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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Catharine Pendrel: 6 Years to an Overnight Success

Interesting Article from Pedalmag.com below. It highlights many of the keys to a coach-athlete relationship but also the need for sustained dedication rather than looking for overnight success. Take a read, very motivating from any standpoint!


by Dan Proulx/Team Canada Coach in Beijing (from www.pedalmag.com)

August 24, 2008 (Beijing, China) - What a wild day on Saturday! For much of the women's Olympic mountain mike race, Catharine Pendrel (Luna) was in third position and fighting to hold onto the bronze medal over Maja Wloszczowska of Poland. It was a tough battle. In the final km, Catharine missed a shift and that was all it took to slip into 4th. There was no disappointment, however, Pendrel’s progress toward this result has been nothing short of remarkable.

I first coached Catharine six years ago when she was a recreational rider in the UVic Triathlon club. She joined the club to stay in shape and make new friends in her adopted home. Catharine began to dabble in cycling a year later, experimenting with road and mountain bike racing. A short time after, I began working with Catharine to help her be more competitive at BC Cups. When I was running the Opus team, she actually wasn't quite strong enough to make the first edition of the team. Her determination and perseverance paid off with steadily improving results - especially on the mountain bike where she enjoyed many happy miles with her husband-to-be and riding partner, Keith Wilson.

Catharine's training has progressed steadily over the last six years. It has been planned and adapted to bring her up to a new level each year. Last year, most would say that Catharine was the third choice to make the Olympic Team. In 12 months, her steady build-up and peaking plan has taken her to a new level - World Cup winner and medal contender at the Olympic Games.

If I had to characterize her training I would say that it's well planned hard work that focuses on speed, power and intensity. She is not a mega-mile rider. Her training is optimal and not maximal. She has a lot of areas where she can still take her training to a new level. If I were to show you her training plans from 2002-2008, you would see that she has slightly increased hours each year - averaging about 14 hours per week over the course of the year. She has a higher focus on mountain bike specific riding (as opposed to many competitors who do tons of road miles). She is an incredibly hard worker who handles each training session with precision and attention to detail. The level of feedback she provides makes my job as a coach a lot easier.

In addition to the incredible genetics that Catharine possesses, she is also blessed with the technical influence of husband Keith and brother Geoff Pendrel (former National Team downhiller) who likes to play hard on the dirt. The technical development that has progressed while Catharine goes through her program has also been tremendous. Mostly importantly Keith is a consistent and reliable training partner for her (in addition to being her most important support network).

Catharine will now be setting her sites on London 2012. In the next four-year cycle, she will be looking for wins at European World Cups, Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, in addition to defending her Pan American Games win from 2007. It’s going to be an exciting quadrennial.

The best advice I could give to any athletes out there who wish to aspire to Catharine's level is to dream big and pursue your goals with all of your might. For coaches, I would simply say that you can never tell who will be a future champion, so it's important to give every rider an opportunity to develop. Our job, as coaches, is to find the diamond in the rough. It's relatively easy to pick up talented riders who are already fast, but developing one from scratch is the hallmark of a truly successful program. If more coaches took development seriously in lieu of the "call me when you are fast" philosophy, Canada could develop even more champion athletes like Pendrel in the future. There is no such thing as a bad rider - just riders who have not reached their personal potential yet.

Congratulations on a great ride and great season Catharine. It is an incredible experience working with such a talented and hard working athlete. You have gone from beginner to being one of the best in the world in a short six years! The next four years will be even more exciting.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Throwing it Down

Steve and I both have been watching much of the Olympics. Steve is currently very interested in Running form/technique and I enjoy seeing the profiles of the journey different athlete's go through over the years prior to the Olympics.

Anyhow ... in our last meeting we were both very impressed with our Canadian Silver Medal Triathlete, Simon Whitfield. Anyone who saw the race would have saw him falling of the pace of the lead pack very late in the race and then just when all hope seemed to be lost He ripped off his hat, threw it down and went to work. Quickly regaining the back of the main field and moving up to claim 2nd spot.

Link to Video Highlights

The mental component of any sport is huge and we are always discussing how to train this. Is it possible ?? I think for most people there is a certain level of improvement that can be made through specific training that mimics the demands of a race (ie. Time trials or intervals while fatigued or Race Sims/Low Priority races etc.) The trouble though is that some of this mental aspect relies on having a passion or need to succeed, perhaps even a consequence for not succeeding or at least a reason to succeed.

There is certainly a balance between pushing yourself too far or doing it too often but looking at performances like Simon's and many other 'underdogs' in come from behind victories makes one wonder how much more we have in the tank when we say we 'Bonk' or just couldn't handle the pace. Use Simon as some inspiration as you put the finishing touches on your late season fitness and prepare for your big provincial meet or final weekly race series or whatever you are working towards. Those last couple intervals can be used to ready yourself to work hard and make those few key efforts come race day more familiar.

Use reason and be safe ... but go hard !!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Transrockies with Team Trek Store - Day 7

Well we finished up strong with a 6th place on the final day. Cam and I sprinted each other for the finish after moving up through the field over the course of the 3+hr day (78km / 2000+m Climbing). Some back and forth fighting with 'the other' Sobe-Cannondale team and chasing our good friends Mike and Jesse also of Cannondale. The course had many open tempo sections with some good headwind today and, as the 2008 participants have come to expect, a lot of hike a bike. The final few kilometers were enjoyed by all with some classic BC single track, an active logging machine moving trees over the course and a nicely preserved animal carcass on a nicely shaped corner.

After crossing the line we were greeted with a large package of kicking horse coffee, who generously sponsored the event all week, and then I did a few interviews and chatted with a few of the teams that had come in just ahead or behind us. As always a great post-ride food spread was presented and then the somewhat hectic battle to find all our bags/boxes to be piled in a van and taken to the hotel (for the first time in 7 days under our own steam/organization!).

The closing ceremonies were enjoyable with very well prepared Salmon Fillet highlighting the meal. Talking with all our new and old friends well into the evening and then heading back for our first sleep in a bed in 7 days.

Over the night I asked the following questions to a few of my competitors.

1) What was one thing you were glad you brought ?
- Full sized Pillow (vs. camping pillow or rolled up shirt/jacket)
- Good Chamois Cream
- Recovery Food / Afternoon Snack Food (not bars!)
- Money to get food / parts as needed
- Wet Wipes
- Ear Plugs / Eye Shade / IPod (music device)
- Potatoes for ride food
- comfortable/quick drying 'recovery' clothes

2) What was one thing you wish you brought ?
- Chair / Sun Shade
- Spare Shoes / Helmet / Gloves
- Mirror (esp. if you wear contacts)
- Ear Plugs / Eye Shade
- Waterproof disposable Camera
- Track Pants / comfortable pants/shirt that stays clean/fresh

3) What was your favorite Moment during the race ?
- Stopping to enjoy a homemade bar and enjoying the view for a few moments
- Standing with so many of our competitors on top of a mountain, not racing (due to being lost) and just enjoying the view for a bit
- Chasing a Cow down a downhill
- Finishing (either stage / whole race / home town)
- Being able to help team-mate who was stronger on their 'bad day'
- watching a competitor fall on a corner after he warned of the difficulty of the upcoming corner

Friday, August 15, 2008

Transrockies with Team Trek Store - Day 6

Blairmore to Crowsnest Pass - 3000m vertical elevation gain and 103km distance.

So over the continental divide today in what was a very tough stage. Many long middle ring climbs interspersed with 2 sets of very steep rocky hike a bikes one that was 30+min of steady work and the final 10km before the decent into the finish, which was very steep rolling climbs, some were ridable but many were far to steep and rocky.

Cam and I had another great day starting at a comfortable pace and eventually making contact with the leaders at around the half way point until the Italians attacked and strung the field out. We stuck to our plan and continued to ride our steady pace and then rejoined the pack about 2/3 of the way through the stage again! This time the rocky Mountain teams decided they didn't want us there and put out a good running effort up the first of the 2 big hike a bike sections.

Sitting in 5th we worked to ride steady and conservative in an attempt to make up as much of our lost time from previous stages as possible. We did a good job and should be into the top 10 this evening after all the results have come in.

Highlight of the day was chasing a huge bull down one of the long downhills into the second feed-zone. It was a very quick descender and allowed us to keep our pace up while enjoying one of my favorite things to do on a bike (chase cows!).

Today's special treat at the last feedzone was a chocolate chip cookie, which Cam enjoyed over the final very difficult steep climbs/hike a bikes in the last 10km before ~8km of flat/dh gravel and road into Crows Nest Pass.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Transrockies with Team Trek Store - Day 5

White Swan Lake to Elkford (civilization!) - 88km / 2200+m climbing

What a difference a day can make! Cam and I started easy today (although I did through an early solo attack on the field to stretch the legs ... hoping for some video coverage). We chatted with Mike and Jesse who had a similar start plan and enjoyed the draft of the main field until the climb started, then we rode our own pace, which was the order for the day.

^ These two amaze me everyday ^

Cam and I rode away from mike and Jesse after awhile and continued to reel in groups riding steady up the climbs (being very careful with cadence and breathing) and then making sure we continued to ride that pace on the flats and on any downhills that let us push.

