Team Athletic Mentors News

Jared’s Race at Iceman Cometh’s 2022

December 15th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jared Dunham

The Iceman Cometh is a hallmark of Michigan mountain bike and bike racing. In 2021 I didn’t compete; however, I was fortunate enough to be a part of this year’s event. By the numbers, this course was 29 miles in length with 1,453 ft of elevation. The race begins at the Kalkaska Airport and ends at the Timber Ridge campground in Traverse City. This route uses mostly forest roads and the official VASA trails with portions of singlet rack added intermittently. It’s known for the final 3k of the course being setup like a cyclocross event. In terms of weather, leading up to Saturday, it was looking like we were going to get another “mud man”. This was reinforced by the fact that it had downpoured most of the previous night. However, lining up in the Pro/Cat 1 wave, the temperatures were in the low 60’s and while it was overcast, there was no rain for the time being.

We started the race like a “bat out of hell”. Riders were jostling for positions as we made our way out of the Airport and into the first two-track of the course. Nearing this initial two-track, racers ahead of me slowed to get around a giant mud puddle in the middle of the road. I was in the wrong spot of the group and lost several positions due to this, then had to regain my momentum. Generally, there is a good portion of sandy two-track in this event, however between the rain and the 3,400 sum-odd riders that came before us, almost all loose sections were packed down. Entering the first single track at 2 miles, my turns were smooth, and I was able to hang with a group relatively easily. Post-single track was when things split up drastically. People were able to put the power down on the sections of well-ridden forest road and the race officially began.

For a good portion of this race, I was chasing solo riders or small groups of racers that had fallen off the main pack. I’d catch up to a racer/group, find our paces didn’t match, then rinse and repeat. At 5 miles we were on the Brown Fire Lane straightaway, looking back there was a group of riders who were set to eliminate the gap I had. Ahead of me, there was a larger group of cyclists. I put in another dig and managed to hook onto the group ahead of me as we neared the next portion of single track. However, not long after, the group split apart, and I was in the caboose at the time. Re-entering gravel roads at what I believe was mile 11, I was yet again being chased by a group in the distance behind me. However, three riders were forming a peloton ahead of me.

Making a right onto Broomhead Rd, I tucked into an aero position, grabbed the center of the bars, and burned some more diesel fuel trying to catch the riders ahead of me. Avg speed was 21.3 mph through this section. Making a left back onto some forest road, I was only a few bike lengths away from a group of three. Finally at 15 miles, I slipped into one of the rider’s drafts and began to get some recovery in. Our peloton was made up of; Justin Morris, Ben Kailis, Barry Dykstra, and Myself (sorry if I got someone’s name wrong). At 15.7 miles, there was a portion of winding single track, I was still in 4th position, getting some recovery where I could. On one of the sweeping left turns, a small log was positioned at the outer edge of the trail. Noticing it too late, Ben and Barry rode over the log, but were able to clear it again to get back onto the trail. I wasn’t as lucky. My rear tire slipped on the wet log, and I was down on the ground.

Thankfully I had no major injuries, aside from some scrapes and bruises, and neither did the bike. Getting back on my feet, I spent some time pulling the chain out from under my chain ring. I lost a few positions but eventually got back onto the bike. However, that zen-like, flow-state mentality that you need to navigate single track fast was gone. Thankfully, the remaining course is more suited for a rider of better fitness than handling ability, as the most significant climbs were yet to come. 21.4 miles in, I arrived at the Boonenberg climb, which was one of the major climbs and at 23 miles, I was treated to Anita’s hill. It was here that I set a new highest heart rate, at 200 bpm. Shortly after this, the lead group of Women riders caught and passed me; Alexis Skarda, Savilia Blunk, and Rose Grant.

The clouds had been sprinkling off and on during the ride, but this was when it really started to rain. Wearing a jersey, finger-less gloves, normal bibs, and shoe covers, I was slightly chilled on the descents but would warm up again when I hit the climbs. Around 26 miles, I could tell that someone was following relatively closely behind. In the straightaways I could look back and make out a blue jersey in the distance, but I wasn’t sure who it was. Determined to hold my position, I sustained the hard effort but wasn’t going to give it the beans until the legendary final 3k. At the summit of Mount Gary (one of the final climbs of the course), I turned down an offer for Pabst Blue Ribbon and kept trucking. Entering the first section single track of the ending to the event, I did what I could to maintain my gap with the rider behind me.

Photo by: Rob Meendering Photography

The trail was muddy, relatively tight in areas, and twisty. I focused on maintaining smoothness over speed, which paid off. After exiting the single track, I didn’t hear the crowd behind me continue to cheer. This was good news; the rider wasn’t very close to me, and the gap was holding. I sent it on Icebreaker hill, with some minor cramps in my quads at this point, went back through Timber Ridge, and after following more single track, was dumped out at the base of Woodchip hill. The turn onto Woodchip was sharp and I had to take it wide, but I stayed upright and was in the correct gear to mash some pedals. After climbing Woodchip, I descended for a bit and then worked my way back into Timber Ridge for the finish. On one of the final hill climbs, I saw Keegan Korienek nearing the top, but my legs were baked at this point. Reentering Timber Ridge, I rode through the final turns, which I had memorized at this point, and put in a sprint on the straightaway to the finish.

My finish time for this year’s Iceman was 1:46:17, by comparison, my 2019 finish time was 2:14:23. So I was able to shave nearly a half an hour off my previous Iceman race. Additionally, in 2019 I was in peak form at the time of Iceman and training specifically for XC mountain bike races. Apart from comparing previous finish times, something that speaks to the caliber of riders that competed at this year’s event was how I placed in the rankings. In 2019, I placed 54th of 94 Pro men and 165 overall. This year I placed 80th of 99 Pro men and 109 Overall. One thing to note however, is that 2019 was a “mud year”, so it may not be easy to compare apples to apples. Concerning afterthoughts, one thing I needed was better positioning going into the first single track at 2 miles in. Riding with a group and catching some draft as opposed to chasing solo for about half the race would’ve saved a lot of my matches.

Thanks again to everyone who helps put on this race, I haven’t done an event quite like Iceman before. If you raced and met the goal you set, great, if you raced and had fun, awesome, if you did both, congratulations. On a final note, all the people cheering us on are what make this event amazing, so thank you for being out there to heckle us. My race plate number was 99 and the highlight of my ride was riding through one of the last bends in the course and some random guy I didn’t know yelling with conviction, “Go ninety nine”!

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Capturing Rob

October 28th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Christina Vipond

Is it a race without Rob, Mortimer and dog snouts? Racers can catch a glimpse of Rob Meendering, Rob Meendering Photography, behind trees or right in the middle of the road, not moving as the bikes whistle by. I had the opportunity to talk with Rob and get his story.

As a teen and in his early 20s Rob wanted to be anywhere other than Michigan. He had always had an interest in photography and took photos during the time he traveled. He had cheap cameras during this time and even used throw away cameras. Eventually, his very nice in-laws who spoil him, bought him a nice lens. 

Rob told the story of being a regular smoker and drinker. He drove an old jeep and worked at a garage. When gas prices went up to $4, he bought a Cannondale mountain bike to get to work and back. One day, he had the bike on the back of his jeep and a family member said he was going to ride Yankee and invited Rob to join. He said he hit every tree and took over 2 hours to ride 1 lap. His wife was a runner and swimmer so they decided to train for a triathlon. Rob decided to get a road bike and coincidentally, he lived 5 doors down from Ada Bike Shop manager, Steve Kunnath. Steve was so energetic and his enthusiasm got Rob excited about riding. He did his first 30 mile ride and joined the Founders team.

Rob started taking his camera to races. After he had finished his race, he would take “really cool” pictures of his teammates. It didn’t take long for race promoters to invite Rob to be the race photographer. He described himself as a “caveman with a camera”. Rob is now an icon at cycling races. I asked him about his favorite moments. He said he loves what he does so much, there isn’t 1 thing. He loves watching folks accomplish something they didn’t think was possible. He enjoys being in the woods, being a part of the experience, seeing his nephew, bad a$$ cyclist, Logan Barksdale,  as well as friends. “It’s always great to see Matt Acker and seeing him win.” Another highlight was when Alexy Vermeulen won the Iceman Cometh 2019. Rob was able to chase him with the camera. Another meaningful memory for

Photo taken by Rob Meendering

Rob was when he was asked to shoot Peak to Peak. Rob had broken his leg in August (riding a bike, of course) and was still wearing a big boot. He told Ted Peacock that he could sit at the finish line. Rob got to the race, ready to shoot the finish line when Joel Voss said he would be chasing Marie and Brandon around the course and invited Rob to ride with him. Rob hopped in with Joel and was able to get pictures from the course. That memory and story is touching for so many of us. 

I asked about the dogs. Rob was playing around with a wide angle lens and trying new shots. A dog walked right into the lens and a new category was formed. We all love seeing the pictures of fur friends at the races. Rob will be happy to talk about his rescue pit, Simon. (The Mortimer story is a fun one as well).

There was so much more to our conversation, it was a fun and interesting conversation. It is obvious that Rob loves being out there, taking photos and allowing us all to share our memories. He stated several times that he would never deny how fortunate he is. We are so fortunate to have him out there with us.

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How do you “Armor” up for your Key Race? Rehab with Armor PT!

October 24th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Kathy Braginton

As I limped my way to my car for the 2nd time in 2022, having just completed a 5k, I knew I needed to seek the advice of a professional.  A 5k should not hurt as much as this and require a 4-day recovery period.  With my goal race being in August and the race season still early, I turned to Armor Physical Therapy where Scott Miller, PT and his team of sports performance rehabilitation specialists went to work on my injury. 

One of the initial benefits of Armor is the ability to book an appointment without needing a referral from your primary care physician.  I was allowed 10 visits over a 21-day period which allowed time for an initial assessment, manual therapy, and rehabilitation as we sought approval for continual therapy.  With each sports performance rehabilitation treatment I have sought with Armor over the years, initial diagnosis has been a lack of glute activation. My injury this time around was no exception.  My hamstring and low back muscles were doing all the work and the nerves between the glute and hamstring were angry.

The therapists at Armor quickly went to work to create a program that was customized to my specific condition, needs and goals.  The program included manual therapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, and a home exercise program. 

 With each visit, therapists used manual therapy for a hands-on treatment to remediate body functions.  The manual therapy (aka massage) was the best portion of each treatment.

Stretching and strengthening exercises to improve flexibility, boost joint range of motion, strengthen muscles, and most importantly get my glutes firing again.  Here is a sampling of a few of the strengthening exercises.

Exercise 1 – “The warm-up”  – Total gym, banded squats

Exercise 2 – “The balancing act” – Rocker board with kettlebell arm swings

Exercise 3 – “The sobriety test” – alternating step-ups with a liquid-filled PVC

Exercise 4 – “Burn booty burn” – single-leg stability ball airplanes.  Front view

Exercise 4 – “Burn booty burn” – single-leg stability ball airplanes.  Back view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Note – Armor is not responsible for the content of my exercise descriptions! 😉

Dry Needling

Armor offers a wide variety of additional services in their sports performance rehabilitation: Dry Needling, Gait/running evaluations, custom foot orthotics, and AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, just to name a few.  For a full list of Armor’s treatment options, visit https://armorpt.com.  As a part of my customized plan, I utilized the Dry Needling and the Orthotics. With dry needling, the needles are used to stimulate an area of muscles that have become stiff.  The special needles can reach areas that other manual therapies cannot.  After each treatment, I found I had improved flexibility and range of motion.  As a side note, the dry needling and orthotics are not covered under insurance but can be paid for through an HSA account.  I found the benefits of both services to be well worth any additional costs.

With my diligence in attending weekly in office sessions, as well as, continuing home exercises, Scott and his team at Armor Physical Therapy, had me running pain-free by my goal race in August.

 

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Meet Charlotte Rosinski

October 21st, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Charlotte Wright-Rosinski

Hi, my name is Charlotte Rosinski and I’m from Highland, Michigan. I’m currently 14 years old and in 9th grade at Milford High School with a few other members from Team Athletics Mentors Junior Development (TAMJD). I’ve been cycling since I was in 3rd grade, but I guess I’ve been on a bike longer than the 3rd grade. I would say that the spark for cycling really started the summer after 3rd grade, when I joined my school district’s mountain bike club where I was able to learn skills that have stuck with me and made many friends that have also stuck with me.

I have raced with MiSCA since I started mountain biking on the Huron Valley United Racing team, and in the 2021 season I achieved the Advanced Middle School Girls Champion title. I’m currently racing on the HVUR Varsity team. This is my first year on TAM Junior Development, and I joined because many of my friends on HVUR had either joined or suggested that I should join the team. I was really drawn to the team because I felt like I had continuously been growing as a cyclist, but I really needed people to help direct my growth which I feel the TAMJD team has really helped with.

