Welcoming JD Rider Ozzy Tobiczyk

June 7th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Ozzy Tobiczyk

Hello, my name is Ozzy Tobiczyk and this is my first year on the TAMJD team. I am 14 years old and a 9th grader at Milford High School. I have been riding my bike ever since I could walk. Living in Milford, Mi has given me access to so many mountain bike trails, it was only natural to get into mountain biking. I joined the Huron Valley United Racing (HVUR) team in 5th grade and raced my first MiSCA race in 2020. I was hooked from that point on. What I love about cycling is the scenery on the rides, jumps, and having a fun group of people to ride with. This year I will be racing varsity on HVUR. 

I joined TAMJD because I wanted to push myself, become a better rider, explore all types of cycling, and have fun while doing it. I have learned a lot about how to properly fuel myself before a race as well as how to mentally prepare for a race this past year. I know I have a lot more to learn and that is another reason why I joined TAMJD.

My goal for this season is to be in the top 10 in Varsity and to get first place in my age group in Iceman and Peak to Peak. I am really looking forward to racing more gravel races. I am also starting to learn road racing techniques and have been racing in the Waterford Hills Summer Road Racing Series on Wednesdays. I had the pleasure of going to TAMJD training camp in Brevard, NC during spring break this year. It was so much fun. We had been training all winter to climb Mt. Mitchell which was about 44 miles up a mountain and 44 miles down. I think my top speed going down was around 49 miles an hour! It was awesome and I loved the views! I also really liked spending time with my teammates and going into town. We rode the mountain bike trails and roads in Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest. It was a great experience and I can’t wait until next year! 

I have been to many places in the United States to ride bikes but my favorite place to ride is in Marquette, Mi. My family and I go up there every summer for the Ore to Shore race and to camp for the week at Rippling River. I love the South Trails and the jumps on the Eh Line. My favorite race is Iceman. It’s such a fun venue. I like not knowing what the weather will be like. It’s always a surprise and different.

I like doing non-bike things too. I really love snowboarding and wish it was something I could do year round. I built a mini park in my backyard this last winter which really had the neighbors talking. I joined the boardercross team at Milford High School this year and rode varsity on the team. We won the state championship, which was really cool! I also have started to really like fishing and plan to do a lot of that this summer. I like hanging out with my friends too.

I’m really glad I joined the TAMJD. In the short time that I have been the team I have been introduced to so many things that I wouldn’t have done on my own, like road racing. Next up, I will be traveling with the team to the Tour of America’s Dairyland where we will have 5 days of Crit races in Milwaukee, WI. Wish us luck!

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Meet New JD Rider Parker Crane

May 16th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Parker Crane

I’m Parker Crane, a 14-year-old cyclist from Milford, Michigan and a 9th grader attending Milford High School. My biking career started in fifth grade with my first mountain bike ride on Milford trail. I thought it was really so fun I joined the Huron Valley Mountain bike club and the next year made my way to the Huron Valley Race Team. By 2021 I was MiSCA State Champion in my category and knew biking was a good fit for me. I got big into biking and started doing a variety of races including gravel and cyclocross. I wanted to upgrade my skills on the bike, and also be a better person off the bike, so I was super excited when I was accepted into Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD). This is my first year in the program, and I have already seen a big improvement training with other skilled cyclists, and being pushed by my teammates and coach.

Although my main passion is cycling, it isn’t my only interest. I fish in the summer around Milford and once in a while I’ll go on a fishing trip. I also like kayaking on the Huron River through Milford or in northern Michigan to test my luck fishing. Camping also brings good opportunities to fish, which takes me to another one of my hobbies, camping with family and friends. During the MiSCA race season we camp with teammates and coaches on race weekends. We also camp in Marquette Michigan for Ore to Shore at Rippling River Resort every year, and ride the trails for fun with some of our biking friends. My family also likes to travel to different places out of state. Last year we went to Bentonville, Arkansas for spring break, and this year Brevard North Carolina for TAMJD camp which was awesome. In the winter months I’m not just on the bike trainer, but I’m also snowboarding and on the Milford High School boardercross team. In my spare time, I work on building trails in my backyard, and helping out with trail maintenance on Milford trail.

As for goals this season, I am aiming high this year. As I’m racing varsity and want to get top 10 or better in every MiSCA race, achieve a podium spot in Iceman, and make top 20 overall in the Ore to Shore soft rock this year. Ore to Shore is also probably my favorite race because of the fast road downhills at the start to the flowy single track at the end. And I can’t wait to focus on road riding this year since it’s something new that I don’t have much experience with. I have done a handful of road rides already and am excited for my first race on the road.

Since I’ve been racing I have learned that I am a very competitive rider and I like riding technical trails. My favorite local trail is definitely Highland Recreation mountain bike trail because it made me so much better over the years and because it is the most technical in my area. I also really enjoy cyclo-cross and mountain bike races. The best part of biking is improving with every ride and the bike community that comes along with it. I am looking forward to this upcoming season and can’t wait to see how I develop as a rider with TAMJD.

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Competing in a Race is Not All About Winning

May 13th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

Running for a specific team or club is a great opportunity and honor, but along with that comes an expectation.  Being on Team Athletic Mentors is a prestigious position to be in.  Naturally we (as a team) want to do our best and win races, whether running, cycling, triathlons, skiing, etc., but that’s not what it’s all about.

As a master athlete, I’m not going to finish in the top overall positions in events I compete in.  But there is so much more myself and others  can bring to a race.  My goal is to inspire others to find what they enjoy doing and to motivate them to pursue a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.  This world has a lot of challenges and negative issues.  But as we are running, cycling, swimming, etc., it’s amazing what an encouraging word will do for others.

I worked hard at my running and qualified for the Boston Marathon this year.  I ran it just 4 weeks ago.  It was very inspiring, very challenging and the enthusiasm from the spectators was amazing.  It wasn’t about my finishing time, it was about taking in my surroundings and soaking in the achievement of making it to this Grand-Daddy of races in the United States.  The spectators lined the whole 26.2 mile route!!  The kids wanted to give us “high-fives”, others were handing out candy and orange slices in front of their houses, some were spraying water hoses to cool us off, many signs were held up, clapping, bells ringing and shouts of encouragement.

The last weekend in April my grandchildren’s school had a yearly fund raiser with a 5K run.  This is the second year – we ran it as a family.  Three generations with my son, my daughter-in-law and 2 grand-daughters.  My grand-daughters wanted to run with grandma.  Pretty cool to inspire the younger generation to be healthy, challenged and positive.

