training

Crosstraining in Telluride

Words by Kona Ambassador, Becky Gardner.

Telluride, Colorado is an old mining town tucked away in a box canyon within the beautiful San Juan Mountains. Hidden away from mainstream Colorado, it is the winter gem of the western slope. Telluride is a dream for any winter enthusiast with an amazing resort constantly recognized as one of the best places to ski in the country, epic backcountry runs, miles of Nordic recreation, and a community full of talented athletes. Although this quaint town is a skier’s paradise it does push you to be creative in order to train for a bike season. After many winters spent in this small ski town I have created a training program to help myself get ready for the up and coming bike season.

The first part of my training plan is to transition from riding bikes into snowboarding. Luckily for me Telluride’s resort is full of steep terrain with plenty of hike-able areas to keep my legs strong all winter. When the snow is good I always hit the slopes. Tree runs are my favorite and I never seem to get bored of Telluride’s rugged runs. Once the snow settles and the storms die down a bit I typically switch gears into more touring and splitboarding than resort riding. This is my favorite outdoor recreation and reminds me so much of enduro racing because you can spend hours hiking up a hill for one epic run down. I love the feeling of earning your turns and touring at 10,000 plus feet can really get you in great shape quickly.

The second part of my training is cross country skiing, more specifically skate skiing. When the resort is crowded and sunbaked, the backcountry is unstable and I’m looking for something outside to do, I turn to skate skiing. I live right across the street from some awesome nordic trails and we often take the dogs over for a ski. This style of skiing works out muscles you never knew you had and is a fun way to get in a good workout while soaking up the bright Colorado sun. Here in Telluride, we have multiple Nordic trail systems making it easy to sneak in a quick workout wherever your day takes you.

Next up on my training plan are gym workouts and spin classes. I am religious about these workouts and keep to a strict schedule. We are fortunate enough to have a twenty-four hour gym called FUEL and a spin class studio called Pedal Den. Spin classes are taught by local powerhouse ladies who can kick your butt no matter what class you jump in on. These classes are crucial for me to keep my riding legs under me since riding outside daily is impossible. In addition to spin I frequently train in the gym as well. I have had several bad injuries throughout my years of biking and playing college soccer, including breaking my back which has forced me to become as lean and strong as possible. My go-to exercises consist of kettlebells, plyometrics, stretching, and running.

Photo by Ryan Wiegman

Lastly, I try and ride my bike whenever I can and am constantly on the lookout for dry trails to ride. Living on the western slope puts you a few hours from Grand Junction and Moab making it easy to get away to ride for a few days. I also make weekend trips to Salida, Colorado, where I live during Summer, to find rideable trails. This winter has been harder than most due to the amount of snow, which means little riding and a lot of winter sports.  As the snow dries up in the surrounding area I will find more and more trails to ride to get as much time in as possible before spring.

Photo by Ryan Wiegman

Telluride and the surrounding area also put on fat bike races throughout winter, such as the Silverton Whiteout and the Lone Cone Challenge. This year was my first time competing in a fat bike race and I was stoked to win the Lone Cone Challenge, a 25 mile fat bike race through the backcountry of Norwood, Colorado.  Although training for bike season in a ski town can be difficult, with a little creativity and a lot of inspiration it’s more than possible to get ready for the upcoming season.

I have about a month left of the ski season before I head west to California to hang out with my brother, and fellow Kona Ambassador, to get some pre-season riding in and kick off the bike season with the Dirty Sanchez Enduro.

From Zero to Faceplant

I’m in week 11 of my training program. That’s pretty far into it! I’m going to be very honest straight away: I think I’m feeling a bit burnt out. It’s not because I can’t maintain the training, and it’s not because it’s not an interesting program, but it’s because I’ve had so many freaking hurdles thrown my way that it is starting to just feel like nothing but an uphill battle. And no, that’s an unintentional pun.

Climbing hills before the snow came in to wreck house.

Here’s the thing. I know Spencer would tell me that THIS feeling is a part of it. These emotions of frustration, exhaustion, stress, and ambiguity are a part of breaking through mental barriers to improvement. So I’m going to pretend like he’s the little birdy on my shoulder right now telling me that this is the hardest part. This is the moment when I make or break it. I can say, “fuck it,” and just go back to my old ways of riding all the time with no focus or goal, or I can persevere through this downslide and climb out the other side even closer to my intangible goal of “feeling stronger on the bike.”

Trying to make the best of a messy situation.

Sigh.

Here’s what happened. I had everything going my way. I was crushing my rides. I was getting faster, stronger, and less stressed about big days. I did my 4500′ day without any issue whatsoever. I could have kept going, but we ran out of daylight. Climbs that have haunted me in the past are less nagging than before. My attitude is better. I was feeling and seeing gains! It was rad! And then, I got freaking sick. So sick. I got so sick that I turned to social media to help me get unsick. “Eat chopped garlic,” they said. “Drink Umcka root!” “Netipot!” “STOP EXERCISING AND REST.” Wait, what? No! I have all this momentum and things are going awesomely well!

Evidence that I can go uphill!

But my body had other plans and I was relegated to the house and netipotting my sorrows down the drain in a mucus-filled slobber fest. (Sorry. Graphic). I ate the garlic. I drank the root juice. I drank immunity smoothies. I drank Air Borne. I slept. I ate as healthy as I possibly could. I stretched. I went through seven boxes of tissues. SEVEN. I believed in Nyquil. And just as I was beginning to feel better the weather gods decided to crap on my parade and it snowed. It snowed so much that it became national news. We don’t do snow in urban Washington.

Still, I rode. We rode and slid and giggled and had a blast, and it was super fun, but it wasn’t helping me improve in any way other than a hit of endorphins. I confess that since this sickness and the snow my motivation is waning, and I’m struggling to see the point right now. I’ve been riding the trainer to the point where I feel like it’s all I can do to stay sane. Do you know how unfun sitting on an indoor trainer is every evening? It’s not sweet no matter what music you listen to or what movies you watch. But I am so god damn determined not to let my fitness slip that it’s kind of my main option right now.

Post-interval death face after a trainer workout

Spencer has tried mixing things up for me so I can at least have fun with the trainer workouts. He has created an hour long ride where I create my own playlist of slow song vs fast song and go hard on the fast songs and take it easy on the slow songs. It makes the hour go by faster and it’s kind of fun to at least pedal to all kinds of music that I like. Still, I feel my anxiety creeping back in as to whether or not this massive hit of weather and sickness is going to hinder me getting stronger. It’s a total mental game. I have GOT to learn to let go and roll with the punches. That’s easier said then done for a recovering Type A personality. I struggle with the loss of control and I most certainly do not control the weather (and as it turns out forecasters totally suck at predicting it too.)

As I sit here and type this I watch the over foot of snow starting to turn to slush. It’s too slick to ride. The snow was actually tracking well last week when it was cold and dry powder. Now it’s wet, and doing the melt/freeze thing. The moisture will no doubt wreak havoc on the trail conditions. Until we see some tropical rain in biblical amounts I think proper long rides are going to be on hold. I called Spencer just prior to posting this for a little woe-is-me session. He told me that I am not alone in my frustration. All of his clients are reeling, and he is too. And they all have real goals like races, events, big distance things, numbers to hit, etc. I’m just trying to test myself. The best part about working with Spencer isn’t that I’m getting better, it’s the fact that he’s been through every single part of this and he knows exactly the mind games that I’m dealing with right now. He knows when you just have to let it go and when you have to mix it up and more than anything he knows that the work that I’ve done until this point is strong. It will carry me through this white mess of slushy goo. My fitness will not melt away, but the snow will. Eventually.

My steadfast training partner…and my beautiful Process 153 CR DL

Long story…long, I’m in a rough patch. It’s full of snow and snot and sub-freezing temperatures. But there is some kind of joy in knowing I’m not alone and that this will all go away. For now, it’s back to the trainer and yoga and sleep and sliding around on snow (I just ordered a new splitboard Woohoo! Cross training!)

From Zero to PANIC!

This is the third installment in From Zero to…? A firsthand account of taking a normal sucker (me) and putting me through a tough training regemen to try to get stronger on the bike. Chapter 1. Chapter 2.

It’s hard to believe I’ve rounded the bend of Week 7 in this three(ish) month experiment of Make Lacy “Feel” Stronger. Having mostly intangible goals makes noticing an improvement (or lack thereof) somewhat challenging. Some days I feel like a superhero on the bike. Other days I feel like I have lead weights tied to my quads. They just don’t want to move!

The last couple weeks have been spent building up my “engine” as my coach, Spencer, would say. I’ve been packing in more interval sessions on the trainer as well as on actual rides. It seems like every couple weeks I have a little victory as well as a sobering realization. I’m definitely learning to hate bigger rides less. Two weeks ago I did roughly 23 miles and 3800′ of climbing. That may seem like small potatoes to some people, but that was a fairly long day for me. Fortunately, one of my girlfriends is an ex-pro road racer, a CX phenom, and a total masochist, so she is PSYCHED to do these death marches with me. It’s a total blessing. While I want to barf on the climbs she just chatters away telling me all kinds of stories from her life. It’s kind of like an autobiography on tape, only way more interactive. If you don’t have a Mindy in your life, you should all find one!

The Chuckanut death march route.

I was happy with how that big ride went. Aside from a few moments of utter pain, I felt pretty strong overall. I know I didn’t break any speed records on the climbs, but I was pleased with my ability to stay consistent ascending. We even did a bonus loop just so I could have a little ripper of a descent. Spencer says it’s important to balance these big, challenging days with reward. I guess I’m really just like a dog. You want me to do something hard? Give me cookies (or in this case, Organic generic Pop Tarts. They are delicious and I can pronounce every one of the ingredients!) Even better than completing the big ride was the fact that I didn’t feel awful the next day. I ate everything in site, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I stretched and stretched and drank a lot of water. I’m learning to eat more “whole foods” that help aid in recovery and energy. I’m adding in more natural proteins and good fats. Avocados, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and dried fruit have replaced energy bars and mini bags of Swedish Fish.

I’m not kidding about those Pop Tarts. Pure joy!

As all things that rise eventually fall, I did have a real struggle, too. On a recent interval day where I had to do 4×8 minutes at 80% power, I had a near-panic attack. Since I work full time, teach yoga, and have a healthy social calendar, I have to squeeze in every ride/workout before or after work. The Pacific Northwest is dark in the winter. The sun rises at 8 am and sets at 4:30 pm. This means that no matter when I ride, it’s dark. It gives an illusion of it being late and I think it tricks my brain into feeling tired. So, it’s a constant battle to stay motivated and switch from “tired” to “strong” in my mind. This interval session got the best of me, though. On the first leg after a ~2o minute warmup I hit the cranks hard. The gravel road turned sharply uphill. I timed the ride all wrong. Pushing power up a steep hill for that kind of sustained time sucked the life out of me. My breathing was panicked. My heart rate was too high. I felt like there was no way I was going to complete it. I felt like I was going to cry and fail- two things I do not enjoy. I’ve had panic attacks on climbs before that forced me to pull over and take a long rest and remind myself that biking is fun. Yet I have a tendency to be intense and take things way too seriously sometimes. I’ve learned this lesson on rides before so when I felt this emotion washing over me I was able to calm myself down and keep pushing up the hill with fervor.

After the first interval I found a less intense grade for the remainder of the ride and was able to complete the workout satisfactorily, but I still felt a bit shaken after that initial incident. It’s weird doing these workouts alone in the pitch black. My only other companions were two bats that kept darting in and out of my light beams. I was oddly glad they were there to distract me from the pain. Eventually, I made it to the top of the climb and enjoyed a cruisy rip down one of our longer downhill trails. I got back to the car and struggled to even walk. Everything hurt-even my shoulders from pushing so hard up the hills. But whatever, I guess this is my engine going from a V6 to a V8. It better be working because that ride totally sucked.

What’s next? Another mega day. Tomorrow’s plan is 4+ hours of moving time and 4500′ on the bike. I’m oddly looking forward to it… or perhaps I’m just looking forward to more of Mindy’s and shoving more Pop Tarts down my throat. Wish me luck!

 

From Zero to….?

This is me… taking life seriously, as you can see.

Hi! My name is Lacy Kemp. I work in the marketing department at Kona and have the keys to this blog, so I figured I’d invite you all on a three-month journey with me. I’ve been riding mountain bikes for about 10 years. I started kinda late (I’m 38 now), so the learning curve for me wasn’t as fast as, say, an 18-year-old, or a kiddo. I mean, have you seen the kids these days? There are seven-year-olds that outride me. It’s humbling, to say the least.

I ride so I can experience moments of solitude like this one.

The thing is, I’m not a bad rider. I’m a proficient climber and find my comfort in the scary steep stuff. But, for whatever reason, I feel so inadequate when I ride with my crew. Granted, I try to keep up with some exceptionally talented riders, but still. I am a capable human and I want to feel better on my bike. It has gone from just cruising with my buddies to me putting this weird pressure on myself to be “better” and  “faster,” even though none of them care whatsoever about my pace. I think this is something a lot of us deal with – especially women. Mountain biking has been a male-dominated sport for most if its life, and therefore many of us ride with the guys. Personally, I love riding in a coed group. It’s the vibe I like most. It’s silly, fun, strong, and always a good time – in spite of the mental traps I set for myself.

While I *can* climb just fine, I absolutely loathe how it makes me feel.

So, what’s a person to do? I’ve taken clinics and classes every year since I’ve been riding. I’ve raced downhill and even klunkers. I understand how to ride a bike, but what is lacking is how to keep myself physically and mentally in the best condition for enjoying my rides. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘who cares? Just go ride your freakin’ bike.’ You’re not wrong. In an ideal world, I’d just ride and not care about my pace or my hangups. But I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want to ride better and feel better. The feeling is the most critical thing to me. I want to be able to laugh and chat easily on climbs. I want to be able to absorb the surrounding beauty of the land while I’m out on an adventure versus focusing on breathing and keeping up my pace. But, how do I improve my overall feeling on a bike? It seems to be largely a mental hurdle.

I want climbing to make me feel like crashing in the snow. Silly and carefree!

I decided to give myself a fighting chance at overcoming the barriers that seem to be constraining me. It just so happens that Kona Adventure Man and all around freak of nature on a bike (and I mean that in the most loving way), Spencer Paxson has transitioned his career into athletic performance services at Prime Bellingham- a high-end institute where athletes can go for goal-focused training, psychology, workouts, and many various forms of training. I’ve never had a bike coach before. I’ve never even had a structured workout plan at any point in my life. I don’t know what the difference is between circuits, high-intensity training, and intervals. They all sound like math to me, and math is scary. So to get over the scary, I have hired Spencer to be my personal coach, guru, and advisor for the next three months. My goal? Feel better on my bike.

Dennis Crane

I mean why wouldn’t you hire this guy as your coach? Clearly, he knows it’s all about having fun!

I am going to be a unique challenge for Spencer. Unlike every single other athlete he works with I have no quantifiable goal. I’m not training for an event or a milestone, per se. I’m training to understand why I get caught up in my head when I pedal. I’m training to cut myself some slack when I fall off the back. I’m training to maybe fall off the back a little less. I’m training to see what the hell training is all about. I like systems and processes and structure as much as like a free-spirited life. I’m a quintessential Libra if you believe in that kind of thing.

 

Our first meetings have set the tone for the next 12 weeks. We are working on what is known as Rate of Perceived Exertion (on a scale of 1-10), where I usually hang out at the 4-5 range and want to die around a 6 or 7. We are hoping to make the 7s feel more like 5s… but again it’s all based on feeling. As of this week, I’ve begun logging my miles and vert and RPE for every ride. I’m forcing myself to take recovery days (which is REALLY hard for an exercise junky like me). Next time we meet we’ll do a movement screen to see where I have physical weakness and room for improvement. We’ll check in to see how my sanity is holding up. I’ll see if Spender is ready to kick me and my quirks to the curb. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually enjoy climbing after all of this is said and done? Wouldn’t that be something!

I’m writing this for you because I plan to share the experience with you. The highs and the lows. The learning and growth. The frustrations and challenges. Maybe I’m crazy for starting this around the holidays, but if I can make it through without royally screwing up the next few weeks then the rest of the program should be manageable. I think as cyclists and humans we all have insecurities. Some of us are just better at not giving AF. Maybe that will be my greatest takeaway- learn to let go. It’s a lesson we could all probably use.

Until next time, I’m turning on my Strava (something I NEVER thought I’d say) and will see where this sweet little bike takes me.

-Lacy

Bikes take us to the most amazing places!

 

Cory Wallace’s High Altitude Training Plan

Kona Endurance and Adventure team rider Cory Wallace is no stranger to super intense training plans. Last year he dabbled with high altitude training as a part of his quest to secure the 24 Hour solo world championship. The hard work paid off and now Wallace is reflecting on lessons learned from training, overtraining, and how altitude plays a big role in his success. Recently, he posted a super in-depth piece on his blog outlining his plans to race over 20 events ranging in duration from 20 minutes to 24 hours. Find out how the world champion builds up enough strength and stamina to withstand the most challenging of races.

Read the full report here.

Spencer Paxson’s PROgram

Adventure team rider Spencer Paxson is no stranger to punishing days in the saddle. Last year’s monster 32,000 feet of vertical in a single day proved exactly that. Paxson’s drive to elevate his base fitness so he can handle the big days comes with a ton of training. Recently Stages Cycling profiled one of his workouts to show just what goes into his training practices.

 

Cory Wallace’s Nepalese Winter

Kona Adventure Team Rider Cory Wallace knows a thing or two about high altitude training. This past winter, Wallace spent five months pedaling his Kona Hei Hei around the Hymalian mountains and the surrounding cities. His experiences ran the gauntlet from peaceful and extraordinary, to stressful and frustrating, exactly what true adventure should be. Wallace took the time to write up this recap of his trip. Check out some of his tips on where to visit and where to avoid- especially if you’re someone who appreciates sleep.

You can read his full write up here. 

 

A Brief Moment in Time on Saturday Afternoon in the Santa Cruz Mountains

WickNasty_dist3…And then the road continues going on more to the right than you first anticipated and/or thought was really possible and you bump across those raised plastic dot-like things in the middle of the road that remind you, “hey idiot this is the middle of the road” and you think “yes, yes it is” but are unable to keep it (your bike) on your side of the road as small ribbons of blue black smoke begin emanating from the decreasing angle between the pavement and your tires and you start scanning for escape options and only three very viable ones present themselves and none of these are really all that great. To the left of you, (or more correctly straight ahead of you, but more or less to the left of your body due to the angle at which you are traversing the road way via sliding bicycle) is a steep embankment covered in yard debris (cheap hauling indeed!) and bottoming out in a rocky creek bed. Less to the left of that is a six foot wide redwood tree spanning the distance from embankment to road surface and even more less to the left and rapidly becoming proximal to you in the roadway, (which is definitely not the side of the road you desire and/or intended to be on) is a Honda minivan driven by a mother of five whose children (aged 3 to 12) are in repose in the back two rows (of the minivan) having succumbed to the massive amounts of sugar they ingested while terrorizing the local Costco free sample providers while mom was loading up on industrial size tubs of milk and mayonnaise. As such and being distract concurrently by the 7 year old who is no longer manufacturing Z’s and instead is requiring a slice of chewing gum, she does not see your sliding manic mass until just about too late, but she luckily also has equipped the minivan with the optional breakaway mirror package to assist in narrow gauge parking and then this is fortunate for your right forearm as it makes a sickening smack and retracts it (the rear view mirror, passenger side) a bit more forcefully than is S.O.P for the mirror but still gets the job done with minimal damage (to the mirror or your arm) and concurrently microscopic redwood bark slivers enter your left forearm in the same instant but you don’t really realize it (being distracted by the impact on the other arm and/or near death experience of threading the needle between outsized human conveyance and tree) until a week later when you notice small festering bumps on that lightly abraded forearm but that still is a small price to pay for the near miss and then you ride away thinking…