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!
It's been far too long since I reported what the amazing BJL Coaching Athletes have been doing out on the race courses, and it's TIME! Most athletes are well into their season, whether they're racing road, time trials, mountain bikes, or some combination of the three disciplines. The weather has been great for the most part, and there's been some super racing action.
The last weekend in April saw plenty of racing in the region. On April 25, Kevin E. went "Down the Shore" for the Long Beach Island (LBI) Time Trial. This 10 mile course includes two turn arounds so you can experience different wind situations. Fortunately wind wasn't too bad that day, and Kevin finished 15th in a deep Cat 4/5 Field. He was able to grab some points for the overall TT Cup and gain some valuable experience on a course that was new to him.
Also on that Saturday, Chris C. attended the Juniors in the Jungle High School Mountain Bike Race promoted by Team Town Cycle. Chris entered the Men's A Category, which would be equivalent to High School Varsity. He took first in the race, and since this race was part of a three race series, he would go into race #2 leading the points.
Sunday brought many of the athletes to the 15th Annual Tour de Lake, a competitive cycling "challenge" that has two courses options through northern Morris and southern Sussex counties. All the athletes who participated chose the longer route which was 40 miles with almost 3000' of elevation gain. In the Women's field, Stef M. grabbed 6th place in her first go at the 40. She's been on the podium in the 20 and did great with the longer, tougher course. Sarah P. had a solid ride, and despite being mislead off course by deviant who painted some false arrows on the road, still came in 15th place. In the Men's race, Keith L., my teammate and the event organizer, took 6th place in the stacked field. We had three athletes in the Men's 45+ race. Top honors goes to Greg S. who took 8th in the, then Frank S. who came in 26th, and Jim G. who also followed the false arrows but finished up 35th. This will certainly serve as great training for Jim in his journey to Leadville.
As we moved into May, Chris C. kicked off the month with another podium performance locking in his first place for the overall High School Series. Saturday, May 2 was the 10th Annual Team Bulldog Youth Race and NJ State High School Mountain Bike Championships. Chris C. came in second in the event, not far behind his teammate and fellow BJL Coaching Athlete Morgan P., who claimed the High School State Championships for the second year in a row.
On the road side, Kathryn C. entered the Men's 4/5 Field at Prospect Park early Saturday morning for some great training. She stayed out of trouble and hung nicely with the pack.
Sunday, May 3 was Race #2 in the H2H Mountain Bike Race Series, where we saw a number of top performances. Chris C. rounded out his weekend with a victory in Cat 2 Junior Men 15-18, making that 2 for 2 in the series, and one of the fastest times of the day. Stef M. finished in 5th place on the challenging course in Cat 2 Women 40+. Rod M. dispatched some demons and came in 8th in Cat 2 Master Men 50+. In the Cat 1 Race, Greg S. continued to move forward in the series with a 7th place finish in 50+. Finally, Brooke W. took 2nd place in Women 40+ in her first race of the year.
Dropping down south of the Mason Dixon line again saw Paul L. hitting up the Bunny Hop Crit. He rode a smart race coming in 12th out of 80+ starters in the Masters 35+ field.
Jump ahead to the weekend of the 9th/10th, and we begin with yet another Victory for Chris C. On Saturday, May 9, Chris participated in the High School Series Finals, held by Team Marty's. He took first in the Men's A field, ensuring his overall win for the series. Way to be consistent, Chris!
On the paved side of things on May 9, Paul L. was ready to bang bars again at the Orchard Beach Crit Race, where he finished up mid-pack out of 60+ racers. Also that day, Kevin E. raced the clock at the super cool Somerset Circuit TT and came in 10th in the Cat 4/5 Men. His consistent performances have moved him steadily up the standings in the TT Cup, with his sights set on the top 10 overall soon. I also attended that event, and came in 4th, just 15 seconds off the podium in the 35+ Field, and 9th overall.
On May 10, Mothers' Day, brought Kathryn C. to the Bear Mountain Spring Classic. This is one of my favorite road races of all time, and I was glad I was able to provide plenty of intel on a course that would be new to her. Coming off a 4th place Battenkill as her last road race, she was hungry for a podium. I could hear the passion and excitement in her voice as we discussed race strategy a few days prior to the race. It all came together as she WON the Cat 4 Women's Race! She was able to get into the early break which was eventually whittled down to two racers. She attacked on the final pitch up Lake Welch and held on for the victory. Amazing, KC!
It's really been a wonderful year so far working with this group of dedicated cyclists, and I know we have a lot more successes in store!
Look for the May 16 to May 31 report coming shortly...
Since I've last checked in with a racing recap, there's been quite a bit of action with the BJL Coaching Athletes.
Let's jump back to the Ides of March and the MTBNJ Grundle Short Track Mountain Bike Race was taking place. The conditions were snowy and muddy, but that didn't deter these hardy racers. One of the area's top U19 Racers, Morgan P. entered in the open men and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. In the Women's Open Field, Kathryn C. put her 'Cross skills to good use on her mountain bike and took home second place. This was a nice tune up race for both athletes.
The strange weather in March left the weekend of the 21st and 22nd open, but the following weekend brought us three very different races. Masters Racer Greg S., making his comeback after a 20 year break from racing Pro Mountain Bikes, headed south the the March Mayhem Mountain Bike Race. An early race mechanical forced him to stop and lose contact with the gravy train on this fast and flowy course, but he fought back hard to finish 5th.
Paul L. got involved in the penultimate Branchbrook Spring Series, battling stiff winds and a talent rich 35+ field. A break went up the road, and Paul finished 3rd in the field sprint to take 12th place overall.
And for something completely different, Kathryn C. went back to her mother land of Michigan for the very popular Barry Roubaix dirt and gravel road race. Just shy of 3000 (yes, 3000) folks register for the three different race lengths, and of course Kathryn was all in with the 62 mile loop and 3800' of elevation gain. The morning brought mid-teens for temperatures but she used her 'cross racing experience to be properly dressed and prepared. The mass start presented some difficulty in knowing who was in your field, but KC kept fighting hard and finished up 6th in the Open Women out of 41 starters, of which only 28 finished.
The first weekend of April had the Time Trialists ready to race against the clock for the first time this year. Both Kevin E. and Jan S. went to the northern part of the 'Jersey Shore for the classic TT kickoff race, Sandy Hook. This would be Kevin's second go at the 7 mile out and back course, and Jan's first. The wind was nasty that day, gusting up to 30+ mph. Kevin bettered his result from last year coming in at 11th with friend and temmate Jan, coming in just seconds behind him in 12th. Great start to the season, men!
Also on April 4th was the last Branchbrook Park Race, dealing with crazy windy conditions again. Frank S. got involved getting his legs back under him with a strong pack finish where many in his Cat 4 Race were dropped. Paul finished up 15th with a strong field sprint chasing yet another break in the 35+ Race.
On April 11th was the Cherry Blossom Challenge back at Branchbrook Park. This race traditionally brings out the best road racers in the region, and this running didn't disappoint. Paul L. entered the Cat 3 Race as a little tune-up for his race on the 5th, and finished up 18th, again doing well in the field sprint after a break away got clear on the first lap. Frank S. put himself back in action and finished in the pack in the Cat 4 Race, where almost a 1/3 of the field didn't finish due to the windy conditions. I enterred the Pro 1/2/3 Race, and with $1500 on the line, I knew all the heavy hitters would be there. I was happy to stay in the field after a breakway went clear at about mile 40 of the 50 mile race. I finished up 28th of the 81 starters, 3rd place Cat 3. The conditions wreaked havoc on this group as well, as only 43 finished the race.
The next day, Paul got his game on at the Carl Dolan Memorial Spring Classic. He rode a beautiful race and sprinted for 5th place out of the 79 finishers. This was a super result and some more points from USA Cycling.
On Saturday, April 18th, the TT'ers were back at it at the 2nd running of the Allamuchy TT Course. This super fun course had some great conditions and Kevin E. put himself just into the top 10, in 10th. This will give Kevin some good cup points and help to hone his form for the rest of the season.
The 18th was day one of one of the largest races in the country, The Battenkill Pro/Am. Pete S. took the journey to upper New York State for his first test of the season, and crossed the line in 22nd out of the 50+ starters in his Cat 5 group. Pete showed tremendous tenacity and will power after a bit of a late start to his training this year. Kathryn C. had a wonderful race, making all the right moves. The Women's Cat 4 race would be won by a solo breakaway from mile 9, but KC put herself into the head of the field as the chase group whittled itself down to a mere 8 riders. Kathryn sprinted her way to 4th place, missing 3rd by a 1/4 of a wheel. None-the-less, a brilliant race, Kathryn!
Sunday the 19th was the first Hudson to Highlands Mountain Bike Race of the year. This is an 8 race series located in NJ and NY that brings out the top racers of the region. The race was promoted by MTBNJ and they laid out a challenging and fun course. BJL Coaching Athletes started the series off strong with U19 Racer Morgan P. coming in 2nd in Cat 1 Men 19-39, Stef M. earning 4th in Cat 2 Women 40+, Rod M. scoring 7th in Cat 2 Men 50+, and Greg S. taking home 7th in Cat 1 Men 50+. Chris C., in his first Cat 2 Race of his life, finished 1st in the 15-18 Junior Men, and top 5 out of all Cat 2s.
This is a great start for all of these athletes. Their hard work and perseverance is really paying off, and will only pay greater dividends as the season rolls on. I'm very excited to witness all the success that will come!
The BJL Coaching / Cycle Craft Winter Trainer Sessions started of with a bang! We had record attendance, with a bunch of new faces along with the usual suspects in the crowd. It was a pleasure working with these dedicated athletes, and I'm excited to watch everyone progress.
The drills for the night included one legged pedaling, high cadence work, "climbing", and some muscle tensioning intervals. Next week we'll build upon this workout as we slowly increase the intensity over the ten weeks to create long lasting fitness.
I also introduced the BJL Coaching Odd Number Challenge:
Attend 5, 7, or 9 classes to be entered into a raffle. Why not 10? Who's perfect? ; )
Two winners will receive one free month of custom coaching with BJL Coaching and a free Lactate Threshold Field Test. One prize per person. The threshold test will be scheduled by the end of April with the free month to follow the test.
With nine classes left, literally everyone is still eligible to earn 3 entries into the raffle. And, more importantly than that, attend the rest of the classes and you'll hit the "warm" weather with a solid foundation. But remember, even if you can't attend all the classes, every class you do make will be beneficial for your cycling and fitness goals.
For more information on the trainer sessions and to register, click HERE.
Thanks again to all who attended for a great first class!
- Coach Brian
The BJL Coaching, LLC. / Cycle Craft Fall Trainer Sessions are completed and were a success! We had a strong showing of athletes each week, all working hard towards their cycling goals and fitness. The classes started up the first week that the clocks went back. By doing so, our participants didn't lose time on the bike, and many actually had their biggest "ride" each week during the class. The five week session concluded last week with some very challenging drills that left all of us a fair bit tired, but with a big grin on our faces. We're already planning on our 2015 Fall Trainer Sessions, so be ready for that next year.
However, our next big block of indoor classes is right around the corner...
Hope to see you at the Winter Trainer Sessions kicking off on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. This will be our fifth year of holding the winter classes, and they've grown every year. Don't miss out! More information and registration links will be posted on www.BJLCoaching.com and at www.CycleCraft.com .
Keep on keepin' on!
The bike racing bug sunk its claws into me in 2013. After jumping into two races on a whim late last season, I was hooked. Fast forward to 2014, and my race number collection has grown ten-fold, from two lowly sheets of Tyvek to nearly twenty between road time trials and cyclocross. I placed just outside the top 10 in the NJ Time Trial Cup and I went well beyond what I ever believed I could achieve in my first year of real competition. But as much as I’d like to say I did it all on my own, I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my cycling coach, Coach Brian Lariviere of BJL Coaching.
My 2014 Race Number Collection
According to USA Cycling (USAC), there more than 1,400 licensed coaches operating nationwide. After going through an extensive educational curriculum and certification process, USAC-licensed coaches can begin working with athletes to help them unlock their potential.
Coach Brian is not only a USAC-licensed coach, but also has many years of racing and coaching experience in the disciplines I wanted to compete in. That knowledge and experience made him the natural choice for me. As a bonus, he happens to be local, but a coach doesn’t have to be based in your area to be effective.
With Coach Brian’s help, I can confidently say I’ve made the transition from enthusiast rider to competitive bike racer. I also learned a few things about riding, training, and myself. Here’s my top 5:
1. Know Your GoalLast December, Brian and I met over coffee to start creating my training plan. The first question he asked me was “What are your goals?” I knew the answer to this question, since I had committed myself to compete in the NJ Time Trial Cup.A lot of people considering enlisting a coach may not have a clear goal in mind.
American writer Bill Copeland once said, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” Put simply, you don’t need a certified coach to put rides or workouts on a calendar for you. Anyone can do that, even you.
A good coach, however, can make sure that each and every one of those workouts counts towards achieving your goal. That goal should be more concrete than just “ride faster” or “get stronger”. Whether your goal is to complete a metric century or win the Tour de France, a coach can ensure you’re doing the right things to get there.
2. It Isn’t All For Fun AnymoreBefore I started working with Brian, my “training” consisted of whatever I felt like doing and however hard or long I felt like doing it. Fun value was high but training value probably wasn’t.
That all changed when I started my training plan. Brian warned me up front that there will be times when the scheduled workout might not necessarily be what I feel like doing, or that my rest day might be the only nice day of the week (see #5). Either way, sticking to the plan is essential to success even when it’s tempting to do otherwise.
I’ll admit, hill repeats in the driving rain and frigid winter base miles aren’t what I call fun. Neither is begging off social rides with friends to suffer through threshold intervals all alone. But no accomplishment comes without some sacrifice.
3. Data MattersA training plan is like a custom-tailored suit. Without measurements, it will never fit. Your coach will need performance data from you in order to maximize the effectiveness of your training, and you must have the tools to provide it. A cadence-equipped cycle computer and a heart rate monitor will do the trick at the very least, but using a power meter is the best way to give your coach all the data she needs to unlock your potential. There is simply no better way for your coach to track your fitness level, make your workouts repeatable, and extract maximum benefit from your training plan.
Can’t tell your NP from your TSS? Your coach can show you what it all means.
Training with power involves a lot of numbers. Thankfully, I had a math teacher in my corner (Brian also happens to be a high school math teacher). Brian introduced me to the plethora of metrics involved in power training, how to interpret them and how to use them during training. Seeing my FTP (Functional Threshold Power) increase over the course of the season was a major motivator for me to keep working.
4. Recover Just As Hard As You WorkOnce my race season started in earnest this April, I was surprised not by how much training I was doing, but by how much recovery was in my schedule. Easy rides and rest days totally off the bike are just as important as hard workouts, and you should take them just as seriously.
It’s just as easy to over-train as it is to not train enough, and finding the right balance of training and recovery is often challenging to do yourself. The objective eye of a coach can help you find the ratio that suits you and your fitness goals, allowing for proper recovery and eliminating dreaded “junk miles”.
5. It’s Not All About FitnessA good coach and a good training plan will improve more than just your physical fitness. Depending on your discipline, your coach might also provide skills training. Brian is a top-level cyclocross racer and having his expertise and experience on my side while we practiced cyclocross skills (mounts/dismounts, hopping barriers, etc.) really paid off on race day. Below is a shot of Coach Brian’s homemade practice barriers that we used to sharpen my hops. (Yes, we met and practiced before dawn. Remember what I said about sacrifice?)
A good coach helps train your brain as well as your body. You can train your body all you want, but if your head isn’t in it, you won’t get far. For a discipline like time trialing, your mental fortitude is as important as your power output, so Brian’s advice on visualization and self-motivation were key to my success.
An athlete’s body needs fuel, so a good coach will also help optimize your nutrition. Much healthier hydration and fueling habits, both on and off the bike, have become a part of my daily life now thanks to Brian’s advice.
You don’t need to be a pro to access the expertise and knowledge of a cycling coach. All you need is a goal, a will to reach it, and the tools to help you along the way. A USAC-certified cycling coach like Coach Brian can build a plan around what you bring and help you achieve success.
Want to get started on your own training plan? You can find out more information about Coach Brian at www.BJLCoaching.com or contact him directly at BJLCoaching@gmail.com
You can also find out more about USA Cycling’s Coach Certification process here.
Link to the original post: https://cyclecraft.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/put-me-in-coach-5-things-i-learned-from-my-cycling-coach/
The Mountain Man is one of favorite races out there, having participated in this since 1996 or 1997. Not every year, but I have quite a few Mountain Man sweatshirts floating around.
This year I hadn't done any run prep, and while I've done the "off the couch" thing before, I didn't want to do that to myself this year. Also, after getting third last year, with at least a little running in my legs, I didn't want to go backwards.
So...I had the bright idea to do it relay with my 9 year old nephew. Chris, the promoter, basically created this category for us, which was cool. I've seen folks do relay before, mostly father/son type of deal. Since my son is 5 months old, that probably wasn't going to work out yet.
Race day brought some amazing weather, and we were pumped. My nephew had a great run, coming in safely at 17:30. He handed off the "baton" and I was off. I knew I could go eye-bleeding hard since I didn't have to run afterwards. And, although my eyes didn't bleed, I did almost think I was going to black out. We had about 25 or so in front of us, so I had plenty of rabbits. I think I caught 10 to 12 on the first little climb up Patriot's, then kept moving forward from there. My goal was to catch everyone and to set a new fastest lap time. I knew the leaders had about 5 minutes on me, and one was former professional Jonathan Erdyli (sp). While not a mountain biker, he's good on his mountain bike on terrain like LM.