Into the last big climb of the day we passed our good friends Freddie and Matt, chatted for a few moments then continued on into the last aid station. I stopped to grab a bit of water (only the climb and a decent into Elkford left but I needed a bit more as I had been sloppy in my hydration today).

Cam, feeling very good, attacked into the climb and started catching team after team and I (with 4 bottles ... one in my mouth) ... made chase drooling and breathing out my ears to keep up with my young companion. Eventually I got back on and slowly got recovered enough where I was comfortable. Cam had caught a glimpse of my good friend Stef Widmer and his team mate Marty Lazarski (Team Rocky Mtn) and he was intent we would make contact. After about 30min of rolling steep climbs we got onto their wheel(s) and held there for a few minutes before they showed off their decending skills and gapped us on the technical boulder downhill and subsequent fast double track downhill. We held our own though, riding conservatively on the downhill to avoid flats and cruising across the line in 4th, as the leading team from Italy had a rough day with several technicals. Great day and with a focus on good recovery and good pacing on the next few days we may be able to regain much of our deficeit from Stage 4!

^Italians fixing a flat in the boulder field!^

Lesson of the day - Remember to drink even when tech !!

Quote of the day - "Hey Good job trek boys, and on Hard tails!" Andreas Hestler
" Nah, we have big wheels its like Cheating" Me

Transrockies with Team Trek Store - Day 4

Nipika to White Swan Lake - 110km / ~2500+m Climbing

Well sometimes things don't go exactly as planned. Lost a bit of time in the overall today after taking another wrong turn (as did many other people ... although most turned around before our group did) that cost about 20 minutes and ~200m of vertical climbing. After coming back down and getting on course we fought our way back through those that had taken the right route. We did a good job, almost getting into a good group for the 50km of rolling double track that would bring us into White Swan lake but unfortunately the efforts to get back there brought Cam into a bit of trouble.

We fought to hold onto the top 15 in damage control mode for most of the remainder of the stage. Likely a fuel issue but also very tough on motivation to go from 6th or 7th and feeling good to well back in the pack with many teams to work through to get back to a decent placing. Some wagon wheels and chocolate bars at the last feed station brought on a bit more energy and we were able to claw back 2 more spots as we rolled into a very scenic stage finish and commenced some recovery.

Lesson of the day: chasing positions vs. riding your pace is a dangerous game to play and chocolate bars can make that shift from granny to middle ring possible :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Transrockies with Team Trek Store - Day 3

Time Trial - Day 3 - 48 KM - 1200m Climbing - Nipika to Nipika

So a little more familiar format for the pro's today. Late start (1pm) and a TT format meant it was essentially you and your partner against the clock for the 48 km loop around Nipika Resort. Some new single track was very new and very bumpy (although Cam and I found it much less then other 26in hardtail and dually riders! thanks to our 29inch Paragon frames from The Trek Store !). Other sections were more worn in and much more like home and we were able to use the rolling terrain (similar to hardwood in this way) to catch 2 of the teams ahead of us. Haven't seen results yet but we did fairly well keeping a good steady pace to the end of the course.

There was one section we were told we had to walk last night in the course overview but very few of the top guys saw the sign or, consequently, walked the downhill ... so it wasn't that bad I suppose. The big benefit of finishing in the same place is that we didn't have to re-pack our bags and haul them to the truck in the morning or back to the tents at a new location after the stage. So lots of time to chill and recover (and surf the internet while sitting on a rock in the middle of the forest ... ).

^ Stef Widmer ... Classic BC DH technique ... get way back! ^

Feeling pretty good and ready for what the next 4 days have to bring! Cam and I are finding a decent rhythm and each day brings a bit more learning, especially for Cam who rode in his longest ride ever yesterday at 6hours (many people in this boat yesterday) and along the way learned about 4 different ways to carry his bike.

Interesting using breathing rate to monitor our pacing seems to be working very well. Climbing is the main place we have to be careful as Cam rides very well in the single track and is pretty good at drafting on the flatter double track and fire road. Keeping his breathing rate under control and watching for a deepinging / increased rate has kept him pushing well where it matters, on rolling fire road and decents especially towards the end of stages. This is where we lost much time at end of day 1 but made up some time on both days 2 (catching day 1 winners) and day 3 (catching and passing many teams over the tops of climbs and on downhills after as they backed off as the climbs backed off)

So good quotes from the last few days include :

1) Long time Friend Codey May in response to his team mate (and also a long time friend), Jordan Axani, saying they needed something to wake them up in the morning (ie. alarm clock)

" They will have Coffee "

2) Freddie Brussaires "I suck at Hiking Man"

3) Mike G to Me about 1hr 15min into our hiking expedition yesterday - "This is nuts, we are pretty fit guys and this is so tough. People are just going to quit!"

