Time has flown by since I came back to the U.S. at the end of August. I completed the fall semester at my university, Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, signed a new contract for a French professional track cycling team, and have spent the past four weeks in Los Angeles, California for a warm-weather track and road training camp where I’m currently writing from.
When I came back from France at the end of August 2021, I was exhausted. I hadn’t spent more than two straight days off the bike since mid-March 2020, about when the pandemic started in the U.S. With nearly 18 unbroken months of hard travel, racing, and training under my belt, it was time to rest. Along with my coach, Colby Pearce, I decided to take a month-long break from structured physical activity, my longest break since I was thirteen. That neatly coincided with my return to Bowdoin. In late September I eased back into structured training, but it took a solid two months to regain my mojo on the bike, and progress.
The fall semester flew by; I took classes in immunology and developmental biology (courses specific to my biology major), plus sociology and political science. Interestingly, after experiencing a year of European bike racing, school felt comparatively easy. Five hours of schoolwork turns out to be easier than a five-hour ride in cold rain! While focusing on school, I was still able to get in quality training: road riding, some mountain biking, some running, and time in the gym. Training outside got harder as temperatures grew colder, of course, and I was confined to my Revbox (a fan-based, low-inertia trainer) for all of December.
Zero complaints about the roads in the Brunswick/Lewiston area. Fall in Maine does not disappoint!
Giant Dijon Track Team
After spending 2021 racing for the AG2R Citroën U23 Team on the road, I gained extensive experience in climbing-heavy races, perhaps not my natural strong suit. While I was able to combine track and road racing to some degree, I wasn’t able to arrive at track or road races at 100%, which was frustrating. The AG2R Citroën U23 Team management were firm on maintaining their athletes as road riders, so it was a natural agreement that I move on at the end of the season to focus wholly on track for 2022. I’m happy to announce then that I’ve signed with Giant Dijon Track Team, a UCI professional team based out of Dijon, France. The team is new this year, and under the management of Joffrey Degueurce, is looking to qualify spots at Nations Cups and score strong results at Class 1 track events across Europe. The team is supported by sponsors Giant Dijon, Castelli, Maurten, and Lake Cycling, which provide excellent material and nutrition products to the team. I’m excited to race for a purely track-focused team this year, and am looking forward to getting started with the team in late spring.
Los Angeles Training Camp
Once the academic semester wrapped up in mid December, I headed home to Minnesota to spend time with my family, and get in a few days of cross country skiing. After a week of skiing, I was ready to get back to more serious training, with a four-week training camp in Los Angeles. To the surprise of many, LA is an excellent place to train. Between the good weather, the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, as well as the Velo Sports Center (the United States’ only international-standard 250 meter indoor wood velodrome), training in Los Angeles is highly productive. There are not many places in the world where you can go on a sunny 150 km ride with 3000 meters of climbing on one day, and put in a full track session with a strong group of training partners on the next.
Some of the beautiful vistas around Los Angeles.
The past four weeks here in LA have been the largest training block of my life: 110 hours of training, nearly all of it on the bike. I’ve supplemented with some core work, but other than that, I’ve benefited from the ridiculously pleasant weather and training conditions. In the past four weeks my only responsibility has been training and taking care of my body, and it’s paid off. The only exception was an afternoon of surfing, which largely consisted of getting tossed around by some modest waves. I feel better than I ever have in training, and have been putting up consistently strong aerobic power numbers on long endurance rides: the main focus of this block. Track time has been productive too, with a key focus on high-cadence Madison work, much of it guided by Roger Young, a legend of American bike racing. A special thank you goes to veteran elite cyclist Kevin Phillips and his family for graciously hosting me during my stay.
Some shots from around LA, and an afternoon of surfing. Taken by Kevin Phillips, the man!
I’m about to head back to Brunswick, Maine for the spring semester, which will be broken up by a two week spring break in mid-March when I’ll likely return to Los Angeles. My studies will focus on developmental biology, and I’ll be working in a laboratory researching embryonic zebrafish tooth development using CRISPR, a gene editing tool. I’ll split training between cross country skiing and indoor riding, with some gym work mixed in, until the roads are clear enough to ride, possibly not until April. When the semester ends in mid-May I’ll likely immediately jump across the pond to Europe, where I’ll live in a small town called Bernin, just outside of Grenoble, with Gilles Richiero, the director of the Velodrome Eybens in Grenoble. From there, much of my schedule is up in the air, but I plan on racing many CL1 track events across Europe with my new team, Giant Dijon Track Team, returning stateside for the US National Championships, and perhaps a block of kermesse racing in Belgium.
I’m looking forward to another year of track racing in Europe, and I’m ready to embrace the challenge of combining serious training with focus on my studies at Bowdoin this spring. The past few weeks in Los Angeles have offered a very positive indicator that my body has absorbed the past 18 months of hard training and racing. I’ll be back with another update soon enough, perhaps at my next training camp in Los Angeles in late March.
Until then, take care!