Category Archives: Personal

CYCLOCROSS!!! Racing for Team UPB/www.ultimateprobikes.com:

I suppose today is as good a day as any to announce that I’m racing for Team UPB/www.ultimateprobikes.com 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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Filed under Motivation, News, Personal

On Development

About a week ago, I mentioned that it was “really cool to see myself develop”.  I wanted to expand on that a little.

There are a few ways I can see myself developing:

  1. Heart Rate and RPE for a certain speed – This is the most unreliable metric for development.  Essentially, and this is what I was referring to in the Strava title, if I’m going faster while maintaining a lower heart rate and not feeling as much physical exertion (RPE = Rating of Perceived Exertion), presumably I’m getting stronger.  Last Friday, I was holding 19 mph at 120bpm without much exertion (12/20, moderate exertion).  I know it’s not due to wind b/c I was able to ride at that speed southbound and northbound.  Last year, I wasn’t able to get on my bike without going above 145bpm.  A 19mph effort would have made my heart beat at about 170 bpm.  Like I said, however, this is unreliable.  Maybe my perception of wind was wrong.  I’ve upgraded my equipment since last year significantly.  My position on the bike is different as well.  For more, see the arguments for power meter reliability.
  2. Group Ride Comfort/Success – Again, not super reliable.  As was pointed out by a friend from the team, you never know when others are trying super hard or holding back a little.  However, I’m definitely more capable of riding with fast rides.  For me, that’s Wed/Fri/Sat, if I go.  Last year, I was just hanging on over the hills on the Wed/Fri route (Usually 178+).  This year, even in the springtime, fast rides have only gotten up to 165bpm while sitting in the bunch and pulling through as normal (i.e. no attacking).
  3. Seeing Parallels and Advancing – Last year, I rode our Saturday “B” ride and was an animator in that.  One of my goals that I looked forward to was riding the “A” ride, which is significantly faster.  Now, I’m an animator in the “A” ride.  There are two rides in the area that I want to do: the Waterfall Glen Wed Night ride and the Cafe Ride out of St. Charles.  Those are supposed to be really fast and I’ll hopefully see the same development that I’ve seen in Tower’s Saturday rides.

One thing I hope I don’t get sucked into is the “OK Plateau.”  I’m by no means dominating any of the rides I go on, but I’m definitely sticking in each one, including all of my races this year (except the Memorial Day Races).  The “OK Plateau” is a phenomenon where people don’t improve although they continue to practice/train.  I’ve read up on it and found strategies to combat this, so hopefully I’ll be all right.

Here’s to growth, for you and me.
~Zach

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Filed under Goals, Personal

Power Testing Results

I did 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, and 20 minute power tests last week.  But you’d know that already if you follow me on Strava.

My current weight is 147 lbs, or 66.7 kg.

For 5 seconds: 1043W or 15.64 W/kg
For 1 minute: 528W or 7.92 W/kg
For 5 minutes: 280W or 4.19 W/kg
For 20 minutes: 230W or 3.44 W/kg

According to this chart from CyclingTips (I think it’s actually from Hunter Allen’s book), that puts me at the top of the Category 4 expected power (in W/kg).  Which is good.

It’s a long process; I’ve got a lot of miles, tests, pedaling, and WORK to go.  Reminder: My Double Power in 7 Years goal.

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Announcement: I’m a Skratch Labs Taste Agent

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve been selected to represent Skratch Labs this year as a Skratch Labs taste agent.  Skratch Labs is a company that sells energy drink mix and cookbooks, but mainly promotes all-natural training.  That means 100% #realfood and real ingredients.  If you can’t pronounce it or you wouldn’t get it from a farm, then it’s not in their drink mix nor their cookbooks.

I found Skratch Labs through their video on how to make Sea Salt and Chocolate sticky bites (just one of the awesome recipes in their cookbooks).   In general, their recipes have an emphasis on high water content, so that they’re easy to digest (reportedly.  I just need the extra water because I drink A LOT.  I guess I have a drinking problem) and taste (and they do taste good).  I just made PB&J rice cakes.  Yeah.  PB&J.  And rice.

Anyways, it might sound like I’m mindlessly plugging sponsors, but I actually use and love Skratch Labs.  They’re humor, they’re food, and they’re real food philosophy.  It helps that everything tastes good, too.

Throughout the year, I’ll post videos and blog posts about the various recipes I’m making and protips from what I learn.

A really cool logo!

And they use minimalist design… not that I would know anything about that…

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Filed under News, Personal

Dreams

Ah, dreams.  We all got ’em, whether we want them or not.

My dreams are wild, they’re diverse, and they’re perhaps unattainable.  I don’t know whether I will or want to achieve them.  But that’s how it should be, am I right?  Dreams shouldn’t be constrained by reality or reason.  They shouldn’t be restrained by fear or apprehension.  They should run free, twist among our thoughts and actions, and meander through our lives.  Dreams are special things.  Don’t stop them from being magical.

These dreams are unfettered and untethered.  But it doesn’t matter.  Because they’re mine.

My dreams:

I want to be an Olympian.
I want to race at the highest level of domestic racing in America.
I want to change the world.
I want to influence the next generation of cyclists and give them opportunities I never had.
I want to be a national champion.
I want to be a world champion.
I want to race for an elite development or U25 team.
I want to start an elite juniors team in my hometown.

Dreams.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Life as if you’ll die today.” – Photo attribution, Seyed Mostafa Zamani on Flickr

~Zach

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Filed under Personal