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Blog posts tagged with 'cycling'

#TeamNater Races Across America

 

As a track sprinter on the velodrome, I am used to going 100% and doing everything I can to turn myself inside out. My typical efforts in training are between 20 and 40 seconds long and by the time I am done I often have a headache and a sudden urge to throw up. Pushing this hard did not come natural. To be able to push to this extent, it takes years of training and experience, and as the saying goes, "The stronger you get the more it hurts." So needless to say, I am a glutton for punishment… Maybe that's why I jumped on the opportunity to be a part of Race Across America 2017!

 

In the beginning of 2017, my brother James approached me to see if I'd be interested in joining the Oceanside Police Department team for Race Across America. Of course there was some slight hesitation, being a sprinter on the velodrome, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I knew I needed to jump on. Since my training is typically done for races that are less than two minutes long, I needed to understand the strategy and how I would tweak my training to fit. Fortunately for me, I would be riding on an eight man team that is separated into two teams of four riders and put on a rotation. Only one rider rides at a time with the teams of four being on eight hour shift's. During your eight hour shift the four riders rotate who is on the bike every 15 minutes. Although compared to my typical racing, 15 minutes is a very long period, I knew that if done right I would be able to do what is needed to be successful. 

 

The total race distance is just over 3000 miles and the first team to the finish line wins. This means there is a rider on the road 24 hours a day until we reach the finish line. Being on an eight hour shift is nice because you get some rest, but really when all is said and done it only equals about 3 to 4 hours of sleep a day... Sometimes you may start your shift at 2 AM and then finish at 10 AM. That means you have to try to find some sleep in the middle of the day while being transported to the next starting location. Basically it is a sleep and logistical nightmare!

 

On June 17th, we rolled out of Oceanside California in pursuit of Annapolis Maryland. My team of four was on second rotation so we did the initial parade ride for the first few miles and then hopped in the van for a few hours to our starting point. I knew going into this that the riding would be difficult, but the most difficult portions would be the sleep and keeping my legs as fresh as possible. Fortunately for me, I had my new RP Lite system!

 

I had the opportunity to ride in almost every condition imaginable. The first few days through the deserts we did climbing at temperatures above 115° and had tailwinds at night that pushed me to 60 mph. During the rotational period of riding, it is a very strange rhythm. On the bike at 100% effort for 15 minutes until you exchange with the next rider and then get back into the van for 45 minutes. Sometimes in the van it is daytime and everybody is up and talking, and other times it is in the middle of the night and as soon as you get back into the van you fall straight to sleep for the next 45 minutes until it is your turn to race again.

 

It took me a few days to find my rhythm. While driving ahead to our next starting destinations I made sure to have my Recovery Pump boots on for at least an hour to freshen up my legs. Having a whole row to myself in the SUV made this a very comfortable experience. I think at one point I fell asleep with them on for over two hours! Come day four everything starts to go numb. The way you would be able to hurt your legs the first few days became more of a doll ache.

 

Once we got over the Rockies it was Time for some flat fast speeds! We ripped through the farmlands of America passing silos and tractors by the dozens. At this point I had figured out somewhat of a sleeping routine and could feel my energy and power on the bike climbing. Fortunately the temperatures had subsided a bit and the weather was nice. Although majority of the winds were at our back, there were a few instances that proved different. At one point, I was going all out as hard as I could in my aero position, and for my 15 minute interval my average speed was 16 mph… I've never experienced a head wind that literally felt like somebody was pushing me backwards. At times like these it was nice to be able to rely on teammates. When you get on the bike knowing that you're only there for 15 minutes it is easy to turn yourself inside out time after time. I can't even imagine the mindset that the solo riders have to complete this on their own.

