman for our generation. The generation that never had it stacked fair from day one. A lot of us got tired of treading water at the bottom knowing the system was flawed. Now, the system is better (I hope) and it is super cool that "one of us" is there to ride in this new system. These kids racing now will never know what it was like (and that is good).

More later--but just keep in mind when you are feeling beat up that there is more at play and more reason for you to keep going than your own will and desire. You speak and ride for more than yourself.

Thanks for going training today."