Location and Venue
This past Sunday was the Colectivo Coffee Bean Classic, race #8 in the Wisconsin Off Road Series. This is a race I have been doing for about 11 years now and had a good run of wins when it was at it’s old venue, at what is now The Rock in Franklin, WI. So, coming into this race I always have good feelings from past performances and knowledge of the course. The venue recently changed, but the type of course did not change too much. The new venue is at Minooka Park in Waukesha, Wisconsin and these trails were built by a similar crew which maintained the Franklin trails! Tight, twisty, somewhat technical single track heavy course was on order. Many seem to think this course is fairly flat, but in reality there is a good amount of elevation change hidden behind all the time in the woods where you do not realize you are climbing.
When thinking about a race recap, my initial thoughts tend toward a fairly simple plan executed. Go to the front and go at the highest pace manageable the entire race. Being a course that does not lend to any drafting tactics, there are only a few places the effort at the front of a group can be drafted upon. But choices in mountain bike racing come from preparation, they are not simply made. Preparation in training opens up the the number of choices an individual has in any race situation. As an example, an up and coming fellow elite racer recently commented/asked “I am really familiar with just going hard the entire race chasing the leaders, at the front are you guys just hanging out or what?” I took this to mean, are there tactics in your mountain bike races, or do you just go as hard as you can all race? The quick answer without a huge coaching lesson, is yes, tactics are employed if you have prepared enough tools in training, or else you are just hanging on! Being able to make those decisions about what tools to use when comes from having the tools prepped and ready to go!!! To go to the front and just push the pace till the elastic snapped would not have been possible without knowing all the right tools were in place for such an effort, or vice versa playing a waiting game race or some other tactic. I am mentioning all this because my preparation in training this year has been completely different than years past, but I will leave that for the end of the post, here is some play by play with pictures.
Race day was HOT and HUMID, 95+ degrees on the Garmin. I lined up series leader smack dab in the center with a bag of ice on my back! At the line it was announced there was $100 sprint prime at the top of the start climb, at GO I went straight to the front and set a very high but manageable “sprintish” pace.
With a great sprinter in the field, Cole House, I figured chances were ok at getting the sprint prime, but those were smashed by a very “cheeky” move Cole made over the top forcing me to come to almost a complete stop. After the initial climb there is a short loop on XC ski trails before the single track and Joseph Maloney AKA Joe Mo put in a little pull back up to Cole, I came around and fought “tooth & nail” for the holeshot into the single track. I really did not want to deal with any tactical hold ups in the single track that have been common lately.
From here I set a pace that was threading the needle between IMPLOSION and fastest 4 laps on course I could possibly run.
For the first lap Cole and Isaac Neff were following about 1-2 seconds back on each twisty single track corner. I noticed the pace in the single track was high enough that if we climbed at all and I drilled it, the gap would grow. This began to increase confidence that the right choice was in the decision to commit from the beginning of the race and fueled my trust in that tactic even more.
Coming into lap 2 Cole was still with me just a wheel or two lengths off. I had a ton of family and friends on the start climb feeding and handing me water both to drink and to pour over my head in the crazy heat! I stayed motivated and continued to drill a high pace thru the XC trails section with the 1-2 wheel gap intact. We entered the single track with me leading, yet together, but from here the gap instantly began to grow. By half way thru the 2nd lap I began to get outta sight. From here I just continued to thread the needle between blowing up and the best race time possible.
Family, Work, Pro Racing
So what’s changed? Notable mention is the preparation I have been doing this year for all my racing. Being an athlete is one role I play in life among many. As a Husband, Father of 5 children, running 3 businesses from home, and playing a role in our church family, time is under extra constraints compared to the past. In addition, after having our 5th child, my wife Lindsay Guerra decided to jump back into the racing scene at the Elite level. This has led to needing to find even more creative ways to get the hours in on the bike. Many have heard of my crazy trainer hours in the winter due to cold, dark, and lack of time during the day to ride outside. But this year, up to this point in the season, I have ridden almost exclusively indoors on a trainer with a program called Zwift, while live streaming on my twitch.tv channel. Most days I get our 2 youngest kids down for a nap and hop on the trainer in my office with Zwift running and the stream live. The funny thing is, rather than hamper results, I have had my best year of racing ever! The other day I was asked how is this possible and believe it is two fold. First I have grown as a coach, both self coached and a growing coaching business. I have learned a lot from so many individuals in this sport over the years and have put in a huge amount of study time independently and as a sub focus in my degree studies. Secondly, I believe the “get on and get it done” nature and focus of the indoor riding with others on Zwift has kept everything consistent and trackable in the plan. For more info on all this you can join me live in training @ http://www.twitch.tv/nathanguerra or check out our website Vision Cycling information and coaching info http://www.vision-cycling.com/
Racing for a Reason
Thanks for reading everyone and happy trails!