 

As we came towards the end of the race, I became that much more reliant on getting in my Recovery Pump boots after each rotation. It always was amazing how the first few squeeze cycles almost felt painful because of how tight and fatigued my legs were. Then five minutes through I wish I was able to get even more pressure because it felt so good. Nothing like having the feeling of an hour massage while sitting in an SUV driving up the road. Along with my Recovery Pump boots I made sure to bring my foam roller. I have noticed that being able to incorporate back flexion is a huge advantage since I am constantly in a back extension position. 

 

Like with any good road trip, the closer you get to your destination the longer time seems to take. Going into our last day seemed like eternity. Starting off at 4am in pouring rain was an experience like I have never had. It was our last rotation and I was sure to turn myself inside out to make it my very best. Although we were not in the mountains, the terrain was extremely undulating. Quick steep short climbs with fun aggressive down hills. Nothing like passing a semi truck going 60 mph in a tucked position through a torrential down pour! Winding through the rural farmlands of Pennsylvania we got closer and closer to Annapolis. It was crazy to think how many experiences and emotions I had felt in those six days. It felt like an eternity, but overnight at the same time.

 

As my last few efforts came to an end I tried to be mindful about the experience I had just undergone. The emotional highs and lows on the bike battling with my own mindset to push as hard as possible. The disagreements with teammates and crew that turned into laughing and a deeper sense of comradery. It is amazing how much can be packed into six days and three hours of racing. 

 

We arrived in Annapolis and secured our third place position. With several what if's throughout the way and scenarios that could've definitely ended our race, we were happy to have finished as well as we did. It was an incredible experience that not only tested my physical strings on the bike, but my mental and emotional capacity is as an athlete as well.

 

Will I do it again? Never say never...

 

- Nate Koch, Professional Cyclists 

@teamnater 

 

I am a Rock Star… 6 days at a time!

- Between 7,000 and 12,000 screaming fans.

- Enough production lighting for an AC/DC concert.

- Top European DJ placed in the middle.

- Enough beer to fill a swimming pool.

- 45 degree banked wooden track.

- 40 of the top track cyclists in the world

- THIS IS SIX DAY CYCLING!!!

 

 

Unfortunately, most Americans have never had the privilege of witnessing a 6 day race live. Although there is little knowledge of this spectacle now, it used to be the largest spectating sport in America prior to World War 2. The top Six Day racers were making more money than Babe Ruth and other top athletes in America.  The Madison Square Garden was at maximum occupancy for all six nights as it filled to the brim with the smoke from spectator’s cigarettes. It truly was an amazing spectacle!

 

Much has changed in six day racing over the years, but the excitement and party remain. For the past 3 years I have been privileged to be the only US sprinter invited to compete in such Six Day races as Berlin, London, and Amsterdam.  Although I am not a World or Olympic champion like many of the riders I race against, I bring a certain “entertainment value” to the show that many say has been missing for a while now.

The thousands of spectators that come to watch a Six Day race come to be entertained. Fast aggressive racing at close to 50mph certainly helps with this, but there is more to it. A Six Day race offers the spectators interaction with the racers. Us sprinter only come onto the track three times a night so we have to make the very most of it. Unlike our typical racing, at a Six Day we are encouraged to come off of our handle bars to get the crowd going! Waving, point, blowing kisses is all a part of the show. Many times as well, whenever we have the opportunity we stop at the rail before or after races to take some selfies or sign some autographs for the fans. There is nothing better than a large section of the rail lined up with kids placing their hands over the edge for a high five as we rip by in our time trial wind up at 30mph!  

Most recently in London I have been dubbed, “The Showman” by the televised Euro Sport announcers. I may not be the fastest of the sprinters, But I find my worth elsewhere. When looking through the visors of my “look alike” fighter pilot helmet, I feel like I am in a Point of View game. I put on the biggest smile I can as I wave my hands and pump my fists to the music. It is an amazing feeling. I give out as much energy as I can and then without fail I get x10 back from the crowed. It is the most exhilarating and powerful connection I have ever felt. Usually there is a month or 2 in between my races and I don’t always look forward to the pain and exhaustion of my training. Then I think of the thousands of fans awaiting my arrival half way across the world and it is like I am given a shot of adrenaline because the last thing I want is to not be able to give them the show they deserve!

Nate “The Showman” Koch

Team Nater

 

(All photos by Drew Kaplan)

San Jose to Long Beach with the Long Beach Fast Freddies!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 myself and 17 other men boarded a plan to San Jose California with no return flight, just our bicycles. The Long Beach Fast Freddies is a local cycling group I have the privilege of riding with. Aging from 30-70 years of age there is some great diversity in the group. Every year for the past 15 years or so they have taken the challenge of riding from San Jose to Long Beach. A 455 mile journey down the magnificent California coast in just 4 days.

I myself am a sprinter… Fast, powerful, and short is my game! So what am I doing on a multi day ride? This was the question I was asking myself the whole time. But mostly I was excited to ride my bike alongside some great friends and create new memories.

 As a sprinter doing so many miles I new I would need a SECRET WEAPON… The faster I could recover from the previous day the better I would perform and feel on the next. And since I am such a nice guy I figured I would give my friends a little recovery help as well. So, I brought along 3 RECOVERYPUMP SETS!!!! 2 systems with boots and 1 system with the NEW RECOVERYPANTS! The RecoveryPants are brand new and I must say… They are Gods gift to compression!!! Feet, calves, quads, gluts, and lower back with enough squeeze to make you start to question until you feel that oh so sweet release…

There were a few riders interested in using them from the start, but also some were skeptical. I did not try to persuade anyone, as I knew the RecoveryPump systems would talk for itself. Needless to say, by day 2 and 3 everybody wanted to get into my pants… SO I LET THEM! I know that RecoveryPump is amazing, but it is always great to hear the response from others who are trying for the first time. This was however my first time using them with this many miles and days back to back and the result was amazing.

So Recovery Pump, the Long Beach Fast Freddies say THANK YOU!!!  Many in the group were so impressed that 5 of them have put in an order of there own so that they can feel the squeeze anytime they’d like!

-  Nate Koch, Sprint Track Cyclists

@teamnater 

6 Day Racing... Rock Star Style!

 

2015 has been one crazy year of going in circles! Some would say that in 2015 I have finally found my niche as a Professional Track Cyclist. For the past five years since I started racing bikes the 2016 Rio Olympics was the focus. It is a life long goal and dream to become an Olympian and this new sport of track cycling was the way I would make it happen. I trained long and hard, traveled the world with my RecoveryPump boots by my side, and progress was being made. But with anything worth doing there are challenges along the way. Unfortunately for me my biggest challenge would be receiving the support I needed form my governing body USA Cycling.  Some days were good, but more days were bad. Ultimately they have never been fully invested in the sprint program. So with that, we as a team were unable to earn the Olympic points needed to qualify Team USA in the event that I race. This is heart crushing, but fortunately the blow has been softened.

Back to finding my niche. Last January I was 1 of 6 racers in the world invited to race at the Berlin 6 Day. A 6-Day race IS A PARTY!!! With 12,000 people a night packed into an indoor stadium with loud music, light shows, beer, and food it is an absolute spectacle. I love to race my bike, but I also love to entertain! Over the 6 days I won some races, but more importantly I won the crowd. I was given the “Most Entertaining Rider” award and was extremely welcomed by the German people.

Several months passed and I was still on a high from my Berlin experience. I looked forward to next year, but didn’t know if it was a performance I could recreate for them let alone another country.  Soon after I got BIG news. After 40 years of not hosting a 6-Day race London was bringing it back and I was invited! They said, “Nate, you are a good racer and we like that, but you are exciting and fun and we NEED that!” I was honored to be invited, but not sure if the English people would enjoy me as much as the Germans had. So there was only one way to find out... Go to London and give them a party on my bike!

