Thursday, August 07, 2008

Value of a Great Bike Shop: Focus Cyclery

There are so many moving pieces and parts to being a triathlete that it's a wonder to me how everything gets accomplished. It seems like it's "enough" for me to simply eat, sleep, go to work, get in workouts...and...barely hang out with my wife. So, what happens when something gets out of sync or something pops up that wasn't planned? Chaos is not an answer. This is were a solid support team steps in. No, I don't mean like a crew similar to the one that roles around with the Garmin/Chipotle boys , but in reality, they serve the same purpose; to keep you going strong towards your goals.

Today, in particular, I would like to pay special tribute to Mike, Jessie, Cale and Jack at Focus Cyclery located in Gilbert, Arizona. Focus Cyclery plays a big role in my support crew network. Case in point: I showed up to the shop a couple of days ago after a mtb ride with a leaky fork that wouldn't lock-out. Within a couple of hours, after Focus moved my issue to the front of the line without me asking, as I never would ask, I learned that, for lack of the technical part name, my fork's insides were blown. Big problemo considering 1) I have a big race in next weekend, 2) Cannondale's Lefty SL fork ain't cheap to fix or replace and 3) sometimes parts take a while to find there way to the local bike store. So, what now? Mike, Focus' owner, said no problem we'll get you rolling ASAP. I didn't really know what this meant until I actually saw the bike today. Was I going to get an older or different version of a Lefty as a loaner? Not so much. I rolled into the shop to find a brand spanking new Lefty SL on my bike. Word up! I'll say that again. Word up!

I mean, without Focus Cyclery having my back in a huge way, where would I be? Apart from being mountain bike less, I would not be able to race next weekend at the Xterra Mountain Championships in Ogden, a critical step in my approach towards Xterra Nationals and Worlds. I'll say this, if you live in Phoenix Metro or are ever in Phoenix Metro and are looking for a bike shop, please stop by Focus Cyclery and check them out. They even sell triathlon gear too. If you don't live in Phoenix, please cruise down to your local shop and buy the guys behind the counter a round of coffees and don't ask them for a single thing, not a deal, not a freebie...nothing....just be cool. You never now when you will need your support crew.

After the thoughts above, training updates seem tiny, we crash week I am not feeling 100% in both mind and body, but still able to put down some seriously intense workouts without cracking. I have been in "crush every record mode" for a little while and have been fairly successful, so it is hard to feel good with just maintaining status quo. As if cranking out 15%-20% more wattage on the bike than earlier in the season is no good. Gimmie a break! Graksy, my Xterra triathlon coach, knows what he is doing. I have been more of a head case over the last 5 days than I have ever been. Not in a bad way, but I am questioning and evaluating everything because my plan is non-standard and the stakes are high. The positive thing is that I feel in no one over trained. I know exactly what that feels like and I am not there. Actually knowing that I am not there gives me motivation and confidence to keep on chugging.

One critical element of my plan that has kept me healthy is that I brought my volume down to accommodate the increase in intensity. Sounds simple right? Well, not so fast. Apart from overcoming the mental hurdle I call the "volume" dilemma that many endurance athletes face (more is better), I am in the process of striking a balance between keeping up enough volume for this phase of training (still 2.5mths away from Worlds) and nailing the intensity in a way that actually pushes me to the limit, but not over. Do you know exactly where that point is with yourself? I don't but I am finding it. Another little piece to this whole equation is a "what works for you" unknown variable. What my coach wisely deduced is that I literally need an above average amount of intense workouts. What works for you?