The Sub-Six Peloton Experience Offers “Pro For A Day” Event Support And A Team Environment At The Mammoth Gran Fondo
The 2018 Mammoth Gran Fondo is just over a week away and that means it’s almost time for our Sub-Six Peloton to hit the road!
Through group coaching, a team training plan, and a private Facebook group to share coaching tips and event strategies, the team is shaping-up splendidly, and is nearly 50-riders strong!
With the singular goal of completing the 102-mile route in under six-hours, and by utilizing professional-grade on-course support that is usually reserved for pro-cyclists, our Sub-Six “Wolf-Pack” is set for an incredible day on the roads of Mammoth.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to have a team of skilled riders working for you? The Sub-Six Peloton Experience is your chance to receive the 'yellow jersey' treatment! Photo Credit: Above Four Media
For a visual of what the Sub-Six Peloton Experience will be like, think about how Team Sky domestiques supported, cared for, and worked in-service of, Gerraint Thomas at this summers’ Tour de France.
Just as these domestiques escorted the peloton of ‘le tour’ around throughout July, our Sled-Dogs will doing the same in Mammoth, all with the focus of helping our riders have the best performance possible.
But where does the “Wolf Pack” mentality come in?
Just as a wolf-pack tracks, stalks, and hunts their prey, utilizing each wolf’s unique skill and experience, a peloton of bike riders can conquer even the most challenging of roads with ease by leveraging the power of the group.
And just like a wolf-pack can take down bigger/meatier prey as the team grows in size, a peloton of riders can ride faster and more efficiently as the group swells in number.
It is with an uncanny correlation to a well-drilled cycling team that the renowned author Rudyard Kipling outlined the prowess of a Wolf-Pack in his famous poem, “The Law For The Wolves”.
Here is an excerpt we find particularly poignant:
“Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky.
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die…
For the strength of the PACK is the WOLF, and the strength of the WOLF is the PACK!”
So if you have heard about Sub-Six and for whatever reason not signed-up yet, there is still time!
There are a few spots remaining for last-minute entries and riders that want to be a part of this “pro for a day” experience.
The mass-start roll-out of the Mammoth Gran Fondo is only the beginning of what is an amazing day on the roads of the Eastern Sierras! Photo Credit: Captivating Sports Photography
If you have questions, comments, or simply want to know more about the Sub-Six Peloton Experience, please follow this link:
Or email us at BigWheelCoaching@gmail.com
For more fun, and to read what our friends at Gran Fondo Guide are saying about the Sub-Six Peloton Experience, check out this article:
We look forward to seeing you in Mammoth!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, And Have Fun!
Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Respiratory infections of all types (upper & lower) affect Endurance Athletes all year, not just during the so-called “cold & flu season”.
This reality, and the inevitable training set-back that comes from getting sick, is a cause of stress and frustration for all Athletes, especially those training toward a specific goal.
With that in mind we are dedicating this Coaches Corner to strategies that will minimize the setback and severity of a respiratory-tract infection and get you back to training as quickly as possible.
For Athletes there are two major stages of a respiratory infection:
Opting for an indoor or trainer-based workout, when symptoms of sickness arise, is a great way to minimize the duration of an illness. Photo Credit: Doug Ernest, Inland Sports Photography.
#1 Prevention & Avoidance: An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth…
One would have to live in a cave to not have heard the adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This sage wisdom is excellent advice, but in the hustle and stress of modern life, it can be easy to breeze by the otherwise obvious warning signs of an oncoming sickness.
Even worse, when symptoms are small, one can be forgiven for thinking that, if ignored, they will subside or go away. Unfortunately in nearly all instances, symptoms only get more acute and severe. With that in mind, we suggest attacking symptoms ‘full-force’ the moment they reveal themselves with these tactics:
A- Grab The Immune System Boosters: Vitamin-C is especially effective, but also adding Vitamin’s- A, D, E, B6 and B12 to your repertoire can ensure your immune system is fully equipped to fight whatever invaders it faces.
