Posts written by Zach


The official announcement went up this week about the track team for London. No surprises for me. Its official and the work continues. But now I can talk about it. Now I can say I am going. It will be my second games and in alot of ways it will be a first. First time as a real contender. First time as a leader of a younger team. First time in this event. So far it all feels familiar though. It’s a normal thing this Olympics. It is something that can be done by normal people. I come from the most normal and humble of backgrounds. I fly in the face of the statistics and talent pools. I am a November baby, I was small growing up and I am “big” for a cyclist. Normal is what you make of it. Nothing needs to be normal and I would probably strike that word from the English language given a chance. All it does is act as a shield. It is an excuse in 2 syllables. Exceptional, unique and extraordinary get buried under a need to be normal. Every person starts of life full of these other qualities until normal is piled up around them.

This comes to my mind because I have my own bundle of extraordinary on the way. I have been mulling over in my head how I am going to fight back the normal so that my baby can grow up with the same chances to do the kinds of things I have been able to do. For years my sister and I have made fun of my dad for being abnormal. As I think of it now it might be why I have been able to fend off the doldrums of the normal from what seems like the most humble beginnings.

This is also what I want the young fans to take from my story. It might be a little cliche but I think we are far to easily convinced that things should be left to others. The Olympics is the greatest celebration of what everyone is capable of if people are willing to ignore the instruction to be average. Granted there are some truly exceptional people at the games…but the vast majority, I am talking 99.99% of the athletes there are not out of the ordinary. They are certainly far from “normal” but that is by choice. As I move closer to the games I find this thought comforting. I am only really up against others who started life in the same extraordinary way as the rest of us. Naked, screaming and wondering what the heck was going on. It is much easier to believe in what you are capable of relative to others when that i the perspective.

The Games is one of the greatest celebrations of the potential of the human condition. The condition that given the chance and a strong unwavering constitution we can all be fantastically abnormal. Extraordinary is the natural state of being. In sport, competition, the Olympics and the pursuit of these endeavors is where the richness of the experience is. It is liberating to do something out of the ordinary and it is exhilarating to see others do the same. Its a reminder of the purity of talent that we all hold. At the Games this is all around you and that is what I am excited for and to be a part of. All the normal people who have come full circle to be as abnormal and extraordinary as the day they where born.

London World Cup

Again the racing had me go through some highs and lows. the difference this time is I got pretty worked up about it. For anyone who was following the racing they would have seen that I yet again had an early exit from the Elimination. Usually I am disappointed. Usually I hoped for more. But this time I actually got physically angry. This for me is a good thing. Not because I got angry with myself, but because for once I feel like I have some emotional investment in my performances. I am generally considered a pretty even tempered fellow. This is a result of actually being a fairly fiery and an out of control competitor as a youth. I often had foot stamping tantrums when I could not win. Not because I was a poor sport, but because I felt I was better then what I was producing. As I grew up I had to learn to dampen that reaction or face social and moral consequences. This led to a disconnect of at least the visible emotional reactions to sport achievement in general. However I have always felt that I could use a little more emotional investment in my cycling life. I think if it is controlled properly emotion can be a great bellows for a competitive fire. My problem is I had worked so hard on being a good sport growing up I was left with coals to work with. Well this weekends racing sparked it back to life. It is refreshing to know I am emotionally invested. I think it will help me find a little more in my racing. It also seems that others took note of my change in personality as well. Even with a 3rd place performance the people at found more of a story in my spirited comeback than in the near flawless performance of the Colombian who clinched the event. Thanks to them for the props. I usually feel like the one who goes unnoticed so I appreciate the coverage.

Read the article here

Over all impressions of the Olympic venue are positive. I am looking forward to the return in a few months.

The Mental Marathon – Tips for the would be omnium rider.

This is a special post that was requested by a young rider who has great blog that reaches out to various riders for unique posts. Read her blog HERE.

The question is what is it about the Omnium that makes in unique in cycling from other events and how do you manage those challenges.

For me the answer is in 2 parts. The event has such I high demand of specific abilities, but requires a long term and dynamic general plan. You need to proficient and comfortable at most distances. The challenge with that is time related. Training just one ability to an internationally competitive level is time consuming training 6 is an uphill battle you are likely to never win. Especially given that some of the disciplines seem to work against each other. Here are 5 tips that can help would be Omnium riders improve in a challenging event.

1. Understand and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. From there look at what events you stand to make the most gain in if you improve. If you are in the top 3 in the kilo regularly extensive work on that event will lead to a 2 point gain at most. Work on an event where you are in the “softer” part of the ranking will let you spring past more people and lead to a better ranking.

2. Commit to a long term plan. It is really easy to get caught up in poor performances in certain events from race to race. If you are constantly chasing what you where most recently under performing in everything will suffer. If you have long term goals working towards them will likely help all events. If they are goals that address your biggest weaknesses you might be surprised at how that work will help even your strongest events.

3. Look at each event as a stand alone. Getting caught up in the ranking, especially early on, can lead to tactical decisions that cost you points you need later down the road. Don’t waist energy on stupid moves but do your best to race each event as it is regardless of the ranking.

4. When training have specific goals each day. Don’t try to mash it all together. Time is valuable so the work you do needs to be quality.

5. Have fun with it. The best thing about the Omnium is that you get to race a lot. You get chances to redeem yourself and learn. If you don’t get hung up on certain events then you can become a better bike racer faster in the Omnium then just about any other track event.

I hope this helps any younger riders thinking about Omnium.

The Exit From Reality

I crossed a threshold some where here int the last 6 months…or 3 months….or 3 weeks. I am not really sure when. As you approach the Olympics you tend to take this graceful departure from reality. Everything around you fades into the background and at a certain point you stop making decision based on the same perimeters as everyone else in the world. It funnels you towards being extremely one dimensional. This is ironic because Olympians and pro or high level athletes in general are always asked to be these dynamic ambassadors of their country, sport, even gender. This means representing your sponsors appropriately and even in a way that is engaging but still on a level that can communicate to the common denominator. It also means being in a position where, if you are aware and choose to, you can influence the course of peoples lives, by providing inspiration which can be either positive or negative. That is why I find this contradiction so intriguing. Why is it that the general populace look towards us to be the standing pillars of something that seems to be the antithesis of our profession.

Everything about the Olympic experience seems to be “flattening”. You become more and more personally focused. Even to the point where you ask others to only focus on your needs. My wife is constantly having to plan her, eating, sleeping, activities and even phone calls around my needs. My coaches, staff and team mates are no different. I have even given up many of the activities that make me dynamic in favor of “the ideal” situation. It made me wonder how this simplified selfish monasticism can create so many good global ambassadors.

I think it is almost like deprivation training. The act of focus removes all the distractions and stimuli that normal people have all around them. When these become re introduced the best athlete ambassadors embrace them and appreciate them so much more. They take advantage of all the new options. I think this is why you hear so many high level athletes say “I would never have made it to where I am today with my sport”. It is not that their training or expertise has contributed to their success in a direct way. It is that the experience of refining that skill has turned them into a sponge. They have learned the value of experience. I think this is also why so many good ambassadors seem to have a split personality. As they focus down towards the ideal they can become different people, not bad, just different. It is not a negative change as long as they are aware of what they are doing and why. Then when they can “soak up” the world around them they suddenly have an excitement and vigor for the experiences of the world. This is what makes them inspirational. It is not just that they do these extraordinary things in sport, it is that they have this vigor and energy for all other experiences in spite of being involved in something that seems so much bigger to the average onlooker. Inspiration comes from the fact that someone that has been to such remarkable levels can have a genuine excitement about everything else. I know growing up I was inspired by athletes that where in the shoes I wear now. I also wondered how they could be so optimistic about the possibilities around them. Now I know, or think I know it is because of that deprivation. That exit from reality, that self centered objectivism, preps the body just like training does. It creates a child like optimism about all the other things out there. The good ambassadors recognize that and have a need to share that excitement and help others see part of the potential they see. Other athletes can get stuck in a downward spiral of “me” and there world will sort of collapse in on them.

For me I am truly looking forward to the soaking up. I am very excited about the Olympics and competing don’t get me wrong. It is priority one. But I know I am looking forward to spreading an excitement for life and all its experiences.