My goals for races overall this year are to try to learn a bit more about racing and place well. To be more specific, I want to do well in the elite category at Peak2peak and try to win my age group at Iceman. Similar to the non-MiSCA races this year I want to place 3rd overall and top 5 per year, but I also want to treat this year as a learning experience. I’ve been racing the Varsity category as a freshman with people who are a few years older and I guess you could say “wiser” in racing than me, so I’m really just excited to be racing people that I looked up to just a couple of years ago.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite riding place but I would probably say either Pontiac Lake, Highland, or any of the trails the team rode in Colorado during the Fort Lewis College camp we attended this summer . My favorite race that I have done is probably the USA Cycling MTB Nationals or the USAC/UCI Englewood races that I, and the members of the Junior Development team, visited this year. My favorite thing about riding is that it has made me closer with a lot of people and I have loved the places I have gotten to go to that I probably would never have gone to, like Brevard, North Carolina where we had our TAMJD training camp in March this year.

My favorite things about racing go hand-in-hand with simply riding, but with that I have loved seeing how much I have improved over time and all of the opportunities I have gotten just from racing that I am so grateful for. This year with cycling I have been able to do my first road race and gravel races, and I would really like to try to do more gravel and road racing because so far I’ve really enjoyed them and their atmosphere. Racing has become an outlet for me and I’m so grateful for the things I’ve learned about myself from it, like the fact that I am very competitive and won’t give up, I have to use proper nutrition, and I like to be very talkative with my competitors/friends after races, not before. Thanks to TAMJD, I have noticed growth in my riding and racing that I don’t think I could’ve accomplished as quickly alone.

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Beyond The Gravel

October 20th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

Photo by: Laura Caprara

By:  Christina Vipond

The first time I raced Uncle John’s Gravel Race, I was tooling along by myself about 16 miles per hour thinking I was going really fast. I climbed the hill to the finish line expecting champagne to be sprayed all over me and saw what looked like 1000 racers who had already finished. 

Lesson:1  I wasn’t “really fast”. Lesson 2: I had a lot to learn about racing.

The Michigan Gravel Race Series provides a great opportunity to experience different courses. Melting Mann kicked off the season with an overnight rain and drop in temperature which made for a chilly and leg zapping peanut butter road ride. A very nice volunteer was excited to tell me I only had 10 miles left. I tried to hide my true emotions with a smile and a thank you. 

Photo by: Laura Caprara

Barry welcomed us with a snowy start and a new, uphill finish. Lowell-it’s always nice to get to the bridge. I had to miss Hart Hills this year due to mechanical issues with both bikes at the same time. A racer can never have too many backup bikes. Waterloo was memorable with  lots of water bottle sucking potholes. The Cow Pie Classic added a 2nd farm, those trails always add adventure. Arcadia Grit and Gravel and Lord of the Springs are short but both pack a powerful punch. This year’s MGRS season ended with Uncle John’s and a new, straight up the grassy hill climb for the finish. The MGRS awards were held at the Moran 166. Although this  wasn’t part of the long or short course, it was the final ultra race. The 66 mile course was beautiful with leaves just beginning to turn and racers talked non stop about the infamous snowmobile trail. The weather was perfect, it was a great way to end the series. 

Photo by: Rob Meendering

It doesn’t take long to recognize the same faces at the races. The men are always helpful with “hop on my wheel” and “hey, we raced together at ___”.  Rob Meendering is always in the middle of the road, shouting encouragement as he captures the action. As nice as all that is, there seems to be a special bond with the women.  As competitive as the women are, they are also very encouraging.  There is chit chat during warm up rides, wishing each other good luck and a safe ride.  Some of my biggest competitors are some of my greatest friends. We stay at each other’s houses during race weekends, ride together for fun and share stories about our families. I was talking with another female racer about the relationships we build, she said her husband, who also races, just doesn’t understand it. For many of us, it goes beyond the gravel. 

 

 

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Race Recap – Dirty Mitten Gravel Triathlon

October 18th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jeff Nordquist

Gravel racing meets triathlons in The Dirty Mitten in Middleville MI. I decided to race the Long Course on Sunday which is equivalent to the standard Olympic distance triathlon. The race directors shortened the swim distance which measured 1200 m and the bike route was just under 30 miles. Both of these changes didn’t cater to my strengths.

