Category Archives: Training

Thank you very much for everything

This past weekend we had a celebratory group ride in honor of our Gavia Warrior Tom Niccum who is moving out of our area toward the western part of the US.  The Gavia scoundrels found out that my birthday was going to be a couple of days later and given that our group tends to enjoy eating they decided to have a birthday cake for me as well.  On two occasions I tried to say a few words, first as it related to Tom and how much his friendship and kindness has meant to me over the past three years and second when I attempted to thank everyone for the cake; I was not able to complete either of those attempts without tears but would like to do so here as much as possible.

In her book “Being Black – Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace”, Angel Kyodo Williams simplifies the Buddhist descriptions of the Three Jewels by referring to them as “three treasures” – teachers, teachings and community.

The three do not stand alone, they are more like three circles that interconnect with each supporting the other and all supporting us.  For me, and I know for many other Gavia Warriors, Tom has been all three – a teacher who shared worthwhile teachings while helping support and grow our community.  He is someone who quietly helped me regain my confidence simply by being himself and has been a true leader in every sense of the word.  While we are going to miss his physical presence he has left us with great memories and rides to look forward to when we visit him or he.

As many of you know I had surgery and subsequent chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer this year.  The chemo treatment ended in May, subsequent scans revealed that most of the cancer has been eradicated, there are a couple of lymph nodes remaining however they are still shrinking (given that one of them started at 8.5 cm and is now approximately 2 cm and shrinking things are trending in the right direction).

Teachers (Michael Lyach who at 80 years old is a cancer survivor, has a pacemaker, and is still racing), teachings that show us acceptance of what is in the present moment is the only path to sanity (wishing that something were different than it is currently is not a viable strategy for anything but driving ourselves crazy), and community (our Gavia community is growing stronger by the day and each person who passes through our doors or joins one of our group rides is responsible for that).  I would like to assure you that every kind word, thought or feeling you generate makes a difference in the world; it is clear to me that each of you played a part in my being here, thank you for saving my life.

Each and every person matters.  You have everything inside you that you will ever need to be your best possible self; you need to discover the path to allow that to happen for you.  The path is not always direct and it is not supposed to be easy but if you stick with it and put your trust in the three treasures, in whatever form they present themselves, you will surprise yourself with the amount of joy and happiness that fills your life and that of those around you.

 

T – 21 ARE?! YOU?!! READY?!!!

Three weeks to go!  The excitements is growing, the weather is becoming more cycling friendly and we are seeing more and more cyclists on the road; GFNY is right around the corner.

We begin to notice signs in Bergen and Rockland counties letting us know that a race is coming May 15th.

Have you prepared your race weekend checklist?  Plan to join us for Bike Expo on Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th.  I know you have to pick up your number and jersey and I know there are so many things to do but if you can spend some time at the Expo, get to know the other riders and racers and visitors – every US state and over 70 countries – get to know some of our sponsors first hand (cycling is one of the few sports, similar to NASCAR, where fan/participant.professional/sponsor interaction is not only prevalent but actually encourages!  Share your passion by bringing your family and friends with you and let them see what has inspired you to train throughout all these months.

Are you ready for the race?  Do you know the course well?  If you have an opportunity please listen to this GFNY podcast:

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Yes that’s me with the number 3 – famous for being passed by the most riders in the history of GFNY – approximately 4,000 per year!  But no matter, please take some time to listen to the podcast, it will help you understand the course and if you have any questions please ask me on Facebook or via email:   vito.valentini@humanpotentialcatalyst.com.

Three weeks remain – continue training but don’t overdo it!  Start planning your race day nutrition NOW, and if you haven’t decided what your on bike calorie intake is going to consist of please DO NOT eat or drink anything new on race day, or even during race week.  Test now, practice now, start visualizing the race now.

Tomorrow is our GS-GFNY ride to Bear; please pay attention to the route as you ride, make a mental note of the time and distance between the start and the schedule aid station in W Haverstraw and then again the time to the bottom and the top of Bear.  Tomorrow is NOT  a day for Strava PR’s – it is a day to learn something about your progress to date that you can then assess to plan for race day.  If you need some help, my email is above for you to use.

I am really proud to have been able to ride with our GS – GFNY C Group this training season; so many people make it a point to let us know how well the group rides – and I am especially proud of the progress our GAVUA Cycling athletes have made – watch for their stories beginning the week of May 16th!

Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

 

Vito

The Bar may not be high….

….but its my Bar!

I have been wanting to write this particular blog for a while now; the final push came from Seth Godin’s Blog this morning: “Numbers (and the magic of measuring the right thing).”  You can read it HERE – his posts are always valuable and inspiring!

After GFNY2015 I wanted to continue cycling as consistently as possible  – mostly so that I wouldn’t lose my mind – and I also wanted to see if there was an opportunity to include people who come from the “south”, as in “south of the GWB” – involved in our group rides.  I came up with the name GAVIA Cycling Group Rides and with Don Francesco’s help/guidance/prodding/inspiration, some contributed design work from Ramon and support from the developers of The Modern and Port Imperial began the rides from Fort Lee to Weehawken (picked up anyone who wanted to join), headed back to Fort Lee (stopping at The Modern to pick up anyone who would join), then met our group and began our ride.  There were days when Ektor, Duro, Avi, Frank, Rob, Skyler, Susanna would join the ride  from the start and we would pick up a couple of people in Weehawken (Ektor, Chris, Andrea, Covi) and a couple of cyclists from The Modern (Chris, Brenda), and there were other times when the group consisted of me at the start, middle and end.  I just kept riding those extra 25km every Saturday through October and of course improved my fitness.
I rode without a computer; I simply created routes on Ride with GPS, kept track of my progress on Strava (because, as I understand it, if it isn’t on Strava you really didn’t ride) and my cycling improved.
I wasn’t half as good as most of the people I rode with; in fact, I got dropped about 1/3 of the way through one of our longer rides I was leading; the group was stronger and faster than me and they did as they were supposed to, ride their ride.  I caught the scoundrels at The Pie Lady, only to be dropped again on the way home – but no matter, I rode.

The Numbers
If you take a look at my Strava numbers you will see that I am not at the top of any leaderboards, I don’t have any KOM’s, my average speeds approximate average at best and if it weren’t for my green jersey and my role on GS-GFNY no one would know me as a cyclist.  The important thing to me is that I improve over time – perhaps not day to day or even week to week but from beginning to now I am a better cyclist.  I am stronger, faster, more confident, and I for the first time I feel like I have become a good ride leader by proactively planning rides and encouraging participation.

