Road to Masters

So you’ve probably seen me around the forum (mostly in Training and Racing), but I wanted to share more about my process and my progress through my racing career.

I’ve been creating videos and content for a while now on my YouTube channel. But I’ve recently started a new “series” where I’m documenting my process of pushing towards racing and getting on the podium of USACycling Master’s Nationals. The first video in the series is below:

One of the cool things about having a community post here is that I can go further in depth on stuff that maybe I didn’t get to include in a video, share extra info about training or races, and really get involved.

I don’t want this to just be a “hey come check out my YT channel” post, so I welcome any and all discussion about stuff from my videos or anything I post on the forum! @IvyAudrain and @mcneese.chad said they loved the idea, so I’m excited to see what the rest of the community thinks!

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So stoked to see your process! Cheers, bud. :muscle:

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Wanted to start off the post with something more than just some self-promotion:

I’m a teacher in the states and starting this week, we’re currently on Winter Break, which means that I have all the time in the world to ride my bike! (As long as my family doesn’t murder me for it)

So here’s what my next two weeks looks like:

During a normal week, I train anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on what part of the off season I’m in. The beginning of this period comes after a previous HV base period, and will kick off my 3rd base phase since September. It’s scheduled to end at the beginning of Feb. for me at which point I’ll start my first build phase of the year.

These two weeks are always fun because I get to really put all of my effort into training when I’m not with the family, which really gives me the opportunity to see just how far I can push myself. After these two weeks, things chill out a bit and I’m back down to about 9 hours a week, which is a nice change of pace by the time they’re over.

I use Winter Break as well as the other holiday breaks we get in the states as mini “training camps” to be able to add on volume and intensity while not totally destroying myself trying to balance work, family, and training. It’s worked out pretty well for me the past two years!

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Are these double days (i.e. one in the morning and the other in the evening) or back-to-back workouts (i.e. endurance immediately following the sweet spot work)?

These workouts are back to back, with the interval work first and the endurance ride second to add in some volume.

I suppose I could do them split throughout the day, but that would be a big ask from my wife to have 2 separate times marked off for me to get away from the family for ~2 each time.

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nice! what age group you in?

Brendan

Hey Brendan!

I’ll be racing 35+ (I turn 35 in Oct, but we all know how USACycling ages riders up).

Hoping that the level of competition won’t be too far off what “regular” Nationals would be.

ah, it’s a tough race but nothing like amateur nationals, which is much harder. longer race and wayyy deeper field. but masters is still awesome and super fun!

Yeah, I’ve done a small handful of P12 level races so I know what they feel like, just really looking forward to racing at a very high level.

Post-Holiday Update time!

So with the last update I posted, I shared my initial two-week holiday plan above, it consisted of ~15/16 hours of riding each week. While I can easily achieve that, and have met that volume without problems in the past, I just lacked really any desire to complete the additional volume rides most days. I still got my workouts in just with a bit less volume than intended, let’s take a look:

I ended up with 11/12 hours each week instead, which isn’t too far off, and as I said, I was nailing the intervals so I was happy.

Things didn’t really go as planned with the ramp test, as I felt under rested and under fueled. I decided instead to try to conservatively estimate where I should be, and just tacked on 5w to where I had been previously. Yes, it goes against most of the advice given on the podcast (sorry @Nate_Pearson and @Jonathan) , but I have a pretty good idea of where I’m at power wise, and would’ve had no qualms about lowering my number if I wouldn’t have been able to complete the workouts.

Since this chunk fell mostly within the days assigned to Rapha’s Festive 500, and they were “allowing” it to be virtual this year, I decided to try an get in at least some of the volume that way. Here’s where I ended up with that:

r500

So while not everything went according to plan, overall the two weeks turned out pretty decently. And if that wasn’t enough, I wanted to highlight one of the last rides I did, from Jan. 2nd, which blew me away a bit. What was supposed to be a simple Eclipse +3 (4x20) ended up turning into a 1x60 and a 1x20. I was feeling incredibly good and set out a personal challenge about 19 minutes into the first interval to see if I could do the hour without the breaks.

And I did it! (except for one random small dropout :frowning_face: ). But I managed to do 324 for the hour, which is my highest ever 60m power! Admittedly though, I’ve never really attempted to set a PR for that. Ignore the last half of the final 20m interval as my trainer went haywire with it’s connection and that caused a lot of issues.

But wait! There’s more!!! Yesterday, more out of curiosity and masochism, I decided to see if I could do it again, but this time with Antelope +5 (7x10). So doing the full 70m of intervals in one go, without the rests. Things went… way better than I actually thought they would have. Which is nice, because it confirmed that the above performance wasn’t a fluke!

I’m feeling really, really good about these performances. And honestly thinking that I might test out bumping the FTP up a bit more because of them. But, we’ll see about that.

I’ve got about two full weeks left until my next rest week and then I’ll be starting my first build phase of the season. Let’s hope the upward trend continues :heart:

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Build Phase Has Begun!

Ftp tested yesterday with my eyes set on a modest gain. I wanted to hit 360w so I set my eyes on that target, and did everything I could in the last minute @ 480w to not collapse onto the floor dying. I also managed a new 10m power of 388w (a little disappointed in myself it wasn’t 400 :frowning_face: )

Really happy with where I’m at currently, even though I know with the higher FTP the build phase is going to be a bit more difficult!

Here’s what the first 3 weeks of my general build phase look like:

Because of work/family/obligations I can only usually fit in around 90m on weeknights (my workouts usually happen in the late afternoon/evening ~4pm-8pm), especially if I want to get good sleep and have an semblance of a relationship with my wife and kids. Weekends are a bit more open, hence the longer workouts.

But if you have a keen eye you’ll notice that it’s not the standard GBMV, but instead, because of the different specificity of the workouts that I prefer, I’ve taken the GBHV plan and modified it, moving shorter workouts to the weekdays and longer ones to the weekend. I’m excited to see how this plays out and how it impacts my overall training.

Once this block finishes up it’ll be on to Short Power build until summer, then it’s time to get fast!

What is your plan looking like for this year?

Thanks for reading!

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I’m doing something similar after base. I followed HV plans once going into lock down but I think it is too much for the amount of recovery I’m (not) able to get. SSB-HV I is mostly like this already - max 90 minutes during the week and 120 minutes Saturday and Sunday.

During build and specialty I plan to follow MV plans but add an endurance ride during the week and extend the weekend rides to 2+ hours.

So, update! I’m really sorry it has been so long!!!

I’ve been posting videos here and there on my channel to keep things updated, but this summer was kind of a whirlwind for me.

A really good chunk of racing and some great masters developments.

My first Masters race of the season was Cobb Park 35+ 1/2/3. Strava File
This course is really fun, and relatively easy. It was a somewhat damp day, but overall decent weather, and the course was pretty much dry when our race came around. If you want to watch my race analysis video check that out here.

I decided to try and catch the field off guard and attacked as soon as we started. After establishing about 10 seconds through the first two laps, I decided to stick it out and see if I could make the move stick for the whole race.

I was joined shortly after by a few other riders, and we ended up rolling the break all the way to the end of the race. Unfortunately I messed up my sprint timing and positioning pretty badly, but I was still able to come away with 2nd place. Just short of a second state championship , but still a pretty solid showing.

Because COVID had still wiped out many of the more local races this year, this was really the only Masters event that I was able to compete it before heading to nationals.

I raced all of Intelligentsia Cup in the P12 field so that I could get as much hard racing and high level experience as possible. These races were hard as fuck. Stacked fields; Legion of LA, Team Skyline, Project Echelon, Best Buddies, Adam Meyerson, Clever Martinez… you get the picture. Out of the 9 days of racing, I was able to finish a total of exactly one race. The rest were a combination of bad luck/mechanicals or getting pulled.

However, it was an amazing experience to finally be racing at that level with those racers. I learned so much and it boosted my confidence in my abilities to an entirely different level. I finished the series pretty exhausted, but optimistic for Nationals in two weeks time.

The two weeks between Intelligentsia and Nationals:

After racing full gas for almost two weeks straight, I was feeling pretty tired, but I wanted to keep the engine running hot so that I could come into Nationals with the knife as sharp as possible. I lowered my volume, but kept the intensity high, making sure to tweak things I felt needed a bit more work.

I also decided that it was a great time to travel with my wife and kids down to TN to visit my brother and his family… So we made the entire drive one morning, hung out, got some pretty poor sleep with us and the two kids in the same bed, did a short easy ride to keep the legs loose… and then ended up driving home the next night because the kids were misbehaving.

I felt like death. And needed to make the drive to Santa Fe three days after this to make it on time for both the road race and the crit.

19 Hours to New Mexico

My wife and I decided to drive down together and make a road trip/mini vacation out of the races, I was happy to have her come with and get to spend the time with her on the road as well as in between the races. Our drive was problem free, we made great time, and didn’t have a single issue.

Once we arrived, we set up home with our host and got comfortable. I did some riding just to see the scenery and damn New Mexico, you’re a good looking state.

M35+ Road Race National Championship Strava File

The first of the two big days had arrived. Although I had no delusions about performing well in this race, I wanted to do both the RR and the crit to get the most out of the trip.

The course was rough though, especially for a Midwest boy who never climbs and isn’t used to riding at altitude. A ~31 mile loop with a good chunk of climbing, and a max grade of something like 12%

And we had to do it twice.

Luckily I had borrowed a bike that was purpose built to be a lightweight climbing bike, and had a 2x up front (unlike my Allez).

I’m glad I had that bike too, because although I felt good and stayed with the group just fine until we hit the climb for the first time, once the road turned up, I was immediately spat out the back. Not just like, dangling off the group, but totally gone, one of the last riders in the race.

I was annoyed but not surprised. As I continued to climb, I figured I would catch some stragglers on the rest of the course once I made it over. I kept my foot on the gas and did indeed catch some riders on the way around the course, totaling to about a group of 5 or so riders. We rotated and worked together just to make the race easier, and finished the first lap together.

As I came through the first lap, I saw a significant chunk of our field on the side of the course. They had pulled out after one lap. “No way I drove all the way here just to quit after a lap,” I told myself, and continued on with the small groupetto. I was feeling hot and tired, but what I thought was ok. This did not last however.

We hit the climb for the second time and our small group splintered once again, and I was left climbing solo. I figured maybe we’d all group back together over the top and finish together. Suddenly as I began to climb, things slid downhill. I thought I had been fueling well, but I could feel the bonk coming. As I made it over the top I went to take a drink and settle in, but quickly realized that I was nearly out of water, with about 20 miles left in the race.

I soft pedaled and tried to keep a manageable but somewhat fast pace, but as the miles ticked up, I could feel myself getting slower and slower. When I hit the feed zone, a rider from another race in front of me managed to knock four (FOUR!) bottles out of the hands of volunteers, meaning I got none (looking back, I was so far off the back that I probably could have stopped and grabbed some, but hindsight is 20/20).

Through hardheadedness and dumb crit racing mentality, I forced myself to keep pedaling and eventually made it to the finish line. I just about collapsed on the side of the course, happy to be done and taking all of the water I could get. @brendanhousler and the other riders from the podium were nearby, and I meant to congratulate them, but literally was just focused on not dying at that moment.

Apparently it was outwardly obvious as well, because the paramedics grabbed me and shuffled me over to the ambulance. It was probably an effect of the dehydration, but I was unaware just how bad I was. They quickly hooked me up to an I.V. as well as Oxygen and a bunch of monitors all over my chest and arms. They said I was severely dehydrated and hyperventilating and actually had to coach me through breathing so that I didn’t cause myself to pass out.

After about 30 minutes in the ambulance I was back to feeling somewhat normal, and after thanking the paramedics for helping me, I made the short ride back to my car.

Doing that 2nd lap may have been the worst decision I had ever made in a race. But I was ok, and had a day in between to recover for the crit. I did still finish 19th though…

M35+ Criterium National Championship Strava File

In comparison to the road race, the crit was a cakewalk.

Super easy course with wide pavement, and sweeping turns. It was really hot, with no shade and temps in the upper 90’s, and with that, the wildfire smoke had decided to make its way over to Santa Fe as well. I felt ok though, and didn’t seem to have too hard a time while warming up.

As the race started, Mike’s Bikes was clearly the team that wanted to, and was responsible for, controlling the field. They had three riders, all top level, and so after getting my one good attempt at a breakaway shut down early on into the race, I decided to just sit in and let everyone else do the hard part.

I floated around the middle of the pack and ended up moving towards the back to tailgun for a while. Once the lap counter started getting low, I pushed forward, trying to move up where I could. Between the heat, smoke, and riders starting shed from the group, this was pretty challenging, having to jump gaps after every corner.

With one to go, I was a bit too far back, but not in a place where I couldn’t move up enough. I started to make moves but unfortunately got caught behind a nervous rider with three corners to go. Once I made it around him, I was closing gaps and moving towards the top ten. By this point though, the top 3 had already made their move and the podium was up the road. I kept up my effort, and as I cam through the last corner two riders stacked it up on the barriers. I was able to avoid them and pedal it in for a 9th place.

Not the podium I really wanted, but a top 10 in my first national level race was something I could walk away feeling content with.

I definitely learned a ton through this experience and want to write about my takeaways here as well, but I think that’s best saved for another post, as you’ve just made it through the novel above.

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