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If cycling fans haven’t heard, Timmy Duggan decided to retire from professional cycling. I’m sure it was a very hard decision for him. Here is a great interview from Velonews.com on what lead to the decision.
I loved how he talked about using cycling to learn how to set goals and achieve things. Cycling is great in this way. It has definitely taught me the lesson that anything worth having in this life will be hard to attain, and you will have to work extremely hard to achieve. This carries through to my home and work life.
What really struck me was how he talks about cycling being a part of you, but making sure that you have other parts of your life that are important. I believe this also means having something to fall back on. In Timmy’s case, this is skiing and his family business in real estate.
I started cycling at 21, and never thought about cycling as a career. I know a lot of younger guys that are so passionate about our sport and going pro, which is awesome. But I always caution these guys to have something to fall back to, like a useful college degree. Any professional sport is a hard career, and cycling is harder than most, for less pay. Your whole career could be over in a second with a crash, or drawn out over many seasons through lackluster results. It is a sport that only recognizes a very small percentage. Someone like Timmy Duggan knows this first hand. And sometimes you just need to hang it up. Freakonomics has a great blog/podcast on the upsides of quitting.
So should these young guys quit now and give up on their dreams? Absolutely NO. These guys have dreams to be professional cyclists, and at ages 21-23 they should go after that full steam ahead. But if they don’t make it to the ProTour within the first couple of years, that’s when you have to start thinking about going a different direction. Even though they put everything into the sport, you have to know when to hang it up and find a career paying a living wage. There seems to be a lot of domestic pro riders that say “next year, I’ll make it, next year” and they have said this for 10+ years. This might sound harsh, but if you’re 35 and still riding for a domestic pro team, it seems unreasonable to have goals to one day ride ‘The Tour.’
To me, Chad Haga is a perfect example of what to do. He raced through college and got on a top amateur team with lots of good contacts to the professional side of the sport. He signed a domestic contract and worked his tail off for two (3?) years, and made it to the ProTour before turning 25. If he would not have made it to the ProTour, I would hope that he would put that mechanical engineering degree to use.
In the end, the great thing about cycling is you can still achieve goals and win races at the top amateur level with a full-time job.
I am really digging the new TrainingPeaks layout. Here’s why:
Graphics – The GUI for trainingpeaks.com has always been good, but not great. This version is a big change that seems to work really well. I love how the calender is unlimited scroll: no setting certain dates and waiting for the application to update. It also makes it easier to read my sometimes verbose workout descriptions.
Planed vs Actual – Before the update, you could easily compare planned duration per week vs actual duration. But what if you used different metrics to determine for goals in the week? What if you wanted to use TSS or KJ’s? The new update does this. I know I will be tracking the TSS daily to know how well I’ve been doing in a certain week.
Faster and Less Buggy - Although I have only been using it for a couple of hours, the GUI seems to be less buggy. In the past, I’ve always been frustrated by frozen screens, wrong data, etc. Especially because I’m paying for the service!! This seems to be taken care of. I’m sure this new GUI roll-out is more than just what you see on the surface… perhaps we will see new metrics in the future?
Zoom Feature on the Workout Data- The zoom feature is much less buggy. I used the old TrainingPeaks for 3+ years and I’m not sure I ever figured out the zoom feature!
What I don’t like – I don’t like how dashboard graphs maximize into their own windows. I really liked in the past how you could make a certain graph bigger but still interact with other graphs in the screen. This is no longer the case, and it kinda sucks.
Where are the customize-able charts and graphs? I know the old version didn’t have this either, but certainly this is possible? I want to be able to plot anything I want on an X-Y axis. An yes, I know WKO+ can do this and most users probably won’t use this feature. But would it really be that hard to implement? I think no.
Question for the TrainingPeaks staff: what is your main group of paying users? Are they novice users that get on <3 times per week? Or are they data driven users that get on more than 5 times per week? If it is the data driven users, match your GUI to us! I don’t need fancy looking stuff that takes up space in the workout view. I want to easily see and interpret data. Period, end of story. If you’re going the new graphical view “EXPANDO” then freaking expand it!! I want to think “BAM there is my DATA” and not squinting my eyes to see if I was doing 250 or 450 watts. Perhaps different views for different types of users? The answer should not be, “well just use WKO+” because this will drive me to stop using your online product.
Overall, I really like the new look. I am so glad TrainingPeaks continues to innovate and work on their product. I give them major props for this, and it shows what a great company they are. Also I can’t wait for WKO4+. So excited…..
Keep up the good work TrainingPeaks!!!!
I’ve taken almost a year off the blogging, and really miss it. I’ll do my best to get back into it! Instead of trying to update a full year, I’ll just start back up like nothing happened.
“We swore we’d never take pictures, pictures only prove you can’t convince.” -The Format
Long 5 hour rides used to scare the pants off of me. The slight but enduring pain of tempo always made me feel self conscious of my ability to complete these marches. They are vital to competing at road races, and I would begrudging drone through them weekend after weekend. Yet I’m always amazed at how the body can condition itself, and now it’s what I crave and look forward to after a week of 2 hour interval rides.
Last week Bill Fiser and I traveled 20 minutes south to Pearland, and met up with Michael Pincus for a 5.5 hour soirée. In doing this, we saved ourselves the trouble of riding from downtown through decreasingly urban roads to the open countryside. In Houston, this can take up to an hour each way. He said he knew good roads, and putting all my trust in him, we embarked, me not having the slightest clue where we were going. I knew the ride would be challenging as Pincus is one of the cyclists in Houston my ego or legs cannot overcome. I know he is stronger than me. He delivered on a great ride, and he rarely saw the draft.
Some people decry Houston (especially Austinites) for how horrible the riding is. Just flat ground everywhere. But it is really perfect for long endurance rides. There is nothing to distract you or take your attention from the task at hand. There is no reason to stop and marvel at the picturesque scenery. I never stop to take pictures, because there is nothing worth photographing. There is nothing but you and the bike’s constant fight against deceleration. And that is what makes it beautiful.
Most of the ride was in Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, which has nothing in it but grass, dead trees, water, and gators. After a week of riding to and from work through urban sprawl and concrete jungle, this was bizarre. The roads have nothing to cause them to deviate, so they are completely straight. Dead, gnarly trees line the roads, and I can’t imagine a time where they were actually growing, because their bleached branches are so appropriate to the rest of the landscape. A slight emotional stress bubbled inside me, because I had no idea where Pincus had taken us. There is absolutely no elevation change, and you can’t see much more than 200 ft around you. We were riding too hard to have meaningful conversations, so I pedaled thinking about nothing, hearing nothing but wind and my breathing.
At the other side of the park, we came across a bayou bridge where the road goes over a major waterway. After the last 20 miles of flat and straight, the 50ft tall structure looked monolithic. As we crested the top of the ‘hill’ I looked behind me, and I was stunned by the abrupt vista. You could suddenly see for miles and miles, nothing but swampland. It was beautiful. I braked and thought about dismounting to snap a photo, but decided against it. It honestly wasn’t very scenic. A photo would only show the small country road disappearing into the distance with green and blue all around. The beauty came from the effort it took to get there, and how I could suddenly see where I was and where I was going. My location made sense. There was no way to convey that feeling in a photo. And I wanted to keep that impression to myself and not share it with anyone except the two that had made the journey with me. So I just smiled and tucked low for the 50 ft descent down the other side like I was speeding down the Alpe d’Huez.
We stopped near the ocean for a water bottle refill, and I could smell the saltwater and fishing industry around me. It had turned out to be abnormally warm for December, even for Houston, and we laughed and joked as we headed home.