I arrived to the Olympic velodrome in London and could still feel its energy from 3 years past. It is a stunning facility built for the best team in the world. As I walked through the sliding glass doors I could hear the base! DJ Too Smooth from the Ministry of Sound was going to be our live entertainment for 6 straight nights. As I slipped on my signature yellow jersey the people were funneling in to see something that many of them never have. The party was back in London and I got to be one of the very select few to get to put on a show!

A 6 Day race is like racing your bike in a night club! When the sprinters come on the lights go down and the music goes up. With this race being televised live by Euro Sport gave some fun opportunities to play in front of the camera as well. In between races it is all about having a good time as well. So during DJ Too Smooth’s long performance we sprinters decided it would be a good time to get our dance on because how often do you get to dance on a stage in front of 7,000 people? Along with countless pictures taken and autographs signed there was no shortage of getting to feel like a rock star.

During the mornings and afternoons before racing would start it was Recovery Pump time! It felt so good to get a nice solid squeeze after a long night of racing and entertaining. Especially once day 4, 5, and 6 came! I got to room with Denise Dmitriev from Russia and he was a BIG fan of the boots. I think he would put in at least an hour of squeeze time every afternoon. Because racing goes till midnight or beyond we really do feel like we are living the “Rock Star” lifestyle. Sleeping in till 11 or noon, grabbing breakfast then going back for another 3-4 hours of sleep.  We just have to make sure we are well rested to be able to put on our party at 50mph shoulder to shoulder with no brakes!

In the end London 6 Day was a huge success! Once again I was able to win the crowd and was the “crazy American” for the peoples enjoyment. Although the Olympics is no longer a chance it is amazing to know I still get to travel the world racing my bike and do it in Rock Star style!

 

- Nate Koch, Professional Track Sprint Cyclists

@Teamnater

One on One with US Track Sprint Cyclist Missy Erickson

 

"My name is Missy Erickson and I am a track cyclist with US National Team and Momentum coaching group. I’ve been riding for just under 3 years. The best moment I have to say so far was winning the Bronze medal at the World Cup in Cali Columbia this past year. It was only my 2nd World Cup ever and it was the first US sprint female medal in 6 years so that was a pretty big moment for me. The other ones are pretty much winning the National Titles.  My first one was in 2013 when I won the woman’s 500. That was definitely one of the highlights that I will always remember and the other was getting the first title all the way."      

What is a typical day like for Missy Erickson?

"A typical day while I’m training is gym in the morning usually then I’ll go straight to the track. So I’ll get up, eat, go the gym and then eat again and then go to the track, eat again and come home.  Recovery is definitely incredibly important because you want to be 100% every single day to get the most out of your training so whether its using RecoveryBoots or a protein shake or putting compression on or something else, every little bit of difference helps. When I don’t do it, I can definitely tell the difference.  A day at the track usually consists of anywhere from 4 to 6 efforts a day which takes over the course of 4 hours. It’s very short and very intense and a lot of recovery and rest between every single effort. So my longest races is only 8 laps around the Velodrome and 6 of these are controlled pace. So I’m only going 100 percent for maybe 2 laps, ever. So you know very, very short training replicates exactly what we do in the racing."

Prior to you using RecoveryPump how did you recover?

"Most of my recovery before having the boots was just having the normal protein shakes after training and then you know resting, laying on the couch and keeping my legs up and staying off my feet. It’s not until the next morning do you actually feel refreshed or ready to go for the next day. Now that I have the boots it’s definitely easier.  I don’t have to wait until the morning after to actually feel recovered. It’s a lot easier especially when you have 3 dogs and we have a house with a lot of yard work to do and stuff. Having the boots definitely lets me recover better so I can take the dogs to the dog park or I can work outside of the house and even after I do all that I sometimes even like to use the boots just from normal every day activities. So the boots definitely have aided and helped me recover faster."       

What is your protocol for using RecoveryPump?

"Usually I’ll use the boots for about 20-30 minutes. Not super high pressure but I like to be in the 70 range with that. It’s enough pressure that I can feel it but I know if I use too much pressure sometimes I feel a little lethargic and what not. So it’s definitely 20 to 30 minutes."    

What results have you experienced using with RecoveryPump?    

"The short time I have had it like I said before, it makes recovery easier and a lot faster especially with this whole past year I’ve had a back injury I’ve been dealing with. Every little bit in recovery for me makes a really big difference. Even with something as simple as putting the RecoveryPump into my recovery routine. I might not have had it for very long but can still tell the difference. Every little thing you add is a difference."

How would you compare other recovery methods to RecoveryPump?    

"The thing I really like about the RecoveryPump is that it flushes your legs out in one continuous direction. So it puts all the pressure on and then releases all at once. You can actually feel the pressure move up your leg and then release. As the system goes on throughout the time you can definitely tell that it’s working and that you’re flushing the blood out of your legs. Whereas other systems like to compress and when they release each section there is still pressure on your quads. There’s still pressure on different parts of your legs so it doesn’t feel as great as the flushing movement. When you get out of the boots you’re still a little unsure but as soon as you get out of the RecoveryPump you can definitely feel the difference."

Will you travel with your RecoveryPump?

"Since I’ll be traveling nonstop pretty much until the next World Championship…Yes if the system can come with me it’s going to be packed in the bag."

Would you recommend RecoveryPump to other athletes?

"I would definitely recommend it. It’s super handy. It’s a really compact small system so it’s really simple you know to bring along with you anywhere whether you’re training or your traveling to a race. It draws a lot of attention to you. A lot of people really like these systems and they haven’t been able to use it and when you get to share that with other people they appreciate it. It works! There’s a reason why I’m using it. There’s a reason so many other athletes are using it. It’s a great compact system and Yeah, It works!!"

ALL OUT for Racing and Recovery

As a sprinter I'm always looking for an opportunity to sit down and put my feet up. I go all out for 8 seconds to 1 minute then rest for 20 minutes. I know, it sounds tough! But somebody has to do it... When I got into the RecoveryPump system over 2 years ago I went from just sitting around, to active recovery. This was great! I now had an excuse to sit down whenever I wanted :)

I am a professional track sprinter on the velodrome and my training is very unique. Because all of our efforts are done at 100% we have ample recovery time in between efforts. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes depending on what we're doing. I love being able to have a RecoveryPump system at the track to use for 10 minutes in between my efforts to flush out the lactic acid and keep my legs feeling fresh. When you can win or lose by as little as .001 of a second every little bit counts every day.

There are the obvious uses for the RecoveryPump system like starting your day for 20 to 30 minutes to get some blood flow in your legs or ending your day to make sure all of the trash is flushed out, but one of my favorite ways to use the system is when I travel. It fits great into my carry-on luggage and is awesome to have during long layovers. People might look at you little bit strange in the airport, but it is totally worth it!

As for the other "similar" systems out there, I do not think there is any competition at all! First off, your legs should not go numb during your time in the boots. This happened when I tried out other systems, but not with RecoveryPump. Also, the RecoveryPump system is by far the easiest to travel with. This is not a tool that you should only be able to use at home, but you should be able to take it and use it wherever you'd like. RecoveryPump makes this possible.

Lastly… If you have not tried the recoveryCORE unit YOU NEED TO!!! It is a life-changer ;)

 

Thank you RecoveryPump for making such an amazing system and being such a great company in all areas. I look forward to continuing our relationship and the benefit of all the great products that you produce.

 

-Nate Koch, USA Professional Track Cyclist

#TEAMNATER

Are You Using Group Rides to Your Advantage?

Now that Boulder has been getting some good outdoor biking weather, I've had my first few group rides for the year. After a couple rides with others, it led me to think about how group rides can be good or bad for athletes depending on how they use them. As an athlete and a coach I want to make sure my athletes, as well as, I get the most out of each bike ride. Sometimes the dynamics of larger groups hinders athletes from getting what they need from a weekend ride.

Personally, I prefer biking in smaller groups of 2-4 riders. I really don't like when groups get much over 6 people. The major reasons for this are safety and group dynamics. If you have a small group of people you know, it's easier to know how the others ride, as well as, communicate about how you want the ride to progress. Safety is obvious, the more people, the better the chances of someone causing an accident. If you have good riders, you can keep a nice single or double pace line. The larger the group, the more people and moving parts are involved, making the chances of something going wrong go up. Along these same lines, each person you add to a ride increases the number of stops along a ride. I personally like to stop only once every 2-3 hours each ride. Of course there's an occasional need for an extra “nature” stop or flat tire, but again each person you add, adds the chances of extra stops for these reasons.

For me the main reason I like smaller groups are the group dynamics. With a few people, you can communicate before or during the ride easier to make sure everyone has the same or similar goals for the ride. If I have a base or endurance ride, I don't want someone to be hammering on the front because they want to get a tempo effort out of the ride. On the flip side, if I have efforts I need to execute during a ride, I want to make sure everyone else knows what I'm doing. I'm not just being a jerk, trying to ride off the front and drop everyone, rather I have a specific goal wattage I want to hold for a period of time. With a few riders, you can more easily communicate these items. The more people you add, the more agendas you add to the ride. It makes it harder for you to stick to your plan and needs.

Even if you have your plan, the bigger the ride, the easier it is for you to get tempted into strying from your plan to stick with your group. There's always someone who wants to hammer up the hills. Do you have the discipline to let yourself get dropped if your goal is an easier endurance ride, or are you going to let your ego get the better of you and try to keep up? I can pretty much guarantee that you are going to try to keep up rather than stick to your plan. Again, the more people, the better chance of this happening.

I used to ride with a big group when I lived in Austin. There was one strong rider who didn't have as much free time as the rest of us on the weekend. So rather than go really long, like 5 hours, he had only 2 hours each weekend. So he wanted to get the most out of his time. We'd show up to the ride and for the first hour, he would hammer at the front. Often times, 10 minutes into a 100 mile ride, we'd be at or above our race paces because of one rider's agenda on the ride. These are the situations I now try to avoid.

Another phenomenon that occurs with larger groups is what I call pace-creep. This is a gradual increase of pace over time. Why does this happen? If you have one or two people at the front of a group, they're setting the pace. When it's time for them to move to the back, the next person/people move up. Because of macho egos we often see in cycling groups, those next leaders don't want to be the guys who let the pace drop because they don't want to appear weaker. So they try to ride the same pace or maybe a little faster. This continues as the group rotates leaders until its way too hard of a tempo. It takes disciplined riders without egos to slow the pace down. With a smaller group of people it's easier to say “hey guys, why are we riding so fast? Lets ease up a bit.”

This pace creep often causes athletes to ride too hard for the first half of longer rides. On my old riding in Austin, guys would hammer to keep up on the first part of the ride. Then the second half, they'd almost always fade and bonk. I believe that on longer rides, it's almost always better to ride the second half harder and stronger. Again, the idea is to create an overload in your body. Its better to push the end when you're tired to get those gains you need for your next race. This is instead of riding the first 30 mile hard and limp home the last 30 miles at a snails pace. Which way of riding do you think is better to prepare you for your next Ironman? The larger the group, the harder it is to be disciplined in this way or to control the pace to meet these kinds of riding goals.

My style of bike training is riding either base/endurance which is pretty easy or very hard race-pace efforts, not much in between. I've found the bigger the ride, the more the group pulls you towards the middle “junk” zone of kind-of hard riding. Its hard enough to make you tired by the end of the ride, but not hard enough to create an overload in your body to really improve. So the ride really doesn't serve it's purpose in your overall training picture.

I'm not against group rides, but I want to make sure they meet my and my athletes goals. As long as you understand some of these pitfalls of group riding, you can better use them to fit your athletic needs

Ride safe,
Pat

Website: www.patrickevoe.com

Twitter: @patrickevoe

Facebook: /patrickevoeracing