I kept pushing and pushing and came in on my first lap at about 20.5 minutes. I knew I had bested my fast lap from last year, as I would hope, and felt good for a second lap. I hit it hard, and chased down a handful more. I started recognizing the jerseys of the leaders, and when I saw last year's winner, I knew I was in good shape. However, I caught him just before the roller coaster at the end.
So I came in hot with the fastest bike time by 5 minutes. Honestly, I would have been a bit embarrassed if I didn't since I had fresh legs. I didn't think I caught everyone, and I didn't, but my family was cheering saying "great job!" I asked, "How many?" and it turns out it was only Erdyli and he was only 15 seconds up! Doh! So my nephew was off.
He did GREAT, and only had 3 people pass him. He was 30 seconds faster than his first run, and he attributed this to no traffic.
He came in and put us in 5th overall, and 1st (out of one ) relay team. He was soooo pumped that it totally made my day! For a point of fact, he's a very good, competitive runner, but had never trail run before. When he gets a little older and some more experience...look out.
Chris, after 26 years, is seriously considering adding a relay category. I hope he does as this will really open this event up to more mountain bikers and only add to the fun nature of this race.
What a super day!
And, as a bonus, my teammate Kris Weber showed up and it was great seeing him. He ROCKED the course and finished FIRST in his age bracket. Congrats, Weber!
Sunday, September 7, 2014, was spectacular weather for racing!
David G., Alexy U., and me lined up for what would be the last TT for each of us this year, but this time instead of competing against each other, we would be doing the Route 29 TT as a team of three. I was super stoked to be asked to be on this strong team and excited to race.
We had a great ride, all taking equal pulls on the very flat 20+ mile out and back course. The format for the race is unique and nice. After the "out" leg, your time is taken and you have about 1 minute of neutral to U-turn, line up, and start again. This eliminates the need to try to do a fast turn around, especially on this road where the promoter was not permitted to completely stop traffic.
Our out and back legs were very similar, averaging almost 30 miles per hour. We ended up taking the win by several minutes, and we all went home with a little extra dough in our pockets.
BJL Coaching Athlete Kevin E. had a great ride for what would be his last TT of the year as well. Keving scored in the top 10 again and put forth a solid effort on this long course.
I was also excited for my teammate Keith L. who took the win the the Masters 40+ Category in his first TT this year. Actually, it was his first TT is many years and this was a great prep for the half Iron Man Tri that he had a couple of weeks following.
Great way to cap off the TT season. Now, we're looking forward to getting out on the dirt, grass, gravel, pavement, sand, mud, and whatever else will comprise the 'cross courses.
Keep it rolling!
This was a last minute add for me, as originally this great event did not fit into my schedule. When my day opened up, I jumped at the chance to participate in one of my favorite TT courses around.
The weather was amazing, and there was a good buzz, both literally and figuratively as the racers warmed up on their trainers in the parking lot. I hit the line ready to go and was looking forward the challenges that this event brings. The course begins on a nice, albeit bumpy, flat road, then you turn towards "the hill." Naughtright looms like a wall in front of you, but after the initial punch, it climbs fairly steady for a while. Then, once up top of Schooley's Ridge, you tackle one more little roller, a decent flat section, and then bang a hard right onto River Road. You lose all the elevation gained on this road, although over a longer distance than Naughtright. However, speeds still creep up over 40 MPH even on standard road bikes, as TT rigs are not permitted. Finally, you sweep onto Bartley-Flanders Road for the finishing home straight on this pancake flat section. The course is about 11 miles long with almost 800' of gain.
I had a good run and caught several riders. Andreas R. smoked the course again and took home another victory in 35+, catching me about 2/3 of the way through. I was also passed by the winner and I believe fastest time of the day by a rider in the Senior Men Category. My time put me in 3rd place for the fourth time in the four races I competed in the NJ TT Cup this year. These four consistent results actually put me into 5th overall which was a little bonus, as I wasn't pursuing the cup this year.
BJL Coaching's Kevin E. had another good day on the bike, finishing just outside the top 10 in 12th place. This jumped him up to 11th place in the Cup for the Men 4/5 division for his first year in competition. Nice work, Kevin!
If you've never done a TT and you're looking for help, shoot me a message!
Coach B.L. is the head coach at BJL Coaching and an avid racer and cycling enthusiast himself.