Friday, December 24, 2010

Ted Burns CX Season Recap: Year 2 of 7 Year Plan

Photo by Terri Watters

After watching my Bell Lap teammate, Brian Peterson, win several national championships a few years ago at Track Nationals in T-Town, I was inspired to try and compete at the masters national level in cyclocross.  The challenge in front of me was how to juggle work, family, and the training commitment that would be required to get there.  My solution was to take my time and create a seven year plan that would hopefully put me in the running for a national cyclocross championship when i turn 45 in 2015.

The logic goes like this:  I can't even think of training 10+ hours a week consistently until my youngest boy, Deadly, turns three in 2011.  Realistically i probably can't do more than 15 hours a week for a whole year until he's five, so i have several years to try and build up some base level of fitness so that going into 2014-15 I can be at the top of my game.  There is a lot of math in my 7 year plan formula.

My first year of the plan, which was 2009 was less than stellar.  I capped off an unlucky year, very few races and inconsistent training, by breaking my ribs at nationals.  However - i did get myself to nationals in Bend, Oregon in order to see what it was like and get a feel for what it would take.

I started off 2010 with a few January cross races to capitalize on fitness I had been building since the fall.  I had gotten off to a late start and was hoping i could see some improvement.  I was happy with two top tens, one of which landed me on the podium in the 35 B's, at the CCCX Finale.

I didn't race much at all during the year but started focusing on building volume.  With help from my wife, Caitlin, we created a schedule through the year which would enable me to do some longer weekend rides during the spring and summer, and the race almost every weekend through the fall.  This is a huge sacrifice for Caitlin and I can't say enough how helpful it is when your spouse works with you on an effective schedule.

Due to both my wife's help and time away from full time work in July and August, i was able to get in the most consistent training I have had since i stopped racing full time in 1996.  With my coach Dan Smith of Sportvelo I had set some goals I thought were achievable for the season.

1. Win a 35 B's race
2. Upgrade to Cat 2 CX  - for improved seeding at nationals
3. Top 50% in BASP 35 As
4. Stretch Goal: Top 20 finish in BASP 35 As race.

My first cross race of the year was a bit of a mess, i forgot my bike - see race report here, but I came in second, and felt that I might have won if I hadn't been so disorganized before the start.  I won the next two races, CCCX 2 & CCCX 3, and and upgraded accomplishing my first two goals before even starting the BASP series.  I was feeling like i was ahead of schedule on my 7 year plan.

At BASP #1, Merrit College course, I came in 17th in my very first 35As race.  Many riders had gone down with flats and crashes so riding a solid consistent race got me in top 20 much to my surprise.  The rest of the series was a mixed bag as I had both good and bad luck but i finished consistently in the top 50% of the field with two top 20 finishes.  With my finish at the Coyote Point #5 I was able to finish 17th in the BASP series meaning i had blown my top 50% goal away being in the top 21.794871794871796 %.

With all goals accomplished I have to go back to work with Dan Smith to figure out how to improve for 2011 and nationals in Madison, WI in 2012.   While I was behind in 2009, I caught up and surpassed my expectations for 2010.  I'm looking forward to 2011 and a new look for Team Bell Lap!

Without the following support group of people I never would be able pull it together.

My Family: Caitlin, Myrna & Deadly
Coach: Dan Smith
Team Bell Lap Crossers: BB
Team Bell Lap Riders: Brian, Beth, Tom, Steve, Eric, Bill and Mark.
East Coasters: Dad, Mom & Jon
Cross Guru (Mechanic & Motivator): Rob MacNeil
Nemesis & Friend: James Badia
Cross Friends: Karl, Karen, Haley, Billy, Megan, Dr. George, Andrew
Special thanks to Teri Watters who came TWICE to cheer me on.
Other friends that came to cheer: Chris, Ava, Ayla

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bay Area Super Prestige #5 Coyote Point

Photo by Terri Watters

Race: Bay Area Super Prestige #5 Coyote Point
Category: 35 As
Place: 28/35ish starters

Teammate: Steve Pelaez
Series Standings 17/78

By the time the last race of the season rolls around my motivation is shot.  While I had a good year I started racing in September, and did a total of nice races which is a lot for me, and I realized that after the night race at Sierra Point, I could feel my will to be in the mix was ebbing even though my fitness seemed to be improving.  I had planned on going to Nationals in Bend, but unable to find a co-driver that fit my schedule, i opted to skip the snow and mud and finish off at BASP #5.  Going into the race I definitely felt like it was a bit of a chore, as i wanted to solidify my top 20 in the series.  Racing is a privilege so it was time to wrap it up.

BB picked me up and was on his game today. He had money, helmet, shoes, and everything else he needed to race. When i got in the car he presented me with coffee and the day looked promising.  The ground was wet, and it had rained the day before but it was looking like it would be clear for our race.  I got in a warm up and took some video of BB and other races in action which I will post below. 

The "Long Course" or "Beach Course" at Coyote Point is known for the sand section that runs about 25 yards in deep sand. You can ride it if you have a clear shot but in traffic requires dismounting.  Otherwise the course is split into two sections... The Upper, which is a hill that goes up into a Eucalyptus forrest then down the hill with a little single track.  The Lower section starts with the sand and then is flat but long.  There are several 180's and barriers with a few odd turns that can throw you off your bike.  Its a long lap but fun, since it has a little bit of everything.

My race was pretty lame. The start was funny because Steve Paleaz pulled up next to me outside of the grid where i had a second row start.  He got yelled at, and then heckled, for trying to cheat the system when really he was only trying to chat.  I had a poor start but settled in somewhere in the top 15 and was moving up which was a good sign.  I could still see the leaders and other guys in top 10 at turn arounds, and I felt like i was making ground on them.  My first lap was poor with lots of mistakes.  I fell in the sand, I botch some corners but I was able to hang onto the lead group.  

I was about to overtake my friend James Badia when I realized my rear was going flat.  I started to feel it on the road after the sand and realized I was probably not going to be able to keep at speed with it.  The tire was almost completely shot by the end of the road and i had to ride the remainder of the lap on a flat.  It was really sketchy in the corners and i was getting passed by the odd guy.  I wasn't totally out of the picture since I could still see james about 10 seconds ahead of me when i pulled into the pit near the start finish.  

When i pulled into the neutral pit the mechanic was not prepared so the switch took over a minute as he fumbled for a wheel, and then with the quick release. I would not have made it to my spare bike any faster since i think i would have had to run a big chunk of the last section and I had almost wiped out on several non-technical corners.  Once i got my wheel, which felt like forever, I started off but most of the field had gone by.  I hammered, and was able to catch one guy but that was it.  

I finished off the race, and felt like i was riding pretty solid, but I was too far behind to either catch anyone or move up significantly.  I made a bunch of technical mistakes the last lap, specifically taking corners too fast on my highly inflated neutral wheel, that both cost me some time and blood.  The only good thing to come out of the race was two photos by Terri Watters that are some of the best I've seen not just of me but of a cross race in general.  My favorite, with the San Francisco Bay, is in the background.

Despite my poor luck for the day the series awarded double points which was enough to keep me in the top 20 for the series, surpassing my goal of being in the top 50% for the series.  I was extremely happy, about how the season unfolded and have to thanks my wife - Caitlin Pepperell, my friend - Matt Beebe, and my coach Dan Smith at SportVelo, for helping me put it together.  I think i will write a longer post on that this week.  I took a buch of video of friends I ride with and hang out with during the year and put it together in this video.  Enjoy!