The forecast called for rain all morning, so I was anticipating a messy day of racing. The swim wasn’t  much of a challenge, temps were high 60’s and felt great through the two-loop course. I had a 45 second lead out of the water and tried to capitalize on this with the longer trek up to the lodge for transition.

I settled onto my bike saddle and took in some nutrition before hitting the gravel roads. Biking is not my strong suit, so I knew I was going to see a few riders soon. At Mile 4 I was caught by one and we worked off each other for another 10 miles sharing the workload (drafting is legal in gravel triathlons). Just before we reached Sager Rd, I was dropped and then I struggled on Sager. This portion was nearly 2 miles long of sandy two-track and it whopped me, I had to dismount up two slippery climbs. My front wheel found a root just beneath the soft sand and it threw me over the bike, I’m sure it looked graceful but I picked myself up and rode solo all the way back into the transition.

I wasn’t too confident with my run legs, but knew I was in 3rd place leaving transition and felt I could close the gap. I maintained even splits for the first 5 k trail loop passing 2nd place at the same time. I pressed to keep him off my heels and never saw him again. I was in a solid 2nd place for loop 2 and crossed the line to finish 2nd overall. I was really hoping to come away with the victory here, but considering my bike course struggles, I was ultimately happy with a podium finish.

There is much to learn with this new format for triathlons and I’m excited to see more of these races appear in the coming years

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Catching Up with Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development

October 10th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Terry Ritter

An interview with program director Terry Ritter

The first simple question is, what is “junior development”?

In cycling, riders under the age of 19 are considered in the “Junior” class. Our program focuses on developing these athletes in this age bracket, starting at around 8th grade through 12th, to improve their racing and skill, while also giving them a variety of opportunities in cycling.

What is unique about TAMJD versus other junior programs?

It’s hard to speak for other programs, but one focus we have is on Michigan riders, right now primarily the east side of the state. We also have a coaching company (Athletic Mentors) tied into the program, which means we have the ability to offer this valuable service to the racers for a very reasonable price. And, we have an established Elite level cycling within the larger team so our kids that progress that far as Juniors can experience that aspect as well.

TAM has a history of rider development. How has the program evolved?

There was a time when we primarily had juniors that did road racing. But, our team founders and myself, though experienced in road racing, came from the MTB (Mountain Biking) side. That’s really the best place to start if you want to develop an all-around racer. MiSCA is a MTB scene, and what we do is support that discipline while giving our kids exposure to road riding. Presently, the most popular sport is gravel, and we promote that by racing some of those events as well as hone the skills needed there with group road riding. And some of the kids take to road racing from that. In many ways, this is what TAM has always done: create all around racers that compete on whatever they are riding at the time. It’s great for fitness and keeps them fresh!

Where are most of the group’s riders coming from?

With the explosion of MiSCA (Michigan Scholastic Cycling Association), which is the only resource in the state with a youth-only racing series, the JD program has been able to attract some of the more serious athletes from this large pool. One team in particular, Huron Valley United Racing, has produced 7 JD athletes over the past 4 years. We do have 2 other teams that have contributed riders as well.

What is the staff structure of the program?

While I am the head, I am fortunate to have Tina Meyer, who is a TAM teammate and parent of two of our multi-year racers, as a resource. Dan Caldwell is big with recruiting and he’s involved with the HVUR program, and Daniel Yankus helps with development as the captain of our Elite team and also a volunteer with the HVUR group.

What have the last few seasons looked like?

4 years ago we only had Kellen Caldwell on our team. He’s a once-in-ten-years rider who many of the kids looked up to in MiSCA. The next year he was joined by Hunter Post. The following year Kellen left for college and we’d gained enough recognition from serious riders that we had 6 total riders in ‘21. This season we retained those and added 5 additional members for a total of 11 (7 male, 4 female). Each year we’ve been able to do more with the group. This year included a spring break training camp in NC, a national level team MTB race in Wisconsin, a national level road criterium series, and then 9 athletes going to USAC National MTB Championships in Winter Park, CO as well as a week long camp at Fort Lewis College.

What are some of the values TAMJD imparts on their athletes?

We work to create a supportive environment, then use that to allow our athletes to try new cycling activities with more confidence. This not only expands their horizons, it gives them the experience of helping others. Also of importance is instilling the love of the bike. And, we try to show our kids the importance of helping the sport and community through volunteering requirements. They also learn teamwork and professionalism, which should help those racing in college.

Who would make an ideal candidate for the team?

We are looking for kids and parents that want greater enjoyment and support for their cycling pursuits. A good candidate would be motivated to race all season, not just the fall MiSCA slate. They may well be hoping to race in college. They’d appreciate what a team could offer them/their child. They’d see new cycling challenges, like bigger state and national racing, as something they’d like to try. Hopefully, they also want to give back to the community and each other. Ultimately, they’d see our team as a way to get closer to their potential with like-minded peers.

What does the program offer its riders/parents?

At the start, we give every Junior member a jersey, bib, helmet, socks, and a few other team items of casual clothing to help represent the team. They also get the opportunity to purchase other team items at our pricing. We also offer discounts on other products. Our program offers racing logistics and support to larger regional and national races. All our Juniors get some direction and coaching, but we also offer personal coaching at a much reduced cost. TAMJD also organizes team activities and rides so the kids can have fun together and co-mentor each other, which is beneficial for developing as a young adult.

What are the program’s greatest successes?

Kellen Caldwell has had a very good college career at one of the bigger cycling schools and he’s only a sophomore. We had one of our girls who’s 15 get 17th at Nationals, and that’s at elevation. We won the 17-18 boys junior road state championship and took 2nd in the girls. Our JD program has won the Barry Roubaix team competition and the boys and girls overall the last two years. Right now two of our seniors lead the top category (Varsity) in the MiSCA points series. The second race our girls took the top three spots on the Varsity podium (a senior, sophomore and freshman) and the boys took the top two. But I would say the fun we’ve had this year trying new things and sharing in each other’s struggles and achievements is the biggest program success. We have really had some kids blossom as riders and young people and that’s great to see by all of us.

What are some goals for the program in the near future?

We’d like to continue our selective growth and support our riders more with race reimbursement and equipment discounts. We are discussing creating a track for a select number of racers, that show more interest and promise, to gain UCI points by racing a few bigger events and be better positioned for the MTB National Championships. The program would also like to be sure we had paid and dedicated support at the races for all our riders. We also want to help MiSCA with its mission.

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Fort Lewis Camp and the MTB National Championships

October 10th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By James Meyer

I learned a lot during my 2 weeks in Colorado, at the Fort Lewis College Nationals prep camp, and racing the National Mountain Bike championships in Winter Park. At camp I got more experience falling and riding trails with lots of fast elevation gain and loss, which helped me improve my high speed descending and confidence at speed, as well as get used to the intense nature of the Colorado trails. I also got to meet and talk to riders from across the country to learn about their riding style and experience.

We also got to meet multiple people with cycling centered careers including the following:

  • Mechanic, who talked about what he does for the racers
  • Nutritionist, who talked about how best to fuel for a ride based on the type and length
  • Engineer, who talked about his job designing bikes and the best ways to get a job in the cycling industry
  • Pro cyclist, who discussed her races and her sponsors.

Spending a whole week with my teammates from Team Athletic Mentors Junior Development strengthened our relationship and getting to be dorm-mates with them was a great experience that I will gladly do next year if I get the chance.

At Nationals, I learned that I need to push myself harder to get to the front of the pack at the start of the race before the single track so I won’t get slowed down needing to pass later in the race. I also noticed how much my lap times improved each time I pre-rode the loop and sessioned features. The elevation was a problem at 9000+ feet as the air is much thinner than around 900 feet and I could really feel it while adjusting in the first few rides.

By the races, I had gotten over the altitude sickness but still wasn’t fully acclimated so it was hard for me to push myself to my limits.  At the end of the first of three 5 mile laps, my one water bottle fell off my bike on a chunky descent and I didn’t have anyone to give a bottle hand off. I eventually picked someone else’s up off the trail at the top of the climb on the last lap as I had no water for a lap and a half. I could feel my performance greatly decreasing and that was one of my first experiences that really highlighted the effects of dehydration and the importance of being prepared for anything.

Watching the rest of my team race and cheering them on was one of my favorite parts of each day. I’m lucky to be on a team with such great friends so I can be happy for them when they do well in a race and support them in any way I can if they don’t place well or as well as they wanted. Even after all of our races are done, it’s fun watching the other races with them, especially the pros. It’s crazy seeing the fastest racers in the country race the same course that you just raced because of how impossibly fast and they ride the technical features that are hard for a lot of people just to complete.

The whole experience inspired me and my teammates at Athletic Mentors Junior Development to go back next year and try
Nationals again.

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Strategies for Staying Motivated During Ultra Cycling Events

September 19th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Jared Dunham

Ultra-Cycling is challenging by nature, but in return, these events can be highly rewarding to complete. However, there may be times during an event where your motivation to continue riding is low. It can be very tempting at times to quit but, not finishing an ultra-event can be difficult and occasionally emotional depending on how much time and effort was put into preparation. While most of my experience is with events that are 24 hours or under, here are some tips that I have for staying motivated during the challenging times of an Ultra Event. These are strategies that I’ve followed and are backed by my own experience.

Break the ride down into different sections

This is very similar to goal setting; you will be more successful if you set small goals that are steps to your larger goal. In an ultra-event, you shouldn’t think of the entire route as one long race, but instead break the event down into manageable portions and focus on getting to the next section of the course. Rather than counting down the miles to go on an event, count down the miles to the next portion/section/checkpoint of the course. 

 

Examples:

  • Landscape: Divide a 100-mile course into two portions. Half of the course is in a national forest; the other half is on farmland. Your first goal is to reach the farmland, then your next goal from there can be to finish.
  • Gas Stations / Stores: Create a mental checkpoint for each of the four gas stations on a 200-mile route. This makes the distance 50 miles before starting a new portion of the course.
  • Road Conditions: Take a Bikepacking Route and divide it into different sections based on the type of road/path you’re on.

Be flexible with your plans & goals

It’s very important to do thorough planning for an ultra-event and having goals can provide something to motivate you. However, it is important to adapt your goals/plans as you ride. If you can’t sustain the average speed you’d like or won’t make it to the next checkpoint at your goal time, then adjust your goal. If you don’t, you might start thinking about how you weren’t able to follow-through with your plans/goals, which can sap motivation. Instead of being disappointed, adapt your goal to one that is obtainable, or continue a less specific version of your original plan.   

Examples:

  • EX: You aren’t going to meet your goal time for reaching the next checkpoint.  New Goal / Plan: Set a time that is close to the original goal, but still obtainable.
  • EX: You were going to ride all grades lower than 8% in the Aerobars, but now are having back pain from that riding position.  New Goal / Plan: Ride in the drops of the handlebars instead if that feels better. Otherwise, stop and move your bike stem higher on the steering tube to raise the handlebars for a more relaxed position.
  • EX: You didn’t drink as much water as you should’ve during a hot portion of the ride.  New Goal / Plan: Drink extra water at every stop that you make.

Know what to do when a Plan Falls Apart

We’ve all had those rides that make you wonder what else could go wrong, hopefully one of those rides isn’t your event. But if it is, you need to know how to handle it. Having the knowledge of how to get out of challenging situations gives you confidence, which will help to keep your morale high. The ability to continue riding despite setbacks is one that requires experience, but this experience can be gained through preparation.    Examples:

  • Know how to repair mechanical issues with your bike
  • Understand how to remedy gut issues that you could have during the event

Focus on the Good

Know how to recover from dehydration during a ride.  Ultra-events are known to have moments of mental “highs” and “lows” for their participants. If you’re in a “low”, then practicing mindfulness may help reclaim motivation for your ride. To practice mindfulness during an event is to not worry about the past or future and focus on the now. Focusing on the now (specifically what’s good right now) will keep your mind off mistakes that were made earlier in the ride or how intimidating the remaining portion of the ride may be. 

 

 

Examples:

  • Taking in your surroundings as you ride
  • Savoring a pop/soda at the next checkpoint rather than downing it quickly
  • Enjoying each pedal up-stroke, where not much work is required

Other things to keep in mind:

  • The midpoint of the race is the hardest, and if you can make it past that then you can finish.
  • Understand that there could be “highs” and “lows” and that these feelings are normal.
  • If temperatures are high during an event, it’s common to experience more dips in motivation as the conditions are difficult.

Reward Yourself for Persevering

If you’re really in a difficult spot during the ride, then it may be a good idea to grant yourself rewards for continuing the event. A reward can be the “light at the end of the tunnel” that keeps you going.   

Examples:

  • Coast the descents of hills: Depending on what the event is, it may not be as efficient to coast the descents. But allowing your legs to rest a bit may grant the motivation needed to continue riding.
  • Give yourself a break off the bike: At the next checkpoint, whatever that may be, take some extra time off the bike. Don’t wait too long though, as you may need to re-warmup your legs again before getting back into a rhythm.
  • Food: Thinking about that Snickers bar or Coke at the next gas station or C-Store can be a great motivator. However, I would caution you to only eat things that you know work for you during a ride. Additionally, if a large portion of your nutrition is coming from candy bars, then your performance is going to reflect that.
  • Slow your pace: If you made it through a particularly difficult section of the course then you could slow your pace for a moment to reward yourself.

Keeping spirits high and remaining disciplined throughout these events is a sure sign that you will be able to complete them. As with most things, you will likely need to discover what exactly works for you. However, I hope this list has sparked some ideas or even allows you to finish your next event.

 

 

The post Strategies for Staying Motivated During Ultra Cycling Events appeared first on Team Athletic Mentors.


Metabolic Testing for the Average “Jo”

September 14th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  JoAnn Cranson

I’m always trying to learn more about my body and how to manage staying healthy, burning fat and keeping my weight in check. I’m not a pro racer but I do like to exercise and compete. My latest bucket list item is to run my first Marathon.

Well, the first thing I’m discovering as I increase my miles is that I am not fueling enough during my run. The best way to figure out fueling is to do Metabolic Efficiency Testing.

Metabolism is how your body converts food into fuel to power your body. When you breathe, oxygen is carried to your muscles where carbohydrates and fats are used as fuel to create energy to keep the muscles working. Your body’s preferred fuel source is fats. It relies on oxygen (aerobic) and produces more energy. Alternatively, carbohydrates don’t rely on oxygen and provide quick bursts of energy.

However, your body only has a small storage of carbohydrates, so this is why we need to fuel adequately and frequently with carbohydrates during endurance exercise (Over 2 hours). Ideally we don’t want to have to rely on carbohydrates for all our fueling if we can train our body to use our fat stores for longer periods of times and increasingly higher intensities.

Your metabolism is unique to you! It not only refers to the way our body regulates our weight but also includes all of the chemical processes within our bodies that help to maintain normal function.

What I wanted to know what is my Metabolic Efficiency? In other words, how much fat am I burning and how many carbohydrates do I need to take in during my Marathon to run my best? Plus, I want to teach my body to burn more fat so I preserve the carbohydrate stores. This test will tell me at what heart rate, pace or power my body burns fat the best, and how I can improve that over time. The less I need to eat while I’m running the better it is for me and my digestion, yet not enough could potentially allow me to bonk!

I went to Athletic Mentors gym in Richland, Michigan to get this testing done. They had some questions that I answered ahead of time and I had the option to run on a treadmill or cycle on a trainer for this test.

I fasted for 12 hours and arrived for my test in comfortable running clothes. Jess was so friendly and helped me feel at ease by explaining everything as we got started. She checked my blood pressure, pricked my finger to measure my glucose, I put on a heart rate strap and she fitted me with a mask until I was comfortable in it. The mask and tubing were attached to a KORR machine and her computer setup.

Each test is tailored to your specific goals of what you want to learn about yourself. Some people want to know exactly how metabolically efficient they are while others are specifically looking for a fueling strategy at a certain target race pace. We started with a slow walk and very gradually eased into a run. Each phase was clearly communicated and she was always making sure I was comfortable and communicating my energy output before going to the next step.

After the test is complete, you will have a personal consultation about your results. My results showed I do burn a decent amount of fat vs carbohydrate at my 9:22/mile run pace. The information also shows me how many grams of carbs I should consume every hour for my long runs.

My long-term goal is to improve my body to preferentially use fats as the main fuel source for as long as possible. From the test, I know my target zone (heart rate and pace) to gradually get my body to use more fats as a fuel source for as long as possible. As my body adapts to using fats more, I’ll see an improvement in this speed and heart rate. Along with this, I need to be aware that I’m eating a balanced diet of healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates.

Check out Athletic Mentors and set up your Metabolic Efficiency Test. (Click the link and it will explain everything along with the reasonable cost to have it done.) Whether you want to learn more about your personal health or you have an upcoming goal race, it’s so worth it to learn more about how your body operates.

This average “Jo”Ann is enjoying learning more about staying healthy and being more prepared to check off another item (Running a Marathon) on my bucket list!

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