Shopping for a Coach

Choosing someone as your coach can be the same as finding a new dentist or car mechanic. You want to find someone who you can trust to have your best interests in mind, who knows enough and has the experience to guide you through your training and racing year so that you show up at your key events as fit as possible. When it comes to shopping for a coach or coaching group to work with, there are a few key things that I think are important and a few misconceptions that should also be noted.

The Hunny Bop

This is a super easy course. That is good and bad. Good if you are not technically skilled and want to finish. Bad if you hope to reduce the size of the field with some hard riding.

There is no hill and the corners are wide open and you can usually pedal through all of them.  The surface can be rough, so keep your head up.

Hagerstown Challenge Criterium

This is a great neighborhood course with fast front and back stretches and some challenging bits on the ends.

The course starts easy enough with a drag race to the first left hand turn which leads into a bit of a rise. The flyer says a slight uphill, but this starts to feel more than slight after a few laps. Not terrible, but you will be working on this part even sitting in.

Reston Town Center Grand Prix

This is one of my favorite events of the calendar, even though I have never done well at this race.

The course has always been the story with this race with the six corners and that killer fifth corner that has been the site of more than one crash every year. This year the course gets even more interesting with eight turns instead of six due to the ever expanding construction around the Reston Town Center.

Tour of Washington County Stage Race

The Smithsburg RR course is an exciting circuit with plenty of ups and downs all the way around. For the climbers, this is an opportunity to put the hurt on the rest of the field. For non climbers, conserve everything you can when the going might seem easy so that you have a full tank when the road goes up.

Ride Sally Ride

Another new course on the calendar. This is either a good sign that there are new and untapped resources for race courses or a bad sign that there is yet another industrial park in the DC area. Either way, we get to race so that is always good.

The course looks pretty safe in terms of obstacles. The surface is smooth and the corners are wide. Something I noticed also was that two of the three turns have a natural speed checking pitch just before the turn which means that most everyone should be able to make it around without wearing out the brake pads.

MP Murad Road Race

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this course is not selective. The hills are not long or steep enough to make a big difference if no one is willing to take a chance and put in the attacks. For most categories racing, the distances are not super daunting either. Again, it will need to be the riders who make the race.

BikeJam / Kelly Cup

Big race for the DC Baltimore area. Pro teams are here for the NRC points and everyone else is there for the festival and fast fast racing.

Southern Maryland Criterium

The 1st annual Southern Maryland Criterium. Great name for a race. Hopefully we can do what we can to ensure a second and third annual race as well.

1 mile
11 turns.
150 meters from the last turn to the finish line.

The turns on this course will be the biggest obstacle other than the other riders in your race. Getting through smoothly and avoiding doing 11 sprint intervals per lap will allow you to conserve your energy.

Fort Ritchie Criterium

This is a new course on the MABRA program. Joe did have a race at Ft Ritchie about 6 years ago, but I think that was on the base and all I remember from that was the tank that pulled on the course during one of the races.

This course looks totally exciting and similar to Reston with plenty of speed and lots of corners. Richmond has the "Go Fast Turn Left" races and we have the "Go Fast, Turn Left, Right, Right, Left, Right, chicane Left, Hard Right" race at Ft Ritchie. So what does that mean to the riders who want to win? Lets look at the course in pieces.

Poolesville High School Road Race

The famous dirt road "classic" of the MABRA calendar.  There is about a mile of dirt road on this course, and it is a major obstacle, but there is also the whole rest of the course to deal with.

Carl Dolan Memorial Circuit Race

The Carl Dolan Circuit Race at the Columbia Gateway Center has been going on so long it's become a MABRA classic. We originally raced the other direction on this course, but only for one year and the race was called something else back then.

Jefferson Cup

Note: This article was first published in 2007

The Jefferson Cup Road Race, the sign that the new racing season has arrived.

This race is held on a classic loop road couse with plenty of ups and downs and one longer steeper climb to keep you honest.

The roads are usually slow (rough) which can make it a job to even sit in on some sections, and the hills are not long but enough to chew you up if you do not ride smartly.

UMD President's Cup

Note: This article was first published in 2007

“.70 miles with 3 90 degree turns, a tight technical chicane and wide open finish…” That is what the flyer says and this is what you should be reading into it:

An Open Letter to my Coach, BJ Basham

Dear BJ-

You and I have been working together for over a year now. I think I've been fairly responsive to your suggestions, followed your training plans with reasonable accuracy and determination, and I've represented you well with improvements to my fitness, technique and strategy, as well as with some decent placings this year.

In addition to being a good client, I'm also your teammate. We wear the same colors and even compete in some of the same fields. And beyond that, I also thought that by now BJ, you and I were friends.

Boonsboro Time Trial

I love this course!!!
This course hates me!!??

I've ridden well on this course and I have died on this course and most memorably, I flatted twice at nearly the same point two years in a row on this course.

The Boonsboro TT is your basic out and back course with one steep climb on the way out and a nice downhill section to the turn around. By the way, the turnaround is at the bottom of a pretty steep hill, which means you scream down the hill, break hard and then start climbing. On the way back, the climb is a lot longer, basically uphill to about 5 miles to go.

Chantilly Criterium For Davis Phinney Parkinson Foundation

This is another fun course that is not super selective. The course is basically a big "D" with a long looping back section leading to an uphill turn into the finishing stretch, which is also uphill. At the other end of the finishing stretch is the only other turn, which is also wide open and uphill. Great pavement and room to move up even in the bigger fields. So what can you do on a course like this?

Crystal City Classic

Downtown is where criteriums, by definition, should be held. Not that I don't understand the need to use business parks, etc. due to the high cost and hassle of getting an actual city center course with closed road. But racing on city streets with the course lined with spectators is what it is all about. There is very little in the world of racing that can get you pumped up to give it your all as much as a crowd of friends, family and strangers yelling at you to GOGOGO!!!

The Quicksilver

For the first few years of this race's existence, the rain was the featured attraction.
I can remember riding through 2 - 3 inches of water on the front stretch and having to check on my EZ-Up tent to make sure it did not blow away or collapse from the weight of the water. When it is dry, this is a fun race.

Big Race Weekends

This weekend there are some big events for those of us in the MABRA area. First, on Saturday is the CSC Invitational in Clarendon Va. This is a great race with one of the fastest Pro fields I have ever seen. Then on Sunday is the 16th Annual Jason Gundel Wilmington Classic, which is also serving as the MABRA Senior Crit Championships. This is a big deal since winning your race will get you the MABRA jersey and cheap entry to MABRA criteriums where you get to wear the jersey.