On May 5th, I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) in Kalamazoo.  As I was at about 2 miles, this young man was running beside me.  I told him he was doing really good and asked his age.  He said this was his first 10K and he was 13.  I told him we had a 50 year gap between us and he was surprised.  We ended up staying close by each other most of the way.  I tried to keep him updated on our pace, the mileage, encouraging on how great he was doing and that we were getting close to the finish line.  How fun it was to just encourage this young man and watch him achieve his goal.

JoAnn Cranson & William Bates

When we finished I asked him if he would be willing to take a picture with me.  As I put my hands on his shoulder and he put his hand on mine, I was thinking how great it is being complete strangers yet we could feel such camaraderie in 4+ miles of running together.  A big thanks to Zeigler for sponsoring this race and giving all of us, but especially new runners, the chance to compete.

So next time you are out and about don’t miss an opportunity to take a moment in the busyness of life to encourage someone.  You never know what an impact it will make in their life!

 

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Athletic Mentors Swim Class Review

May 5th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By Sean Siems

There are many classes and opportunities given by Athletic Mentors to help better their athletes and make them complete their goals. Out of these many classes and opportunities lies the open water swim class. This class is coached by Athletic Mentors coaches and offers athletes an opportunity to help heighten their open water swimming ability for triathlons or relays. The curriculum isolates certain spots that need work to be more efficient when swimming. This class I highly recommend to people that are looking to start swimming or even those who are already great swimmers.

Sean and siblings practicing sighting and cornering around buoys.

The Open Water Swim Class, located at Kalamazoo College, right off of West Main on Catherine Street. The class takes place in one of the nicest pools in the city of Kalamazoo. It has many lanes and room for people who may be more advanced or just starting out. The natatorium also has a great ambiance as the pool area is very open with windows that have the sun shining in and high ceilings which, for me, make me feel less cramped when swimming. The pool also has a very nice temperature which isn’t too hot where you are sweating to death, but also not too cold where you can’t get warm swimming in it.

Now that we have talked about the location, let’s talk about the coaches that run the whole thing. The first coach is Dawn Hinz. Dawn is an Ironman finisher having completed Ironman Cozumel in Mexico. She is also highly skilled in all disciplines in a triathlon but especially the swim. She is an accomplished swimmer having swam at a high level and knows what proper technique and form looks like to help you get the most out of swimming. Next is Chelsea Cekola. Chelsea , much like Dawn, is very disciplined in the swim, bike, and run. She has competed in many races and knows what it takes to get better and what steps to take to get there. In addition, there is Cheryl. Cheryl is a very successful athlete and is a huge organizer behind this class and lends a helping hand to those that are just starting out and need more assistance. Finally there is Coach Tom Belco. Tom is a phenomenal coach having over 40 years worth of swim coaching experience. He is also very renowned for being YMCA coach of the year and being named Regional coach of the year by MHSAA.

Now, let’s talk about the different drills and exercises that you will be doing. The class involves a lot of kicking because as Coach Belco said, “The Kick is only 10% of the stroke, but it is the top 10%.” We also work a lot with drills which help with your breathing, form, and stroke. Some of these drills include breath control which teaches you to breath every three strokes. Another drill that is used a lot is six kicks to every one pull, which teaches you to keep yourself relaxed and straight and not sink into the water. There is also a focus on streamlining.  Streamlining is the fastest part of a swim since you are underwater and are straight like a pencil with your arms straight up together(see photo). When doing streamline you must keep as straight as possible so you can move quickly through the water so you can be ahead of the competition.

This class is a very beneficial opportunity to take your swimming to the next level. It is spread into two classes, beginner and advanced – for those looking for more of a challenge. The location of the pool and the people that organize it are very nice and very supportive. What these coaches bring to the table and offer is something I wouldn’t pass up as a swimmer myself. I believe that anyone who is thinking about trying this out should most definitely take a shot at it.

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Meet New TAMJD Rider Nick Thielen

March 17th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Nick Thielen

Hi, my name is Nick Thielen. I’m 14 years old and in the 8th grade at Warner Middle School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Outside of cycling I play basketball and run track. I started practicing with Huron Valley United Racing in 2021 and realized I was a pretty good cyclist so I decided to stick with it. This past season I won the MISCA Advanced Middle School state championship winning 4 out of 6 races. After the MISCA season, I raced Iceman for the third time. Iceman is definitely my favorite race. The atmosphere is great and the course is always challenging but super fun.

 

 

This upcoming season will be my first year on Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development. I joined the team because I thought it was a great opportunity to improve as a cyclist and also connect with people that had similar goals to me. I’m excited to get more into road racing this year which is something I haven’t done much of in the past. I think expanding into disciplines beyond mountain biking will be great for progressing in my cycling career.

I’ll be participating in the Tour of America’s Dairyland crit series out in Wisconsin as well as other road races which I think will be great opportunities to improve as a rider. I’m going to be doing some racing outside the state of Michigan which is very exciting. I know it’s gonna be a lot harder this year racing against high schoolers instead of middle schoolers, but it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping to do a lot of races this season that I haven’t done in the past and overall get a lot stronger.

I find riding a bike a great way to have fun while meeting some great people you wouldn’t have met if you weren’t riding. There is nothing better than the feeling of accomplishment after a good race knowing that all your hard work paid off. If a race doesn’t go your way you can always just look forward to the next one. I really like training for races. There’s something about knowing that someday it’s all gonna pay off just motivates me to train as hard as I can.

I also love riding on dirt roads or in the woods where there is nobody around and you’re all by yourself. It’s really peaceful and helps me clear my mind. One of my favorite trails around where I live is Lakeshore Park. It’s super tight and twisty with some fun features. I ride it all the time which gave me a big advantage at the MISCA race which was very important for me to win so that I could win the series. You can gain a lot of time on it knowing the trail really well.

I love the sport of cycling and its community. I’ve made so many new friends and learned so much from it. I’m super excited for the opportunity I have with Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development this upcoming season to grow as a cyclist.

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Triathlon Transition Excellence – Mastering the 4th Discipline

March 12th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jay Campbell

Swim, Bike, Run …. Do well at all three and you will be a good triathlete.  But to be a great triathlete, you need to master what some call the ‘4th discipline’, the transition.

How important is the transition?  It becomes more important in shorter races. In a 600 minute race (10 hours) the difference between a 2 minute and a 4 minute transition is less than a 1% improvement…so not that important. But if you are doing supersprint races (~30 minutes), that would be a 13% improvement!

Just to prove that I know what I am talking about, here are the top-10 fastest T1 + T2 times at the 2023 Eagle Lake Triathlon, a ‘sprint’ distance race.

 Transitions

1-Jay

26

22

3

40

49

7

28

9

2

T1+T2

00:00:41

00:00:56

00:01:09

00:01:13

00:01:15

00:01:16

00:01:25

00:01:32

00:01:36

00:01:38

I spent a total of 41 seconds (21s in T1 and 20s in T2) in the transition area. Yes, it was a smaller, local race with a compact transition zone and limited competition…but those are factors which you must consider when developing your transition strategy.  Each race will be unique and requires a different strategy. I will walk through the strategy I used for this race and suggest alternatives for other scenarios.

From the table above you can see that the 2nd and 3rd place finishers had good transition times…they were both in the top 10.  But finisher #2 still gave up almost 1 minute to me on his transitions. Here are the times for S/B/R with the transition times removed:

OA Finish

2

1-Jay

3

4

8

5

6

7

10

11

S+B+R

00:56:28

00:56:58

00:57:35

01:00:20

01:01:55

01:01:58

01:02:19

01:03:04

01:03:18

01:04:03

In general, S+B+R times correlate with overall finishes. The main exception to that rule in this case was my superior transitions which led to yours-truly walking away with the Overall Winners Trophy and local bragging rights. Another exception was the 5th fastest S+B+R who had slow transitions did drop to 8th OA.

Before I dive into my secrets for a fast transition, let me say that if you are new to triathlon, ignore all of this. My caution to new athletes is not to ‘overthink’ the sport during your first year of racing. Just get out on the course, listen to your body, pace yourself, and be cautious during bike mounts and dismounts.  There will be plenty of time in the future to dive into all the tiny tweeks that add up to measurable gains.

Are you ready? It pains me a bit to give away my secrets.

A. DEVELOP A TRANSITION STRATEGY

1.  Understand the course. Every race has course maps.  Study them to get an idea of what you are up for in transition. In the case of Eagle Lake, I could see from the course map and verbal description that the Bike Corral was about 400 yards from the Swim. That 400 yards was on asphalt and mostly uphill. I would be definitely wearing running shoes from Swim to the Bike Corral. The swim was only 300 yards, so I toyed with the idea of no wetsuit as wetsuit-removal sucks up transition time.  But for me, as a mediocre swimmer, the speed advantage of a wetsuit trumps the removal time even for races this short. The bike course is only 11 miles so I opted for biking in my running shoes using pedal straps.  I would already be in my running shoes coming in from the swim, so that was another factor that supported the bike shoe decision.
2.  Practice your transition strategy.  It is common for me to use a slightly different transition strategy for every race…each race is unique. You don’t want race day to be the first time trying out a strategy, even if it is only slightly different from your ‘norm’.
3.  Be prepared to change transition strategy on race-day.  Bring multiple shoes, pedals, and swim gear. Inspect the transition area. Walk/Run/Bike the transition approaches. If the water temperature disallows wetsuits, how will that change your transition?

B. TRANSITION SKILLS (I will focus on strategies for short races as this is where transition times are more critical)

1. Wetsuit removal – Removal of the wetsuit is usually the first skill used in transition. There are some great youtube videos on this, but here is what works for me:
a) before you put on wetsuit, spray lower legs with copious amounts of triglide or other lubricant.  These will help the suit slide off.
b) wetsuits become harder to take off once the small amount of water between suit and legs is drained.  So better to take off before a  long run to a distant bike corral.
c) Flip up your goggles and start pulling down your top as you exit the water.
d) Once you get your suit down to your hips, stop running and push the suit to the ground and start trying to step out of it.  I am so impressed with the videos of pros and others that can do this standing up.  I can’t do it. What works for me is to find a pole I can hold onto as I try to step out of the wetsuit. When it is at my ankles, I drop to the ground and use the index and middle finger of  my dominant hand to slide down my Achilles until my knuckles are under my heels and push the suit off that foot.  Repeat on the other leg.
e) In the case of Eagle Lake, I stopped at a speed limit sign about 25 yards from the Lake.  I could hold onto the sign to remove my wetsuit.  My running shoes had been placed there earlier.
2) Donning socks – Putting socks on wet feet can be difficult.  I have found that:
 a) putting on the sock before the race in the transition area and then
 b) rolling it down all the way to the toes, prepares the sock for easier application.  Socks   were not part of my Eagle Lake strategy.
3) Donning Running Shoes – Once again, I am impressed with the pros (and probably many of you) who can put on shoes without sitting down. The shoes I used at Eagle Lake had been fitted with elastic laces.. in fact I just used some elastic strap from my sewing box.
a) grasp the tongue with one hand and the heel counter with the other. I find that if I line up my big toe with the tongue and my little toe with the heel counter, shoes go on easier.
4) Running on long transitions – Long distances between swim and bike corral are not unusual.  The Grand Rapids Tri has what seems like a half-mile run from River to the bike corral.  When the run has been on grass or carpet, I have not used shoes. I have both run in my wetsuit and carried my wetsuit…I think I run faster with my hands free (not carrying a wetsuit), but then the wetsuit becomes harder to get off. At Eagle Lake I opted to get the wetsuit off quick, don shoes, and run like crazy up the hill to the bike corral. The swim-split at Eagle Lake included the run from Lake to Bike. I had the seventh fastest split and I am fairly convinced my placing would have been worse without my transition strategy.  Note that swim-split is not a good predictor of Overall Finish…a plus for us mediocre swimmers.

49

7

19

4

28

18

1-Jay

21

2

20

OA Swim

00:06:31

00:06:38

00:06:51

00:07:06

00:07:12

00:07:24

00:07:39

00:07:41

00:07:46

00:07:50

5) Donning Bike Shoes – After removing wetsuit/goggles/cap, the first thing I do is put on my biking shoes. As mentioned, I finish wetsuit removal on my butt and I put on bike shoes on my butt. [not the strategy at Eagle Lake].  Of course the pros and many of you already have shoes attached to pedals, so this does not apply to you.  There is some time savings to using the shoes-on-pedals method (the 2nd and 3rd finishers at Eagle Lake used that method.) But, bike-mount and dismount are where 90% of the crashes occur in triathlon. I am too old and fragile to risk that any more. There are some good youtube videos on the shoes-on-pedals technique.

