The Early Morning Convert
Starting in my late teens, I typically had a very difficult time waking up in the morning. Of course, having a full time job as a high school teacher and a passion for racing helped me to overcome that issue, but until my mid 30's, I was often a multiple alarm guy. Even though I evolved into a person who could get up, sometimes very early without an alarm, I still typically did not train early in the morning. When I was a bachelor and wasn't working over the summers, this would sometimes lead to getting in my bike much later than anticipated and riding through the hottest part of the day. Or, even worse, sometimes starting in the afternoon and riding into the evening, only to come home all jacked up and finding it difficult to fall asleep. Which of course, led to training later the next day, and the cycle continued.
Well that was all fine and good when it wasn't significantly impacting my life, but over the past 3 years I've have some awesome life changes (getting married and having a son) which made it necessary to be more flexible and yet more scheduled for my training rides. And although many days I do train in the evenings, I've become accustomed to training at the butt crack o' dawn, or even well before it. I dare say I even I enjoy getting out that early.
I saw this cool article on Bicycling Magazine dot com that gives some nice tips: 9 Ways to Make Riding in the Morning Easier
While I'm not a huge fan of the suggestion of skipping breakfast, I think the rest of them are great. As far as the food goes, I believe a little something in your belly to get you going is important. I would often do some peanut butter on toast with a banana. I eat this pretty much as soon as I get up so I have the time I'm getting dressed and getting my bike ready to digest a bit.
I really love the "don't check e-mail" tip. That goes for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They are black holes of time and before you know it, you've eaten up 15, 30, or even more minutes of valuable training time.
Another tip I would add if you're going to get out super early is get yourself a great tail light and head light. I purchased my first bar and head lamps back in 1995 for my first 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race. Over the next 10 years of 24 Hour Racing, I picked up a new light or two, but no new purchase since 2004. Boy, has the technology really progressed. I purchased a Niterider Lumina 550 from Cycle Craft. It's a one piece unit that's USB rechargeable and super bright. I've found it sufficient for light night mountain biking, and perfect when supplemented with a head light. I picked up and extra bracket so I can swap it from each of my training bikes and not spend time in the morning swapping things around. Sometimes just the novelty of starting in the dark in the morning is enough to get me fired up.
The more prepared you can be, the better you'll be in the morning. As the article suggest, get your clothes all set, but also get your bottles and food ready to go. This way you can just roll out of bed, grab a little grub and coffee if you do that sort of thing, get in your kit, snag your bottles, and you're off.
It also helps to have good quality gear. My team kit has provided me with plenty of options for my tops and bottoms, along with good jackets. Additionally, I always knew my head, hands, and feet would be well cared for regardless of the conditions thanks to my incredible Sealskinz pieces. It's worth the investment to keep yourself more comfortable and warm. It also eliminates excuses if the weather is unfavorable!
And there is certainly something to be said about looking back on your day on knowing that you've gotten several hours of saddle time and it's only 9 am. A little smugness never hurt anyone...just make sure it's only a little!
Now get out and ride your bike!
May was indeed a busy month for the rassers! Everyone continued to train hard and recover harder and their performances are evidence of their diligence.
This report begins on May 15. You say May 15 is a Friday, though. True, indeed, but it was also the date of the 4TH CCNS KERMIS P/B CCAP in Hartford, CT. This is another unique crit race around Rentschler Stadium, and one that Paul L. didn't want to miss. Check it out here. Despite getting stuck in traffic and almost missing the start, Paul finished in the top third of the Cat 3 Field which included 70+ starters.
On May 16, Kevin E. would buckle up the aero helmet again and line up for the Upper Freehold Time Trial. This is a another great circuit course with some challenging turns and a few ups and downs. Kevin cut through the wind and finished up 11th in the Cat 4/5 Men. Again, his consistency has paid off in that after this event, he is now in the top 10 for the Cup with 6 races left on the calendar. Frank S. also competed in the TT, but unfortunately missed a turn where a marshal had left their post for some reason. He found his way back on course, and despite the 2 miles extra, was able to still come in faster than a few of his competitors.
The New Jersey State Mountain Bike Race would return to the wilds of Jungle Habitat in West Milford again this year. Team Town Cycle organized this event on Sunday, May 17, and a nice group of BJL Coaching Athletes got their tech on for this fun event, which was also H2H Race #3. Greg S. had his best placing of the year so far, taking 4th, just 50 seconds off the podium, in Cat 1 Masters Men 50+. Brooke W. jumped up on the last step of the podium in Cat 1 Master Women 40+. For the Cat 2s, Chris C. battled with a late race flat, but still took the VICTORY in Junior Men 15-18. Rod M. scooped up some more points for the overall with a 9th place in Master Men 50+. And Stef M. had as solid race over the rough course coming in 4th in Master Women 40+.
Many of the mountain bike racers would be resting and training on the next weekend, but Memorial Day brings some big crit racing to New Jersey. Paul L. decided on Bound Brook on Sunday and the Grand Daddy of the crit races, Somerville on Monday. His goal on Sunday was to get his legs moving and primed for Monday, and he did just that. He finished with the main field in this fairly technical event. On Monday, Paul was riding great in this national calendar event, when a reality of crit racing showed up...crash. He was taken out with over half the race to go. Unfortunately, his saddle broke, among other things on his bike, and couldn't take advantage of the free lap and get back in. FORTUNATELY, Paul himself escaped rather unscathed and would live to fight another day, and he certainly did. (Spoiler alert: Paul WON the next race he entered in early June--update coming!)
The final weekend of May saw the local mountain bikers head north to Tymor Park for H2H Race #4. A few of the BJL Coaching Athletes made their way up to LaGrangeville, NY, for this fun and challenging course. Stef M. would have a good showing in her last race before shoulder surgery, scoring a 2nd place finish in Cat 2 Women 40+. Rod M. scooped up a handful of points in 11th in a DEEP Cat 2 Master Men 50+. And Chris C. kept up his winning ways, taking the victory in Cat 2 Men 15-18, and also posting the fastest Cat 2 time out of EVERYONE!
The temperatures and the racing has been heating up and the fun continued through June.
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.