B- Rest Hard: Heading to bed early is the best defense against sickness as it naturally boosts your immune system and offers our bodies the time to combat germs. If possible, add a nap to your day, or just look for an early bed-time to achieve the extra rest necessary. Chances are, you will awake the next morning feeling much better.
C- Make It A Recovery Day: Strenuous workouts compromise the immune system after training, by some accounts for a period of up to 72hrs. Thus, if you awake with minor symptoms and train hard, it is inevitable that symptoms will advance the next day.
With this in mind, we suggest being pro-active and swapping a prescribed interval session for a recovery ride or endurance day. This less-intense workout, coupled with a good nights sleep, and a focus on immune system boosters will greatly diminish your chances of becoming ill.
In order to win an Athlete must be be able to bounce back quickly from setbacks including illness. Photo Credit: Danny Munson, DMunsonPhoto.com
#2: I’m Sick, But I Still Want To Train, Should I Stop...?
Unfortunately despite our best efforts, getting sick happens, and in some cases being sick is a simple as going to bed without symptoms and waking feeling awful.
Once a sickness takes hold an Athlete should adjust their perspective from preparing for, and executing, their regular training, to recovering from illness. This is best done by redirecting energy spent on training toward recovery techniques.
Additionally, in regards to respiratory infections and their symptoms, there are two types of the illness that Endurance Athletes should be equipped to deal with:
A- Symptoms Above The Neck: If the symptoms you face are above the neck, i.e. limited to the head, sinuses, throat, etc., short duration endurance or recovery-paced workouts are acceptable. Limit bouts of exercise to one hour or less, consider working-out indoors to avoid exposure to the elements, and follow the rest and immunes system boosting guidelines above.
Do this an you are likely to be back to full strength before you know it!
B- Symptoms Below The Neck: If you are experiencing symptoms below the neck such as a queasy stomach or vomiting, phlegm in the lungs (any color, but especially anything other than white/clear), fever, muscle aches, or wheezing, it’s time to seek treatment or guidance from medical professionals.
It should be said that there is ZERO benefit to attempting a workout when experiencing these types of symptoms. When confronted with these acute symptoms the only goal is to get 100% well, which requires rest, immune system boosters, and possibly prescription or ‘over the counter’ medication.
Do not resume regular training until you are well and feeling normal again! Ignoring this will only result in further setback to your training and prolonged sickness.
Getting sick is an unfortunate reality for everyone, but especially Endurance Athletes. However, it doesn’t have to be a major set-back. By following the guidelines above and seeking medical advice when symptoms arise, and before they become acute, the amount of time spent being sick is likely to be minimal.
It nearly goes without saying that building our best fitness is the result of great training and continual effort, not any singular workout. However, although that seems straight-forward, most Athletes are guilty of prolonging their own sickness by pushing too quickly to get back to regular training.
The moral here is this; by maintaining a high-level of self-awareness and listening to your body, you are likely to experience minimal setbacks in training due to sickness and thus remain on target to achieve your fitness goals!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
The Leadville Trail 100 is known to its legion of fans and followers as the “race across the sky”.
And it’s easy to see why as the race starts at an elevation above 10,000’, includes five major climbs, and tops out at a breath-taking 12,500’ of elevation at it’s highest-point.
It’s an event that has captivated Kevin Summers attention so much so that he has made Leadville an annual pilgrimage for the past few years.
At Leadville, the ‘benchmark’ is completing the entire 100-mile race distance in under 9hrs. This feat is a substantial accomplishment and riders are rewarded with a Colorado-sized belt-buckle when they tackle this feat.
As a previous sub-9hr finisher, Kevin Summers had all intentions to repeat and better his performance at this years Leadville Trail 100.
But this year there was an extra set of circumstances that required his immediate attention and capitalized a portion of his training time, namely the birth of his beautiful baby girl, Brooke Summers, just six-weeks before Leadville.
Tackling this uncharted territory of fatherhood and being as physically prepared as possible, without sacrificing family-time, became an obsession for Kevin and Coach Brian.
Together, and with the amazing support of new-Mom Rhiannon Summers, Kevin and Coach Brian went to work to cut-time out of training without sacrificing quality or preparation.
Did it work? Read on to find out as we caught up with Kevin Summers following his Leadville performance to talk training and the “race across the sky”. Enjoy!
Primary Sport/Discipline: Endurance MTB
Average Hours of Training Per Week: 12-15hrs.
Upcoming Goals: Enjoying Daddy Time!
Kevin Summers poses for a post-race photo with the pride and knowledge the accomplished his major goal of the 2018 season.Photo Credit: Century Link
Question #1: Congratulations on an incredible ride at the Leadville Trail 100, Kevin! As your annual pilgrimage, this event looms large on your calendar every year, what made this years’ race special and challenging?
Kevin Summers:This year was a special one for me, as my wife and I welcomed our daughter Brooke into the world on July 5th.
She is a beautiful ray of sunshine in our world and brings us tremendous joy!
With Leadville being just shy of 6 weeks after her birth I was looking forward to crossing the line to see my wife and daughter.
What was challenging about it? I would have to say the lack of a ‘normal’ build-up for the event from a training perspective made things very challenging.
Leadville is a special event for me and I build my whole year around it, so I know the sensations and how it feels when I am, “going good”.
This year with the sleepless nights that come with a newborn as well as some other challenges, I was not as sure where my fitness was or how my body would respond to the brutally tough conditions of Leadville.
This loomed heavy in the back of my mind.
Coaches Perspective/Coach Brian: I am so proud of Kevin for his performance at Leadville this year, he “left it all out on course”, no doubt about it.
Leading into the race, he and I talked openly and honestly about his apprehension as well as his concern about the unorthodox build-up of his fitness.
Together we went through the data, reviewed the numbers and showed him how despite the lack of “big-volume” training that characterized previous years, he had much stronger power outputs at critical durations like 3min., 5min., 10min., & 20min.
It was important to go over these things because Kevin is such a mentally tough Athlete, he is a guy that gets everything out of himself.
I wanted him to have full faith on confidence that he had done the work to be successful, to know that the work looked different this year, but different did not mean worse, just because it was not the same as previous successful attempts at Leadville.
This confidence showed in his effort, output, and confidence on race-day, he gave his absolute best and left no doubt that he brought his “a-game”.
The Leadville Trail 100 features a highly demanding course not for the faint of heart. It is a hard race for so many reasons, not the least of which is the altitude!Photo Credit: Century Link
Question #2: As a new father with a beautiful baby girl that is only six-weeks old, your training leading into this edition of Leadville was different. Can you compare your preparation before you were a father to now? How did you achieve such great success despite the added demands of fatherhood?
KS:Oh man was it different…!
In the past, Coach B and I would always target the Dirty Kanza 200 as a ‘tune-up’ for Leadville and way to build my base fitness as well as get some intensity deep into a big ride.
I would do long rides reaching 11-12 hours on a Saturday with intervals STARTING at hour 10 and then Sunday doing more of a sustained endurance ride averaging about 5-6 hours.
That is what it took to be ready for the World’s Greatest Gravel Race, Dirty Kanza, and it worked, I had my best performances every year with this training. I was both fit and confident!
This year was a whole lot different… I would say that it was WAY different.
Come to think of it, my longest rides were only 5.5 hours maybe…
What really paid dividends was focusing more on XC racing as well as Endurance MTB racing, early in the year.
In the late winter and spring, I made many trips to California to race the US Cup MTB Circuit.
Where it got interesting was when Coach B wanted me to use the US Cup Endurance MTB races as ‘fitness builders’.
I would go to California where he and I would go out for a 5-6 hour ride of no less than 100 miles that included a substantial "Saturday hammer session” (AKA a local race-paced group ride) in the middle of the ride.
Then after a whole lot of proper recovery, I would go race the very next day…
Ask any "racer" and that kind of prescription can be the ‘kiss of death’.
Well, after the Saturday “turn yourself inside out ride” that finished with 3-hours in the SoCal Hills, I pulled-off a great podium performance and a solid placing at the Bonelli Park UCI Course.
To say the least my ”Stoke Meter" was off the charts!!!
Coach Brian: This year’s preparation for Leadville was quite different than years past for Kevin, to say the least.
Previously we would always have to build insane amounts of endurance fitness to prepare for the Dirty Kanza 200. Kevin was excellent at this, but with his full-time work commitments and busy personal schedule this made recovery difficult.
The issue with that training model was that it left little room to emphasize intensity.
This year, without Dirty Kanza, we could focus on High Intensity Interval Training and building Kevin’s anaerobic capacity.
This looked and felt different to Kevin, but I knew it would pay dividends for him at Leadville.
This was also immensely helpful as I knew that his family demands would increase 10-fold in the final weeks of the pregnancy as well as once Baby Brooke was born.
We took that calculated risk and it worked, Kevin fully committed to the process and trusted the plan, so it is great to see that it worked so well for him!
Crossing the finish line brings relief and jubilation if you have go Sub-9hrs at Leadville. Photo Credit: Century Link
Question #3: Outside of Leadville, what is one of your biggest cycling objectives for this season and what events are you most excited about?
KS:Honestly what’s been great this year is learning more balance.
I feel we as cyclists always think more is better… more miles… more intervals… more more more!
Learning to capitalize on each and every workout and trusting the process, not to mention not rushing the process, was my goal this year.
Note: This is WAY harder than it sounds!
It took me some time, but I even learned that it is “OK” to miss a workout or two!
We all have lives outside of two-wheels, and learning to balance my highly driven character with more and more family responsibilities has been one of my biggest objectives.
Coach B kept reminding me throughout the year that the ‘fitness’ is there, that I had depth from all my years of work, and that I could preform well.
I had to learn that the "hay is in the barn”, so to speak, then go out there ‘clock-in’ and do what I do!
Coach Brian: It was great to see Kevin embrace a different style of training this year. He continues to prove that an Athlete can innovate, reinvent themselves, and improve even after years of competition.
As much as we focused on numbers with Kevin, we worked really hard to develop his self-awareness as well. I wanted him to be able to know when he was ‘good’, but also when he needed rest.
This cannot be over-emphasized in it’s importance. Knowing yourself and what you need is critical to getting every ounce of energy out on race-day.
By working through this using the training data, but also discussing the sensations Kevin was experiencing, we could keep him on an upward fitness trend much longer than traditional models allow for.
This took extra communication and a new level of openness as well as some vulnerability, but it worked well and brought Kevin to a new level of Athleticism.
The road to glory at Leadville is a long one that demands every ounce of energy an Athlete has.Photo Credit: Century Link
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.
KS:This is a hard one as there are so many that hurt so good!
Honestly though, my favorite would have to be kicking my self in the face on the Saturday "Shootout" road ride when I join the group on my MTB.
I do as many pulls on the front as I can to simulate the crazy intensity that is XC MTB race starts, then roll out for 2.5 hours of "Extra Credit”.
Note: I like to call this ‘extra credit’ throwing an extra nail in the coffin!
I feel that this workload gave me more race-simulation intensity and added more ‘depth’ to my fitness than Coach B and I thought it would.
As proof, after the first few XC races I became known as “Hole-Shot Summers” at the GoldState race series.
Knowledge Bomb… A few months back, Coach B and I were stoked about a friend of ours and fellow BWC Athlete’s great performance in a race. Jokingly, Coach B said, “Summers, text him and ask if he is “committed or involved”, he can do better!
The joke was all in good fun, but this quote rang heavy on my heart the next week.
Are you committed or involved? This is a hugely important question and a state of being in my world.
I have been using it ever since, in everything I do.
Being involved in something to me means, yeah you are doing it, but not giving it your 100% best effort.
You are showing up and going through the motions, maybe even ‘high-fiving’ your buddies and kissing babies along the way. Which is cool and all, but…
Are you doing everything you can to ensure you are successful?
Maybe you are following the plan, but are you getting the rest you need, is your diet on point, are you stretching every night?
Are you actually "really" doing a proper recovery ride or just going through the motions?
Being ‘committed’, to me, is giving everything you got in EVERY aspect of your life.
From the smallest things, like keeping your bike clean and maintained, to following the workouts and then communicating how you are feeling, taking the time to rest, recover, and stretch, getting proper nutrition to fuel your workouts and not some "Fad" diet that your buddies are doing.
Are you actually doing the needed recovery rides and not ramping-up your effort whenever an E-bike passes you.. Damn E-bikes!!!!!
But this notion of being “committed” can also bring success outside bike riding, in business and your personal life.
“Committed”, to me, means learning how to play “t-ball” before you get to the fun of the “big leagues”, being a pillar in your home and every single day doing everything you do from workouts, to business, and most importantly family time with everything you got.
So for that Knowledge-Bomb Coach B, I thank you.
Coach Brian: Wow, what more needs to be said? Clearly Kevin is committed!
“Committed or involved” is a simple question I ask myself whenever things get hard, challenging, or look daunting.
It is a great ‘gut-check’ saying that helps keep me on-track when it would be easier to relent.
It is a saying that can benefit Athletes in so many ways, but is not intended to be a ‘battle cry’ or way to inspire everyone to “harden-up”.
Instead it is a perspective that encourages us to demand the best from ourselves in all we do. It reminds us to give extra to the things in our lives that we are most passionate about, be it our relationships, family life, business, or sport.
The new edition to the Summers family, Baby Brooke Summers, in all her glory! She is a miracle and a blessing for parents Kevin and Rhiannon. Photo Credit: Rhiannon Summers
We hope you have enjoyed reading about Kevin Summers Leadville adventures and that his tenacity will inspire to give your very best in your journey toward success.
Whether you are just starting your cycling adventure or have been a committed Endurance Athlete for many years, a lot can be taken from the openness to learn that Kevin has as well as his drive to succeed in all aspects of his life.
It is a pleasure to work with so many Athletes like Kevin and share their athletic success with our BWC community, it’s our passion and focus!
Thank you for reading and be sure to always…
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
Training and racing at sea-level where the air is filled with copious amounts of oxygen is no easy task, but what about trying to replicate the same performance at altitude?
Numerous marquee events and ‘bucket-list’ races like the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race, Haute Route Rockies, The Mammoth Gran Fondo, Crusher In The Tushar, and others take place at elevations above 7,000', making preparation for these events extremely important for those Athletes that live and train near sea-level.
Although each event should be prepared-for uniquely based on your individual goals, training capacity, and skill-set, there are a few easy tips that can be utilized prior to the event to maximize your race-day performance.
We have compiled the following three Altitude Event-Preparation Tips to help Athletes of all disciplines and abilities make the most of their next jaunt in the high-mountains.
"The mountains are calling...and I must go!" -John Muir.Photo Credit: Joy McCulloch
Tip #1: Hydrate Well To Accelerate The Acclimatization Process
The reality of altitude is that the air is thin and dry, making it very easy to dehydrate leading into an event.
If you are headed to a race at altitude, regardless of where you are traveling from and when you arrive to the mountains, staying well hydrated is key.
Our recommendation is to keep a water bottle with you continuously upon arrival to the mountains, drinking from it often.
Increasing your water intake will not only keep you well hydrated and ready for a great performance, it will go a long way to staving-off the possibility of altitude sickness symptoms that could derail your performance!
Tip #2: Sleep Extra Before The Event
Another unfortunate reality for ‘flat-landers’ at altitude is that sleep quality is poor, and restless sleep before a big-event definitely diminishes an Athletes ability to perform optimally.
Why is sleep-quality at altitude poor for the non-acclimatized Athlete?
Again, the thin air is the culprit.
Our normal breathing patterns are tuned to the air we regularly breathe, thus when there is less oxygen in the air, we must take deeper breaths to satisfy our bodies needs.
This is not normal and requires our bodies to adjust, therefore it is important that every Athlete add extra sleep to their daily routine in their first days at elevation.
To maximize sleep-quality, we highly recommend an earlier bed-time as opposed to ‘sleeping-in’, but also encourage the use of white-noise, ear-plugs, an eye-mask, or even melatonin tabs to aid sleep naturally.
Climbing is already challenging, but climbing at elevations above 7,000' requires additional pacing considerations because of our bodies reduced ability to put-out power. Photo Credit: Brian McCulloch
Tip #3: Pace Yourself Accordingly
When it comes to event-day, there is one reality about altitude that every Athlete must-heed:
Thin-air means reduced power-output.
We like to tell our Athletes that when competing at altitude they should expect every effort to ‘feel harder’. Depending on how 'high' the event takes place will determine how much ‘harder’ the effort feels.
For events that are at 5,000’-8,000’ of elevation you can expect, approximately, a 10-15% reduction in power output for a non-acclimatized Athlete.
This trend of power diminishment only accelerates as the altitude increases, meaning that the non-acclimatized Athlete can loose as much as 20%, or more, of their power above 10,000’.
What is the solution?
Pace yourself accordingly and be “OK” with riding easier in the beginning of the event.
Although this can be challenging as many of the competitors around you might not heed this advice, be confident in the science and the notion that it is always better to finish strong than blow-up early.
Keep in mind that it is all to easy to go out ‘too hard’ at an altitude event and spend the rest of the day suffering at slow pace.
Note: For complete altitude performance references and citations based on elevation, read this article by Joe Friel:
Competing in altitude events can be an incredibly rewarding experience, and this is especially true with a well thought-out pacing and acclimatization plan!
What’s more, with these Altitude Performance Tips an Athlete can be confident that they are making the most out of their preparation, even without the luxury of altitude training before their event.
As you prepare, and taper, for your next altitude event remember this sage wisdom...
Freshness trumps fitness at altitude.
Essentially, rest and a robust energy reserve are the biggest asset a 'flat-lander' can have to ensure a great performance at elevation!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, & Have Fun!
-Brian and Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
The Tour of Utah is known as America’s Toughest Stage Race, and for good reason, this 7-day race covers more than 540-miles and ascends nearly 45,000’ of brutal Utah mountain roadway.
In Utah, the locals have a saying, “we live life elevated”.
And with one of the hardest editions on tap in it’s 14-year history, the Tour of Utah peloton is sure to gain a new respect for what it means to, “live life elevated!”
With that said, we are excited to announce that Coach Brian will be representing Big Wheel Coaching at America’s Toughest Stage Race as a member of the Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Team.
The Tour of Utah starts Monday August 6th, so be sure to check it out and follow all the racing action!Photo Credit: The Tour of Utah
It’s a big honor and has taken many years of diligent work for Coach Brian to be able to race on a world-class stage as he is in Utah.
Which is why we are so excited to share that you can watch him while he works!
If you love world-class bike racing, you owe it to yourself to watch this years’ Tour of Utah.
You can follow all the racing action through these channels:
Fox Sports, FS2 Live Daily Coverage:https://www.tourofutah.com/race/tourtracker#schedule
Tour Tracker, Tour of Utah: www.tourofutah.com/race/tourtracker
For individual stage details, check out the Tour of Utah website: https://www.tourofutah.com/stages
Elevate/KHS Pro Cycling: https://www.facebook.com/elevatekhscycling/
With five-teams, as well as numerous riders at the start that are fresh of the Tour de France, this years race will be a “barn-burner” from start to finish!
The Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling team riders have distinct blue and black jersey's that can be easily picked out in the Tour of Utah peloton! Photo Credit: Tour of Utah
Needless to say, Coach Brian and his Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling teammates are excited to showcase their small, but mighty team, on this world-class stage as they fight for results on the roads of Utah.
We hope you can follow the tour and cheer-on Coach Brian as well his Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling Team!
Until Next Time, Be Safe, Train Hard, And Have Fun!
Brian & Joy McCulloch
Big Wheel Coaching
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