Words and photos courtesy of Dirk Friel
Edited by Drew Haugen
I’m an ex-pro road cyclist and I retired in 2002 after 12 yrs of racing pro. I transitioned into coaching along with my father, Joe Friel, in 1999 and at the same time I started TrainingPeaks.com. Somehow I found a void in the marketplace, so my transition from pro roadie to entrepreneur was fairly smooth. I couldn’t have planned it any better.
Since then, I’ve started a larger business called Peaksware which has several subsidiaries. TrainingPeaks is our original brand and we’ve added TrainHeroic (software for strength coaches). We also have a music education software company called MakeMusic and a music publisher called Alfred Music.
Prepping for the Chequamegon 40
I slowly ramped up my training volume and intensity over about a five-week period to prepare for Chequamegon. I had one big hard gravel grinder race two weeks before the race in Boulder called the Gold Rush Bike Rally, which was 50 miles and had about 6,000 feet of climbing. I figured that would boost my fitness.
Within the last two weeks before the race I reduced the volume and increased the intensity with a lot of sprints and 30-second efforts with short recoveries. If I were to do it all over again I’d add even more workouts like this with 100% short efforts and short recoveries, as Chequamegon is pretty much just 2 hours of 30-second hills.
I’d probably also add motor-pacing to my training program. That isn’t typical mountain bike training, but the race was more like a Belgian Kermesse than a true MTB race. My average speed was just shy of 18mph and the first 5′ was an avg of 26mph.
You can see my race file here as proof of the overall speed- http://tpks.ws/Bx4bF
I hardly ever took a pull on the front of any group I was with. It was truly like a road race, where we were rotating and drafting. I ended up in a group of about 8, and eventually it got down to three of us. The other two guys I was with were also in my 45-49 age group, so we were competing for 7th place in our category. My overall placing was 50th at 2:20, and the winner did 2:05.
I’d say the only way I could have done better given my fitness was if I had exited one stretch of single track at mile 8 just 20 or so seconds faster, because I missed a big split in the group. I never saw that group again, as we had a long stretch of fire roads and I was stuck alone until the next group back caught me. That slight mistake probably cost me nearly three minutes I’d say.
The course was really muddy so I’d also probably add a bit more tread to my tire choice as I went with lower profile tire. The extra tread would have helped in the corners as I was sliding quit a bit.
I was really happy with 9th in my age group, as there were over 300. Being 50th overall in a field of nearly 2,000 was also a good result for me. It certainly gives me motivation to do better if I go back next year.
The Boo was perfect for this race and it accelerated so well which was key with all of the short climbs. My next race isn’t until next spring, so right now I’m focused on ski season prep and will definitely make use of my Alubooyah fat bike to access some backcountry ski routes.