Cycling is more than a hobby for Yash Gokul, it’s his passion!
As a founding member and manager of the Carefast/Storck Cycling Team, Yash is always looking out for each of his teammates. He wants to see them achieve their best in cycling and help fulfill the squads' vision of becoming the best cycling team in Las Vegas.
Because it is not in his nature to boldly state his own race objectives, it was with quiet reservation that he mentioned his desire to win the Desert Cities Criterium Series Overall Title to Coach Brian in an offseason call.
What followed was specific training, focused preparation, and even some team tactics drills so that Yash and his team could arrive at the first round of the series, ready to race.
Excitingly, Yash won the first round and helped lead his team to a podium sweep, with the Carefast/Storck team taking first, second, and third on the day!
Five races later, Yash was still on top of the podium, having won the overall series and accomplishing his goal, but not without plenty of challenge to test his mettle and desire to accomplish his season goal.
Following his big-win, we caught up with Yash to talk about his success in this weeks edition of the BWC Athlete Profile. Enjoy!
Yash Gokul accomplished a season goal early in the year by winning the five-race Desert Cities Criterium Series. Photo Credit: Yash Gokul
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-14hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The San Luis Rey CA/NV State Road Championships
Question #1: Congratulations on winning the overall title at the Desert City Criterium Series Yash! This was one of your big goals for 2018. How did you win the five-race series?
Yash Gokul: I think there was several things that had to come together for me and the team to win the overall in the Desert City Crit series:
Consistency, Teamwork and Strategy.
Consistency: Doing every race in the series was essential. I knew I did not have to win every single race, but consistently getting good results was important to earn the overall.
Teamwork: Having my Carefast/Storck teammates at each race really helped alleviate me putting to much pressure on myself. Organizing a group of fit guys with a race-plan and a team objective, every race, was a big key to helping us win!
Strategy: BWC helped me with advice and strategies for each of the 5-race series. I believe this is one of biggest assets of having personalized coaching.
Anyone can find a great training plan online nowadays… but putting the finishing touches on that training with race knowledge and tactics makes a big difference.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of Yash for earning this victory! In the offseason he expressed his desire to win this series, but also had reservations because he was not fully confident he could outright win every race.
It was during those discussions and season-planning calls that we talked about the power of team-work and the importance of involving team members in individual, not to mention team, success.
What came out of this series was Yash being a more confident and capable leader, not to mention a great criterium rider! Yes, having a team helped a lot, but Yash wouldn't have it any other way. The numerous individual wins and podium placings scored at the Desert Cities Series is something that every Carefast/Storck teammate can be proud of!
Yash and his Carefast/Storck teammates worked hard to earn the top three spots in the overall series at the Desert Cities Criterium Series. Photo Credit: Yash Gokul
Question #2: Earlier in your cycling career you 'fancied' yourself a climber. Now, you are finding success in criterium races and winning sprints. What was the most challenging race in the series for you, and which was the most rewarding?
YG: When I first started racing bicycles I had my best successes in climbing races like the Death Valley Stage Race, Mount Whitney Stage Race, and the Mount Charleston Hill Climb…at that time I was terrified of Criteriums!
In fact, I can remember pulling myself out of my first Valley of the Sun Criterium because I was so scared. I am happy to report that Coach Brian has been adamant about helping me with confidence and trusting my training so that I can now be competitive in any race I line up for!
The most challenging race in the series for me was the first visit to Ivins, Utah in which we competed in the pouring rain. At that round I raced very conservative after having discussed the race conditions with Coach Brian. I knew I didn’t have to win that race to win the series… but I could easily lose the entire series with a mistake in the rain.
Racing cautiously forced me to use extra energy throughout the race, causing me to be 'nipped' at the line for fifth, but also to lose my series lead, that was frustrating.
Conversely, the most rewarding race in the series was the first round: The St George Softball Complex Crit.
It was the most rewarding because it was our first criterium win of the season and all of my teammates played a roll in me taking the victory that day. It was great to "mix it up" with other teams and execute our race strategy to perfection.
The last race of the series was also very rewarding because it was a return to Ivins. I was able to get redemption for my poor performance in the rain by winning the field sprint and secure my overall win.
Coach Brian: Winning a series of races or stage race takes consistency. Although that may not be a surprise, the part that is less obvious is that there are often many more days you can lose it all.
Leading into the first Ivins race, it was forecast to be raining, possibly sleeting, so Yash and I talked about the pro’s and con’s of racing aggressively versus conservatively.
We determined that it was better for him to race hard at the front, using precious energy to fight for position, rather than risk a crash at the back of the field waiting to sprint.
Although Yash lost his series lead with this tactic, he avoided the major crashes that took out some of his main contenders. Each of them failed to score points toward the overall, while Yash added a small amount of points to his tally.
This was an important calculation, and required Yash to get outside his comfort zone, never sitting-in, always pushing the pace. In the end the series title dream ended for various contenders on that day, but not for Yash. He was still in the fight!
Yash and his Carefast/Storck teammates raced well at each round of the Desert Cities Criterium Series. Their teamwork helped them secure overall victory for Yash and score plenty of individual results along the way. Photo Credit: Yash Gokul
Question #3: What is one of your biggest cycling objectives for this season and what events are you most excited about?
YG: My primary objective this year was to come into the season strong and win the overall in the Desert City Criterium Series. Mission accomplished!
Looking ahead, I am very excited to compete in my first San Dimas Stage Race and race the Masters/Elite Road Race Championships for California and Nevada in San Luis Rey in a few weeks time.
Also, I am really motivated to help my Carefast/Storck teammates accomplish their goals for the 2018 season.
It is very satisfying "paying back" all the guys who helped bring me and the team our early season success at the Desert City Criterium Series.
Coach Brian: Yash just keeps the goals coming! Just last week he completed his first San Dimas Stage Race and had a great performance.
It’s very encouraging for me to see him motivated to help his teammates, that’s a very important part of road cycling that often gets overlooked, but for Yash, it’s who he is. He always puts team success ahead of his own.
I am excited to see how San Luis Rey goes for him as right now he is riding with some of the best fitness he has had in recent years. It should be a great day for him and his #PlaidArmy teammates (AKA the Carefast/Storck Cycling Team).
His first criterium win was not just an early season race, it was THE FIRST race of the year, too! It also happened to be a podium sweep for the Carefast/Storck team. Photo Credit: Yash Gokul
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.
YG: My favorite work out is the Saturday Carefast “Shootout” group ride!
It’s one of the most competitive group rides in Las Vegas and it has a little bit of everything to offer. Coach Brian has me work on sprinting, sometimes attacking, sometimes conserving, there is always a different strategy for the ride!
Almost any type of training can be done on this ride and you really get to see were your fitness stacks-up week to week.
There are 2 BWC knowledge bombs I would like to share:
#1 Everyone Is A Sprinter: Unless you are winning every race solo, you better have some sort of sprinting ability.
Not long ago I would avoid crits and flat road races because I didn’t think I could sprint. I have learned that sprinting is a very important part of bike racing whether it be a field sprint or sprinting out of a breakaway.
Everyone is a sprinter!
#2 Extra Credit Makes For Better Fitness: Out of convenience I would typically cut my rides a few minutes short here and there.
Now with BWC I have learned to be a big advocate of ‘extra credit’. Adding an extra 15-25 min. to the end of a ride may not seem like much, but looking at the big picture it really makes an impact on my fitness when done consistently.
An extra few minutes a day means an extra hour or more of training for the week, which adds up to an extra few days of training for the month… you get the picture!
And that really impacts training in a positive way over the long-term.
Coach Brian: I love those “knowledge-bombs”, great share Yash!
Cycling is a sport that rewards the disciplined and committed Athlete. This is especially true for competitive cyclists at any level.
This sport is not like the local soccer league, a once weekly softball game, or any other traditional sport.
Successful cyclists commit a lot of time to their craft, making the sport ultra-competitive, but extremely rewarding for those that put in the work necessary to achieve their goals.
As for sprinting, I learned a long time ago, there are only two ways to win a bike race, solo, or in a sprint… That is why every rider must know how to sprint to the best of their abilities.
Because if you don’t, you immediately lose a chance to win in many scenarios!
#ThePlaidArmy, as the Carefast/Storck Cycling Team are known, is a tight-nit group who support each other in every way possible. We had the opportunity to work with the whole team a few years ago at a summer training camp and the team has only grown since! Photo Credit: Steve Keltie
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Yash Gokul’s Desert Cities Criterium Series success as much as we have enjoyed sharing it!
It took Yash outside his normal shy and conservative demeanor to step-up and tell his teammates he wanted to win the Desert Cities overall, but the journey was well worth it.
Along the way he learned how to be a more effective leader, challenged himself to maintain his best fitness over the 10-week series, and helped some of his younger, less-experienced teammates earn great results for themselves.
What is most impressive to us is that he stepped outside his comfort zone to achieve something he had only dreamed about.
By reaching for the stars and asking for help, he achieved something beyond what he considered possible. And as Coaches, this is the most rewarding part of our work. Having the opportunity to help our Athletes go further and be more successful than they thought possible is what we strive for!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching