Once a Racer, Always a Racer

photo-2We at o2fitness Coaching and Training and Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab are proud to sponsor Ride2Recovery and Project Hero.  Below is a brief overview of these life-saving programs, followed by a testimonial from, Wes Washoe, one of our sponsored Ride2Recovery athletes.

Ride2Recovery’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of injured veterans by providing a life changing experience that can impact their lives forever.

The Project HERO (Healing Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity) Program supports Spinning Recovery Labs and outdoor cycling programs presently at different military hospitals, Warrior Transition units, Wounded Warrior Units and VA locations around the United States and in Germany to help injured veterans overcome the obstacles they face.

Cycling is an important part of the recovery and rehabilitation program for many reasons…

  • Cycling is an activity that almost all patients with physical and/or psychological disabilities can participate at their individual level.
  • Ride2Recovery Project HERO provides expertise, training, events and site location support to promote a fuller recovery in the rehabilitation process.
  • Specially adapted bikes are designed and built by Ride2Recovery to suit individuals needs, making it possible for almost everyone to participate in the program.

Now…a word from Wes Washoe.

Wes Washoe, a Navy Veteran, has cycling in his blood. From working in the industry, weaving through the streets as a bicycle messenger, to working himself up to a Cat 2 racer.

However, during and following his military service Wes sustained some injuries that made cycling difficult, and physically and mentally painful.

That was his reality until he found Ride2Recovery (R2R), a cycling program for disabled veterans.  Since joining Project HERO City of Reno, Wes has found his love for cycling again, participating in R2R Honor rides, local club rides, and competing and receiving a medal during the cycling competition at the Valor Games Far West event in Alameda, CA this past June.

Although Wes was back on his bike, he was still struggling with physical pain during his riding which prompted a visit to Julie Young at Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab, to review his fit.  Right away Wes felt the pain in his knee reduced by the changes Julie made during this comprehensive fit.

Wes’ next cycling goal is to race in a criterium
again. Another cyclist saw Wes’ desire to race again and has offered to ride tandem with Wes during the last Reno Wheelman Tuesday night twilight series…happy training Wes Washoe!

Turning Adversity in to an Asset

WARNING: This post contains cathartic commentary

events_mtn_biking_leadville_qualifier_hill_Bartkowski_2011-webAs I am watching the Tour de France with crashes knocking out favorites, it reminds me that sport provides a micro-cosm of life, magnifying the ups and downs. And I am reminded that it is how we deal with adversity’s depth of depression and disappointment that reveals the character to shake it off, dig in and drive on.

I hear people attribute others successes to luck, insinuating they have been dealt an easier road in life. But, no matter how things appear, no one is exempt from life’s challenges. In my opinion, this perceived “lucky” success, is actually the manifestation of an invincible resilient attitude.

I have observed this attitude in accomplished athletes in my sport life, and have since realized that the same thread runs through those who have achieved success, in every walk of life.

As I watch the tour, I imagine the initial depths of disappointment, doubt and depression of the contenders, compounded by the sidelines analysts, digging the hole deeper with speculations regarding their future. But I find it inspiring that these circumstances reveal the irrepressible spirit of winners, which drives their character in every circumstance. My bet is that these guys take a moment mentally and physically to regroup, move on, and with focus forward readjust their game plan.

While my livelihood no longer depends on competing, I value competition for the opportunity it affords – the ability to authentically prepare my clients for it’s physical and mental demands;  the personal challenge, growth, and expression; and the community of inspiring, fellow competitors, who help to continue raise our personal bar.

My recent experience at US National Marathon Mtn Bike Champs has proven my opportunity to turn adversity in to an asset. Prior to nationals, I had been racing since spring,   feeling good and having fun.  I was pre-riding the national course with my buddy Dan and on the one-hour plus climb, I thought to myself, “Feel good. Excited to race.” Things quickly changed on the one-hour plus descent, which had been used for the previous week’s enduro race, leaving it loose and exposed. We entered the series of tight switchbacks, and I mis- negotiated one that was loose, and off-camber. I found myself with a decision – to go over the bars and the edge, or clip out and step off to the down-sloping left side. I chose the latter. In doing so, I landed on an extended leg, hyper-extending it, and tearing a yet-to-be-determined “something” in my knee. In an instant my nationals was over before the gun went off.

Knocked on my hind end literally and figuratively – I was down. I mentally muddled through the mudslide of questioning doubt. Sure I was disappointed not to race, but my thoughts were darting, concerned about my ability to fulfill my physical work demands and obligations. Adding to the doubt were those who commented that I needed to step away from this athletic lifestyle which they perceived as driven by a dare-devil, competitive mentality.

I took a breath and realized, in many ways I was fortunate – rather than fixate on why and what happened, and I focused on gratitude. Dusting myself off, I regrouped, turned the mental corner and gained determination to turn this in to an opportunity.

While in the dust of doubt and soul-searching,  I inspected the reason why I value an athletic lifestyle and  determined it is not based on self-glorification, but built on the opportunity to express talent, grace and joy, and share passion! I realized too that pure motives are insulation from others unfounded opinions.

This adversity and perceived set-back has revealed a sincere renewal of gratitude and appreciation for daily work, play and friendships.

Today I march on with the great expectation of good!


Team City Junior Skills and Race Clinic

I was bowled over by the enthusiastic, outstanding participation for the first Team City Skills and Race Clinic – a series that will progress from basic to more advanced handling skills and race tactics. The kick-off clinic was dominated by the Team City Juniors, ranging in age from 8-16years, with 20-strong.  The juniors sharpened their skills in preparation for their first race this Saturday at the Landpark crit. They are certified primed and ready for race action!

As a 12-year US National A-team and professional cyclist, I realized successful racing is the result of physical prowess, intelligent training, mental calm and composure,  skilled bike handling and intuitive tactics. It is a pleasure to share my 12-years of knowledge and successful race teamcityjunior

We called it a day once talk of pizza and ice cream eclipsed focus on tactics and cornering technique. Keep it concise, fun and let them leave wanting more!

Below is an outline of the day’s clinic…

Off-bike chalk talk discussion

  • Bike fit
    • Saddle width
    • Height; fore/aft
    • Joint health – locked position, extended periods, repetitive
    • Power production – muscle recruitment around pedal stroke
    • Weight distribution – majority saddle, light on bars
    • Posture
      • Saddle support
      • Trunk main point of stability
        • Sound base/leverage to generate to extremities


  • Light in elbows/arms/hands
    • Steering thru the saddle
    • Relaxed elbows – more nimble response, less over-reaction/stiff response
    • Overview of on-bike session
      • Cornering – translates to descending
      • Basic skills – individual critique
        • On-bike posture
        • Good line – use momentum vs kill it
          • Smooth, round apex
      • Calm,  composed, relaxed
      • Scan corner to determine – camber, road surface debris
        • Commit and trust
      • Speed, apex, camber – determine inside pedal down, or pedal thru it
      • Look where you want to go – surface and exit
  • More advanced
    • Depending on speed and apex
      • Counter steering
        • Body weight out over the wheels, weighting
  • Group up in twos  then transition to groups of four
    • Enter cornering together
      • Handle bar first controls corner
      • Take turns leading out in to corners
        • Faux finish line
        • Corner Transition in to uphill
          • Gearing
  • Pack Riding
    • Position – where to be, when to be
    • Maneuvering within group
    • Wrap-up/Q and A

What differentiates effective training

IMG_0137 I was asked to present this week, at a California Sacramento State University physiology/training plan development class – that’s a mouthful. With coaches and training plans a dime a dozen – It was a valuable exercise for me to step back and drill down what, in my experience, differentiates effective coaching and training.

Below, I share a few take-aways…

I realized the differentiator is simple – it is the coach’s ability to digest the science based data and clearly and concisely deliver the message to the clients. Bottom line, athlete-clients need to understand why they are doing particular workouts and consistently be reminded as to how it relates to their overall goals, in order for them to tackle workouts with purpose. It is ultimately the athlete’s understanding and intention which allows them the gain the every ounce out of every workout, contrasting with the client who mindlessly gets through the time and ticks off the box.

While science is the training plan’s backbone, I realized it is my experience as an athlete and coach that has polished my practice. It is invaluable for me as a coach to walk the walk, and ask my clients to do as I do, not just as I say. I want to personally understand and experience the mental and physical demands that I ask of my clients. This also helps me create unique effective workouts and facilitates more effective, detailed and accurate verbal descriptions and cueing.

Consistent communication is a key component to successful training, not exactly sure how the generic hands-off training plans pull it off. For me, it is essential to sincerely understand each of my clients’ life demands to provide training that is relative to them in every respect, and presents an athletic challenge that fits within vs conflicts with the confines of life.

As a coach it is also important to help clients keep data, in perspective. For example, it is a luxury as a cyclist to train with a power meter as the numbers are not skewed by other factors as with the heart rate, but we need to remember it is a tool and means to an end, not the end. This data-driven focus must be balanced with the emphasis on honing pedaling efficiency, bike handling and race tactics. We don’t compare power numbers at the start line to deem the winner.

My final take-away, is the importance of equal respect to mental conditioning. As physical beings, living in a physical world – we are hyper focused on physical factors. Based on my athletic career, I feel we under-estimate the contribution of our mental state in our physical outcomes. When athletes examine their race performances, for example, they tend to focus on how they trained leading up to, and how they fueled during the race, etc. I want to understand how they mentally entered in to the race, were they psyched to race,or uninspired, going through the motions? And what were they thinking during the race? In my career I clearly realized the direct connection that my thoughts had over my physical performance – it was the decisive difference.

Thanks for reading  – Be Calm and Carry On!

Life come full circle

cuttingThis week I join UCDavis Sports Medicine and California State University Sacramento in a joint research project to polish, a currently under research, conditioning and injury prevention program. The ultimate objective is to help resolve the high non-contact lower extremity injury rates among high school girl team sport athletes.

I was a promising, All-Metro soccer player at St. Francis High School in Sacramento. I suffered a knee injury going up for a header and landing. The injury certainly was not the end of the world, but it did change the course of my life.

Fast forward to present, when last year I had the opportunity to study, over an extended period, with Dr. Chris Powers at his recently opened, USC-affiliated Movement Performance Institute (MPI). As a result of over 12 years of research and recent in-lab testing – Dr. Powers has scientifically identified leading factors in lower extremity injuries. Based on these research derived findings, Powers has developed a proven, systematic return to sport, injury prevention and enhanced performance protocol – he is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in knee injuries.

Initially, my motivation to study with Powers was to understand the mystery of the injured runner. I was frustrated by the analysis and treatment that seemed a shotgun, guesswork approach and often based on the latest magazine article professing a quick fix fad or promoting a product.

Dr. Powers return to sport, injury prevention and performance enhancement program supports runners and cyclists as well as team sport athletes.

While studying at MPI, I realized the prevalence of non-contact, lower extremity injuries, among high school athletes, especially significant among girls. While my initial motivation was the injured runner, my attention started gravitating to the high school girl, team athlete, as there seemed to be a void in science-based, effective injury prevention conditioning programs.

When I completed my study with Powers – I researched several high school girls athletic programs, to better understand the conditioning programs in place. I found that most girls with financial means hired personal trainers, while others were encouraged to attend CrossFit. I was discouraged. It seemed to me the girls who depend on the athletic scholarships for their college education, could not afford a personal trainer, nor could they afford an injury. And in my experience, CrossFit has proven job security for orthopedics as well as physical therapists.

Motivated by my experience as an injured high school athlete, my study at MPI and understanding what is currently available at the high school level, I approached UCDavis Sports Med. I proposed a community outreach program to ultimately provide a science-based, proven and effective injury prevention conditioning program implemented at high schools, accessible to all athletes.

The stars seemed to align as UCDavis Sports Med, head researcher Dr. Casazza had an injury prevention program under research. After meeting we realized that there was an opportunity to polish the effectiveness of the existing program with my knowledge.

One of the prime objectives of the research project is to develop an effective, efficient injury prevention conditioning program that can be realistically implemented within the confines of time constrained high school athletics. Additionally, this project will result in a program to train coaches to identify injury risk factors and equip them with the activation, strength and movement training strategies to address these factors. The ultimate goal is to coin this program and make it accessible to high schools region-wide for implementation.


Off-season Team Training Starts

Launch of the Combine Team City-Rio Strada,Off-Season Team Training Plan.

Monday kicks-off training for members from the Sacramento area cycling teams – Team City and Rio Strada. This committed group is getting the jump on next year’s cycling season – instituting off-bike stability and mobility for improved on the bike performance. Its a  methodical, attention to detail approach that hit with purpose, diligently and consistently, reaps race-result rewards. While it is pulling teeth to get most endurance athletes to do off-endurance foundational work – it is ultimately the the key to in-sport durability, injury prevention and improved performance.


The plan includes daily training posted on Training Peaks; periodic group training to cover newly introduced elements and ensure proper technique; an exercise video library to provide an at-the-fingertips visual/verbal reference; and coach- individual athlete communication.

The off-season training objectives are –  hip activation for improved brain to glute communication – we need to feel it before we can effectively strengthen it; trunk stability – to train and maintain, through endurance that pillar-like, neutral spine in cycling (and running) – creating a sound base to effectively generate powerful movement to the extremities;  hip/pelvis/trunk and single leg stability for improved hip, knee, toe mechanical soundness and muscular strength; and movement training to train the nervous system to orchestrate the developed muscular strength to efficiently and powerfully produce and direct linear force in to the pedal (or foot strike).

Giddy Up!


Return to Sport, Better-than-Before, Program

Working with elite high school lacrosse player Matt, post knee surgery, returning him, new and improved, to his sport. To achieve lasting results we implement Movement Performance Institute methodology (read more at coaching plans – return to sport). But its ultimately Matt’s understanding and ability to connect the dots  to his long-term goals, coupled with his consistent diligent work that provides purposeful training and effective results.

O2fitness injury prevention training, gait analysis and return to running protocols are also based on the MPI methodology.


US Mountain Bike Marathon National Champs

photo-25I just returned from an amazing week in Ketchum, Idaho which included competing in the US Mountain Bike Marathon National Champs. It reinforced with crystal-clear clarity that the mental thoughts dictate the physical outcomes.

I entered the week with injured ribs and  sprained right hand and fingers – my first mental opportunity to overcome adversity.

I had the luxury of riding the course – which consisted of an approx 20-plus mile climb and 20-plus mile descent. Descending does not top of my lists of skills – as I don’t have bunches of time to devote to the mountain bike. The Ketchum trails are world-class and the race course was mind-boggling beautiful. However, the technical aspects of the descent toyed with me – trying to insert seeds of doubt with its ripping hour of twisting, turning, undulating single-track, intimately bordered with trees and hard rights with shear drops to the tiny town of Ketchum below.

My pre-race mental prep and visualization focused heavily on how I wanted to ride the descent. My mental challenge was intensified by the fact that my currently injured ribs had resulted while mountain bike racing on a very similar, intimately tree-dotted descent. So I mentally had to hunker down – sweep away those negative hooks and replace them with the positive of how I wanted to ride the descent.

Race day was picture perfect. I started the race with calm and composure – following my race day game plan. Until – one of my fellow-racers, hit the throttle, setting a pace – that was not exactly comfortable. I found myself falling in to a slightly frantic state, inefficiently struggling to keep pace. But I mentally gathered myself – regained my calm and composure and reminded myself to lean on my preparation and training – and trust it. My mind went to training sessions of hill intervals at sub to threshold and SFRs – working on pedaling efficiency – staying engaged in the trunk – and driving the linear force from my hips through the legs in to the pedals – maximizing efficiency and minimizing energy leaks. I also focused on find smooth, symmetrical fluid rhythm.

I put my mental blinders on, settled in to my pace and rode my race.

Before I knew it – I had passed my speeding-bullet, fellow-racer. As I passed and rode by, I kept with my game plan focusing on my race, trusting my preparation and not looking, or “thinking” back.

Now I was on the descent – and it was an absolute dream – I floated with perfect relaxed, rhythm and timing. It exceeded my visualization expectations!

I value the opportunity for these competitive outlets for self-challenge and resulting growth, confidence and empowerment. I especially appreciate my fellow-racers, who raise the challenge-bar and help me bust through self-imposed limitations – allowing expression of full potential.

Seize the Day!



Hydration Celebration

Join the Aplenglow Mountain Festival, Wednesday June 26, at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, as Dr. Andy Pasternak of Silver Sage Center for Medicine and Sports Performance and current Medical Director for the Tahoe Rim Endurance Trail Runs presents on demystifying proper hydration. Dr. Pasternak has a wealth of professional knowledge, cutting-edge research and hands on experience to share and help runners of all levels cut through the confusion and employ science-based strategies.