• A Look Into the Life of a Collegiate Cyclist

    My thoughts on cycling and life, racing experiences, training, training tips, and various cycling product reviews!
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Why You Should Have a Cycling Resume

A “race resume” to a cyclist, is just as important as a resume for your career. Even if you’re just starting out racing and are not too serious about it right now, you should still consider putting a resume together. If you keep up with your resume, its quick, easy, and can save a lot of hassle in the future. If you’ve ever submitted for an upgrade with USA Cycling and didn’t have a resume already put together, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. Wasting precious ride time trying to look up your results, and sometimes finding that many of them are not even listed!

If you’re reading this now and thinking to yourself how you’re going to be that person at some point in the near future, don’t worry too much. You’ll get those results, but make sure that you’re looking in the right places! Start by looking at the USA Cycling website’s results page. If you find that some are missing, you can check the results from your local racing association. Generally, the local cycling associations are fairly quick and accurate to get results posted, but keep in mind that they are human! Results can be wrong, inaccurate and (gasp!) missing. Don’t be afraid to email or call your race organizers to ask for a fix to any problems. Once or twice, I’ve even had to resort to a Google search, and with success!

All of this is easily avoided if you update your resume after every single race. Don’t worry, it takes no more than 5 minutes once you get the hang of it. Since I moved to North Carolina for college I’ve been using this resume to keep results organized. This resume was actually created by the Carolinas Cycling Association, and I modified it slightly for individual use by adding the “race fees” column to help keep reimbursement fees in check. When it comes time to submit your upgrade, your results are readily available, so no searching after the fact. There are obviously plenty of different formats you could use for your resume, but I find this one to be very easy once it comes time for submitting an upgrade.

Having this kind of info on hand is truly important. If you were looking for a job would you be more eligible for a given position with or without a resume? (Rhetorical question) The same applies to cycling when you start looking at joining teams, a race resume is a must have! If you have a well put together resume, and the results to go with it, its one less thing that you have to worry about.

You could even take it a step further by adding details such as your personal information (height, weight, D.O.B., hobbies, etc.) and any volunteer work or coaching you have done. The more detailed you can be about your cycling career the better, just don’t go overboard! Teams today are not just looking at how you are as a rider, but also how you are as a person. Your personal details can at times be equally as important as your race details. Think of it this way, most teams out there wouldn’t be too happy if they discovered that their new rider is a felon who refuses to help out in the community. Obviously that was a gross exaggeration, but you get my point. If you can display that excellent personality of yours in your resume and get out there to volunteer in the community, it will truly take it to the next level. Just as a note, this type of information is not necessary when submitting for an upgrade.

Before you get ready to submit your upgrade though, you need to check to make sure that you’ve met your upgrade requirements:

**From the 2011 USAC Rulebook**

5-4: Experience in 10 mass start races.

Local Associations may also establish policies where
upgrade credit is given for taking a USA Cycling
sanctioned rider education clinic.

4-3: 20 points in any 12-month period; or

Experience in 25 qualifying races with a minimum of 10 top ten finishes with fields of 30 riders or more; or

20 pack finishes with fields over 50. 30 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade.

USAC-sanctioned rider Camps and
Clinics that are approved by the Local Associations for
upgrading will count a maximum of 3 upgrade points when
upgrading from category 4 to category 3.

3-2: 25 points in any 12-month period.
40 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade.

2-1: 30 points in any 12-month period.
50 points in 12 months is an automatic upgrade.

Click Here for a download of the full USAC Rulebook from USA Cycling and to see how the points are tabulated.

Most racers that have read this probably have some sort of resume put together, but if not then get one put together right now! Stop putting it off and get to it. The sooner you get your past results together, the less you have to worry about later. To those of you that do have a resume, look back to make sure that it is detailed and organized!

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2011 Collegiate Road Season: One for the Books!

I apologize for the lack of updates throughout the 2011 season so far, but it was nothing short of amazing! From beginning to end, Mars Hill Cycling truly showed the competition what it had to offer.

The first few races together in the Mens A field were a bit shaky, but once we had a few races under our belt things became much more fluid. As the season progressed, we became more and more confident in each other and had consistent top place finishes.

Overall, the team ended up with the SECCC Div. II Conference Champs title, both Div. II mens and womens individual titles (myself and Stephanie Bunnett), a National Collegiate Criterium title (Kyle Knott), and the overall title for Div. II National Road Race Championships! This season was something truly out of a dream for me and I’m sure for others on the team.


Though we will be losing several key players from the team next year because of graduations, we will also have several new recruits coming for the 2011 fall and 2012 spring seasons. I’m definitely excited to get back to training and racing with members from last years’ squad, as well as begin with the new recruits!

Check out some of the pictures from the 2011 season and collegiate nationals!

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SECCC Race Weekend #1: University of FL (Gainesville)

Day 1: Collegiate A Circuit Race – 60min, 1.1mi Loop

Ah, the first race of the 2011 collegiate season, and thankfully it was far away from the wintery weather up here in North Carolina. After a solid 9-hour trek down from Mars Hill to Gainesville, and getting into bed around 1:00am, I was a little bit worried about getting so little sleep before the race.

Arriving at the race site the following morning, situated in a small business park, I had enough pre-race nerves setting in that any lack of sleep I may have had was not an issue! Only three of us from the team attended the race: Stephanie Bunnett in the women’s A’s, and myself and Maitland Jones in the mens A’s. Though it was no surprise because I had been checking the weather so frequently, both of our races were on wet roads in the rain. Luckily, the course only had one sharp turn so the rain really wasn’t an issue.

After a good 30min warmup, I was ready to get the race going! Heading into the staging area Maitland and I both scoped out the competition and made note of who to watch out for. Because there was only two of us in the field, we had to pick which breakaways to go with carefully, and do as little work as possible. Some schools such as University of FL and Cumberland had a good number of guys in the field, so we could be almost certain that they’d have at least one person in the breaks.

The attacks started from the blow of the whistle, and the pace stayed pretty high in the first few laps. I was able to get myself situated towards the front of the pack, so I felt comfortable in the beginning of the race. Attack after attack people kept trying to start the breaks. Maitland and I both went up with some of the hopeful breaks, but none of them lasted much more than a lap. Finally about halfway through the race, a group of about five riders went off the front and the pace suddenly dropped in the main field. With several notable riders in the break, I took my chances and attacked to bridge up to the break. After successfully catching them after a good hard effort, I looked back to see that the field was still sitting up! At this point I had a good feeling that this break would stick, but I tried to stay calm about it. Lap after lap with the break we actually began to gain time! By the time it was three laps to go, I knew that we had it! At two laps to go I started trying to conserve as much energy as I could for the sprint, but kept alert in case anybody tried to make a solo break.

Going into the final turn I took my chances and attacked going into it, leaving myself out in front going into the sprint. When it was happening I was sure that I had just ruined the race! Coming out of the turn I lead out the sprint and somehow held it to take first!

Collegiate A (Postlogue) ITT – 2.2mi

Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled at having to do a time trial starting at around 5:30pm the same day, but with it being so short and after some success earlier I was up for it! The time trial was actually on the same course as the circuit race, and was simply two laps. In case you were wondering, yes, there were a lot of people on the course at the same time. During my time trial I had to do a lot of people dodging, but luckily not into the turns.

One new rule this year for all collegiate riders is that the use of aero equipment (disc, TT bike, aerobars, etc.) is not permitted. I am definitely not opposed to this because I don’t have a time trial bike!

From the start, I went out way to hard, and I found it really difficult to pace myself on such a short distance. After finding a decent rhythm, I felt pretty good about my performance, but as always I thought that I could’ve gone harder (doesn’t everybody?). Once the results came out after everybody had finished and it was well after dark outside and getting cold (for FL), I was happy to learn that I had won the time trial as well!

Day 2: Collegiate A Criterium – 70min

Going into the Sunday’s race, I could feel yesterday’s efforts in my legs, but was still excited to get racing! Like the day before, the roads were wet from the rain, but it had stopped raining by the time my race went off. After arriving a little bit late, neither Maitland nor I was able to get much of a warmup in, but there was no point in worrying about it.

Much like the start to yesterday’s races, the attacks went off almost instantly! With the course being a little bit more technical with a fast “snaking” section, the field was pretty strung out at times. I stayed up towards the front as much as possible and tried to go with the breaks that I thought looked strong, but nothing was sticking. Around halfway through I slipped towards the back to recovery a little bit, and right as I did so an attack went of that had both David Guttenplan and Andy Baker in it who were the two strongest riders in the field. With only a moment to respond I jumped along the outside going into the snaking section and started an hopeless bridge attempt. For almost 4 laps I buried myself to catch up to the break, and got so close several times, but just couldn’t make it all the way up. Once I realized they were gone and I basically blew up, I sat up for the main field and tried to regain myself for the upcoming final sprint. Hurting pretty bad, it was hard to try to stay towards the front, but in the last few laps riders were getting dropped left and right. I held a decent position going into the final stretch and managed to squeeze out one last effort to finish ninth.

Overall, this weekend was definitely a success for the team and we managed to place ourselves into first place in the SECCC Div. II standings with just three people! All three of us had some great finishes and Stephanie got a win for herself in Sunday’s criterium!

Team Results:

Stephanie B. : 2nd, 3rd, 1st

Michael R. : 1st, 1st, 9th

Maitland J : 11th, 4th, 8th

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Upstate Winter Bike League Ride (1/22)

I’ve done plenty of group rides since I’ve been up at school, but the ride I attended this past weekend deserved a post. With all the key qualities of an epic ride (nice mileage, poor weather, big group, flat tires, etc.), I’ll be sure to be heading back for more! This ride that some of the team went to attend last weekend in Greenville, SC was the Upstate Winter Bike League (UWBL) ride. Advertised as being a hilly and fast 4.5 hour ride with two attack zones, I was definitely up for it!

With upwards of 100 riders at the start, many of whom appeared to be in the higher tier categories (Pro,1,2), it was going to be an awesome ride. Rolling out, it was around 25°F and cloudy, so there was a good bit of complaining coming from the pack for the first hour or so! Once the sun finally came out and it warmed up a bit, we were able to take off some of the thicker layers and really be able to enjoy the ride. By the time the first sprint zone came I was ready for a pick up in the pace and was getting jittery. As the ride leader blew his whistle to announce the start, the attacks began almost instantly. With no idea where the end was, I was happy with being able to keep up with the main leading group and put in a few hard efforts.

After the mid-ride store stop, the pace either picked up or I was beginning to feel the effects of the ride! Regardless, a lot of people were beginning to struggle, especially with the hills, but with a van following behind for support nobody was left behind. As the second sprint zone was fast approaching, I moved up as quick as possible to the front of the now-shrunken pack. Again, as the starting whistle blew, the first attack went. With all of us from the team up towards the front we made several good attempts at getting off the front, but with no telling how far away the sprint was, it was difficult to make any headway. I made several attacks when I thought we were nearing the end, but little did I know it was only around the halfway point! After discovering this I stayed in the main pack and enjoyed the fast-paced ride back into town.

With about 95 miles in that kind of hilly terrain, I was very happy with my ride. After the easy drive back to Mars Hill, I put the legs up for a little while to rest up for another hard effort the next day. The UWBL ride next week is supposed to be a 107 mile ride from Greenville, SC to Waterloo, SC and back with a fair amount of climbing. I’m not too sure if I’ll be attending with the first race the following weekend, but we’ll see what happens!

