Time-trialing is a discipline of road cycling that is far more complex than it’s simple format suggests.
Most Athletes know the discipline by the cliche, “the race of truth”. And although it is definitely a lone effort, performing a masterfully-paced and powerful effort is far more complex than just pushing the pedals hard.
It is this complexity and attention to detail that has drawn John Hatchitt to the discipline of time-trialing for a long time.
Although there are not always a lot of TT events on the SoCal calendar, John wanted to ride his TT bike as a part of his weekly training from the very beginning of the season.
Mostly this was to prepare him for his stage-race goals, but in the back of his mind there was always the State Time-Trial Championships that could test his mettle.
Well…after a season of preparation and work on the TT-bike, John brought his very best to the 2018 SCNCA State TT Championships, and walked away a champion!
After his championship winning performance we caught up with John to talk about his preparation, love for time-trialing, and what lies ahead for him in 2018 for this weeks BWC Athlete Profile. Enjoy!
John Hatchitt made an appointment every week to ride his TT-bike...and the pay off was a state championship! Photo Credit: John Hatchitt
Primary Sport/Discipline: Road Cycling
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 10-14hrs.
Upcoming Goals: The Chuck Pontius Memorial Criterium & Sherman Pass Road Race
Question #1: Congratulations on winning the SCNCA State Individual Time Trial Championships, John! How do you feel about the result and what was your biggest highlight from the day?
John Hatchitt: By far the highlight of the day was calling my wife Lisa!
Being an ex-swimmer, she knows a thing or two about mental toughness and is always willing to help me “get out of my own way”, so to speak, when I am having self-doubt.
She always has a way of ‘cross examining’ my answers on how I think I will perform that helps build my confidence.
A close 2nd was texting Coach BMc and letting him know I had won!
After getting sick before the State Road Race championships and not getting the result I wanted, we changed gears to focus on the State Championship TT.
That meant a lot of work on Coach Brian’s end to build me up to where I could put out the effort needed to get the result I wanted.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of John, not just for the result he earned, but for the years of hard work and sacrifice it has taken to get there.
Cycling is a very challenging sport, so it makes me proud beyond belief when an Athlete commits to the process of training and focused preparation then are rewarded with an incredible result!
In thinking about this race, it is important to understand how much of an under-dog John felt like before the race. He has always loved time-trialing, but never had the result he (or I for that matter) thought he was capable of.
That is why we focused so much on this race, at 40km in distance, it is a tough race to pace. There are so many factors that can change on race-day, such as course conditions and wind direction, not to mention the competition and their level of preparedness.
All in all, it was a great ride by John and an incredible result. Great job, buddy!
Standing on the podium wearing the state champions jersey was a result that was a year in the making for John Hatchitt. Photo Credit: John Hatchitt
Question #2: Perfect pacing is critical to success in a Time Trial, and you have been training on your TT-bike consistently throughout the year. What is one piece of advice you would offer those Athletes looking to improve their time-trialing?
JH: What finally sunk-in for me after so much work was the notion of Cadence-Cadence-Cadence.
Being a rider that loves to climb, 95+rpm is where I’m happiest & most comfortable.
That type of cadence on flat TT courses like the state championship route was just to high. I wasn’t getting all the power out of my legs because I was spinning to much.
So, each training session I worked on lowering my cadence, just a little bit, to make sure I was both powerful and using a quick cadence.
It is such a hard task to change your preferred cadence because you feel like your riding in mud when you try to slow things down.
That is where you whole heartedly have to believe in your coach, know that he or she is giving you the best advice possible, and have the confidence that what they are trying to explain to you is going to work.
The week before the state TT championships, I finally got it....
Coach Brian: Everyone who knows John, knows he loves to climb, and that he loves to spin. Normally I am a big fan of spinning, and I believe that most Athletes can benefit from an increase in their preferred cadence.
However in John’s case, we looked at his training data and could see that he needed to slow things down slightly.
He was spinning a quick cadence, but was losing-out on the power that he had worked so hard to develop through a year of consist training.
So, I asked him to slow his pedal rpm from a preferred cadence of 95+ to 90rpm. But I also asked him not to go lower.
The “not lower” part is important as I did not want him to get over-geared.
The beauty of working with John for so many years is that he understood my nuanced request and the fact that I was emphasizing this in training was of critical importance.
Over the course of his final weeks of preparation, this one change helped put the finishing touches on his TT prowess!
The season is not over yet! John Hatchitt has his sights set on the Sherman Pass Road Race in mid-July. Photo Credit: Brian Hodes
Question #3: Outside of the State TT Championships what is one of your biggest cycling objectives for the remainder of the season and what events are you most excited about?
JH: With our season here in SoCal winding down, there is one last target that I am really excited about: The Sherman Pass Road Race in mid-July.
This race is 56-miles of relentless uphill. It is a great climbing event!
After winning it in 2016, I went back last year to repeat my performance and it turned into a huge debacle…
I had changed my bike set-up the week prior to the race, which brought on some incredibly intense cramping during the event.
I had been so excited to buy a new bike, but that change cost me a great performance as I didn’t have the time to set it up properly before the race.
On race day, despite the cramps, I was riding well, but saw all expectations of a winning performance roll up the road when I got a flat tire.
That has been at the back of my mind for a while, so now that there is no longer a strong TT emphasis in my training, I am turning my attention to climbing and preparation for Sherman Pass!
I am already looking forward to July 21st!
Coach Brian: It was tough to de-brief with John following Sherman Pass last year as he had prepared so well for the event.
The race did not go his way and the equipment challenges made it so he was unable to give his very best.
Knowing John and how focused he is on training and preparation, I knew this would eat at him, so it is no surprise to me that he has “an axe to grind”, so to speak, with Sherman Pass.
Luckily there are no equipment changes in the foreseeable future and the next few weeks can be totally dedicated to the training process, even if the heat in SoCal is brutal!
John Hatchitt created the Cannondale/Capo presented by GQ-6 race team a few years ago and is always ready to help his teammates get a result! Photo Credit: John Hatchitt
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.
JH:To say that any of the workouts are my favorite is probably not the best way to word it… but I feel like I get a lot out of the Attack & Bridge Intervals.
They are so hard!
After the first one, you think, “this is not so bad.” But trust me, if you are doing the workout to the numbers your coach prescribes, you will not think this way and are certain to be cussing them out after the second interval!
As for my “knowledge bomb” the biggest thing I have learned since training with Big Wheel Coaching is this:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!
There are no if’s, and’s, or buts about it, anything is possible if you do the work that is necessary to achieve your goals.
I have never been told that an event is “out of my wheelhouse” or that I should expect a mediocre result when planning my season with Coach Brian.
The answer from BWC is ALWAYS “ok, that is awesome, this is what we are going to do to get you ready to smash it!”
Motivation is HUGE and there is never a lack of this invaluable resource coming from Big Wheel Coaching.
Coach Brian: Oh boy, maybe I should apologize for the torture that is the “attack and bridge” workout…
In all seriousness though, that is a great workout that accurately simulates a race effort and gets our Athletes to dig-deep, which is often hard to do when training solo.
As for John’s knowledge-bomb about self-belief, I can’t emphasize this enough. He is absolutely right!
Confidence for Athletes is something they EARN and when you have an Athlete that is willing to do the work, it is important for the Coach to draw attention to the little things they are doing that will build their confidence.
For example, John ratcheting down his preferred TT cadence, ever-so-slightly, had to be pointed-out so that it would build his confidence.
Doing the work to be better is how you earn confidence and develop self-belief.
Having the knowledge that you are doing the right things that will improve your chances of success in the most positive way is invaluable!
We hope you have enjoyed reading about John Hatchitt’s State Time-Trial Championship success as much as we have loved sharing it!
Time-trialing is a special discipline within cycling as it requires an Athlete to make themselves suffer to the highest degree and empty the tank fully.
European cyclists liken time-trial prowess to, “losing the love for yourself”.
Although there is truth in that statement, going deep in a time-trial is an incredibly rewarding experience as it requires a level of self-understanding and commitment to go as far as possible into the “pain-cave”.
No matter whether you are preparing for a 40KM TT or any other event, part of being a successful cyclist is learning to spend time in your own personal ‘pain-cave’.
And helping you get comfortable and confident in that cave is our passion!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching