Cycling in a Toque

Cycling in a Toque: February 2011

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Calville Bay: St.3 Racing

A foggy stupor fulfills my vision. The drapes open with a rapid fire tack-tack-tack and the team’s day on the front is here.

A foggy stupor fulfills my vision. Raindrops stream along my racing lenses impeding the only sensory outlet still within my control. Hands frozen, unable to access the food in my pockets, my movements at the front of the peloton become increasingly sluggish.

A foggy stupor fulfills my vision. The cafe’s square ceiling panels fade against the piercing brightness of one overhead pot-light. An acute pain in the back of my eyes, only matched by the nebulous ache in my legs authenticates my body’s premonition: the off-season is over.

And it’s never felt better.

Louis La Roche - My Turn (Feat. Yann Destal) by louislaroche

Wetblog Download

The team worked hard all 135km today. Eric and I made it through 110km and the main group went to the line together, securing another day in yellow for teamexergy at the Callville Bay Classic. We rotated on the front of the peloton throughout the entire race and despite our best efforts, no breakaway formed that didn’t accidently come back. The conditions were very difficult, 40 degrees and raining so it was more of a battle against the weather than anything else. Today in the final event, a 60minute parking lot criterium at Callville Bay marina, then the team will be heading home to Boise. I am looking forward to meeting a whole new town of people. I just have to remember that it is pronounced “Boy-C”, not “Boy-Z”.

Images available at or @ Veloimages@Facebook:

Thanks Brian! You're always making us look fast!

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Calville Bay: St.2 Flurry

Great day for the team yesterday. Our staff, Tad Hamilton, Scott Cross and rider Chris Hong have been working tirelessly to make our lives as easy as possible. Their efforts showed in a great race in the time trial yesterday. We threw down four TOP 10 finishes with seven in the TOP 20.

We have a big day today at the front of the race (135km) as we are looking to defend Carlos' overall lead so we made sure we fueled up big time last night. Wonder if it will snow?

Let's go!

Day 2: Calville Bay Classic 6.5km Uphill Time Trial
Housing just south of Las Vegas makes for a cool view of the dessert (there is a buffet here!)
Big eating contest to fuel up for Saturday's Stage
The team readies for the battle


Friday, 25 February 2011

Calville Bay: St.1 Exergy Wins!

A small step for Exergy....One giant leap for Escalera Racing LLC

Yesterday we had a great day on the bike. It was our first chance to race like a team and we did! Although we showed up to Calville with the largest team and carried the responsibility to control the race, we stepped up the plate and delivered. The wind featured as largest player in the race and after looking at the weather report for the rest of the week, its looks like it will be sticking around. As soon as the flag dropped we started to aggressively echelon the field but since the wind was from the front more so than we expected, we changed our plan and started launching guys off. Andres was the first to go and no one else in the peloton even considered following his aggressive move, especially since we had just passed the 3km mark! (+70km to go). The field was quite content to let him open a gap as we all coasted for the next ten minutes. At a 2 minute advantage, the attacks started and we worked tirelessly and flawlessly to cover each move. Approximately a quarter of the way into the race, Andres came back due to the increased speed of the pack during these attacks.

The game changed and Sam, Carlos and Kai were ready to pounce. The trio lit it up as we tackled one of the largest hills in the race: 2-3minute effort with a 30-40km/hr cross wind from the left placing the entire field in the right gutter. As the front trio launched attack after attack, a split in the field formed. PANIC! As I crested hill and realized there was a large gap, I threw on the gas and met up with two of my teammates. With just a minute or two of hard pedaling, we jumped back on the group but the attacks never stopped at the front. I traveled straight to the front of the group just as Carlos launched the first half of his winning move. The road turned and suddenly everyone was guttered along the yellow line (except it was a no paint but reflective turtles so it made for a bumpy mistake if you were pushed outside). With already a strong advantage of 45-60 seconds after a few kilometres, I covered a bridge attempt. Sitting on the back of it, two riders rotated in front of me. A fourth rider soon joined us who would not pull into the rotation, claiming that I should rotate or he’d run me off his wheel. Well I was perfectly happy to see him try so I sat up and let the two man group ride off while the peloton caught us all within the next few minutes. I never saw that guy again all race. Hope he didn’t get dropped from the peloton.

At the turnaround point, we saw Carlos and the PistaPalace rider were working well together and had amassed a 75 second advantage. Now with a block tailwind, the speed of the peloton increased from 20mph to 40mph. We were flying. The FullCycle team, dressed in all black kit, started to work to pull back the breakaway. I sat in the wind just off their echelon to protect our riders, in sixth wheel. It looked at that time that we would work for Sam (if the break came back and he felt good) or Andres (if the break came back and he recovered from his initial break) or Eric B. (if Carlos stayed away and we wanted to claim the field sprint). Unfortunately for the FullCycle riders, the gap grew despite their chasing attempts to 2 minutes with 15km remaining. At 10 km to go, Carlos rode away from his breakaway companion without an attack and it wasn’t until 6-7km to go that the peloton found out since there are no radios allowed. At 5km we caught the rider and we started our leadout train. I worked hard to protect Barley in the final 10km and although vicious attacks by Phil Z and Tyler Wren in the closing moments drastically complicated our plans, we salvaged the leadout for a 2nd and 3rd in the field sprint. In retribution for their efforts, a FullCycle team rider sprinted to the line for the bunch kick after an impressive 400metre surge. I was able to take the guys to the corner to 400 metres after Sam covered Phil Z’s late move. Digging again to catch the end of the peloton so as to finish on same time as our sprinters, I slotted into the block-headwind-draft just in time to watch the final 50metres unfold. It was a tight finish.

A great way to finish off the winter training season and a great excuse to launch the new team website a week early. Be sure to continue to check the new teamexergy website as we add more and more elements throughout the next ten days.

Carlos Alzate opens the week with a win!
Photo Credit: Veloimages


Monday, 21 February 2011

Peloton Initiation Series: V.1

Summoning the courage to suit up for your first group ride can be very difficult and when that first experience goes horribly wrong, it can be heartbreaking. But after hearing quite a few interesting stories over the past five years I can safely say that that rider always comes back! I don't know what it is about the group ride but there is something magical about it. In an effort to help you get out on the bike this spring and hopefully out on your first group ride, my team exergy teammates and I have put together a Peloton Initiation Series to share some of those humbling moments. We'll be putting out a story each week sharing our own embarrassing moments and I strongly recommend you share as well.

Courtesy of the WetBandits who recently debuted Wetblog V.11 download here!
PS. Listening to this while to write this and it is blowing my mind! Can you say 20 minute interval.

Richmond, BC Sunday Group Ride: October 27th, 2002

I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and started riding my mountain bike for alpine skiing cross-training at fifteen. At seventeen I suddenly had a great urge to try road biking so after an unplanned trip to Hood River (during a wind-surfing day-off from ski camp at Mt. Hood), I had my first set of wheels. I couldn't believe how fast the slick tires were! Before I knew it I was sprinting past buses and ripping around town in a Primal racing jersey with flames on it. After a great autumn of training, I was feeling great on the bike so a high school buddy of mine decided to join me for the local Sunday group ride. My math teacher at the time (who is still a prominent figure in the Vancouver cycling community) also encouraged us to come out and ride so despite saddling up under an ominously dark ceiling of clouds, I was stoked to ride with real cyclists. The plan for the day consisted of a 40km loop around Richmond plus a 10km tail out to Iona Jetty, of course I neglected to account for the 24km commute to and from the meeting spot (total 73km).

Equipped with no rain fender, no hat, no gloves, no rain jacket and no food (but I did have leg warmers, booties and wood-working eye glasses!) I started in the middle of the thirty rider pack. As we navigated the bumpy industrial streets of Richmond's north side, road spray spit up into my face, covering my glasses and jersey. My right foot, covered by an extra layer of fabric after I'd clipped an old pair of wool socks into makeshift toe covers, suddenly acquired that puddle feeling as water sloshed around between downstrokes. A few seconds later, my left foot followed suit. Without a fender, the rain spray also covered my butt and after only a few minutes in the group I was soaked. I was told to stay off the front so I just focussed on keeping a safe distance from the rider in front. Instead of looking at that rider's wheel, which was hard to see as my wood-working glasses did a great job of capturing just the right amount of foggy condensation to guarantee horrible depth perception, I focussed on the body of the rider in front. Of course learning to listen and watch for the small directions from those directing us through the twisty, pot-holed roads was also an entirely new experience. Looking back at the whole day, riding in the group was just as stressful as driving along the freeway during a busy friday afternoon.

At half distance, (which was actually very near my house) we turned into the headwinds and towards the docks of Steveston. I was starting to feel comfortable in the group, looking far enough ahead to see where to turn left and right while staying a safe 1 ft distance from the rider in front. Apparently the group usually begins to shatter this point but one of the group's leaders took a nature break so everyone soft-pedaled for a few kilometres. By the time the rider caught back on we had made it back to the stoplight-rich transition leading to the ride's finale at Iona Jetty. Despite 2.5 hrs in, I was at that ideal happy place of warmth despite wet clothing, an open feeling in the legs and just enough energy in the tank to get me home. Unfortunately I had no idea just how bad you can feel on a bike so my friend and I decided to continue through the end of the ride.

As soon as we made in onto the Jetty's access road, the hammer it the floor. The group took off like a bunch of F1 cars and I was caught totally off guard. After a few minutes, I realized our seven rider group was not going to pull back the dozen or so front group so I attacked! Why? Who knows! Of course halfway between the 300 metre gap I started to fall apart and within minutes was back in the second group. Ten kilometres later the shattered remenants regroups and started back towards the ride's starting point. Shortly thereafter I overlapped wheels with the front row as they pulled off and down I went, skidding along the wet pavement. By the time the group made it back to help me pick up my bike, the roadrash on my hip had already started to sting; luckily I hadn't marked up my shorts because it was raining so hard! This is of course when the group realized I was rocking a big cast on my left hand. I had broken my thumb three weeks before but was still determined to train hard for the ski season so I made sure to match my cast color with that of my bar tape. I almost got away with it!

Once back at the meeting point, I parted ways with my mathematics teacher. My buddy and I, soaked to the bone, started our 12km commute home. Out of water, out of food and feeling a bit bonkish, I knew it was going to be a crappy ride home. Then, for some extremely stupid reason, my friend took a different route, later claiming that he was so wrecked he didn't want me to see him pedaling so easily. But I was wrecked too! Then I decided to try to cut my travel time by riding as the crows flies instead of taking the roundabout bike route way. Big mistake! A short excursion on the freeway and a few more poor decisions later, I approached home. I had the checklist all set: 1) find keys 2) open door 2) dump bike in garage 3) eat the whole fridge 4) turn on the shower as hot as possible 5) then put on every pair of wool socks and long underwear I have and dive into the couch with as many blankets as I could find. I woke up three hours later in a drunken stupor, mouth parched as I'd cooked myself after leaving the gas fireplace on during my nap.

Then in classic newbie style, I got a cold three days later. Not bad for my first try.

* * *

Check back for new entries soon! Or email your own story to me at Also below I've included an intricate look at the life of the racing peloton never seen on television. Riding in the group can be stressful but racing can be downright insane! Can't wait for the season to start on Thursday at the Calville Classic in Las Vegas.

A view from inside the peloton with British Cycling's Rapha Condor Professional Team providing a unique view of racing never seen on TV. Enjoy!


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Broken Ribs

For the last 26 days I have been dealing with a nagging rib injury. Breathing deeply and sprinting out of the saddle have been very painful. That is not a good thing for a cyclist. And it's especially a bad thing for a sprinter. But what was I going to do? After a mistimed pass at the go-kart track, it was either a broken rib or an extremely bruised intercostal muscle and either way it wasn't going away anytime soon. So I just kept riding. Stretching everyday, taping it when I could and just not complaining about it was the best that I could do. Of course, I did complain about it for a few days...just ask my housemates in Portland. It hurt to ride, never mind go hard. I was pissed. But it's not like I'm going to stop going to work. I have been training for this opportunity for the last four years and when you've done everything you can to deal with an injury, the only thing left is to just shut up and get the job done.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Rain Day

Friday of team camp. A day off. Some of the guys rode early (before breakfast), others spun on the new Kinetic Trainers and others didn't even look at their bikes. Sammy put together a video of our chin up competition while I threw some shots from Portland training together. Camp finishes up with a big ride tomorrow, then a few days of travel with Redlands stage-preview rides mixed in as we make our way to Las Vegas.

Tomorrow morning will see the debut of the Peloton Initiation Series. Stay tuned.

The next teamexergy website is also in the mix and will be coming up soon. I got to see it today and all I can say is that you better start wearing multiple pairs of socks.

"Light weight"


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Formula 1

The new F1 Felt bikes are unreal. Our 2011 race season starts in seven days and after a few practice leadouts/sprints today, I can't wait!

Also coming to a media centre new you is the F1 2011 season. Check out this review of the 2010 season with vintage footage from the 50's-90's as part of the introduction. As a Formula 1 enthusiast, I can safely say that this is one of the best car racing montages that I have ever seen.

Heybuckshot and Todd Gogulski arrived this evening. I'm looking forward to the next few days for sure, especially since tomorrow features a very hard 5hr route. It's on come 10am tomorrow!


Tuesday, 15 February 2011



The smooth oceanside roadway fades to a cracked, sun-burned carriage-way. The group's friendly chatter forfeits to a jockeying of passive-aggressive body language. Our two by two wind-slicing machine reshapes into an organic entity of speed, ebbing and flowing as short steep inclines followed by small flat rests disrupt our momentum, an endless pattern of switch backs pushing our beating hearts forever higher. The mechanical pistons firing underneath our calm minds become labored with fatigue and anxiety, we push and pull with every muscle available; the group's skinny climbers move to the front.


My rear wheel suddenly bounces across the steep tarmac. I raise my right hand (left for front, rear for right) for service from the car. Deviono, the team mechanic, awkwardly reaches around his shotgun position to snatch a spare wheel. tuned with matching tyre, air pressure and cogset as my now useless rolling device. By the time the wheels stop, he is already running. Rear derailer slammed into the 11 tooth position, I try to calm my breathing as I pass him the flat tyre; allowing him to take over. Within seconds the brand new wheel is in and I am back on my bike, gearing down as he sprints behind me, my cadence increases as he launches me skyward. Out of the saddle, the adrenaline overpowers any fatigue and I slam my toes and heels into each end of my shoes. The car is on my wheel now but the group is already out of sight. Taking out an empty bottle, I pass it to Deviano as Scott drives the car up to my shoulder. A new bottle, with a little coke cola awaits my empty palm and away we go. Pedaling beside the car, Scott provides some assistance as we attempt to rejoin the team. Up the road, the group's unzipped wind vests flap in unison as they attack a small pitch out of the saddle. Nearing the back of the group, I take the coke bottle from Deviano and place it into my machine, rejoining my teammates.


* * *

Today's ride was long, with a lot of climbing. We traveled through foggy ascents, sunny descents, rode beside the ocean and ripped through the mountains. Veloimages has been following us for a few days now and the images are now available for viewing. You can beat the rush by following the link provided here (later this week there will be articles everywhere!). The last few days have blown up the blog's pageview/visitor records so thanks for reading. It's a pleasure to write and share this experience knowing that you are all out there supporting the next chapter in Ben's big american adventure.

Great entry from Mike Barry (WorldTour Team Sky Professional and fellow Canadian):

Enjoy your days.


Monday, 14 February 2011


Dmitriy Sidnev - St Germain by onewithclouds

The last two days have been filled with team photos and team rides. The roads are beautiful and the weather has been great so far. We started today early, which I prefer, after a headshot photo session in our new Castelli aero jerseys. It was cold to start but by the end of the 4 hour ride, the mercury hit 75'F. We climbed one 18 minute, 1000 foot climb and then made our way back to the ocean.

When we got home, the climb to the house still stood before us. I was feeling a bit sparky so Matt Cooke and I took off. That guy is damn fast! Holding his wheel long enough to get up to the photographer was great fun. See the last image for a view of the power data.

A long ride is planned for tomorrow with lots of climbing. But anything us riders go through tomorrow on those climbs will be nothing compared to what two Quebec residents went through this weekend.

Thanks for reading!

View of the valley
Team Camp...what we get to come home to + a massage!
New B2Pro TT Bike has arrived!
Microshift and TRP Brakes on the way-aero frame
Driveway climb

Sunday, 13 February 2011


First day at camp!

Ventura.... host to strawberries, big yachts and other cool stuff that I don't even know about yet. Yesterday the team met up down at the Ventura Marina to get all of our bicycles situated for the first few days of camp. Tossing a few last items, the mechanics and riders tickered with the setup of the bars, saddles and shifters with many parking lot coasting trials. To make things easier later in the week, steerer tubes were left with a little extra length (so that we can play with our "drop" - vertical distance from the saddle to the top of the bars which can make the difference between a super aero euro pro and your casual Sunday rider). In the late afternoon, we finally made it out for a nice ride on the waterfront. See more on the ride here.

So PRO! starts. Veloimages is here. Cyclingnews, PEZ, Velonews, HeyBuckshot, Felt Bicycles and more will all be making apearances throughout the week.

Time to hit the stratosphere!

The drive down the hill from the homestay is very steep,
I had to throw the contrast up just to get a view of the road.
On our way home, it took 3 minutes at +410 watts just to make it up
The team congregated at the Marina in Ventura. Chris and Josh worked feverishly to finalize all of the team's training road bikes.
Prologo saddles, Williams Wheels, Felt frames and Microshift components = NEW ROCKET SHIPS!
I like this!
Remi, John (Local Bike Shop Owner) & Andres
Sammy and I ready to go for a late afternoon rides with a few local guest riders

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Friday, 11 February 2011


Right now I am in the plane! VROOOM! Quinn and I woke up early this morning to get to Ventura. Did you know at Southwest Airlines you get to pick your own seat? Well you do and since we got had a small layover in Oakland, we are sitting comfy for the final leg to LA as we nabbed a 3seat row although there are only two of us! Who says you have to be obese just to claim 1.5 seats right! Power to the skinny guys too!

Right after camp I got a brand new camera. It’s rad! And Olympus sent it without shipping or tax (gotta love Oregon, and Alberta for that matter). It has a bunch of cool functions like fisheye, popart, pin hole and self-portrait. The self-portrait function even makes you prettier!

Here are some samples from the plane. Ventura is only a 2 hour drive from the airport. Can’t wait to get situated. I am excited about receiving my new team travel gear too as I just managed to squeeze my entire life into one 84 lbs hockey bag.

73 degrees here I come!

All of my worldly possessions

Tasty @ the Airport
Looking fly at 7am
Near Oakland, Ca
The San Francisco Bay
Southern San Francisco
Quinn, Scott and Matt on a Costco run...for three days anyway!
Our generous Ventura homestay has a lot of toys
Out for some authentic Mexican food....Mexican Omlette approved!

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Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fitness Testing

Today I did my third physiological testing session at Portland PACE with Sean Coster. We went through the full shibang! VO2 max, lactate and body composition. The test went really well and I am happy with where I am at right now.

In November, after a month of free riding and holiday my VO2 was 69 ml/kg/min at 149 lbs (Absolute: 4.68 L/min). Since then I did some longer zone 2 rides in November, starting with tempo and lactate work in December. During this first seven weeks I also went back to the gym for the first time in four years. It didn’t take long for the muscular activation to return, although at sets of 15-20 reps, I only ever got up to half the weight I used to push (4-6reps) in 2005. In January I started some intense training as discussed last post, I realized great gains and feel good going into camp and the first couple of races. In March, I look forward to honing my ability at VO2 max and powering up my sprint as the season begins in earnest come April. Here is a look at my lab testing results over the past five years. Recently I have found that my power is higher on the road than on the trainer, so as always, labs results are lab results and ultimately they do a great job at showing progress.

Thanks to everyone at Portland Pace for supporting me during my 2011 preparations, especially Sean, Darren and Dave.





Anaerbic Threshold

ANT watts/kg

Lactate Threshold

LT watts/kg

May 2004







October 2004







May 2005







November 2008







November 2010








February 2011








Heart Rate





Wednesday, 9 February 2011


Items I am currently out of:

Shammy Cream, Shaving Cream, Eye contact solution, Floss, Oatmeal, Wheat Germ, Squash, Any sort of vegetable, Hot Chocolate, Chain Lube, Tuna, Peanut Butter, Xbox, Pasta Sauce, I guess I should just move cities!

In fact that is just what I am doing. I am getting ready to go to training camp and then join the team on the road, eventually making my way to Boise, Idaho in March. I’ll be living there with teammate Sam Johnson – apparently he is a very good dodgeball player.

Awaiting me at camp is my new Felt F1 road bike. I CAN’T WAIT. After product camp, I came home with a pair of Bont shoes (500 grams a pair), new Speedplay pedals and one rear ceramic bearing-outfitted WilliamsCycling aluminum training wheel with a Powertap SL+. I also threw on a pair of Kenda training tires (changing it up from my double tyred winter setup: cut the bead off of an old wore out tyre, place inside new tyre between casing and inner tube = custom Kevlar training tyre = you won’t flat = you stay dry = you don’t get sick changing a flat in pouring rain at 3’ Celsius = happy cyclist!) so between all those things I took 57 seconds off an 8 minute effort! That’s 12%! So as you can image going from my 21.4 lbs cyclocross training bike (which is for sale and available for a test ride in Portland!) to my new barely legal road racing bike I am aped! That’s right aped! Not amped! I going chimpanzee over here. It’s like an astronaut going from swimming pool exercises to blasting off for the moon! Just show me the big green button! MAZDA MAZDA!

It has been an interesting last ten days. After camp I almost felt like I was suffering from an overly-excitedness hangover. It was weird to get back on the bike after five days of no athletic stimulus following the most intense training block I have ever completed. In January I trained for 4 weeks and finished off the block with a short trip to Walla Walla and a mock stage race in Portland. Walla Walla was great, the lack of stop signs allowed me to complete an entire hour of tempo without coasting, nevermind stopping. The Portland mock races went really well; by the third day I had opened up and posted a bunch of personal bests on the local climbs. The last day was quite an adventure as Zac broke the flange of his rear wheel, rendering our two man peloton totally useless over 8 miles from the nearest MAX station. An hour later we got Zac on the train and I headed out to finish the once 4 hour ride, now 6 hour epic.





Block A


2.25hr: Z2


5.5hr: Z2 + 1x15 Z4


4hr: Z2




3hr: Z2

Block B




1.5hr: 2x(4.8.3_Hill)



3hr: 3.8.4 + 2x20 T (H.M)





3.5hr: Z2 Group Ride


2hr: 2(15) + 5x10 SS


3.5hr: 2(4.6.4_Flat) + 15.20T(H.M)


Block C




5hr: Z2


3hr: 10km TT + 2x25 T (+100)





4hr: 2x(6.6.2_[alt.2]_Flat) + 2x15 T (M)



3hr: 3 + 10 + 15 + 10 + 10x10sec SS



3hr: 25.42 T (Alt. Free)


Block D



Walla Walla


3hr: 3.8.4 + 2x20 (M.M)

WW (Hill)


4hr: 2x(6.6.2_[alt.2]_Flat) + 60.30 T (M.L) + 5x10 SS

WW (Flat)





Block E


4hr: 10km TT + (7.6.1) + 5x10 SS

Mock Race (Flat)


4hr: 2x(20_Flat) + 20 T (Alt.5) + 1x20



4hr: 1x(15.10.10) + 10x10 SS



4hr: 7.6.1 + T (H.M.M.M)
















1.5hr: Spin


Mom & Dad came down earlier in the week and picked a few items here in Portland. It was great to see them again. Some downtown shopping, two dinners out (one during the superbowl at a local pub and a second at Miss Delta – which is becoming a common spot for our family in Portland) and some hanging out were squeezed into the short two day visit. Although I am totally used to Portland’s unique culture, Mom and Dad were blown away by the wide array of clothing chosen by the area’s downtown characters. Lots of black fabric, lots of leather, lots of tattoos. Like the 90’s!

Time to go pack up my life!

Reminiscent of his youthful days as Spiderman, Dad judges the gap @ Indigo12West

Beautiful weather for their visit
Mom in Portland
Dad ready for dinner