Category Archives: Motivation

CYCLOCROSS!!! Racing for Team UPB/

I suppose today is as good a day as any to announce that I’m racing for Team UPB/ this cyclocross season.  The owner of Ultimate Pro Bikes, Joe, is my road team’s (Tower Racing) bike shop affiliation and I got my 2014 Felt AR5 there.  I plan to get a power meter next spring so I didn’t have any funds for a cross bike.  I was going to race anyways, on a 26″ rigid fork MTB that we have that weighs +/- 30 lbs, but Joe heard about my predicament and is letting me borrow a bike for the season.  How awesome is that?  It’s such an honor because this is my first cyclocross season and he’s putting a lot of trust/faith in me.  Here’s a picture of the sweet Felt F65x that I’m riding, blinged out with some Clement MXP Clinchers (I’ll probably do a full photo shoot w/out the battle scars at some point, similar to my Felt AR5 shoot):

A picture of a 2014 Felt F65x

A super-solid CX rig. I’ve already pushed it through its paces through my poor riding skills (ha!) and it’s still riding awesome!

Maybe I’m sponsor-plugging, maybe I’m not, but I really like that Felt specs all their CX bikes with disc brakes.  The F65x is specced with Avid BB5s and they’re a lot better than most cantis I’ve ridden (and I’ve ridden the Shorty Ultimates on aluminum rims).  Although I haven’t raced, I’ve been following cyclocross (BTB, svenness, World Cups, etc) for over a year and it seems like disc brakes give a big advantage.  If you have the money to get into Felt’s hydraulic disc models, even better.  My dream build would be a Force CX1 w/ Hydraulic Disc Brakes on Felt’s F1x Frameset.

This year, Joe is trying to invest in juniors like other people invested in him when he was a junior.  He’s always looking for other juniors who want to compete and have fun, so contact me (comment, e-mail, etc) if you’re interested!  We have clinics/practices pretty much every week either on a Wed/Thurs morning or on Saturday, which are really helpful b/c Joe has tons of experience.  It’s a ton of fun and a great team.

At the beginning of this post, I say “as good a day as any” because today I got my first win!  The season has started in absolutely fine style: First race of the season was out in DeKalb, where I raced Category 4 and Category 4/5.  I got 5th in the 4s, and 3rd in the 4/5s.  Podium in my second (sort of, I raced the 26″ MTB at Afterglow juniors last year) CX race?  I’ll take it.  We’ll ignore an embarrassing Juniors race yesterday (Saturday, 15-18 Juniors) and skip to today, where I got 7th in the 4s after getting stuck behind another racer on the singletrack climb and 1st in the 4/5s after a 1st-row stage and an overall great race (fastest lap of all participants, fastest average, 29 second gap, etc).  Here’s the money shot:



A picture of the podium of the Men's Cat 4/5 race at Dan Ryan Woods

Team UPB takes 1st AND 3rd!

This win is AWESOME, but there’s still tons of work to do.  Gaining experience with different pressures, continually practicing corneringz, dismountz, and runningz, gaining fitness, etc, etc, etc.  Let’s not forget what happened just a few weeks ago, and get too caught up in what’s happened thusfar.  I’m going to upgrade to Category 3, but I don’t know how that will work with church.

Until next time,
Zach Wong


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Motivation to Run

There’s been quite a buzz these past few days since Chad Stafko wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal titled “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over it.” Most runners were angered, annoyed, or amused. Myself, I can’t quite figure out what Stafko was trying to say, as his point didn’t seem to be particularly well-supported or logical. I can’t imagine what the Wall Street Journal was thinking, either. I guess there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? But then again, I’ve always felt that WSJ has a bit more class than this sort of work.

Many people responded by writing snarky responses, criticizing Stafko and his apparent lack of intellect. Like I said, I was a bit confused upon reading it. It seemed like Stafko didn’t understand why runners run or even why people work out.

A lot of his questions do make sense. Why would someone go outside and run when it’s zero degrees outside, in just a compression shirt and tights? Why would someone run a marathon when the only way to describe it afterwards is “painful?” Why do I ride outside, in pouring rain, sucking up mud and inhaling the fumes of cars in front of me? Here’s why:

  1. For fitness.  Running is so convenient and quick, especially compared to going to a gym.  Sure, it’s a different type of fitness (Cardiovascular vs. Muscular), but what other activity helps lose weight and cut fat like exiting your door and jogging around the neighborhood for just thirty minutes per day?  Also, the feeling of being in (and knowing I am) great shape is amazing.  It puts me in a good mood, helps me feel confident about myself, and is beneficial to my long-term health.
  2. For fun.  Believe it or not, running can be really fun.  This past July, I was a bit disillusioned with my cycling training.  In the midst of all the intervals, FTP workouts, and long, easy rides, I had lost sight of why I started cycling in the first place – because I love going fast.  The feeling of speed (physical speed, not the drug, you big dope!) is exhilarating and exciting.  I threw out all my planned workouts and started riding fast.  And I started enjoying myself a lot more. (who knew that doing what you want leads to enjoying yourself, am I right?)
  3. To see the world and explore.  This was what draws me to cycling as well.  By running, I don’t have to waste gas, I don’t have to wait on a car.  I can just go out, see the neighborhood, see how people live, etc.  I can see new places and collect new experiences.  And that’s pretty cool.
  4. For nature.  Seeing the leaves fall, snow collect, flowers bloom, the sun rise and set is one of the biggest reasons why I run.  I love it!  At a time where I spend so much time inside, whether that be while doing homework, studying at school, or browsing the web, getting outside into creation is fantastic.
  5. For competition.  This is thanks to Strava. I’m able to get out and run and compete against myself and (occasionally… use Strava more if you live in my area!) against other people. The feeling of breaking mile PRs, 5k times, and other lengths is one of the greatest out there.

That’s why I run. I’d encourage you to leave ideas about why you run in the comments, or e-mail me and start a conversation!

A lovely scene of golden fall leaves and rich blue skies.

*jaw drops* Nature. Bang bang. Thanks to Chris Gin for taking cool pictures (on Flickr).

That’s actually a really nice picture. The yellow and blue complement each other well.

Bonus for reading this far!  Snark!  I’m going to rewrite the first few paragraphs of Chris Stafko’s essay. (And the last line.)

There is one kind of bumper sticker I see almost daily here in my medium-size Chicago suburb: A rectangular, two-tone sticker that says “Proud of my ______ school honors student.”  In case you’re lucky enough not to know what an honors student is (and, obviously, not being one), let me explain: They indicate that their son or daughter is a good student and that they’re proud of them.
There is only one reason parents display these stickers.  They want the rest of us to know they’re proud of their children.  So let me be the very first to offer my heartiest congratulations for achieving something I never did.  I’d even offer to give them a kiss on the cheek – one their spouse is done doing it themselves.

Why the heck are these parents proud of their children?  They just want to put the bumper sticker on there so they can post it to Facebook when they get home.  Duh.

I saw a great bumper sticker the other day.  It read “I’m not an honors student.”  I’ll take one of those, please.

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