4) Nick Vipond telling the camera Man, after the 200 riders went off course on stage 2, that "The corner was not well marked at all" and the camera man quickly turning off the camera and walking away.

5) Crazy Larry (who is a wicked guy - some may remember his crazy ballon clown at the finish most years of Trans-rockies). "You guys are f***ing rocking the course" as cam and I laughed and pushed big gears through about 100 ballons Larry had lined a section of the course with.

Day 2 Transrockies - Lost in the wilderness with some Friends

Day 2 - Huge day with a projected 3000+m of vert climbing and 73km of distance to be covered. Another good breakfast with some oats and granola and gourmet tea warmed the body up. Cam and Doug had our bikes ready to go and we staged at 8am mountain time for the big day. A grassy field start led us out to the road for 20km then onto a gravel middle ring climb that saw Cam and I in the main group and into the first aid station in good placing at 40km.

The main climb of the day was a large summit to 2100m and was to include some tough hike a bike. Everyone was ready for it and with heads down we went right up the montain following each other like Lemmings until about 1.5hrs later when the leaders stopped and were looking back at us, the chase group, and even further down to many hundreds of other riders. The top was not where we were to go, a right was missed!!

Much deliberating on what the right thing was to do and finally the lead guys decided left was the way to go. Our chase group, which held 5+ universiy degrees for what its worth, decided to go right and down to meet the trail which we were pretty sure was a 'saddle' that was to turn off the hike a bike about 500m lower then we had climbed. I was very glad that Mike Garrigan, Jesse Jakomait, Matt Hadley and Freddie Brusaires were among the chase group as it made the isolation at the top of this mountain much less of a bad situation, and our bushwacking in a somewhat random way, into the BC wilderness somewhat-less of a bad choice!

Much to our joy (Freddie Brusaires did a fine victory cheer) we found the trail after about 30min of bush wacking. From there it was a mix of very 'technical' 'trail' and then some really nice B.C. single track down to the last aid station, with one decent climb in the middle.

From the last aid station a 20min Time Trial effort for me brought Cam and I to Nipka resort and into a third place finish!! We were fortunate enough to stand on the podium but unfortunately the organizers had to nullify the stage due to the amount of people who went of course (a sign had been lost/not sufficient/Fell down/STolen) and off trail. So a little good luck and bad luck made for an interesting evening of discussion and some interesting situations!

Link to report

Monday, August 11, 2008

Day 1 Transrockies with Team Trek Store

Day 1- very tough first day started with lugging our bike boxes and bags down the mountain village to a big truck and then a great breakfast. We then staged for well over an hour then straight into a fire truck led start loop and a big climb up the third highest ski resort in North America (Panorama). Enjoyed great views and some riding with many friends old and new. Animal sightings including a couger running across the trail in front of Matt Hadley and myself as we chatted. On the second mountain top summit of the day (which had much hike a bike) we enjoyed a good snow storm. So good introduction to all that is trans-rockies for Cam and I today.

Once back we were very happy to hand our bikes off to Cam and Doug who we have hired to take care of our bike maintenance. Then we lugged our bags to our tent and enjoyed the warm showers (in a transport truck ... very cool) and then a good nap before a great roast beef dinner!

Transrockies with Team Trek Store (Peter Glassford / Cameron Jette)

Day before

-long shuttle to panorama, great breakfast/yoga this morning. Feeling good, ready for last sleep in a bed. Lot of bike building and chatting with the many people who have come from ontario and also the many top 20 pro men that have arrived. Also a Trevor Linden Sighting!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Off-Road TTs and Some more Little Things

Great ride with one of my younger athletes today, he put in a couple of good quality endurance hours and then practiced holding my wheel for 30 or 40 min on some twisty Ontario Single-track. We like to use these 'Off-Road TTs' with or without the 'motor pacing element' to help improve the ability to ride off-road at speed.

To add these to your training, try starting with 2x15min TTs (5min recoveries) on a fairly open offroad loop (a few technical / twisty sections are good for recovery and to improve ability to handle tech stuff while at race intensity). Goal should always be to cover more ground each interval and to challenge yourself to go a bit harder then you think you should, to help you push and know your limits.

This athlete is making great improvements in his fitness, but more importantly his efficiency off-road has improved greatly since the start of the season, and this is translating into better results, which more closely match his fitness!

Note: Making dirtbike sounds is important to maximizing Your Off-Road TT

Post-Ride we took care of a few 'little things' ... Some guided practice changing tubeless tires and in the use of a CO2 adapter. Practicing things like this will help him be confident changing tires for conditions (on his own) and fixing a flat if/when he gets one in a race or training situation. Having the right tires and being quick in flat changing saves minutes and like so many other 'little things' can quickly add up to be the reason for a poor performance or a peak performance.


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