This guy is Conrad Stoltz. He’s South African. He’s 6’4 and weighs 82 kilos or 183 pounds. He’s more of an off-road specialist (7x world champ in ITU off and XTERRA), but when he comes to races on flat roads, the guy tears holes in the cement, usually putting a gap on the fastest riders in the game. Two Septembers ago, at Rev 3 Maine, he averaged 405 watts over 52 minutes and out split the super, super fast Jesse Thomas by 80 seconds over 24 miles. Both ride bikes like heroes.
Last year, after taking a wrong turn in Abu Dhabi and with the staggered start times, I found myself riding in the second pro group for about 10 miles. They were on their third lap and heading home while I was on my second. Most of the 10 miles, I spent behind Conrad Stoltz. Their draining third lap and my rage for flying across the world only to miss a turn and lose 30 minutes put us on pretty equal footing at the time. I remember thinking, “Shhh…that’s The Caveman. Don’t let him know you’re here.” It was a highlight for me…watching them stretch out and whip back, trying to non-draft “hang on” for as long as I should.
The Caveman has been an inspiration to me lately. Not just because his name is The Caveman. After going through somewhat of a body transformation this winter, I’m within a kilo or two of his race weight. Same height. So finally, I’ve found a parallel to understand what it takes. I never set out to be a good age-group cyclist. That’s what frustrated me to no end last year - something was always off. There was always a voice telling me my times were sluggish. They were sluggish. There was no jump from 2012. I either hovered or regressed. People told me to give up on the jump. To be patient. That everyone plateaus. I didn’t buy any of that. Nothing was working and no one was listening. My season on the bike was an absolute, awful mess.
So I’ve lost 10 kilos. What else? After my injury and after going through PT, I started going to a tough, tough hot core-barre taught by the tough, tough Katie Ryan 2-3 times a week to blister and burden and revolutionize all of my secondary leg/glute/back/core muscles that had gone on hiatus. I went out and hired the two coaches Mick and Miyagi to keep me in line and freshen perspective. I joined the LA track club and went back to my more authentic, ballistic self. Oh, and I realized the L Shiv TT I was riding was too small for me after testing a Shiv XL…and that the speed wobble I got on sharp descents of EVERY race as a likely result of cramming onto a dope as shit but too small bike wasn’t my fault. Neither was my acquired fear of descending. The last piece to the puzzle was that a 2013 XL S-Works Shiv came in for me and I was finally able to get back to my PowerTap numbers. The PowerTap technology is constantly driving me, and also now allowing this coming revelation.
On Saturday, I went for one of my favorite longer rides. Just under 5 hours depending on a stop or two. It’s a solid 2 hour build up to Oxnard, pushing hills on the way out to berry field flats where someone can do consistent 10 minute intervals. Last year, it was hotter, but I remember a day…and a set of 3x10. I remember holding 309, then something like 294, then 285. I remember thinking that was solid for the day, that if I lost a little more weight and raised my w/kg, I would be doing okay. I remember being satisfied with the workout…
For the sake of not sounding delusional or liar-esque or overly projectile, let’s just say these were actually 20 minute intervals I did last year (I suppose there was a very small chance they could have been). Then we can project my sustained watts over those (actual) 10 minute intervals would have been a rough, respectable 325, 318, 315. On Saturday, with everything I’ve put into this winter so far, my 3x10 went 387, 380, 378. When I was almost home, 4+ hours into my ride, I fit in 6 minutes at 394. Things are different.
2 weeks into Mick’s “Okay You Lost The Weight, Now You Gotta Get Damn Fast” program, he has showed me it is not too much, NEVER too much to set your bar as high as it can possibly go. He put me down in a chair, slapped my face and said, “Ten less kilos, sixty more watts you damn mutt! You wanna listen to me now?!?” Then he kissed my face. Then, “Okay kid, now go wash my laundry.”