Challenges of Spring Racing in the Cold

April 15th, 2022 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Cate Wittman

My name is Cate Wittman, I am 15 and a member of the Athletic Mentors Junior Development Team. I primarily mountain bike race but occasionally race gravel. And I understand how hard riding can be in the early part of the year!

Winter training is the time to build up for the season. It is the factor that determines how your year is going to go, yet it can be difficult to manage. All cyclists have experienced the weird feeling of going from indoor riding to outside cycling. For instance, my legs always feel like jello and my arms as stiff as a chopping block. But here is how it’s been so far…

This winter season, I have been training on rollers and a trainer. I personally like to train inside since the cold can affect my breathing. Of course I do the usual sprints, long rides, spinning, etc, but for mountain bikers, how do you keep your technical skills over the winter without fat biking?

When it finally warmed up, we rode as much as possible to take advantage of the “nice” riding weather. I’ve found myself riding sloppy gravel roads, pavement and even some dry trails. As soon as I hopped on the seat and put my hands on the handle bars, I thought I was going to crash. My whole body tensed up and every little movement made me think I was just going to tip over. There was a very noticeable difference between the trainer and the road.

After riding for about a week in warmer weather, I got used to outdoor riding. Sprints felt unsustainable and long. Spinning felt like I was moving a foot in an hour compared to the rollers. But now I’ve gotten used to my legs spinning, the wind blowing in my face and the road moving underneath me. However, there will still be the weird feeling of not being able to grab a snack from the tableside next to you.

Getting ready for Barry Roubaix was a challenge, going from the comfort of my basement to the intense, muddy, hilly pavement and gravel roads. What made training for the race even better was the cold, icy air of the month of March. It’s hard to breathe in the thick air and I would hyperventilate and cough to try to inhale as much as I could to get a little oxygen to my lungs. It felt impossible.

Luckily, there are techniques that I’ve learned this season to help control things and calm me down. Things like breathing exercises, positive self-affirmations and more can help with my riding. When I can’t breathe, I try pushing all my air out as much as possible rather than in as much as possible. And when things start getting tough and I start thinking I can’t do it, I start talking out loud to myself saying I am able to do it. By doing things like this, it has helped my training and riding this early season. It can even help my mindset which therefore helps my ability to ride as well as I am able to.

At the start of everyone’s season, it feels weird and uncomfortable. Something that you’re not used to. But it’s important to remember that everyone feels this. Calm down if possible; take a few deep breaths, say some kind words to yourself, and try your best. I still need to work on these things, but I know that it takes time and patience. Making racing more enjoyable starts with your own mindset and base training.

 


Catching up with Eli

November 8th, 2021 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Elijah Garris

Hello, my name is Elijah Garris, but most everyone calls me Eli.  I’m in the 8th grade and currently attend Muir Middle School in Milford MI. In the 2020 cycling season I started to practice and race for my scholastic team Huron Valley United Racing. It was such a great time racing with my friends that I go to school with. I won the overall Middle School State Championship with 5 firsts and 1 second place. That following winter I snowboarded a lot with family and friends. My Dad set up a trainer in the basement so I could spin once in a while.

I was anxiously waiting for spring so I could get back on my bike. Early summer this year I started racing the Michigan Championship Point Series. The first race at Hanson Hills was incredibly hot, the next two were raining and miserable. I ended up racing 5 of the 7 races and won the 14 and under category overall. During this time Kellen Caldwell and his dad Dan suggested I apply for Athletic Mentors. Looking up to Kellen I was super excited to apply. Coach Terry Ritter surprised me at the Pontiac race that I would be part of the team. I ended the summer with the Ore to Shore race in Marquette MI. One of my favorite races for sure.

Once school started our MISCA race season was happening. Our team would practice 3 times a week and I would go out another time or two on my own. I started to jump in on a Tuesday night road ride with a cycling group near my house. I came out of the 5th race as Michigan Advanced Middle School Champion. But, there was one more race left at Cannonsburg. I was in a situation where if I didn’t race I would have held the title. If I raced and took 2nd to the 2nd place holder I would lose it. There was never a thought about not racing the final race. Unfortunately, I came in second that day. I was ok with the outcome because I gave everything I had that day and he wanted it just as bad as I did. I’ll be riding in the JV class next year as a Freshman.

As a team with Athletic Mentors we got a chance to race in the Barry Roubaix gravel race. We won the youth team competition with a prize of $1000. It was fast and fun. I enjoyed being part of such an amazing group of people. The team tent was busy and there was just a lot of positive energy. Can’t wait for Barry next year. I just recently raced Peak 2 Peak which was a lot of fun also. I have the Lowell gravel race coming up and have been training on the gravel. Lately I’ve been meeting up with fellow teammate Collin Snyder for a weekly group gravel ride. This is for getting ready for my first Iceman.

After Iceman I plan to spin on the trainer, ride outside if possible and snowboard with friends. I’m signed up for a bike mechanic class this fall, which I’m super excited about. I’m thankful and proud to be a part of Athletic Mentors. I’m looking forward to our team rides and coaching that is provided by our coaches. Most of all, can’t wait to roll up to the line in 2022!



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