Sunday, January 25, 2009

What is a Pro?

Every once in a while, when I'm bored, I will check out some of the bike racing forums. Usually, the likes of TXBRA for race results and things of that nature. I don't really agree with the format of their forum. People can post anonymously, saying basically whatever they want, without anyone knowing exactly who it is. Now I don't really follow the smack talk of all the haters on forums. That is, until people start to take personal shots at me. For no reason, no less. As I tell myself when faced with any adversity, it is what it is.
A few months back, I won a race and was interviewed by the local newspaper. In the interview, I was asked if I go to school, where I was from and other questions like that. I remember telling the interviewer, that I was not in school and I just raced full time. Not once did I tell him I was a professional. It was automatically assumed. When people read the paper, they started ripping into me, claiming I wasn't a "pro". Some even questioned my education background. As if it has anything to do with bike racing. Just for the record. YES, I dropped out of high school and YES, I got a GED and NO, I have no desire to go to college. Right now. As if it's any ones business. No one likes to be talked about in a negative way, why should I be any different? About once a month I have a bad day on the bike and think to myself, "is this worth it"? I am giving up my life to achieve a dream that is scrutinized by basically everyone. Then I read ignorant shit like that and I remember, it's people and comments like that, that motivate me to keep going. All this began an on going debate, what exactly is a "pro"? The topic came up again a week or so ago when results for Copperas Cove were posted. Josh Carter won the race (as if there was any doubt). Those who know Josh, knows he is one of the nicest guys around and we are lucky to have him racing in Texas (he's from Illinois). He moved to Wichita Falls when his wife started coaching the MSU cycling team. He has a whole litter of children, thus a whole lot of responsibility. However, he doesn't have an everyday full-time job. All he does is ride, yet he is on an elite amateur team. He used to ride professionally for Subway a few years back, doing every big race in the U.S. Is he still a pro? I think yes.
Regardless of what the dictionary may say for "professional", you do not have to get paid to be considered "pro". A good amount of racers on continental teams do not get paid a dime. You have to remember, that cycling is not a glamorous sport like baseball or basketball or football. The base level salary in any one of those sports is around $500k a yr. There are only a handful of cyclists that get paid that much. On the other end of the spectrum, there are quite a few racers on teams considered "elite amateur", that get paid a salary. Are they considered less of a pro because they are on a team without a license? There are several teams that could buy the continental license but choose not to. The only bonus to having the license, is the opportunity to do races such as Tour of California, and even then, there is not a 100% chance you will be invited.
Cycling is arguably the hardest sport to succeed in. Many of the issues the normal pro has to face are so stressful as well as mentally and physically taxing, riders often call it quits before they reach their prime. Unlike the sports mentioned above, salary is not guaranteed. Forcing many riders on pro teams to get a real job.
Not many kids have the dream to become a professional cyclist. I know I didn't. My dream was to become an option quarterback at the University of Nebraska, where my dad went, and then play in the NFL. By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I had a good idea that my football days were numbered. Cycling was a hobby for me, and a time to bond with my dad. The more I raced, the better I got, and the more I wanted to win. Eventually, there was only one step left and I wanted to be with the best. Someone does not wake up and choose to be a professional cyclist. Cycling chooses you, and not many have the pedigree to stick it out. Riding 15-30 hrs a week and limit your spare time with friends is hard to do for a 21 yr old. True professionals have to make sacrifices. Kiss a personal life goodbye. At least until you establish yourself.
White shoe covers do not make you a pro. I retired mine with my old team. Diamond earrings do not make you pro. I keep mine on my dresser, and only put them in when I feel like standing out. Carrying only water and no food on a 5 hr training ride does not make you pro either. I do that to teach my body to run off of as little as possible. It's my theory and it works for me. You never know if you are going to miss your feed. Even then, its usually just water. You can believe as soon as I stop on a ride, I buy a coke and usually pop tarts and some sort of bar. The same as I start a race with. I eat pretty healthy but I could be better. I do what works for me. I don't count calories or follow a diet. I have guidelines. I know what is filling and what by body can handle best. I do not eat fast food unless it's my only option. I try to limit my junk food intake, but I am only human, and 20. You may think racing/ riding with no gloves and helmet is "pro", it's not. You will learn that as soon as you shred off your palm in a crit going 40mph, or have a wreck where your helmet is in pieces. Trust me on that. I learned both first hand.
In my opinion, a pro is someone who travels around to races with a team that pays for the expenses. If you are paying for registration and hotels all yourself and drive alone to these races and are out of pocket for these expenses, you are not pro. But that is just my opinion. You are a pro if you have a license that says so, i.e. road, mountain, bmx.. whatever. Bryan Fawley, myself, Tristan Uhl, and Tyler Jewell all have those, FYI. You are at least a cat 1. If your not, you can't race with the pro teams at most races anyways. If you were at some point in time, on a professional team, or have had a professional license. You are a pro in my book. Once a pro always a pro. That means you have a good idea of what it takes to make it.
Living the dream is a job, you must treat it like one. Do not judge us by the paths we have chosen, it was our decision.

Hopefully people that read this will have a little better understanding on what exactly a pro is. To any haters out there that think professional cycling is a joke. Do you really want your negativity and unnecessary comments be the reason a junior quits cycling at 17? No one wants to be "that guy".

Thanks once again, to all the supporters out there. The silent sponsors that throw money at junior programs or development teams or aspiring pro teams. It is because of you, we can ride our bikes full time and follow our aspirations.



Friday, January 16, 2009

Training Update

The past few weeks of training, following team camp, have been pretty consistant. Each week has been around 25 hrs. Give or take an hr. Lately I have been driving to Grapevine to ride with Andrew a little bit. It beats riding by my house in the city, and its fun riding with people some time. Most of the time we have ridden to Denton and back. Its about 70 miles roundtrip, so about 4 hrs. That's if we don't do a little extra around the house afterward.
Other than rides in the Grapevine/ Flowermound area, The bulk of my riding has been either laps around White Rock lake or a group ride somewhere with time tacked on at the end. Good riding in the Dallas area is very hard to come by. I have also continued my track sessions on Wednesday nights with Christian. I feel like its helping out with my leg speed and sprint. It could just be mental though. But isn't that all cycling really is anyways? Hopefully next week I will be able to go down to Austin for the week and do some rides I used to do when I lived there. I miss them. A coke and a personal pizza from the Mobil gas station in Johnson City would hit the spot right about now.
Only a couple more weeks until Valley of the Sun. This isn't really my favorite race, but I am actually pretty exciting to go and start the season. I am feeling pretty confidant about my fitness at the time and I am finally at or below my target weight of 63 Kg (138 lbs.) Perfect timing. It all seems to be coming together. I think training on a 19 lb. cyclocross bike all winter will have done me well too once we finally get our newly designed BH connect. I might actually feel fast! Maybe not though.

The other day I went to ride with Andrew at Nathan's house. After the ride, him and Shannon had to go to the grocery store and since I didn't want to drive home during rush hour traffic, I tagged along with them. While we were in the line waiting to checkout I was checking out the impulse buys and stumbled across this little gem. Whoever came up with this is clearly a genius.
After 5 hr Energy and 6 Hr Power, this blows it way out of the water.

I want to know how they came up with an 80 hr energy supplement. What a random number. According to the advertisement, it's used by bike riders. With something that lasts that long, I can train for RAAM! Has anyone ever used any of the long lasting energy shots? If so, do they actually work? I don't think I would actually try them but I'm curious. I'll stick to water and Nutella sandwiches.

Ashley is in town now. She always gives me evil looks and death threats. I'm scared for my life. I think she could be like a hit man or something, and she is smart enough to get away with it.

Out for now.
Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Top 10 continued

A few posts down, I posted my Top 5 hottest celebrities. This is the second installment of the previous countdown. This is the bike racer list. When I say bike racer, I mean bike racers that a majority of cyclists have actually heard of. There will not be an honorable mention with this list because frankly, bike racers aren't that hot.
It was hard to come up with 5, but I did it! I think everyone will be impressed. Enjoy :)

5. Katerina Nash- This beauty from the Czech Republic is probably the most accomplished on the list. Pretty boss mountain biker racing for Luna. She has been to 3 Olympic Games dating back to Sydney. It must be the dark hair and tan skin.

4. April Lawyer- To be honest, I don't think she is very well known as a cyclist. I believe she was a downhiller. Now she is running a clothing company in Oregon. She is also married to Chris Sheppard. Lucky Canadian bastard.

3. Willow Koerber- Pretty attractive. OK bike racer. She's good for a few podiums at the nationals. Does anyone really care how she does in races?

2. Lizzie Armitstead- She is the only non- mountain biker on the list. She has a few World Cup medals on the track for the UK. She is also only 20. Secretly I hope to meet her and have her fall in love with me. I don't think that will happen though.

1. Niki Gudex- If she isn't at the top of every one's list then you have no taste. She sure knows how to market herself. I'd invest in that.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Team camp wrap up

Well, camp is over and done with now. It was pretty hard but nothing too difficult. We spent most of he time doing pace line and lead out work on Robson Ranch. It took us a little while but we figured it out and did a pretty good job considering we were missing 2 of our strongest riders in Christian and Benji. I can't wait for them to get back in town for the year. I think they will be here just in time for Valley of the Sun. Them being back should help all of us both racing and training. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say we will be the most talented and dominating amateur team. Bank on that.
We spent a couple of days up in Talihina riding some good "mountains" in the Ouchita forest. Of course, we weren't just riding. In fact, we hardly had any down time on the bike while we were there. We were either doing individual time trials uphill or pace lining for miles and miles. It was awesome training and it was easy to tell who was riding well. There was no faking it. Pater and Corey both have a new coach and they are riding very strong. I am starting to up my volume for January so we should all compliment each other well.
When we got back to town, we wrapped things up by having our team presentation and dinner. It was an opportunity to meet and greet all of the Metro sponsors and supporters. After all the hand shaking, we went to Main Event to hit up some laser tag and bowling. Sounds childish... but it was as much fun as a group of cyclists can have together.
While we were in our hotel, we had frequent visits from the folks at Living Well Dallas. They talked to us a bit about nutrition and setting goals and getting life straight all around. They also provided us with massages and acupuncture. it's about time I make my appointments for follow ups this month. Check them out at
While at camp, we also got our race schedule for the first half of the year. it is going to be a whole new animal for me. Finally getting the shot to race out of Texas at some premier NRC races throughout the country. Starting with Valley of the Sun for the sponsors then hopefully staying in So Cal up until San Dimas and Redlands. Races like Cascade, Gila and Tour de Toona are also on the schedule depending on where nationals is located this year.
Look for the team's updates on our blogs as well as the monthly write up in The Racing Post.

Here are just a few pictures taken from camp.