Time-trailing is amongst the most specialized and challenging components of bicycle racing. With purpose-built bikes and ‘aero’ equipment galore, it is a discipline that can take years to master.
For Cynthia Sjogren, testing herself in a time-trail just happens to be her definition of a good-time.
Having spent the majority of the Fall, Winter, and now Spring training for, and racing, the Southern California Time-Trial series, Cynthia Sjogren capped off the ’16/’17 TT season by winning both the overall series championship and the California State Championship event (in her age group) last weekend.
Following this success and arguably her best TT performance yet, we caught up with Cynthia to celebrate her success and learn more about her big time-trail win in a four-question interview for this weeks BWC Athlete Profile. Enjoy.
A gold medal performance was accompanied by a state championship jersey for Cynthia Sjogren at the 2017 SCNCA State TT Championships. Photo Credit: Steve Sjogren.
Primary Sport/Discipline: Time-Trialing/Climbing
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 12-15hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The Glendora Mountain Road TT
Question #1: Congratulations on your State Championship Time-Trial win Cynthia, great job! You have been working very hard for this result, tell us how the race unfolded and your pacing strategy.
Cynthia Sjogren: Thank you!
Last year, I was too conservative with my pacing and was very unhappy with my time. It haunted me for a whole year!
This time around, I made-up my mind to hold my 20Km pace throughout the race, leaving me to “hang-on” for the last 5-mile stretch of the race.
I knew I would suffer for the last 15-minutes, but was confident I could do so.
I am exited to report that this strategy paid off and I dropped more than two-minutes from my 2016 finishing time, which is very satisfying.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Joy: Cynthia really set the bar high with this time-trial performance!
I sent her a text-message the morning of the race and told her to “bleed out of her eyes on the final stretch” and she did just that!
Making the choice to hit her 20Km pace proved that she can likely add some speed to this pace in future events too!
Following her performance last year, I knew she was hungry for a better result at Lake Los Angeles, which is why Cynthia has been working on the small details, all season long, to improve her time. Her result was both exciting and satisfying for us both. She rode excellent!
Question #2: You have raced this championship time-trial course on multiple occasions, how did these past experiences help you perform your best in the championship race?
CS: The Masters 55-59 Women race a shorter distance than the standard 40Km course at State Championships. Our race is 17-miles (nearly 30Km) which is a hard distance for me to wrap my head around…
Normally, I race 20Km events in the SoCal TT series, and in years past have raced the full 40Km course at Lake Los Angeles.
All of these experiences and especially my recent performances in the SoCal TT series gave me the confidence that I could be very aggressive with my pacing and not fall apart in the closing kilometers.
Coach Joy: Just the week prior, Cynthia finished in a close 2nd place at the Santiago Canyon Time Trial series finale. With that result, she locked up the SoCal Time Trial Series overall win for yet another year.
Having this confidence, as well as all the experience she has from racing multiple early season events in inclement weather, on roads with dirt, mud, and wildly unpredictable wind, has prepared Cynthia for a great performance at the Championship event.
The State Championship course is simple with only right hand turns and predictable conditions, which allowed Cynthia to focus on unleashing every watt she has worked all season to develop.
When she’s not training for time-trials, Cynthia loves a good long ride in the mountains! Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch.
Question #3: What is one of your long-term cycling goals? And what is next on your cycling ‘to do’ list?
CS: My goal is to keep training/racing so long as I am having fun.
I am going to do the Glendora Mountain Road time trial next week, Sherman pass road race in July, and the Hotter’n Hell Mt. Baldy Hillclimb in August, so I have a lot climbing in my training future.
Coach Joy: Cynthia has had a great run on the time-trial bike this year and I think she is really excited to “switch it up” and start heading to the mountains for plenty of climbing!
Having the opportunity to race very diverse events from flat time-trials to Sherman Pass at altitude allows us to keep her training fresh and diverse, which helps keep her engaged, excited, and focused all through the training process.
It has been a big push with plenty of structure to prepare for these flat/rolling time trials, so having the chance to hang-up the TT bike for awhile is just the ‘shot in the arm’ she needs to keep her motivation high going into the summer.
I would also add that it doesn’t hurt to be heading for the hills just as the heat is rising in the valleys!
Question #4: Describe your favorite workout in your training program, also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with Big Wheel Coaching.
CS: No surprise here, I love climbing repeats! I also love super-long endurance rides.
My knowledge bomb, if you can call it that, is; most often, the workouts that I dread are the ones I need to perform the most!
Coach Joy and Big Wheel Coaching are very good at ascertaining what my weaknesses are and assigning me challenging workouts that are within my reach. These workouts address weaknesses so I have the opportunity to continually improve.
Bottom line: trust your coach, Brian and Joy are 100% on your side.
Coach Joy: I like to give Cynthia one training ride a week that targets one of her ‘weaknesses’ (although she doesn’t have many weaknesses these days!) and buffer it with a climbing ride so she gets the best of both worlds.
Cynthia is awesome about doing all the workouts prescribed but especially those that are both mentally and physically challenging. Because of that, she has been able reap the rewards of that work ten-fold at the races, as well as her favorite group rides.
It has been great to see Cynthia, whose known to be a bit of a diesel, develop explosive power while maintaining her impressive endurance base fitness.
Coach Joy and Cynthia have been working together since the beginning of Big Wheel Coaching and the pair are still going strong! After all these years they are still finding ways to improve. Photo Credit: Cynthia Sjogren.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Cynthia’s recent TT success as much as we have enjoyed putting this article together!
Time-trailing, like all cycling disciplines, rewards Athletes that develop a deep-base of fitness and learn the specialized skills necessary to excel. As Coaches, it is our passion to help Athletes both learn the unique skills of their chosen discipline and develop their best fitness as they journey toward their biggest cycling goals.
So we ask, what is your goal that, like Cynthia’s 2017 TT success, could be a year in the making?
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching