Joe Holmes

Athlete, coach, race promoter, team director

Independence Day Roll

Red. White. And Blue.
With Heidi Franz.
pc: Emily Alexander

Redmond Derby Days Bicycle Race – 79 years and …..no longer counting.

Redmond Derby Days Festival and Criterium – Turn 1 Action photo by Dennis Crane

 

Big Checks, Champagne and Flowers – Pics of just a few of TheDerby Days Criterium podiums including 2013 when then junior and now current World Tour Professional Logan Owen took the victory and the big check in the P1/2 Men’s Race and 2015 when junior Chloe Dygert won the P1/2 Women’s Race just a few months before winning the Junior Women’s Road and Time Trial World Championship on home soil in Richmond.

 

A big shout out to Castelli USA located just down 1-5 in Portland for providing winner’s jerseys for all categories and some sweet schwag too!

 

 

“After a lot of analysis and deliberation, the City of Redmond has decided to cancel the Criterium in 2020 and beyond…We have done a very deep dive into the costs and the needs of the city as a whole. While some of it comes down to cost, it also comes down to the shifts in the city….”

 

This was in an email that I received a few weeks ago from the City of Redmond. Just like that, another bike race has disappeared from the local racing calendar.

 

Last year marked the 79th edition of The Redmond Derby Days bike race. There will not be an 80th. It has evolved from its original form over the years, but it has always been a constant. Until now.

 

The Redmond Derby Days Criterium was the first race that I participated in when I moved here in the summer of 2003. It was the last race my parents ever watched me do. I raced in it every year between 2003 and 2011 at which point in 2012 I took over as technical director. In my years as technical director current and future National Champions, World Champions, Olympic medalists and World Tour Professionals have raced at Derby Days (I am sure this was the case in the many years prior to my taking over the reins). Though I typically prefer races of a longer and hillier profile I always looked forward to racing Derby Days and when I took over as its technical director my enthusiasm for the event increased. Much of that enthusiasm was specifically because the City of Redmond was very easy to work with, particularly during my first few years overseeing the race. I feel like we were always able to produce a very good, quality product for the members of the PNW racing community, even with several city staffing changes in the past few years. Last year’s Pro 1-2 men’s race was one of the more exciting editions that I have witnessed with a field of over 80 racers and made especially exciting with World Tour Professional Logan Owen making an appearance.

 

Winner’s jerseys, flowers, champagne, giant cardboard checks, and lots and lots of cash (including those huge gambler’s primes) became synonymous with Derby Days. I had a hell of a good time putting this race on for the past eight years and was really looking forward to what would have been the 80th edition this year. To say that I am super bummed to see it go would be an understatement.

 

I want to give a special thanks to Castelli for their unwavering support of the event for the past eight years. They provided merchandise prizes and some of the most unique looking winners’ jerseys I have ever seen. And to the City of Redmond – I and the greater Seattle cycling community are forever grateful to them for its support of Derby Days over the years.

 

It will be missed.

Wheels In, Wheels Out – A rant on taking responsibility and controlling something that you can control.

Spare wheels. Marked and in wheel bags for easy identification.

“Neutral” spare wheels are used for this event. Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race.”

 

This statement is on the website of a local bike race. My immediate thought?

 

“Sigh…..this again.”

 

Second thought?

 

“You have got to be kidding me.”

 

Unfortunately it isn’t a joke or a typo and this is not an isolated thing at many races in the Pacific Northwest – specifically in and around Oregon. Worse is that quite a few in the local cycling community (which include racers, officials, promoters) don’t have an issue with this.

 

I do. Let me explain.

 

When I was growing up racing in the Midwest you quickly learned that if there wasn’t neutral support (like the local bike shop supporting the event) and you didn’t bring a spare set of wheels to put into the pit or follow vehicle (if there was one) at your local bike race  and you flatted then you were SOL. It was your responsibility to make sure that you took care of this (or that your team did).

 

Let me repeat that.

 

IT WAS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU PROVIDED SPARE WHEELS TO THE PIT OR FOLLOW CAR.

 

I have been bike racing for 38 years. I have always made sure that I place a spare set of wheels in the pit or follow car. If I was on a team I always made sure that we had at least a couple of sets of wheels in the pit or follow car for the team. Every clinic that I have given to local club teams I have made sure to stress this. Just last Saturday I spoke with three of my athletes and asked if they had done this (1 out of the 3 answered correctly – teaching moment….).

 

Because here is the thing, you go to all of the trouble to train, maybe you pay money to a coach, you invest money in all of your equipment then you drive to a race (sometimes hours there and back), you spend money on fuel to get there and the entry fee and etc. etc….But you don’t bring a spare set of wheels. You line up, the race starts and then at some point in the race you get a puncture and just like that your race is done. All because you left something to chance, something that you had some control over – PUTTING A SPARE SET OF WHEELS IN.

 

Here is the other part of “Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race.” – Why?

 

If I take the responsibility to bring my own wheels to a race, why should I have to provide them to someone who doesn’t take that same responsibility?

 

AND, what happens if I need a wheel but it was given out to someone else already?

 

AND, who is going to replace my spare wheels if given to someone else and they damage the wheel or puncture the tire or worse – take off with my wheel? (Depending on the race I have often put a second set of carbon tubulars in the pit/ follow car).

 

Years ago when I was the sport director for a local domestic elite team we raced a stage race in Oregon. This race had a “caravan” (I think there may have been all of 4 cars in it). I was informed by the Chief Official that since we had a car in the caravan then I would also have to provide support to riders on other teams that did not have that “luxury”. When I asked why I was informed that we had an “unfair advantage” (or maybe it was the other teams were at a disadvantage) because we had a support car and many others did not.

 

In essence, because the organization that I worked for had taken the responsibility to pursue sponsorship and were successful in procuring enough financial support to purchase a team car and pay me to run the team and go to races we also had to take care of the other teams and riders that did not.

 

Look, I am not opposed to helping out someone I know who needs something in a pinch but if I am told “Wheels you bring may be issued to other riders in the event of puncture during the race,” well I have a problem with that. Because if I take the responsibility to control one of the things that I can control why should I also be forced to shoulder the responsibility for someone who did not?

 

Take responsibility.

 

Control what you can control.

 

 

 

 

MAKE THE TIME

You claim that you want [insert goal here].

Then in the very next breath you state that you just don’t have the time to do all of the things required.

Well guess what? People make the time to do the things that they really want to do.

So I ask you – do you really want to reach that goal or do that thing that you claim you want?

Then make the time.

Or you can just keep making excuses.

But keep them to yourself because I don’t have the time to listen.

 

THE RECIPE

The following piece entitled The Recipe was written by my friend Mark Twight back in 2011. Mark graciously gave me permission to repost it here. I first saw it when it appeared as one of his Sunday Sermons from the GJ days. More recently it has been posted on the Nonprophet website.

In the past few weeks I have been reading through all of Mark’s Sermons to help him out with a project that is in the works. Many of Mark’s Sermons are gold. The Recipe was one that jumped out at me reading it on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake last month. I landed in Salt Lake that evening with energy to burn. Fueled by Mark’s writing and a few glasses of wine I made a beeline to the NPEC where I found Mark and Mike Thurk just returning from dinner. The decision was made to open up the NPEC Conversation Room (and sometimes cocktail bar) and blend the two. We ended up talking about the new project and The Recipe. That conversation just dropped as Episode 86 of The Dissect Podcast. Try to ignore the fact that I may be a few bottles in by the end of the podcast because there is some good content there.

In the meantime, here is The Recipe. Enjoy.

 

A couple of months back our friend Joel from Men’s Fitness UK asked me to write a pithy quote about our training philosophy. He might have even offered a paragraph. Sometimes over-delivering is the right thing but it is rarely true for the written word. Less is always more. But I just couldn’t. I waited until the energy coalesced around an idea, switched on the machine and let it rip. I figured he could pull what he thought most powerful from the text. I haven’t seen how it turned out but I did see it referred to so I presume my Recipe was published. I looked it over recently and thought it could use a bit more flesh on the bone so I added some.

 

So here’s the recipe. Some ingredients are hard to come by, and even more difficult to prepare.

 

Recognize the need for change.

 

Revolt against old behavior and habits.

 

Resolve to be consistent and persistent.

 

Define Point B: what you want to achieve, clearly.

 

Define Point A: an honest, unsentimental account of your present state.

 

Decide on a deadline, and give yourself a penalty for missing it. Be realistic.

 

Design the training program: seek guidance.

 

In short, build a solid foundation, write a long training history, and accept a longer trajectory. If you need it three months from now you should have started three months ago. At least. There are no shortcuts. This is a long- term process and it should last for the rest of your life. You will not “arrive”.

 

Do not over-emphasize the physical. I’ll say it again, “the physical part is easy.” You will fail first in your head. Always. Or talk yourself out of it. If you keep saying it’s hard, it will be. If you treat training as a chore, it’s drudgery. The pretense of difficulty is just an invitation for social feedback. Do you really need an audience? Do you need affirmation from others – who are probably lying anyway? Leave them out of it. If it depends on them they can revoke it at any time. But when you earn it you get to keep it.

 

Change your attitude. Unfuck your head. Make an honest, unsentimental accounting of your present condition. Prepare to be disappointed. Define what you want instead, clearly. By clear I mean precise, and feasible. An unrealistic objective is sure to sabotage the process. Hit the books. Try and err. Inquire. Risk. Mimic. Insist. Resist.

 

When the voice inside says, “no” take another step.

 

When the voice invites you to quit, don’t.

 

When you think you can’t go further, bluff.

 

When you are certain you have given everything you have, when you bluffed and got called, when you went further or harder than you believed you could, and know that in a few months you will look back without second- guessing or regrets, it will be OK to fail. But do take notes.

 

After you fail – and you will – show up the next day. And the day after that. If you can’t train, watch. If you can’t see, listen. If you truly want to learn you can learn from everything. Eventually, you will. And you will take what you know and DO, and keep doing it, and the road will rise to meet you.

2019 DERBY DAYS REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

The Seattle area criterium season is underway and registration for the 79th Annual Redmond Derby Days Criterium is now open!

To register follow this link:

2019 Redmond Derby Days Criterium Registration

Pre-registration will be open until Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 10:00 pm. Pre-reg and save (we handle the admin. fee!)

Don’t miss out on the chance to win some cash from the area’s biggest single day prize list ($7500 cash total including primes!)

So That Was Pretty Awesome

Heidi Franz, fist in the air, as she realizes that she has just won Ballard. As far as local bike races go, Ballard is definitely one of the crown jewels and watching her win, with her dad, over dinner at a course side table was…..awesome.

 

Yesterday is a perfect example of why I do what I do and why I love doing it.

 

Morning: Do an easy ride with Heidi Franz because we are both going to race a Seattle classic, The Ballard Criterium, later that day.

 

Afternoon: Get in the van with Heidi and Jennifer and head onto the ferry and then over to Ballard. Arrive and park in a primo spot at corner three.

 

I race, and I accomplish my “goals” – I don’t crash. I finish. I make a brief appearance at the front (at the wrong time but….details). I don’t embarrass myself. I have fun (my bike racing goals at Ballard are not that lofty).

 

Evening: Head over to where I made a dinner reservation with Jennifer and Heidi’s dad, Ernie. It just so happens that our table was outside and located right at the start/ finish line.

 

The three of us then watch the Women’s Pro 1-2 race which has three women that I coach in it (Heidi, Emily Alexander and Margaux McBirney) over dinner,  some beers (a really good Imperial Stout by Métier)  and a great bottle of wine.

 

During the race I watched Emily bridge up to a break midway through which was awesome. Emily has made some great progress in the past few months and watching her do that in a race that she has struggled in the past was, well, really awesome. (this is from Emily’s notes on the race: “For the record: this was the first time I haven’t been dropped in this race, and my first ever bridge in a race… Definitely a good night at the races”)

 

I watched Margaux, who is pretty new to bike racing, be active and eventually finish 5th – also awesome.

 

And I watched Heidi WIN THE BIKE RACE WHICH WAS AWESOME!!. Did I mention that Heidi’s dad was watching with us…..so that was also AWESOME!

 

After their race Emily, Heidi and Margaux joined us for some celebratory beverages as we watched the Pro 1-2 men race and then Jennifer, Heidi and I got back in the van, headed to the ferry terminal and pulled up just minutes before the boat to The Island was getting ready to load (which was a complete surprise and also pretty awesome).

 

So yeah, yesterday was a prime example of why I do what I do and why I love doing it. Because it is pretty damn awesome.

 

Sometimes you’re the hammer….. Heidi with her pretty sweet engraved hammer trophy and Ballard Criterium Champion jersey.

79th Annual Redmond Derby Days Criterium

Back for its 79th year – The Redmond Derby Days Criterium

brought to you by 

Tête de la Course Cycling and Castelli USA

 

Registration will be open soon. Stay tuned for more details.

 

 

 

Thorsten Askervold’s Latest Update From France – Stage Racing!

Time trialing to 5th place in Essor Breton

 

A wet finish on Stage 2, Essor Breton

Tête de la Course athlete Thorsten Askervold sent a recent update from his time racing in France. Enjoy!

 

A few weeks ago I had a really big block of racing. I had two stage races in one week (a total of eight races). The first stage race was “Essor Breton” 4 days of racing but 5 total races. One thing I’ve been curious about about coming into this season was my ability to time trial. A week before Essor Breton our team had a team time trial (my first ever) I felt amazing, and our team managed to get 5th. This was also my first year having a good TT bike (which is awesome). So going into Essor Breton stage 3, the first individual TT of the year I was excited but nervous… and I surprised myself by getting 5th on the stage and only seven seconds off of the podium. Effort management has always been a bit tricky for me. I know with some practice I can improve a lot on it. Yet I was still really happy about my performance, and how I’ve been growing as an overall racer in general this year.

 

Later that day we had a road race (stage 4). The race course had many turns on small roads and was fairly hilly. On a sunny day it would be a technical course but since we were in Bretagne it was pouring down rain, cold, and very windy (lots of cross wind sections) which made the course even more “interesting”. The first 80% of the race I felt pretty crappy but after fighting to stay in the front and avoiding crashes I found myself feeling good in the last 20km and managed to get 10th on the day. I made a mistake on my positioning in the final kilometer but that is part of the process – trying to learn something from every race and use that to improve for the next one.

 

As the racing season goes on I’ve been improving every week and I’ve already learned so much, whether its about positioning, tactics, fueling for races, trying to be in the right places at the right time and learning how my training fits in with the increase racing load. These are things that  I never really learned in the US due lack of racing for me and opportunity. This year in France I’ve already done more races than I did in the last 2 years combined in the US, and the season doesn’t end here until October. I am super grateful that I ended up here because I’m learning so much about racing and training and I’m gaining so much experience every week. Add to this the fact that the racing is longer and more intense which also building my capacity at the same time. Going into stage 5, my director and I talked and decided that I should only do part of the race because I had the next stage race two days later which started with a 22km TT and was three days of racing. My director felt that it was best that I get some recovery in between, so I sat in and pulled out of the race three hours in when we entered the final circuits of the race.

 

I then started to get my mind ready for the next race, (Boucles-Nationales-du-Printemps) a three day race with a opening TT and two very windy and slightly hilly road races with a lot of very small roads on top of it. I was a bit tired going into the next race but did my best to ignore it, and I managed the TT in 9th place which I was a little bummed about because I know I was capable of doing better. I just started the TT too conservatively. At the end of the stage race I finished 11th In GC. On the last day I had a teammate in the final break and two guys managed to slip just in front of me in the overall. But it was all a great experience. I’m always learning new things about myself. I now know that I am capable of time trialing, I know that I can sprint, and I am also able to get myself over rolling climbs and do well on hilly courses. This year has been so great for building as a racer and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the season brings me.

 

Next up for me is a week long trip to the Alps with a teammate to do some training. It is my first time in the Alps and I am really looking forward to it.

– Thorsten

Finding The Sweet Spot

Two weeks ago, Tête de la Course Cycling athlete Heidi Franz scored her first professional victory which just so happened to be in a UCI 2.2 stage race. She crossed the line first in stage two of The Tour of the Gila. WHICH. WAS. HUGE. But this post from Heidi isn’t about that. No, this post is about her journey, now in its second year, as a professional cyclist. It’s about finding balance, specifically life balance. It’s about understanding the big picture and how all of the little things in the chaotic life of a professional athlete fit into that.

It’s about finding the “sweet spot”.

Enjoy:

 

When I first decided to give pro cycling a go and see where it took me, I mentally prepared myself for a four year trial period. I crawled my way through four years of high school and survived four years of college. I got this, right? I sure as hell didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but I anticipated and accepted the learning curve and process of maturity that might run its course over that time period. I definitely knew that the first year was going to be awkward. My living situation would spread me between three different home bases. I would constantly be here, there, out, and back again, juggling work at the bike shop, commutes to my boyfriend’s house, home at my grandparents’, and a tiny bit of time for friends. Racing would take me to New Mexico, North Carolina, Belgium, London, Ardeche, Sittard, and back to a little farm town in Washington. Like a first year at college, I never felt settled but I stuck to what I knew I could survive on, bending enough to adapt but not completely break. It was more than just awkward, but I did it. I finished my first season as a pro cyclist with no broken bones (!) and I still loved riding my bike. I cherished the friendships and connections I’d made with my teammates, was excited by what I had learned, surprised by where I’d landed, and knew there was more to come.

 

“With maturity comes the ability to distinguish subtlety. This is the sweet spot for individuals, relationships, and ambition.” -M. Twight, Refuge

 

As I write this, I’m taking off for the Amgen Tour of California-Empowered with Sram. Just a week ago, I came home from the UCI 2.2 Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico, where I claimed my first ever professional and UCI victory on stage two. Though I had done more racing by this point last year, I’m in an astronomically different place both mentally and physically. But, I’m not here to report on how much my power numbers have improved or how I started training “for real now” and ride 35 hours every week. I don’t, because that doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to burn myself faster than I can build. That might work for some people, but the more I mature into this sport, the more I care about fostering my long-term plan. I just need to hold steady. I’ve seen the biggest gains come from not the heightened intensities or frequency of workouts, but from giving respect to the small but important details in my life that make me feel like a whole person again – the things that enable me to consistently show up and give an all-out, complete effort for my team. For me, that’s reaching “the sweet spot”: having confidence in the process and strengthened ambition to stay the course. It comes from the even richer, fulfilling friendships with my teammates this season despite everything we’ve been through. It’s having one home to come back to on the quaint island I grew up on, with all my books, artwork on the walls, and my own bed. It comes from the newfound eagerness in carrying my camera around again, and the giddiness I get seeing the freshly developed film. I can travel all over the world and race roads both new and familiar, testing my limits but with more confidence and fewer cracks in my foundation.

 

I will be the first to say that I don’t have all my shit together, but now it’s in organized piles. I still fall short and dig myself into holes of fatigue every once in a while, or struggle to find motivation when it gets dark and rainy. The team’s inexplicable loss of Kelly Catlin in March took every bit of emotional strength that we could muster to work through, both on our own and together. We are still working through it. In a sport where nothing is ever the same year after year, I’ll be on some sort of constant learning curve. The process will bend and change over time and that’s the beauty of it. Sometimes I’ll find that sweet spot, win or not, and some days I might find myself far from it. But right now I’m staying the course and it’s a good place to be.  – Heidi

 

Behind the scenes from New Mexico through a disposable camera:

photos by Heidi Franz