The Southern California road race season is just a month old and there has already been four weekends of racing!
While much of the rest of the country is battling frigid winter weather and logging trainer-miles in their personal 'pain-caves', SoCal bike racers are already adding lung-searing race intensity to their routine at local criterium races.
As one of the SoCal hammerheads that has attended every race this season, and even raced multiple events every outing, Gil Ron is making the most of his offseason upgrade from Category 4 to Category 3 by racing regularly. His short-term goal was to, "score some early season success."
Excitingly, it took less than a month of racing in the fastest and most challenging pelotons of his cycling career for Gil to earn his first podium of 2018, last week at the CBR Super Bowl Sunday Criterium!
Without question, Gil has been working hard in training to earn a podium placing, but it was his effective strategy and disciplined execution of his plan that transformed his early season fitness into a podium placing.
Following his 2nd place finish in the Masters 35+ 3/4 Category, we caught with Gil to talk racing, training, and what is on the horizon for him in 2018 in our 4-question Athlete Profile interview. Enjoy!
Gil is at home at the front of every race he attends. He is always working hard and pushing the pace! Photo Credit: Gil Ron
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-14hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The 2018 El Tour de Tucson
Question #1: Congratulations on your first podium of the 2018 season, Gil! What about this race was different than previous events? Was it course conditions, race strategy, position, fitness, a combination, or something else?
Gil Ron: Thank you. I approached this event no different than any of the races I’ve been racing this season. It was "business as usual" in my mind.
With that said, Coach Joy and I have been working-hard, every week, to make sure I am as prepared as possible to race, while ensuring I am not losing fitness by tapering too-much for upcoming goals.
Together, Coach Joy and I decide what races I should race, since I just upgraded to Category 3 and can also race numerous Masters events.
For the CBR Super Bowl Sunday Criterium we decided that I would use the Category 2/3 race as a ‘warm-up’ to get some racing miles without being overly aggressive or draining my energy. I wanted to save my best legs for the Masters Category 3/4 race later in the day!
I had fun doing the Category 2/3 race, but my mind was focused on the Masters 3/4 event.
In the Masters race, I knew where I needed to be with 2-laps ‘to go’ and also where I needed to be with 2-corners ’to go’, so I was confident I would have a good result.
I am excited to say that the race went almost exactly as planned, one of my iSpeed Racing teammates covered the early break-away, ensuring our team was represented. His effort made it so I could “sit-in” and wait for the sprint, it was perfect teamwork.
With 7-laps to go the field caught the break-away, so all I had to do was position myself in the top-10 while waiting to make my move in the last 2-laps.
I placed myself properly leading into the sprint, just as I had visualized and practiced in the Category 2/3 race. I did have a small screw-up half-way down the dash to the line, but managed to save it, and push again to finish 2nd!
It was a great feeling to see the plan came together!
Coaches Perspective/Coach Joy: I am so excited for Gil and his CBR success!
He is extremely fit and is sprinting very well right now, but the key to finishing on the podium in a sprint is always positioning and execution.
That is why I was very happy that Gil wanted to use the Category 2/3 race as an opportunity to learn the dynamics of this race course.
In the sport of bike racing, it seems that developing “race winning” fitness is the “easy part” of the equation as there are plenty of fit riders within a given peloton.
The difference between the racers that get results and those that don’t is their ability to develop a strategy, stay disciplined to it, and execute their plan to the best of their abilities.
By harnessing that three-step process Gil was able to increase his chances of a great result more than any single workout in his training plan.
The first podium of the season feels good! The smile tells it all. Gil was very proud to be sprinting with the leaders. Photo Credit: California Bicycle Racing
Question #2: You and the rest of the iSpeed Race Team have been racing a lot of early season races, here in SoCal, and the team is already having solid results. What does a successful 2018 look like for the iSpeed team?
GR: For 2018 the iSpeed Race Team’s main objective is to get each of our riders to the Category 3 level!
To do that we have to look at the big picture, to think long-term, but also we have to look at our opportunities each week for every individual on the team to have success.
We are a young team, but we are having a lot of fun together and enjoying the “new team baby-steps” as we get together to race and train each week.
Coach Joy: It has been great to see the iSpeed team out “in force” at the races this season!