My GFNY Results (and some laughs for you)
First Year – 2011 (BIG DNF)  I signed up and didn’t have a clue.  I did Little Tor twice because I followed the Medio Fondo riders down the first time  only to find out that the Gran Fondo route had us going over the top.  I missed the cutoff time at the turn toward Bear and headed toward the finish.  I didn’t really have any idea where I was, so waited at the rest stop in W Nyack.  When a couple of friends told me they were about to start going up Bear and that would meet me within the hour I of course waited there – it is possible they knew less about the course than I did!
Second Year – 2012 (Finished outside the time, after 5PM)  I had a little bit more clue than the first year, but not much.  In support of the theory that “it is better to be lucky than good looking, smart or financially wealthy” I was chosen to be a member of GS-GFNY that year, helped lead the group rides and rode the race with Number 3.  I set the course record that year, having been passed by approximately 5,000 participants during the race!  I met up with Don Alberto, Atam, we picked up Kevin at the ice cream store in W. Nyack and rode to Weehawken together.  The two funniest conversations while at the ice cream store  were me calling Melanie to tell her that I would see her at the finish line within the hour and Kevin telling his son on the phone not to worry because he was riding with the guy who had the Number 3; to say that Don Alberto was convulsed in laughter would be an understatement!
Third Year – 2013 (It was a little bit wet – I finished around 7PM).  I left my house wearing bibs and my cycling jersey; I didn’t want to wear too much clothing as the weather prognosticators said there was a slight chance of showers.  Who knew!  Truth be told I had a really enjoyable day and the only time I was really cold was descending Bear.  I met a friend at the top of Bear (having beaten the sweep vehcile by approximately 30 seconds – I actually believe they sloed to let me pass near the top of Perkins) and we came down together but I could see that she was really suffering from the cold and I was happy that she chose to call her brother for a ride right before BBB (Baby Bear Backwards).  When I got to the Mottt Farm intersection I thought about heading straight and then in a burst of ___________ (not quite sure what to say here) made the right and committed to do the second half.  Needless to say I rode the entire back half of the course on my own, although….as I got to the stadium in Pomona i saw what looked like a thousand cyclists waiting in the parking lot and I thought “I can’t believe it, I caught all these people”….then found out that they were all waiting for the buses to take them to the finish line.  A couple of people left with me but they soon got onto the van and there I was, Andy Hampsten on the Gavia, riding to the finish to see my wife and mother in law.
Fourth Year – 2014 (I rode with a pro for a while and almost had a heart attack!)  I met Davide who is one of the organizers of an Italian Gran Fondo named La Fausto Coppi and for some reason unbeknownst to me I agreed to ride with him for a little while.  While he was not a pro in the real sense of the word I do believe he should have let me know that he had some top ten finishes in several serious cycling endurance events in Italy and SOuth Africa; after much pleading on my part he finally agreed at the bottom of Bear to go on his own (although he was kind enough to wait for me at the top – he probably took a good nap) and then went on to finish as he should.  The most joyful part of the ride for me was during my descent of Bear (not sure that what I do is descending but I was going downhill at a slightly faster pace than I go uphill so I refer to it as descending); my wife was headed up Bear and was going to finish the Bear 50 way ahead of schedule – no words can describe how I felt at that moment!  I went on to finish in record time (for me) – 9:24:47 – no this isn’t years – weeks months!
Fifth Year – 2015 (Life was a little disrupted – GFNY and a couple of good friends kept me sane)  We lost a lot of group rides due to weather but my friends Ektor, Don Francesco, Ricky and from time to time several other cyclists became known as the Polar Bear Club of 9W.  We rode throughout the winter, even in single digits, and several times got caught in snow – not flurries – snow!  I felt really good throughout the ride, was able to ride through the park with Melanie and John and met up with several other friends out on the course.  Overall I really enjoyed the ride, convinced a couple of cyclists to continue when they considered stopping, making effective use of the difference between km and miles!  I rode back the last 40km of the course with Ness, a triathlete who had never done a cycling event with this much climbing.  I finished in 9:38:10 – and of course my time up Bear was about 2 minutes longer than my wife – what a difference a year makes!

What is in store for this year?  I have been really lucky – I have been able to train with some really inspiring cyclists throughout the fall and winter into the spring and, based on my Strava numbers, the metrics that we use at GAVIA and my general feeling of well-being, if I am able to maintain my fitness for the next four weeks and I have a good day on May 15th I am going to significantly improve my finish time.  I hope to give it my best and let’s see what happens!

I look forward to seeing everyone at Bike Expo on May 13th and 14th and during the race on May 15th ; I for sure am excited about all of our GAVIA athletes who have really worked hard and dedicated themselves to their training since January and am really looking for ward to seeing their results!

If you would like to know more about the GFNY course, especially if it is the first time you are riding it, please listen to GFNY podcast 22, where Uli and me talk about the makeup of the entire course from beginning to end as well as a strategy you might follow to get through some of the tougher sections of the course!

My email address is vito.valentini@humanpotentialcatalyst.com; feel free to contact me with any questions you might have about GFNY!

Thanks for reading!

Vito

Our Campagnolo GFNY training season

T-67 = the number of days remaining to Campagnolo GFNY2016!  Are you ready?  Are you getting ready?  There are plenty of opportunities for you to get ready!

GFNY Sunday Group Rides
This is the link to the GFNY Group Rides information.  This lets you know what to look for each week – where Jared posts the rides so that you can sign up for the Sunday group ride.  I love these rides as much as I love the actual event.  While I have been passed by more than 20,000 cyclists over the past five years during the actual GFNY events – the memories of hearing “on your left” remain with me long after the event is over – nothing compares to the relationships that have come from our group rides.  I encourage you to participate in our rides.  It is an opportunity to ride the course prior to event day, an opportunity to meet riders who ride at the same approximate level as you, and a wonderful opportunity to meet some really great people!

The top photo is outside the Pie Lady of Nyack.  Bottom left: Gavia Cycling Girl Power also at the Pie lady.  Bottom right: our GFNY C Group always stops at State Line to regroup.

Gavia Cycling
I helped create Gavia Cycling almost immediately after GFNY2015.  It gave me an opportunity to continue training with an athletic purpose (along with other important purposes like finding great coffee, pie and muffin places with friends) throughout the summer and fall.  On the weekends I would leave my apartment in Fort Lee at 7:30AM, head down to Weehawken to meet up with anyone interested in riding, head back north to The Modern, then go on our rides.  Our groups varied in size from one (me) to sometimes as many as 20.  We had a great time riding together, we found some great pie and coffee and we improved our cycling skills and got much stronger!
At the end of 2015 we had an opportunity to open a small indoor cycling studio in Englewood Cliffs.  We mimic the joy and passion inherent in our outdoor group rides indoors and continue to build our Gavia cycling community.  We offer classes, coaching and training for cyclists of all levels; I love focusing my attention on new to moderate experience cyclists while Frank (Don Francesco) and Susanna (La Strega) focus on the intermediate to advanced cyclists.

Click on each photo for the captions:

We are finalizing our GFNY specific training camps; look for our announcement this Friday!

Beautiful roads, indoor studio, inspiring cyclists – time to #beready for GFNY2016!

ARE?!  YOU?!!  READY?!!!

Our Bear Mountain Experience

I was stronger on this Bear ride than any other and managed PR’s going up Bear, Perkins and several of the segments on Strava – my ride is HERE.

A Thank You
This blog is basically a big thank you to all the members of our cycling community – every single person who says “Hi Vito” as we see each other on the road, all the people who participated in our Gavia Cycling Group Rides throughout this summer and fall, the team at Strictly Bicycles who tolerate my bicycle mechanical ignorance and my unwillingness to let them say anything other than Campagnolo when describing components, Uli and Lidia for creating Gran Fondo NY and pretty much saving my life in the process, all of our Gran Fondo NY participants and last, but most importantly my wife Melanie who encourages me ride my bike and participate in anything to do with cycling.

As I write this I realize I sound like the guy who just won the Giro D’Italia; truthfully that is what I feel like – and that’t the point.  Each one of us has an opportunity to do our best and feel good about our achievements; we get in trouble when we begin to compare ourselves to others.  It took me 40 minutes to climb Bear yesterday, my friend Juan Carlos does it in less than 20 and I saw the results for GFNY Cozumel yesterday where Uli rode 160 km in less than 4 hours.  Those results are not attainable for most of us, but to know that someone you talk to a couple of times a week is doing something like that through sheer dedication, hard work, discipline means that we can do the same and improve as well.  You all have a good example right in front of you on our group rides – Omar Tejada .  Omar wasn’t a member of Gruppo Sportivo during our first year as a team.  I was one of the C Group leaders and being the widest person Heidi would let me stay at the front on the way on most of our rides; Omar would ride next to me at the front.  He wasn’t the Superman he is now, his cycling skills were ok but not great, and we walked up the climb just past Rockland Lake at least once together.  He fell in love with cycling and GFNY and when he became part of the Gruppo Sportivo he dedicated himself to proper training, nutrition and consistency – look at him now, talk about a role model for cycling!  Most of us can’t be Uli, some of us can be Omar, all of us can be a little more focused on our health and well-being, pick a goal and GO FOR IT!

Albert-Einstein-Quote

We can certainly use the achievements of others to believe we can reach greater heights but in the end we need to simply be happy with our own self-improvement – looking at life in an optimistic way – looking for what’s good no matter the current condition – and surrounding ourselves with people who inspire us, some unknowingly, is one of the greatest advantages we have in life.

Look (or lookout) For These People – AKA “The Inspirers”

Our Bear Ride
We planned to merge two groups on the ride; a couple of our Gavia Cycling members were not certain about riding the entire round trip so we made arrangements to have them drive to Nyack, we planned to meet there and head out to Bear; Ken was flying in from LA and wanted to ride, we thought it better to wait at Strictly Bicycles so he could do the round trip with us.  La forza del destino, as always, worked in our favor; Jared showed up unexpectedly so we had an opportunity to lead the group together through Piermont into Nyack and when we got to Nyack we found out that the last of the three people who were going to meet us by car couldn’t make it – off we went!  Jared pulled off at Rockland Lake and Thomas turned around in W Haverstraw, leaving 6 of us (Aleksandra, Avi, Hector (no, not Ektor), Ken, Kevin and me to continue on, against the wind as Bob Seger would say!
It was a little colder up North but we kept a steady pace, got to the bottom of Bear, stopped at the circle to take a couple of photos, and headed up.  My goal was to maintain a strong and steady pace and, having done the GFNY Podcast with Uli a couple of weeks ago I thought I would listen to my own advice (if you would like to listen to us discuss the entire GFNY course and things for you to consider, especially if you have ridden GFNY less than 6 times, please click HERE for Episode 22) where I talk about saving a gear – meaning try not to use your easiest gear not matter what, unless you really, really, really need it!  I did that all the way up, using my 39 x 25 on Perkins for maybe 100 meters total.
Listening to yourself is not always the easiest thing to do; my previous blogpost is titled “Burn the Ships” where I talk about not giving yourself an opportunity to make it easy on yourself – a couple of weeks ago the bearings went on my Campagnolo Euris wheels so I went back to my Campagnolo Bullets and kept the 11/25 cassette that had been installed on those wheels.  This was a major feat for me; I was prompted to switch to a 29 when, in 2014, a small group of us went to Little Tor and as soon as a made the right turn I said “not today boys”, got off my bike and walked up.

But then again, the riding and Melanie’s great eating habits have helped me tremendously over the past several years:

The descent off Bear was pretty cold and it was a little slow going until we got to the Cove Deli; one of our riders looked like it might be a long day for him and another had cramped on Bear, so I thought I would call and see if someone wanted to come and get us but there was no way to fit 5 people and 5 bikes into one vehicle (Aleksandra got caught between the first three and me and Hector so when the first three stopped at the deli she didn’t see them and kept going) and honestly, it wasn’t that bad, I was trying to be lazy, giving myself the “I came to ride Bear I don’t need to ride all the way home” but, as I said before, la forza del destino prevails, we ate something and headed home.  The ride home was the perfect way to end the day, it warmed up as we got closer to Fort Lee and we got to see some amazing sunsets; mostly we had that feeling of having accomplished something really special!

Sunset

Indoor Cycing Studio in Englewood Cliffs
Some other good news – we are opening an indoor cycling studio on 9W in Englewood Cliffs – and would love to send a FREE PASS to anyone registered for GFNY 2016.  Please email gaviacycling@gmail.com with FREE PASS in the subject line and we will get that out to you next week; we expect the studio to open mid-December and will offer indoor group cycling classes and GFNY speficic training courses on the latest Elite indoor trainers!Gavia Cycling Studio

Please join us for a group ride!

As always, if I can help you in any way, please feel free to email me at: vito.valentini@humanpotentialcatalyst.com.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Weekend with your friends and family!

 

Vito

 

The Inspiration of the Ride

Cycling training

I was lucky to be able to participate in some really inspiring group rides this past weekend, not due to the challenge of the route but more because of the people I rode with.

The start of Saturday’s Group Ride – Chris’ Journey

On Saturday I met up with my fellow GFNY participant Rob, who in his own quiet way is a really great inspiration – always there, always supportive to the people he rides with, always offering to take his turn at the front (in this case I had to say no as it was his first time on this particular route!).  he and I got to Port Imperial and picked up Chris, a new participant, who moved here from England two months ago.  His road bike hasn’t been shipped yet so he rode his commuter bike from Port Imperial to Fort Lee, including the climb up Route 5 (welcome to New Jersey Chris!).  Tom met us at the park entrance and we agreed to meet up with the rest of our group who, running late, headed north up 9W while the four of us headed north through the park…….down to the Alpine Boat Basin (if you ride with me and you get to that circle in the road please keep to the right and head down; no sense in missing a warm up climbing opportunity)……

cycling training

At the Boat Basin prior to climbing to the Ranger Station

We started together and then Rob and Tom moved on a little bit faster while Chris and I rode together.  It was Chris’ first time on Alpine, he had his commuter bike, he stuck with it…..I could sense he was getting tired (probably when I heard him say “I’m getting tired”) but I let him in on the secret to the climb (what, don’t you know the secret?  OK, I can tell you – other than “be lucky enough to ride a DeRosa with Campagnolo components” the other secret is to listen for the waterfall when you hit the 3/4 mark; at that little pitch up it tells you that as soon as you look around the bend up and to the right you are near the top, there is only the left hand turn and the quick right where you can see the station) – and then Chris found it inside him to embody Champions Finish Strong and we stopped for some cold water at the top………pretty inspired ride!  We got up to the light and he decided to head back home to Port Imperial just as the rest of the group showed up – perfect timing for the next part of our ride!

The Group takes on additional riders – Ektor’s Journey

We stopped for the required photo at State Line:

cycling training

Our Group at State Line

From here we took the back roads through Piermont where one of our team had a flat.  Ektor decided to head back – he was time constrained because of work.  Ektor was the friend who inspired me to ride all winter; had it not been for Ektor I would have remained home eating instead of getting out on the road riding…missing all this fun and gaining another 20 pounds.  Ektor is a no excuses guy, rides with a bad back, almost always in pain….but he rides….and always attacks on Unnecessary Hill, no matter how he is feeling – it is a Pavlovian response – sees that hill, goes on the attack…..perhaps the mind is stronger than our perception of what our bodies can do!  Anyway, I am forever grateful for his quiet inspiration.

cycling training

The Climbing gets tougher – John’s Journey

From Piermont we took the back roads up Tweed and into Nyack for a snack at True Foods and then headed home along Piermont Road, leaving the climbing for Tenafly and Englewood Cliffs.  We moved along pretty well, the the temperature moving right along with us, and I had an opportunity to practice riding in the drops, thanks to my coach Juan Aracena.  The tough part – heat, fatigue, climbs up Hillside, Hudson and East Clinton.  I could sense that John was pretty beat (I senses it right around the time he started saying “I’m beat!)…but those who know John know that he doesn’t have any quit in him.  It was a little tough getting over to Hudson, then Engle is a little easier but lets you out on the lower slopes of E Clinton and there the work begins.  Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, John climbs E Clinton.  I rode with him, knowing that I was the one who convinced him to change from a compact to a mid-compact, safe in the knowledge that he is a church going man so he would not act on the thoughts related to my personal health that were running through his mind…..

John climbing E Clinton

John climbing E Clinton

The rest of our group waited for us midway up E Clinton – they said it is the only way they could take this photo but I think they used me and John as an excuse to rest – anyway, we headed up the rest of the way…with John attacking me on Unnecessary Hill….I think Ektor and John have formed an alliance to try to kill me at the end of the rides – time will tell.

Surrounding yourself with inspiring people is a great way to change your belief system from one that, perhaps from the time you were a child told you not to push the envelope, beware of failure, don’t venture beyond your capability – to a belief system that, on a daily basis, allows you to see that you have not even scratched the surface of your potential, that you are stronger than you think and that your mind and soul will support your physical efforts if you are willing to challenge yourself a little bit…..I repeat, a little bit…..pedal stroke by pedal stroke….

“You need to believe it before you see it” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

Why it’s good to ride with cyclists who are better than we are (sometimes)….

Aracena CoachingVito Valentini
  Tom and Juan must be reviewing my data              He who laughs last laughs best!

Juan (Aracena Cycling Coaching) invited me to ride this past Wednesday morning so that he could assess my starting point in order to begin the coaching process.  My goals are pretty simple:

  • I would like to improve my general cycling skills (I began teaching indoor cycling in 2006 and wanted to be a better teacher so began cycling in 2007 at the age of 48.  My students have told me that I am a good teacher and coach but I know that I have a long way to go before I feel really solid going downhill at 60kph, climb to what I believe is my potential and fell really comfortable riding in the drops)
  • I would like to finish Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY in under 8 hours in 2016; I have never finished in under 9
  • I would like to improve my coaching ability

There was really nothing formal about the scheduled ride so I posted it on FB and was happy to see that my friend Tom decided to join us.  (By the way if you are interested in joining us for a weekend ride please visit the Gavia Cycling FB page).  As we were leaving the parking lot Leo joined us as well and off we went.  To give you and idea of who I was riding with:

  • Juan have been a cyclist for longer that he will admit, has been coaching cyclists for more years than he will admit, and has been the NJ Masters Champion
  • Tom participates in 12 and 24 hour time trials (yes, you read it right)
  • Leo is simply a beast of a cyclist

Thankfully Tom was out for a recovery ride so I only had to kill myself to keep up; the other two guys went ahead of us in River Road and only had to come back down about 100 meters at the top of Alpine to put the group back together.  Off we went to 9W, around the back to Tweed (Leo went off to the right and headed back) and Juan, Tom and I headed to Nyack for a snack at True Foods.

We rode Tweed back, those hills are always fun headed south, then 9W into the park and home.  During our ride back Juan spent some time working with me, teaching me proper technique related to riding in the drops, tugging on my handlebars from time to time to teach me balance and then showing me how to stand up, climbing State Line in the drops with a heavier gear than normal so that I could practice the side to side movement of the bike while leaning over the handlebars.  In this case it pays to be heavier than light as the upper movement helps improve your speed uphill – if one were to use the words “speed” and “uphill” in the same sentence when describing my cycling…….

For the Strava gang, no surprise that I had 23 PR’s riding with these guys; more importantly I was required to ride at a higher level than I could ride on my own – the biggest benefit of riding with people better than you.  I would encourage cyclists of all levels to do that from time to time – ride with people better than you even if they aren’t going to coach you or wait for you.  Let them know ahead of time that you would like to join the ride, even if it is for a short period of time.  I learned from my friend Juan Carlos a while ago that if the general makeup of the group is a little stronger than your level, try to remain in the middle of the group.  If you begin to detach the people behind you will simply pass; if the group is large enough you will recover while some of the group pass you and still won’t get shelled out the back.  Typically though, there is always someone who is happy to help bridge you back up.  The exception – when the group is a training group and you see them riding single file, time trialing or pace lining; let them be, they are involved in serious training and we ought not disturb that.

One of the things I like most about cycling is the social aspect of the sport.  In no other sport are the fans able to get so close to the professionals before, during and after the event; in training we all ride the same roads and for the most part everyone is really nice.  If you are new to the sport it is pretty easy to find a group of people to ride with and if you are trying to improve, just find a better group; you will develop relationships with some really great people and improve just by showing up and riding your bike, as I did on Wednesday……

There is no barrier to entry – just get on your bike and go!

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