Monday, June 16, 2008

Ian Tuttle: Ride Fast

Ian was formerly a “local” from Jackson, Wyoming and raced a lot in the local races. Last fall, he relocated from Jackson, Wyoming to Mill Valley, California with his girlfriend, after which they broke up. Ian is still getting over the break up, which may explain his meteoric rise from a Cat 3 to a Cat 1 during the course of a few months. Ian and I recently had a conversation that went something like this:

SS: Congratulations, I hear you just got your Cat 1 upgrade. When you were suffering on the road from Logan to Jackson last September as a Cat 3, did you think you’d be a Cat 1 by May?

IT: Definitely. I really want to compete in Nationals this year. And I admit that it’s pretty cool to be able to compete at the top amateur level.

SS: How long have you been racing?

IT: I started racing in 2005. I upgraded to a Cat 3 in 2007. I got denied for the Cat 2 upgrade twice in Utah and once in California. Then in April 2008, I upgraded to a Cat 2 after I won 2 Cat 3 races in California.

SS: So, have you ever won a race when you didn’t solo across the line?

IT: Hmm. Now that I think about it, my last two Cat 3 races, I won solo.

SS: And I remember you soloing – barely – to the win at Garden Creek last year.

IT: Right. Good times.

SS: So what about your stage win as a Cat 2 at Gila?

IT: It was somewhat of a flyer, but wasn’t really a bunch sprint. I saw Sohm take off, and I launched solo to catch him, caught him, and barely held off the pack.

SS: Yeah, I think you did the exact same thing in ’07 on that stage, except we were racing for 30th place in the Cat 3s. And what about your recent stage win at Hood?

IT: It was a circuit race of 5 laps. At the beginning of the 3rd lap, we caught a breakaway and thought it was a logical place to go. I expected others to come with me, but I guess everyone thought it was too early to go. I gained time on the uphill and the downhill and ended up sticking it with 1:35 on the group.

SS: You kind of attack where people are thinking, “it’s too early,” or “yeah right, like that will stick.”

IT: Yeah, but I think that’s how all breakaways happen. Usually when a break goes, everyone is thinking, gee that’s dumb, I don’t want to be in their shoes. But their the ones that make it, and everyone thinks it’s hopeless.

SS: Lots of breaks fail though.

IT: True. I guess in the end, you have to have the legs to back it up.

SS: It’s hard to stick it out solo for sure.

IT: I like it when it comes down to solo time trial. I like to be out there racing against myself. I think it doesn’t matter if the pack catches you; all that matters is that you give it everything you have. I always feel better after the races where I push my limits and really see where the limit is – even if I blow up in the end.

SS: So, how many times did you attack before you got away at Hood?

IT: Once. Lucky for me, some other guys brought the break back. It was a perfect time to go.

SS: What about Gila? How many times did you attack or cover attacks?

IT: The race was blown apart, and when I saw a group go, I thought it would be a good opportunity to bridge up to some of the splinter groups ahead. . . . so once, I guess. I was inspired that day because I got a random water bottle that said, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” So I took extra pulls and we eventually became the front group.

SS: Do you ever put yourself in the wind when your not in a break?

IT: No. I don’t have any teammates. So, I’m either sitting in, attacking or bridging.

SS: How does California racing compare to Utah?

IT: I think the level is about the same. The difference is that there are bigger numbers in California (and definitely a lot more wannabe racers).

SS: So, I saw a picture of your bike. Is that Greg Lemond’s old bike?

IT: Funny. No, it’s a Pegoretti. It’s not steel. It’s aluminum. Handles better than anything I’ve had. It is a bit heavier though. It’s unbelievable.

SS: How much does it weigh?

IT: 17-17.5 lbs.

SS: So, how did you get so strong this year?

IT: Well, I’ve been coached by the same guy for three years now and attribute a huge amount of my success to him. He’s been an incredible mentor for me. A lot of the training is counter intuitive. Sometimes I think I’m going too hard before a race. But he knows what he’s doing and has been a key to my success.

SS: Does your coach tell you exactly what to do?

IT: Yep. And I follow it to a “T.”

SS: No deviations?

IT: Nope.

SS: Do you ever think, my coach doesn’t know me, I feel tired, so I’m not doing this workout?

IT: Nope.

SS: Lots of trust there. Did you do any base training?

IT: Not really. The season starts here in January, so I used racing to train.

SS: How many hours do you train?

IT: 10-20 per week.

SS: That’s it?

IT: Yes.

SS: So, what’s the secret to your success?

IT: Well, I’m really focused. I don’t have a family. My job is racing oriented. I really don’t have any distractions.

SS: Do you train with a power meter?

IT: Yes. But I’ve never downloaded any information. I don’t really mess around with it. I look at it when I ride my bike, but that’s about it. I don’t like to get hung up on numbers.

SS: So what do you use your power meter for then?

IT: Just to stay in my zone, whether I’m going easy enough or hard enough.

SS: So it’s just a nice $3k ornament?

IT: No. No. I use it in training a lot. But I don’t like using it in racing. It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting out high numbers or low numbers. All that matters is where you come in relative to everyone else. I don’t like having false boundaries. They inhibit performance.

SS: Have you done specific training to improve your LT?

IT: I don’t know what LT is.

SS: Do you know what your power is at LT?

IT: Actually, I do.

SS: What is it?

IT: I’d rather not say. It doesn’t matter.

SS: So, what’s your power to weight ratio?

IT: Don’t know. I haven’t used a scale for four months.

SS: Liar.

IT: Whatever.

SS: 20 minute power?

IT: Don’t know.


IT: Don’t know.

SS: Liar liar. Well, I have to admit I like your style. . . . kind of a go with the flow, relaxed style: Just win.

IT: Totally. Cycling is a joyful thing. Have fun. Just win. Don’t get too anal or obsessed. Just ride fast.

SS: So, I’m still confused. The whole purpose of this interview was to figure out how you got so fast, so fast. What precisely did you do?

IT: Well, I just told you. I listen to my coach and I ride.

SS: So, the secret is that there is no secret?

IT: Something like that. Seriously, I think we let our minds and our egos get in the way. I think one of the things I like about cycling the most is that it gives me an opportunity to break through mental barriers. We are often limited by what we think we are capable. If you just “go with it” and ride hard and let the body work and just go fast, sometimes you surprise yourself and break through to the next level.

SS: Thanks Ian. Great conversation. Best of luck to you at Nationals. Ride fast and go pro!!

Ian’s blog can be found here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

All In

I'd be lying if I were to deny being really happy about winning the Sugarhouse Crit (qualifier: Cat 3). It was one of those days when the stars were so aligned that when the cards were dealt, it was a no brainer: all in.

Part of what made the win (yeah, I like using that word) so sweet (aside from the fact that it is the only win of my cycling career) is that it was all in from the get go. I put in the inaugural attack and Taylor Hansen and I found ourselves in the inaugural break. After a couple laps, we were brought back, and my teammate Jake (who has a mullet that admittedly looks pretty cool) countered. After Jake came back, Jon put in a dig.

About 40 minutes into the race, things got hot when Ali Goulet attacked hard and opened up a huge gap -- he was going up the finishing hill when the peloton was just hitting the downhill. Taylor and Boudreau were next to flee the pack, followed by me and Mullet Jake. We all effected the bridge and formed a loose conglomerate. Of all the moves of the day, I thought that one would stick. But it didn't.

With 2 laps to go, I went to the front and did my best to up the pace so no one would attack. At 1 lap to go, we were all together again. At 3/4 of a lap, we were still together heading up the first "climb." At the top of the "climb," we were still together. And then by the entrance gate, there was a slight hesitation.

As soon as the pack hesitated, I stood up, jumped, and laid down my best finishing sprint. I got a gap. The pack didn't chase. I pedaled up the hill. And soloed (barely) across the line. Lucky!

Given that most of the times when I go all in, I end up going kamikaze, i.e., explosions and suicide, I've been asking myself why I decided to jump when I did. Mostly, it was because the DH told me to go if there was a hesitation. I owe a lot to DH for that advice. Partly it was because last year I had a gap at the top of the hill, but thought it was too early to open up a sprint, and have been regretting and wishing I would have sprinted for the last year. And partly it was because of my race at Garden Creek; since then I have been kicking myself for not being aggressive enough. Lucky for me, I had those things weighing on me, and when the opportunity presented itself, I had the presence of mind to place my bet.

Perhaps the funniest thing was that once I had opened up the gap, I rode the whole downhill somewhat confused. I looked back, expecting to see a pack of 40 killer bees swarming down on me. Instead there was a sizeable gap. When I hit the uphill, rather than sprinting, I was thinking, "man, maybe there were two laps to go. I'm going to look kind of dumb sprinting with one lap to go." Even as I crossed the line, I wasn't 100 percent certain I had won. If there are any photos, they will likely depict me with my arms outstretched to the 4 and 8 o'clock positions. Not the typical 10 and 2 or 11 and 1 o'clock positions -- positions that I have practiced so many times when sprinting against myself in remote areas (admit it, you have too!). Although I'm not complaining, I wouldn't mind having that finish all over again.

Anyway, nice job to all those who participated, and remember, when it's time to place your bets, go all in.

PS I'm going to be posting an interesting interview with Ian Tuttle this week. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Next Generation

Took Ethan to his first BMX race. He was a bit scared, but still rode fast enough to win one heat and get a trophy in the main event. He slept with his trophy last night.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Way of the Warrior

I'd like to say that I incurred these man prizes by ripping down a mountain pass at 55 mph. Instead, I have to admit that a gutter, a little moisture, and a 1/2 inch asphalt lip can result in a nice slide across the pavement and a bit of blood -- even for a Warrior.