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Race Tactics and Threshold Tests…

The past few weeks leading up to the first race of the season have continued to be grueling, but have nonetheless been great. I am happy to say that I’ll be enjoying somewhat of a recovery week as of yesterday, with today being a glorious day off the the bike! Thankfully, the weather has actually been cooperating with the training lately, and I’ve been able to go on some nice group and team rides. With workouts ranging from steady tempo intervals, to high-cadence intervals, and plenty of hard efforts, I’m feeling very ready for the first race. Though its only just over a week away now, it doesn’t seem to be coming fast enough! As I’ve previously mentioned and am happy to say again, the team as a whole is looking fit and ready to take on the collegiate competition. Every meal in the cafeteria usually has some kind of race-related conversation as everyone on the team is getting their nerves worked up!

Recently, the team was lucky enough to have a presentation done on race tactics and general “rules of thumb” from Andy Applegate of Carmichael Training Systems here in Asheville. With levels ranging from a Cat. 1 to Cat. 5 in the room, everyone was able to benefit from the advice that Andy gave. Personally, I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the importance of the nutritional aspect of racing. One thing I’m glad that he had to say that some tend to lose sight of though is to “have FUN!”

Another event that the team was lucky enough to be able to have done was threshold tests at Spin-Tech Training nearby in Weaverville, NC. Everyone was made to perform a “blind” 20-minute threshold test. Basically we were unable to see any of our data (power, heart rate, cadence, etc.), which put everyone on a level playing field. I’m happy to say that the entire team did great and even though there was obviously some inter-team competition, we all supported one another! I felt happy with my early season fitness, and am looking forward to the next time we test. With this being the first thing closest to a “race” in the new year, I was super jittery while getting ready to jump on the trainer. All that was going through my mind was lining up on the line of the first real race!

Keep an eye out for the next post on a ride from this past weekend!

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Review: Specialized Romin Pro Saddle

One major component of being successful at cycling often boils down to being able to withstand a lot of pain, for a long time. In the moment, this pain may seem like it will last FOREVER, and its hard to get that thought out of your mind. Lance Armstrong once said “pain is only temporary, but quitting lasts forever,” which might be my single most favorite quote.

If there’s one kind of pain that I simply can’t handle on the bike, it’s the pain that comes directly from the saddle or the “nether regions.” Since I began racing, I’ve been on the search for the “perfect” saddle, but have never come close to this goal. With the Specialized Toupè I came very close, but it just doesn’t do it for me on those longer rides. Putting it all out on the table, I have a serious issue with numbness on the bike, which is extremely uncomfortable. With this, choosing the right saddle is more crucial to me than any other equipment I may own. An uncomfortable saddle leads not only to numbness, saddle sores, etc., but also to not riding to ones full potential. If you’re focused on how uncomfortable you are, you simply can’t be giving your maximal effort on the bike.

While building up my new racing bike, I can finally say that I have found the PERFECT saddle for myself. One of their newest racing saddles, the Specialized Romin is quite different from their Toupè model. The first thing that you notice on this saddle is the enormous cutout that actually extends for the entire length of the saddle! Second is the upward sweep in the back, compared to the board flat look of most racing saddles. I was somewhat skeptical at first coming from a flatter saddle, but after my first long ride I knew that the Romin was for me. Even after a good five hours on the bike, I had not experienced one bit of numbness. Some complain that the saddle is more firm than most, but I did not notice this at all and was 100% comfortable the entire time. For the first time in my riding career I can go for a ride without having to think about what I’m sitting on.

Where I find the saddle really shines is while climbing and riding in the drops. Because of how the cutout extends for the whole length of the saddle, there is no going numb while in the drops for me which was usually when it happened most frequently. The sweep in the back enables me to get a little bit more leverage while climbing because I have something extra to push back on to squeeze out that bit of extra power. One aspect of the saddle that people should be aware of though, is the width of the nose of the saddle. Although I did not find it uncomfortable, it was noticeable at first coming from a very narrow-nosed saddle such as the Toupè. After getting used to it, I actually prefer this characteristic because I feel as though it helps to disperse some of that pressure when hammering in the drops on the nose of the saddle.

Though there are several different models, the “Pro” version comes standard with carbon rails which you can bet makes this saddle fairly light at around 170 grams. Most carbon railed saddles will run you a hefty price, sometimes above $300. The Romin Pro retails at $150, which was actually cheaper than the alternative alloy railed saddles that I was looking at.

Overall, I truly cannot explain how happy I am with this saddle and I can finally fully enjoy those longer rides. Do yourself a favor and test ride one of these from your local Specialized dealer, you may kick yourself as I did for not doing it earlier! Keep in mind though that saddles are very individual and one that is perfect for me may be like a torture device for others. Regardless, I feel that the Romin is in a class of its own when compared to the other high-end saddles, and its at the peak of saddle comfort. Specialized, I applaud you!  No more complaining from me! (At least from saddle discomfort)

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Review: Raw Revolution Energy Bars

If there’s one thing that can be frustrating to me when on a long ride, its getting the right amount of food into my body at the right time. Most of the time, its when I don’t even feel like I want to be forcing something down, and it gets even worse when its cold outside and my nose starts to run. If you’re like me, the same old Powerbar, Cliff Bar, Hammer Bar, etc. can get old very fast. On top of this even when you try a new flavor, half the time its too dry or chunky to get down as quick as you would like. The last thing I want, especially in a race situation, is to be wasting time of trying to choke down an energy bar. Perhaps you’ve also experienced struggling to get an energy bar wrapper open only to find a half melted treat waiting for you. None of these are things that I like to go through, especially when I’m in pain on the bike!

For all of the stated reasons above, I’ve never been big on using energy bars, and have usually stuck to gels as much as possible. After moving up to Mars Hill and being introduced to a new product through the team, this preference has completely changed. For once, I’ve finally tried an energy bar that I’ve been completely satisfied with on all levels, even those that I normally wouldn’t consider. Raw Revolution energy bars has totally changed the way I eat while on the bike, and has even made it so I can enjoy and look forward to eating on the fly. Being raw, organic, as well as vegan, you can bet that not only are these bars healthy for you, but they’re LOADED with tons of nutritional value. It’s nice to know while eating one of their bars that not only are they enjoyable, but extremely healthy.

What can you find in one of these bars? Taken directly from the ingredients information from a Lemon Dew Raw Rev bar: Organic Dates, Organic Sunflower Seed Kernels, Organic Hemp Protein, Organic Agave Nectar, Organic Lemon Powder, Organic Sprouted Flax Seed Powder, Organic Lemon Extract, Organic Wheat Grass Powder, Organic Spirulina Powder, Organic Spinach Powder, Organic Oat Grass Powder, Organic Kale Powder, Organic Broccoli Powder, Organic Barley Grass Powder, Organic Broken Cell Wall Chlorela Powder. Overall, and if I wasn’t clear enough before, the ingredients would allow your average person to come to the conclusion that Raw Revolution bars are, in fact, organic!

The important thing for you potential Raw Revolution energy bar users though is not just the health factor, because you might as well stuff some raw fruits and veggies in your jersey pockets, its the ease of use and taste. As I stated before, I’m in love with the taste of these bars. On top of this, with upwards of 13 different flavors, they don’t get old! Here’s what I love about the taste. When you bite into a, for example, Apple Cinnamon Raw Rev bar, you don’t taste fake flavoring. You can actually feel bits of apple and other nutritious substances, which is not something I find from my usual Powerbar. This flavor bomb is the same for all of their flavors, my favorite being Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough! The ease of use with these bars is just icing on the cake. The wrapping on the bars are very easy to open and the bars DON’T MELT (as far as my experiences go). Too many times have I fumbled around with other brands’ wrappers only to get the corner torn off or the first half of the wrapper off, leaving the rest virtually impossible to get off without having to jump out of the pace line. If you’re curious about pricing, since the rush for organic foods as people want to become “greener” has led to increased prices, there’s no need to fret. The cost of one of these bars will run you the same as with any of the others, about $1.99.

All in all, if you don’t  give these bars a try you’re missing out! I was skeptical at first to abandon my tried and true Powerbar, but after using Raw Revolution energy bars, its all I want!

Want more info? Check their website: Raw Revolution – Organic Live Food Bar

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