The team has done a great job creating a fun environment at organized-rides and criteriums’ throughout the off-season and now they are ready to “take-on” the race season.
With the majority of the team being category 4’s, they have a great opportunity to develop team tactics and execute them to the best of their abilities.
Being comfortable and confident with your teammates is such a huge asset within a team. So it is a big bonus that so many of the iSpeed group lives close to each other.
I should also mention that late last season, I put together a race-clinic together to help Gil and his teammates race together more cohesively. I can see that they have been working on the tactics they learned as they are executing sound race strategy each week!
With all this in mind, and Gil’s incredible enthusiasm as a driving force in the team, I am excited to see where 2018 takes iSpeed Racing!
Gil and his team have done a lot of work together preparing to race this season. His Masters 3/4 podium placing was a team result! Photo Credit: Gil Ron
Question #3: What is one of your biggest cycling objectives for this season and what events are you most excited about?
GR: Generally, I want to get stronger, build power, fitness and keep honing my race-craft.
Specifically, I focused on the El Tour de Tucson in November, last year. I am proud to say that I was 19th-place out of 1,780 riders. So this year, my goal is top-10!
I have myself the best Coach out there, so I am confident I can do that.
As for local races, I was looking forward to the Tour de Murrieta Omnium, but they cancelled the Time-Trial, so I am less focused on the event. Now it is just another race on the calendar.
With TdM becoming a two-day event, I have no specific goal for myself at the moment, but my big objective is to see our team build it’s name and reputation in every category we compete in!
Coach Joy: Gil is such a talented cyclist and can have success at events all season long!
Leading into El Tour de Tucson 2017, Gil had done various SoCal Gran Fondo’s where he was able to enhance his endurance fitness by riding in pelotons filled with very experienced riders. Additionally, he was able to practice his hydration and nutrition habits on long-days in the saddle ahead of El Tour.
Having these positive experiences leading into El Tour 2017 ensured that Gil was "dialed-in" for the race.
Seeing all the hard-work he put in made it even more rewarding when he earned his top-20 result!
With El Tour 2018 still a distant spot on the horizon, Gil has a great “over-arching” goal for the season in working for the team. His focus and drive is sure to help his iSpeed team earn results all season long!
Gil and his iSpeed Racing teammates are always working together to earn the best possible results together. Photo Credit: Gil Ron
Question #4: What is/are your favorite workout(s) in your training program? Also, please share a ‘knowledge-bomb’ you have learned while training with BWC.
GR: I would say that it doesn’t matter what workouts I like, each of us is different and has different goals. I want to become a stronger rider, better racer, and help lead our race team, so I like the workouts that help make those goals possible!
I should also say that no one is born a racer, so everyone needs to work hard to become successful.
Back to the workouts, workouts are not supposed to be fun, they are supposed to be challenging. So I say that doing intervals is awesome… only after you “saved” the ride and see that you hit the prescribed numbers.
For me that's an amazing feeling!
BWC and Coach Joy has helped improve my fitness a lot in less then a year. If I had to do it without BWC, I think it would have taken me years, if at all.
Having a solid training program is the only way to get solid results, that’s why every day we work and build toward a very special event in 2021…
I feel lucky I found a partner like BWC and Coach Joy to help me achieve my best cycling fitness!
Coach Joy: Gil starts every workout with tenacity and is diligent about the details. He is motivated to get each workout ‘just right’ regardless if it is a challenging interval session or a workout that develops pedaling skills.
Gil knows each workout is important to the “fitness puzzle” and gives every one 110%! As his Coach, it makes me so happy to see him be this disciplined... the results speak for themselves.
Gil is only three races into Category 3 and is already finishing on the podium, so I am confident when I say, “exciting things are in his future!”
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Gil Ron’s criterium success as much as we have enjoyed sharing it!
Without question, it is his attention to detail and emphasis on fitness, not to mention a focus on strategy that is continually propelling him upward in his training and at the races.
From the coaching perspective, we know that Gil’s example of developing the best possible fitness and coupling it with a thorough and effective event-day strategy is a recipe for success that is difficult to beat!
Additionally, we hope it will inspire you to look at every element necessary to become the very best Athlete possible. It's why created the 'hashtag'...
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching