By Liquigas-Cannondale’s Ted King
What’s more American than the 4th of July? Frosty cold beers, grilling burgers, watching a baseball game, and then playing some ball with your buddies in a backyard field.
Ooooor more specifically, how does the 4th of July stand in my memory? Waking up early to steaming hot coffee, microwaving oatmeal, watching the Tour de France, and following that all up by racing the Fitchburg Longsjo stage race. As a cyclist the red, white, and blue is more fittingly yellow, polka dot, and green (ahem, the various leader’s jerseys in cycling).
The 4th of July is nearly here and that latter scenario is how I recall the most patriotic of American holidays. In both 2003 and 2004, as teammates on an elite amateur team at the time, my brother and I stayed with our good friend Matt, and all three of us tackled our stalwart New England NRC bike race, known simply as Fitchburg.
Now nearly a decade later, early July signals almost the same thing: coffee, oatmeal, and the Tour de France. The biggest difference this time around is that there is no Fitchburg for me… aaaand I found myself in the heat of things for a starting spot on my Liquigas-Cannondale Tour de France team roster. Clearly a long time dream of mine. My spring racing campaign couldn’t have gone much better, loyally doing my job to help chalk up wins in every month but one from January through June. (Speaking of which, I’m proud to have been part of more wins than anyone on the entire team so far in 2012 (and I believe every one of these races can be found on my Strava profile. “Aaaand go!”)).
Training and racing were all going extremely well, and towards the final days there were still twelve riders in the hunt for the final nine starting spots. We are a team of 29 riders and with an emphasis on team. So sure, it is competitive to make the final group of nine, but there is no infighting, nor anything malicious to make the cut. The decision is ultimately up to the sports directors to curate a team ideal for the full three-weeks of racing.
At the eleventh hour I received the news that I wouldn’t be joining the team in Fran… err, Belgium rather, to begin this year’s Tour. Sure it’s heartbreaking, but professional cycling is a sport of ups and downs and therefore stewing on this is not going to do me any good.
I did, however, need to clear my head, and going on a small cycling vacation was in store. It’s something of a convenience that cycling is both my job as well as a personal favorite way to unwind. First I went up to the Dolomites and hung out with my great friend and teammate, Timmy Duggan amid sky-scraping mountains. From those brisk mountain passes above 2400 meters I traveled to the scorching summer heat of the central Italian region of Chianti. And yes, in both places I begin the day with the coffee and oatmeal, but with the time difference I can score a proper day of riding before it’s time to turn the Tour on the television.
Strava is a handy and entertaining addition to my training in Europe, even when I’m now on this week of, umm shall we say “more relaxed” bike riding, in order to clear my head. For me, engaging in Strava is a throwback to the simple days of training with my buddies where I can search out the fast times on hard sections or tough local climbs and just hammer because suffering is fun. Strava is just now making a big splash throughout Europe; where I am this week in Chianti is home to inGamba Tours, which is a sweet cycling (and eating) tour group that plays host to “pros in residence”. I can compare my times with my colleagues Laurens Ten Dam or Roger Hammond as well as some speedy, well-fed amateurs who have found these phenomenal stomping grounds. Just late last week while up in the Dolomites, massive grand fondos with a mind-boggling 10,000 or more registrants zoom across the roads with times up the seemingly endless climbs that make fast professionals roll their eyes. Yup, speedy.
July 4th is now right around the corner. I’m once again in a very good place, physically, mentally, and physiologically. I might celebrate our nation’s independence with a nice bowl of oatmeal, put in another smashing ride… and hopefully a burger and frosty beer with some buddies while watching the Tour that afternoon.
We’ve teamed up with Amgen Tour of California (ATOC) to bring you a series of Segment Challenges that give you the chance to compare yourself against the world’s best on four iconic climbs of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
By joining one or all of the Segment Challenges below, you have the chance to test your mettle on some of the marquee climbs before the pro riders attack the very same segments during the official race in May. By uploading your rides to Strava before the conclusion of each Segment Challenge, you can compare your performance against the pros, many of whom will be tracking their efforts on Strava throughout the 8-stage, 750-mile race.
The Segment Challenges will cover the following climbs. Riders have up until the day of the official Amgen Tour of California stage starts to clock their best effort
- April 20-May 13: Stage 1 – Join Coleman Valley Road
- April 20-May 14: Stage 2 – Join Bonny Doon
- April 20-May 15: Stage 3 – Join Mt. Diablo
- April 20-May19: Stage 7 – Join Mt. Baldy
Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in two categories for both men and women: The fastest time and greatest number of attempts on each segment. In addition, all riders who participate in at least one Segment Challenge will be entered to win a jersey signed by an Amgen Tour of California stage winner.
Good luck riders!
Strava headed to Austin, TX this past weekend to attend the Subaru of Georgetown Mellow Johnny’s Classic, the first PRO XCT and UCI Category 1 event of the year. The pro field was jacked with Olympic hopefuls battling it out on a new course at Flat Creek Crossing Ranch in an attempt to collect their first UCI points of 2012. The unfamiliar course made reconnaissance essential, and Jamis rider Jason Sager visited the site early and shared his Strava files so that we could begin setting up some new segments for our own unique competition.
The Strava KOM Hill and the MJ Classic Cat 1-3 Loop gave amateur riders an opportunity to compete among themselves and against the pros. While we ran into a hearty population of preexisting Strava users, we also recruited some new fans as they competed in age categories for the fastest lap. Early in the weekend the question that we heard again and again was, “So, what’s this Strava thing that I keep hearing about!?” and by the time things wrapped up we could easily describe Strava as “the fuel behind the fire.”
Pros and amateurs put down some impressive times on our KOM segment on Saturday and Sunday, but in the end it was local Cat 1 racer Joshua deBoisBlanc who edged out all of the pros by a mere two seconds! Joshua will receive a full Strava kit and one year of Strava Premium for his achievement. Winners in each of the Strava age groups for the Fastest Cat 1-3 Lap (excluding the pro field) will also receive a free year of Strava Premium in addition to a Strava Jersey. Congratulations to:
24 and under: Tyler Coplea
25 to 34: Tyruss Cramer, Sarah Ginsback
35 to 44: Manny Galegos, Jessica Hanover
45 to 54: Ty Kady
55 to 64: Jack Hicks, Janis Moreman
65 and over: Bill Moreman
All in all, our visit to Austin was a great success. The abundance of hard-core athletes, not to mention the incredible restaurants and authentic Texas BBQ, will certainly entice us to return. Special thanks to the wonderful folks at Mellow Johnny’s and Juan Pelota Cafe who kept us well fed and comfortably outfitted for the weekend. It’s not every day that sponsors are treated to smoked salmon, fresh-baked pastries and hand-filtered coffee at a mountain bike race. Luckily, we were also loaned an extra bike so that we could burn off some of those calories!
Challenge Details Are Here! Join the GU 100,000 Mile Challenge and A Classic Challenge from Specialized
Put your legs to the test with GU. From March 9 to April 9, rack up as many miles as you can. The more miles you run, the more awesome your prize will be.
Hit 100 miles: 8 pack of Peanut Butter GU Energy Gel
Hit 150 miles: 8 pack of Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel
Hit 200 Miles: Mixed box of 24 Energy Gels
Most importantly, if everybody in the challenge runs a combined 100,000 miles within the 31 day period, all participants will receive a special GU VIP card for discounts (up to 35% off) and special offers on GUENERGY.com so you can stock up for the season. Join the challenge today.
During the challenge, GU will randomly select 5 athletes who post inspiring photos and stories about their training to receive a special GU Gift Pack. All you have to do is post a photo or story about why you love running on the GU Facebook page.
A Classic Challenge from Specialized
Riders, do you think you can climb the cumulative elevation of five Spring Classics in 45 days? Do you think you can do it not just once, not twice, but three times? Now is your time to find out. Specialized and Strava challenge you to climb a grand total of 105,312 feet from March 15 to April 30. The Classic courses may be better known for their distances or questionable pavement, but here are the cold, hard, climbing facts:
Milan-San Remo – 6,260 feet
Tour of Flanders – 5,709 feet
Paris-Roubaix – 3,259 feet
Liège–Bastogne–Liège – 10,883 feet
Amstel Gold – 8,993 feet
A custom Specialized and Strava commemorative water bottle and surprise finisher gift is yours if you can climb this set of Spring Classics three times, not to mention the gargantuan bragging rights you’ll earn. This challenge is going to take some serious guts, but not without some serious glory. Good luck to all of you. Join the Challenge.
We know you’ve been waiting a long time, and we’re thrilled to finally deliver. Strava Run for Android is now available to download from Android Market! This free app makes it easy to kick your training up a notch with highlights including:
- FREE unlimited run uploads
- Detailed run stats including distance, pace, time, splits and full map view
- View of your recent activities from all devices in your Feed
- All time and year-to-date stats on your Profile
- Ability to change your activity type to ride, hike, ski and more to easily keep track of your cross-training
Need some coaching while you run? Strava Run for Android features audio updates on your pace, distance, and time. Make sure you’re staying on track without checking your phone.
COMPARE AND SHARE YOUR PERFORMANCE
Strava Run for Android features segment leaderboards so you can see how you stack up against others and set new Course Records. Track your best efforts on key distances, earn achievements for personal bests, and let your friends know what you’ve achieved by sharing your activities on Facebook and Twitter. There’s more to come – stay tuned and be sure to rate Strava Run for Android if you like what you see!
GU 100,000 MILE CHALLENGE
Put yourself and our app to the test next month in a new running challenge brought to you by GU. Get ready to rack up the miles and win some incredible prizes from March 9 to April 9. More details coming soon!