6) Donning Bike Helmet – putting on your bike helmet needs to be practiced. Place it in transition so it is one clean move from hands to head. Sliding the hands down to clip the strap.
7) Donning Biking glasses – This is an extra move but only takes a few seconds.  A visor on your helmet eliminates this step.
8) Running with bike – Practice running with your bike while holding with one hand on the seat.  If you are a shoes-on-pedals person, practice barefoot with the shoes attached.  If you are going to wear bike shoes, practice running in the bike shoes.
9) Bike Mounting – Technically the mount happens after the transition is exited. If done sloppily it only counts against your bike time and not transition time. The object is to quickly get to speed … without crashing. Whatever your method, practice it looking forward and not at your feet. My Eagle Lake strategy was to use a ‘hop-on mount’, pedal the first quarter mile on top of the straps (it was a downhill and I wanted no distractions), then get my feet in the straps.  I had practiced this enough that I could get into the straps without looking down or using my hands. If you are using the ‘shoe-on-pedal’ method there is usually a hand adjustment once you are in the shoe.  Make sure you can do this without looking. If you are using the worn-shoe method, you may want to be sure that one shoe is clipped in before hopping on.
10) Bike Dismounting – As with the mount, this technically happens outside of transition. If done sloppily it only counts against your bike time and not transition time. In the case of Eagle Lake, I removed my feet from the straps so my running shoes were untethered on the pedals. At about 5mph I swung my right leg over and did a running dismount. I had practiced this enough I felt very comfortable doing this. Dismounting with bike-shoes flopping from the pedals is too risky for me as I mentioned earlier. If I am wearing bike shoes, I unclip my left shoe, come to a complete stop, balance on my left leg, unclip the right shoe, push the bike forward and start running behind it. The pros make it looks so easy…except when…See some of the pros struggle here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=140YBZF1miw&t=353s<
11) Bike racking – Generally bikes are racked on the saddle noses. The bike is usually ‘backed in’, raised, then moved forward to position the nose over the bar. That’s a lot of motions. Practice racking your bike from the ‘wrong side’ before the race starts. It may not be possible as other bikes are in the way. But when you get back from biking and the transition area has fewer bikes, you may be able to run your bike right into its spot from the rear, ditch your helmet and go.

12) Helmet Removal – This may not sound like a skill, but after a duathlon at 40F with gloves on it is a whole different ballgame. My hands have gotten so cold that I lost grip strength and could not undo a chin strap clasp. I have practiced this so many times with gloves and with different parts of the hand. Reduce the movements you need to make this happen.  Place the helmet where it will not get damaged by other triathletes.

There are thousands of small innovations and skills in triathlon that when summed up can amount to measurable gains.  It’s one of the things that has kept me in the sport.  Keep an open mind when planning your next transition and maybe it will kick you up a place or two!

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Catching Up with New JD Rider – Donald Smith

February 23rd, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Donald Smith

Hello, my name is Donald Smith from Brighton, MI. I am 13 years old and am in 8th grade. I am currently homeschooled and go to a co-op for electives and other classes. I like homeschooling because it allows me the freedom to ride outside whenever I want. I live right across from Island Lake State Park, so I can ride there from my house. The addiction of cycling hit me when I was 5 years old and my dad had to constantly take me mountain biking, riding a short loop on blue over and over again. My dad has been riding forever and it is something we like to do together…and honestly, I did not enjoy playing other sports as much as I did cycling.

For the past three years I have been racing for the Wheels in Motion MiSCA team and took 2nd place this year in the Advance Middle School category.  This will be my first year on TAMJD. As I was researching junior development teams last year, I thought TAMJD would be the best fit for me. This is because through MiSCA, I found that I knew many junior racers on TAMJD. The team is also local which means I can ride and train with them more often. Having a team to travel to races with locally and outside of Michigan appeals to me as well.  I look forward to being on an organized team to help me continue to develop as a person both on and off the bike.

My favorite place to ride is in North Carolina when I go to visit my grandparents. The views are absolutely gorgeous at the top of a mountain. My favorite race is the Lumberjack 100. The people there are so nice and supportive.  What I like best about racing is suffering with friends!  The main new thing I look forward to this year is doing more national level races.

Since so many people have helped me to become the cyclist I am today, I try to give back to my community. This year I worked with the Poto chapter on several weekends to complete trail maintenance. For the last three years, I have volunteered as a coach for the Lexus Velodrome’s summer camps. I was able to help kids learn how to ride bikes. When the velodrome deflated in 2021, I worked for many hours breaking and shoveling ice off the dome so it could be reinflated. The inside of the dome was a mess, and I spent a day helping to repaint the track.

Track cycling gave me the opportunity to go to Track Nationals in 2021 and 2022. I took 5th overall in 2021 and 3rd overall in 2022.  My mountain bike and cyclocross skills came in handy when there was a crash in front of me at the 2022 Track Nationals. I was able to bunny hop over a rider that was taken out in the crash. Track and road cycling have helped me to learn to ride safely in a group. I have not competed in many gravel races, but it is how I like to train when I cannot ride on trails. I do plan on racing in more gravel races this coming year. Cyclocross is probably my 2nd favorite discipline. I really enjoy all the features the courses include. Going over flyovers, barriers, and stairs makes the race interesting. Cyclocross is definitely not a boring sport.

Some of my race goals for 2024 are to complete the Lumberjack 100 in 8 hours and compete at the Varsity level for MiSCA. I like the longer distance for Varsity and will try to get at least one top 10. Another goal I have is to do more national level races like Englewood. I will also be training to place in the top 3 for the 9-14 Iceman this year.

The main thing I have learned about myself is that I like mountain biking best out of the other disciplines I have competed in (road, track, gravel, cyclocross). Riding in the woods is my favorite. I hope to compete in Mountain Bike Nationals this coming year. Participating in all the different cycling disciplines has helped me become a better overall cyclist.

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New to Triathlon? Learn from 4 Athletic Mentors Team members!

February 1st, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson
By:  Natalie Rowe A few weeks ago, Athletic Mentors hosted their Swim Stroke Video Analysis. There were 12 of us that participated, many of us fairly experienced swimmers…but after watching the videos, we all had technique issues, mostly hand entry and catch issues. Just to give you an idea, I grabbed an image from one of my videos to show you what we saw under the water. When we met and reviewed our videos as a group, we started talking about the upcoming racing season, training and triathlon in general. It got me thinking…we were all beginners at some point and pretty clueless about all things triathlon. I thought it would be fun if a few experienced triathletes answered some of the top Googled questions about triathlon. I went to Google, looked over the questions and selected 5 questions that I thought would be helpful, and truthfully I’ve also been asked during training! For those totally new to triathlon or multi-sport, I want to give you a foundation to start with. Typically, it’s three sports; swim, bike, and run performed consecutively in that order. There are other events in the family too; like duathlon, aquathon and aquabike (and other variations which we won’t get into). Now that we’ve clarified what a triathlon is, there are different triathlon distances, but the shortest standardized distance is a sprint triathlon and the longest is the iron distance. There are shorter and longer distances, but they’re not standardized. Here is a chart of what the distances look like:
Name of Event Swim Distance Bike Distance Run Distance
Sprint 750m* 20K / 12.4 miles 5K / 3.1 miles
Olympic 1500m* 40K / 24.8 miles 10K / 6.2 miles
Half Iron / 70.3 1.2 miles 56 miles 13.1 miles
Iron / 140.6 2.4 miles 112 miles 26.2 miles

Jay

Jay –  What makes it “standardized’?  If USAT (USA Triathlon) hosts a National Championship at that distance, does that make it “standard”?  For example, USAT hosts a National Championship at the Super Sprint distance each year at the Multisport Festival.  There is also a Super Sprint World Championship race. Natalie – after Jay asked this question, I went back and did more research! Low and behold, there are different standards for different organizations. Since we’re US based, it seems appropriate to use what USAT deems standard. As it turns out USAT does include Super Sprint in their standard distances, they also include the World Triathlon Long Course. Here’s the fully updated chart:
Name of Event Swim Distance Bike Distance Run Distance Total Distance
Super Sprint 400m 10K / 6.2 miles 2.5K 12.9K
Sprint 750m 20K/ 12.4 miles 5K / 3.1 miles 25.75K
Olympic 1500m 40K / 24.8 miles 10K / 6.2 miles 51.5K
World Triathlon Long Course 2,000m 80K / 49.6 miles 20K / 12.4 miles 102K
Half Iron / 70.3 1.2 miles 56 miles 13.1 miles 70.3 miles
Full Iron / 140.6 2.4 miles 112 miles 26.6 miles 140.6 miles
Before we get to the questions, I asked everyone to share how long they’ve been participating in triathlon and if there is anything else about each of us that will give you insight into who we are or our background.  Natalie: I’m the rookie of the group. I played water polo in high school and college. After many years of not being active, I started running mostly to lose weight and get in shape – it worked, but I became incredibly bored with just running, so I started migrating over to multisport and have been at it for about 5 years.

Dawn

Dawn: Swimmer for the fun of it before I could walk. Always a learner, I study triathlon and techniques to be the best athlete I can be. That education and desire to share it with others led me to become a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach. Jay: My first triathlon was as a team member (running leg) in the 1993 Gull Lake Triathlon. I started running in college… mostly to deal with stress. My first race ever was a marathon in 1978. I drifted to triathlon because I needed a new challenge. Kathy: As strictly a runner, I discovered Triathlon after suffering some sport related injury due to the constant pounding of running.  I loved the variety the training provided and the adventure of the races.  I decided to “Tri” my first triathlon in 2007 and started sharing my passion for the sport as a USAT Certified Triathlon Coach in 2020. 1)      Do you do all 3 disciplines every day? Natalie: No one has time for that! When I train; most of my training days I’m doing 2 workouts, occasionally back to back but the only time I’m doing all 3 disciplines is if I’m doing a mock race or actually racing. Dawn: No. Most individuals do not have time for that and then you wouldn’t be able to focus and improve on your weakness. I do have my athletes practice bricks, two workouts done consecutively with the purpose of improving race pacing. The most typical brick is a bike followed by a run. I also have them practice very short triathlons during race season to practice their transitions, that is, changing from one sport to the next. Jay: I generally shoot for 10 workouts per week. My magic formula was always 4-3-2-1   ..meaning 4 bikes, 3 runs, 2 swims, 1 strength. I won’t disclose my current formula 😉

Kathy

Kathy: I tackle the disciplines in 2’s (as a minimum): 2 bikes, 2 runs, 2 swims, 2 strengths.  While this does mean doing more than 1 workout in a day, it is usually broken up into 1 before work and 1 during lunch or after work.  With working full-time and having a family, that schedule may not always be achievable.  If I have to pick and choose workouts during the off season, I focus on strength training and the weakest of my 3 disciplines. 2)      So, you swim, bike and run all in the same day…do you get any breaks? Natalie: There is a transition between each discipline, depending on the distance it could be as quick as putting on shoes (or switching shoes) or as long as doing an almost complete wardrobe change – which for an Iron distance, I did actually change everything I was wearing except for my sports bra. Even with a full wardrobe change, that was only about 7 minutes.  Dawn: I wouldn’t call transition a break. As you are just starting out in triathlon use the transition time to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the next sport. Speed will come in time. Jay: Triathlon is an endurance sport.  There is no sense in sprinting or in taking-a-break. Pace pace pace. Kathy: There are no “breaks” during a triathlon and only a “transition” from one discipline to the next.  This transition is included in your total race time, so it is often called the 4th discipline in triathlon.  As you become more experienced in triathlon and want to look at improving your race times, improving your transition is the easiest way to save valuable minutes.  We also refer to it as “free speed”.  Practice, practice, practice. 3)      Do you run in bike shorts (the ones with all of the padding)?

Natalie

Natalie: I have done it, but for me personally, I don’t recommend it. On race day, I typically wear a tri short that has a chamois, but is much smaller than a traditional bike short. It does take time to get comfortable with something smaller. The one additional thing I would say about apparel, I didn’t really know what to buy when I first started, I bought inexpensive shorts and gear, but I quickly learned that you get what you pay for. The more expensive gear is typically a higher quality and has been significantly more comfortable.  Dawn: I’m one of the few people who doesn’t mind cycling shorts while running. Mostly because the run off the bike in a training session will be rather short. I wear a Triathlon Kit with thinner padding for races. Jay: I come from the generation that wore Speedos on the bike. Wear what you feel comfortable in.  You will find that as you spend more time in the aero position on the bike, that you need less padding. To answer your question…never. Kathy: I would compare running in bike shorts to running in a soggy diaper.  For a brick workout (bike followed by a run), if I wear cycling shorts on the bike, I will change into run shorts as I transition to the run.  During race day, changing isn’t an option, so I use triathlon shorts that have a much smaller chamois that dries quickly. 4)      How do you go to the bathroom? Natalie: Personally, if I have to go – I’m going to stop and use a port-o-john. I’m never going to be so fast that I can’t stop to go to the bathroom. And if I have to go that bad, if I tried to push to finish, I would be miserable…not worth it! Dawn: I agree with Natalie here.  Jay: I’m not much help. My longest distances are marathons and half-ironman. In the hundreds of race I have done, I have never used the bathroom during the actual race….its a gift.  I must admit that lined up in my wetsuit prior to the start, I have watered the grass. Kathy: I have learned over the years to use the bathroom whenever and wherever possible.  That may be the port-a-john, the lake, or even (full disclosure) sitting on the ground in transition. 5)      What advice would you give someone who is curious about trying a triathlon? (Ha, see what I did there.) Natalie: Hire a coach. When I first started, I just followed a generic plan, which got me from start to finish, however I didn’t have anyone to lean on for questions or anything for that matter. For the Unique 10 stage adventure triathlon (in Michigan) I used a remote coach but realized pretty quickly how much I preferred having a local coach to help guide me. There are options for all budget levels, but this was a game changer for me.  Dawn: Practice. Whether you read a book about triathlon, have a friend who can share their knowledge with you or hire a Coach, seek out knowledge to plan how you will get ready for your first triathlon. Before your race, lay out everything you will need for the race from start to finish. Then mentally and physically go through the steps, this includes getting wet and practicing how you will remove your cap, goggles etc before putting on your helmet and shoes to get on your bike. Remember, your first race should be enjoyable. If you are worried about being fast that will come later. Jay: Don’t overthink it.  A lot of technology has made triathlon more complex than when we just put on our swimsuits and dragged out the Schwinn.  But there is nothing wrong with old-style. Don’t get intimidated by the gear of others.  Kathy: Volunteer at a triathlon.  Volunteering gives you an inside view of the in’s and out’s of a triathlon.  It will help you to gain valuable experience while also helping to support the event. This ended up being a really fun way for me to learn about the sport, find some really unique multi-sport events and how other athletes think about triathlon. Here are a couple of things I thought could be helpful, plus an event that might be added to my bucket list! Learn more about USA Triathlon and all things Multisport Grand Rapids Triathlon is one of my favorite independent races in Michigan. They offer Super Sprint, Sprint, Olympic and Half Distance at their 2-day event. It’s a great beginner event!  Unique 10 stage adventure triathlon (in Michigan) is the Battle of Waterloo  The post New to Triathlon? Learn from 3 Athletic Mentors Team members! appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.

The Zwift Tron Bike: HACKS TO UNLOCK QUICKER!

January 18th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jay Campbell

If you are a Zwifter, you may have experienced a bit of bike-envy when a glowing-neon-bike came in and out of your view. [A “Zwifter” is a user of Zwift, “… a massively multiplayer online cycling and running physical training program that enables users to interact, train and compete in a virtual world.” -Wikipedia] That neon bike is commonly known as the “Tron” bike and formally referred to as the “Zwift Concept Z1 Bike.” It is colorful and it is fast. This article will divulge some hacks to unlock your Tron Bike quicker.

Author’s avatar on his Zwift Concept Z1 (Tron) bike on top of the Radio Tower climb with Alpe du Zwift in the background. He accumulated 65% of the 164,000 feet of elevation in the final 7 weeks. The hacks enabled increased weekly-elevations of 7113, 6115, 14547, 16710, 15925, 21512, and 24540 feet. Image used by permission of Zwift.com.

There are some basics to “unlocking” the Tron bike that I will not cover in detail. For example, you need to sign up for the Everest Challenge (I wish someone had told me that three years ago). Those basics have been covered by others [https://zwiftinsider.com/tron-bike/].

The main requirement to unlock the Tron is the accumulation of 50 kilometers of climbing…. that’s 164,042 feet. If you rode the Tempus Fugit route every day (52 feet of climb) it would take you 3,155 days. If you rode the Road to Sky route every day (3428 feet) it would take you 48 days.

Another way to look at this is … How much time would it take to accumulate 164,042 feet at a given speed on a given slope? For example, 10 mph up a 5% slope equals 0.5 miles-of-climb-per-hour or 2640 feet-per-hour.

Vup = V x slope — [Rate-of-Climb = bike velocity x slope]

That Rate-of-Climb would require 62 hours to unlock the Tron bike. From this you can see that getting the Tron bike is not an impossible task if you ride some hilly routes (not Tempus Fugit). But before we talk about routes, let’s talk about the physics.

Your pedal power (watts) that moves your Zwift avatar is expended (for simplification) in three ways: 1) changing elevation, 2) rolling and frictional losses and 3) aero drag losses.

The power required to maintain a specific Rate-of-Climb is easy to calculate.

Equation (i): Pup = Vup x m x g — [power = Rate-of-Climb x mass x gravitational constant]

For example, take the 10 mph on a 5% slope discussed above with the cyclist+bike weighing 70 kg. This becomes:

0.5 mph x .447 (M/s)/mph x 70 kg x 9.8 M/s2 = 153 watts (NM/s)

This is the minimum wattage needed to maintain that Rate-of-Climb. More power is needed to overcome the frictional, rolling, and aero losses. Those losses are a function of velocity (the losses are smaller at lower velocities). We will talk about that in a minute, but let’s take one last look at Equation (i) written a different way:

Vup = Pup/(m x g)

To maximize Rate-of-Climb, Vup, we want to maximize power and minimize mass (g is a constant). Hey… that’s watts per kilo! Now you understand the cyclist’s obsession with watts per kilo. For a climber, it is all about watts per kilo. In fact, you can quickly calculate your theoretical vertical speed in feet per hour by multiplying your watts per kilo* by the conversion factor of about 1200. For example, 2.0 w/kg* converts to 2400 feet per hour of elevation gain.

[*Note that throughout this article, “m” or “mass” is the combined weight of cyclist and bike. The “w/kg” numbers all use that definition of “mass.” The “w/kg” reported by Zwift on their data displays does NOT include the weight of the bike. To compare your w/kg with the data in this blog, you must add a bike weight. Zwift does not disclose the weights of their frames and wheels. I have used a climbing-bike weight of 15.7 lbs (7.1 kg) which was the average bike weight at the 2021 Tour de France. (See Table 4.) Strangely, the Rates-of-Climb I measured on Zwift are faster than theoretically possible by a few percent. Perhaps my bike set up is lighter than 15.7 lbs or I was inputting more power than the erg setpoint? We know Zwift uses the weight of the bike in their algorithm. See link in next paragraph.]

Maximizing power and minimizing weight is so logical, that equations are superfluous, but now you have a feel for what the Zwift engine is doing. To minimize mass you could lose some weight, but I will leave that up to you. You should go to your “Zwift Garage” and select the lightest frame and wheelset available. This has been written about by others here: https://zwiftinsider.com/fastest-bike-alpe/

To further maximize your Rate-of-Climb, Vup, you would like the majority of your power expended on elevation gain and not expended on rolling and aero resistances. To keep rolling and aero resistances small, you want your velocity low, which means picking the steepest climbs possible. Others have discussed the optimal Zwift routes (see https://zwiftinsider.com/easiest-tron/ ), but my experience is that the climb to the Radio Tower is best for highest Rate-of-Climb. The Radio Tower climb is consistently over 10% slope so V is low, meaning that most of your power is going into elevation gain.

Rates-of-Climb (ft/hr) on Radio Tower for various w/kg* are shown below. In most instances, the Rate-of-Climb exceeded the theoretical maximum. I can’t explain why that is happening, but it does confirm that the Zwift algorithm calculates the losses due to friction, roll and drag to be very small.

Table 1. Riding up the 450 foot climb of Radio Tower from bottom of Bowl (more data in Figure 1):

watts/kg* Rate-of-Climb Theoretical % Diff
1.59 1970 ft/hr 1908 ft/hr -3.3%
2.38 3066 ft/hr 2856 ft/hr -7.4%
3.04 3778 ft/hr 3648 ft/hr -3.6%

Reverse Epic KOM climb, Bonus Climb (Radio Tower), and “Bowl”. Base Image used by permission of Zwift.com.

HACK #1

2D Elevation of Shorelines and Summits Route. Hack#1 starts at about the 26-mile marker and proceeds in reverse, up the Epic KOM to the Radio Tower. Used by permission of VeloViewer powered by Strava. See full details here.

The best way to get to the Radio Tower climb and still get in some climbing on the way is to select the Jungle Circuit Route. Do an immediate U-turn. Within the next minute you will get an intersection warning. Select to go right onto the Reverse Epic KOM climb. In about a minute you are into good climbing, with no power wasted on flats or downhill.

You will be using the U-turn function a lot in my hacks, so figure out how to use it effectively. I use the down arrow on my keyboard which is easily reachable. The key needs to be held for a second or two before the turn is executed.

HACK #2

Create a custom workout for your climbs and execute in erg mode. This will enable you to maintain a normal cadence and prevent you from overdoing it. A link to a custom workout that works for a wide variety of riders is given at the end of this article. It is mostly in Zone 2. Long aerobic workouts are best for accumulating elevation day after day.

HACK #3

When you get to the top of Epic KOM via the reverse route (~1100 feet of climbing) you will take a right turn onto what is called “Bonus Climb” or more commonly the Radio Tower. This is about 500 feet of very steep climbing. I usually do a U-turn as soon as the slope drops below 10% near the top of the climb, head back to the bottom, U-turn at the bottom and do it again, and again, and again.

Table 2. Riding up and down Radio Tower (the complete loop):

watts/kg* Rate-of-Climb
1.59 1997 ft/hr
2.38 2953 ft/hr
3.04 3617 ft/hr

A “custom Zwift workout” could consist of alternating blocks of “climbing” and “descending.” You want to expend energy on the climb and save it on the descent. Make the blocks longer than it will actually take you to climb or descend, then make use of the “Tab” key. The “Tab” key skips to the next block. For example: create two blocks of 15 minutes @ 80% ftp and 2 minutes @ 40% ftp. If you get to the top in 9:09 (at 80%ftp), U-Turn, and hit the Tab key to skip to the descend block. When you are done descending and are climbing again, hit the Tab key to skip to the next “climbing” block.

HACK #4

Do you remember your physics lessons on potential energy conversion to kinetic energy? Usually, the teacher released a ball at the top of a ramp. The ball accelerated as it descended. Maybe there was an up-ramp abutting the down-ramp. The ball ascended the up-ramp, stalled, descended again, then oscillated between the two ramps. Without frictional and rotational losses, the ball could oscillate forever as potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and back, much like skateboarders with their half-pipes. If you could find two opposing ‘ramps’ in the Zwift world, could you accumulate more feet of climbing by oscillating back and forth than by doing a long climb like Radio Tower?

Equation (ii) for a frictionless ramp shows that a doubling of the slope will double the Rate-of-Climb. Doubling the height of the incline (making the ramp longer) only increases the Rate-of-Climb by 21/2.

Equation (ii): Rate-Of-Climb = (g/8)1/2 x s x (H)1/2 — where H is the vertical height of the incline, s is slope and g is gravitational constant

For example, a ramp of 11% slope and a height of 21 feet gives a Rate-of-Climb of 3637 ft/hr. [Note this is approximately the conditions of the 1.59 w/kg* experiment in Table 4, which had a Rate-of Climb of 3792 ft/hr.]

There is an interesting “Bowl” (two-sided-ramp) at the start of the Radio Tower climb. Both sides have maximum slopes greater than 12%. I tested this “Bowl” at several w/kg*.

Table 3. Rate-of-Climb in Bowl vs. Radio Tower Loop:

watts/kg* Rate-of-Climb in Bowl Advantage vs Up/Dwn Radio Tower at same w/kg Theoretical w/kg for this Rate-of-Climb
1.59 3792 ft/hr 90% 3.2 w/kg
2.38 4704 ft/hr 59% 3.9 w/kg
3.04 5548 ft/hr 53% 4.6 w/kg

To my shock, I accumulated almost 60% more feet in elevation per hour by cycling back and forth across this bowl than going straight up and down the Radio Tower! To get that rate-of-climb using equation (i) would require 3.9 w/kg (for me that equates to 265 watts or 126% of my ftp!) At 1.59 w/kg the results were even more astounding: a 90% increase in Rate-of-Climb! The lower speeds at lower w/kg correspond to less aero and rolling losses. Conversely, if you do this Bowl at higher w/kg, you will experience less advantage, but it will still be worth implementing the Hack.

HACK #5

There is something very interesting about Equation (ii) … “mass” does not appear in this equation! This would indicate that riding the bowl should not be adversely affected by a heavier bike? In fact, high speeds are attained at the bottom of the bowl where aerodynamics come into play. You can take advantage of this by switching to a heavier aero frame and wheels when you get to the Bowl. Switching bikes in-game is easy to do. [See www.zwiftinsider.com/change-bikes-quickly/]

I confirmed this in a test with two different bikes in the Bowl. [Note…My choice of equipment was limited by what was in my garage (many frames and wheels are level-locked).] The Time Trial bike’s Rate-of-Climb was over 7% more than the Climbing bike … over 300 extra feet per hour! To achieve either of those Rates-of-Climb on a normal uphill would require around 4 watts/kg!

Table 4. Aero vs Lightweight in the Bowl

Set-Up Lightweight Climbing Time Trial Aero
Frame Cannondale EVO Canyon Speedmax
Frame Zwift Aero Stars 2 4
Frame Zwift Weight Stars 4 1
Wheels Zipp 353 NSW Zipp 454
Wheels Zwift Aero Stars 3 4
Wheels Zwift Weight Stars 3 3
Assumed weight for w/kg 7.1 kg 9.1 kg
Power Input 70% ftp 70% ftp
Watts/kilogram* 2.22 2.16
Rate-of-Climb in Bowl 4493 ft/hr 4824 ft/hr

CONCLUSION

Unlocking the Tron Bike is one of the coolest achievements on Zwift. These hacks can get you there quicker. Using Figure 1 you can predict how many hours it will take you to get there. If you can maintain 3 w/kg, your RoC on the Radio Tower climb is about 4000 ft/hr. You can accumulate the 164,000 feet in 41 hours. Interestingly, if you can only maintain 1.5 w/kg, but you spend your time in the ‘Bowl,’ you have about the same RoC.

Figure 1. Rate-of-Climb for different scenarios

 

 

In the process of learning about these HACKS and why they work, I hope I have refreshed your understanding of some of the physics of cycling. Knowing the science can help you bike smarter.

 

 

 

==============================================================

*All references to “w/kg” include the weight of the bike and are not directly comparable to “w/kg” reported on the Zwift data screens which only includes the weight of the rider. To convert, multiply the Zwift number by (cyclist kg)/(cyclist+bike kg).

CUSTOM ZWIFT WORKOUT

I have created a workout that leads you through the HACKS. You can download it from here:

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/tefhztfep6vvivw2xus45/Jungle_Circuit-Tron_Hacks-V01-02.zwo?rlkey=x0wyynfi8mrm2qpydg2bl8fi3&dl=0

After you have downloaded it, save it to Documents/ZwiftWorkouts/[YourZwiftID] and then start Zwift. [If you are having trouble, video instructions are here: Importing Custom Workouts – Instructions | Zwift] This workout is called Jungle Circuit-Tron Hacks-V01-02 and will now appear under the “Custom Workouts” category in the workouts list. It is designed to be ridden in “erg” mode on the JUNGLE CIRCUIT route in Watopia.

Do not be alarmed at the “length” of the workout. It is made to suit a wide variety of riders. You will be “tabbing” through some of the long blocks. If you are a less powerful rider you will be instructed to “tab” (skip) many of the blocks. Most riders will get the full experience in 60 minutes.

You will need access to a keyboard to use the workout effectively. Here are the keyboard shortcuts to know:

Action Keyboard Shortcut
U-Turn Down Arrow (Press and Hold)
Select turn at upcoming intersection Right Arrow
Skip out of current workout block Tab
Stop Game to change bikes A
Open Garage to select frame and wheels T

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Adjusting Expectations: Katja’s First Season with TAMJD

December 27th, 2023 by JoAnn Cranson

By:Katja Opfer

My first season on TAMJD got off to a bit of a rough start when I broke my thumb at my high school ski team’s training camp in early January. While my ski racing season ended before it even began, this meant that I had a lot of time to train and build up base miles in Zwift. Breaking my thumb reinforced my belief that everything happens for a reason, because having all that time to train set me up well going into the cycling season and it paid off. My fitness was better than ever before and I had a great time at the team’s spring training camp in North Carolina, where I got to do some amazing rides. I also had the opportunity to participate in V02 testing at Athletic Mentors headquarters with some of my teammates, which was a great learning experience.

Barry-Roubaix Race

Going into the first race of the season, Barry Roubaix (18-mile), I had fairly low expectations for myself since it was my first gravel race. To my surprise, I won first overall female and set a new female course record on the way to helping TAMJD win the team competition for the third year in a row!  My success in this race opened up the world of gravel racing to me and I went on to place second overall female in the Cowpie Classic Short Haul (36-mile) and also won overall female at De Ronde Van Grampian (25-mile). I had never done any gravel riding before this year, but it became an essential part of my training every week and provided something different to change it up.

A lot of my training and preparation this season was focused on the Mountain Bike National Championships in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. This was my chance to see how I stacked up against girls my age from all over the country. The course was super intimidating with more rocks than I had ever seen on a mountain bike trail in my life, and some pretty nerve-wracking features to tackle. With my limited experience on techy terrain, plus being one of only a few racers on a  hardtail, I felt like I was thrown into the deep end. I spent many hours practicing on the course and built up my confidence a ton by the day of the XC race. My result of 28th out of 74 proved to myself that I could compete against these incredibly fast girls and gave me some ideas of what my goals should be for next year.

My last race before MiSCA season was the Ore 2 Shore Soft Rock, which was one of the most fun and challenging races I did all year. The 28-mile course located in the U.P. was beautiful and had a fair amount of long climbs and fun descents on many types of terrain. This race was very competitive, and I really left everything I had out on the course with a sprint finish to win first place overall female. This win was a big achievement for me given that it was such a close race.

MiSCA season felt a lot different this year because I went from only racing the 6 MiSCA races last year to doing over 20 races this year. Winning all 6 races as a sophomore in my first Varsity season, after sweeping JV last year as a freshman, was pretty unreal. This year MiSCA was really about the atmosphere and the friendships. It’s not very common that you are friends with all your competitors. Even though we are on different scholastic teams, many of us are on TAMJD together and we invited the other Varsity girls to hang out with us after the races too. This dynamic made the races a lot more enjoyable because I was cheering on my friends and teammates.

 

Iceman Race

My last race of the season was the Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City. Being the indecisive person that I am, I waited until practically the last minute to switch to the Pro category. After careful consideration of my season so far, and placing 2nd overall in Pro women at Peak 2 Peak two weeks before, I decided to switch to Pro at Iceman. Even though it was my first time racing Iceman, I felt confident that I could race in the Pro category after pre-riding the course. I had a great start but unfortunately I was involved in a crash around mile 4, which most likely took me out of the running for top ten. I gave everything I had to bridge up to the lead group, but couldn’t stay with them and got dropped halfway through the race. I was still able to finish 12th in a stacked field of 26 Pro women. I saw this race as a chance to prove myself and was really frustrated that it didn’t work out the way I wanted, but what can you do? I’ll be back next year, that’s for sure.

In summary, I view my first year beyond the horizons of MiSCA to have been very successful. Having a structured training plan provided by my Athletic Mentors coach Terry Ritter definitely helped me train productively to accomplish my goals. Next year I am setting my sights on more national-level races, possibly including gravel and marathon Nationals, and hopefully I can break into the top 20 at MTB Nationals. I also plan on doing some longer gravel and MTB endurance races after doing so well in the shorter versions, including Barry Roubaix, Cowpie, and Ore 2 Shore. I am excited for my second year with TAMJD and am looking forward to all the racing in 2024!

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