Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Whole Athlete/Specialized Goes Big at Bonelli

Bonelli Park hosted the third round of the ProXCT and second US Junior UCI cross country this past weekend. Graced by Spring rain and world-class competition, the event treated riders to challenging conditions and top notch racing...and the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team came ready to play. Six top-3 finishes, including two wins capped off a fantastic race camp for the team. 

Christopher Blevins
Blevins attacks the Pro Short Track. (photo: Simmons)

Anders Johnson
Johnson wins the Junior Short Track with late race solo attack. (photo: PB Creative)

In as many weeks, Christopher Blevins won his second Junior UCI cross country, followed by an impressive 2nd place finish in a very deep Pro men's short track race. Meanwhile, Anders Johnson took a bold solo victory in the Junior short track event.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins has three Junior XC wins and three top-3 Pro STXC finishes (photo: PB Creative).

Kelsey Urban showed excellent Spring form with her third top-3 Junior 17/18 finish in three consecutive XC races.

Kelsey Urban
Urban is no stranger to the Junior Women's podium (photo: PB Creative).

14-year-old Quinn Simmons had a breakout weekend, with a strong 2nd place in the hotly contested Junior 15/16 XC, then set up his teammate's victory in the short track with the penultimate attack.

Quinn Simmons
Simmons on the attack in the Junior STXC (photo: Wehn).

In his first year as a 17/18 Junior, Jason Rowton had yet another solid and consistent pair of races with 11th in the international Junior UCI XC and 3rd in the Junior short track. 

Jason Rowton
Rowton has shown impressive progress all Spring (photo: PB Creative).

Carson Beckett faced his first Pro UCI HC event as a U23 and moved from a 61st starting call up to 30th by the end of a wet, muddy, internationally competitive race. He followed the XC with a strong 11th place finish in the talent-deep Pro short track on Sunday. 

Carson Beckett
Determination on the face of Carson Beckett in the Pro Cross Country race. (photo: Wehn)

Carson Beckett
Beckett graceful in the muddy conditions (photo: PB Creative).

Chris Blevins
(photo: Simmons)

Check out all the team's top-10 results here.
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Phenomenal Fontana for Whole Athlete/Specialized

The second stop of the ProXCT series and first US Junior UCI event for 2016 in Fontana, CA saw the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team come away with six podium finishes among nine top-10 results. Christopher Blevins went two for two with the win in the Junior UCI cross country amid a highly competitive international field. Anders Johnson and Jason Rowton both hit the top-10 as well, earning critical UCI points toward their international rankings. Kelsey Urban followed suit in the Junior Women's UCI race with a strong 2nd place finish, while at only 14 years of age, Quinn Simmons landed on the Junior 15/16 podium in 3rd.

In the short track races on Sunday, Blevins followed his win the week prior with another impressive result in the Pro field with 3rd. Rowton and Simmons landed on the Junior podium in 2nd and 5th followed by Johnson in 6th, while Urban finished out a solid weekend with a top-10 in the Pro Women's race.

Christopher Blevins
Blevins on his way to victory in the Junior UCI XC. (photo: PB Creative)

Kelsey Urban
Urban with yet another podium finish in the Junior Women's UCI Race. (photo: PB Creative)

Anders Johnson
Johnson had strong rides in both the Junior XC and STXC.(photo: PB Creative)

Jason Rowton
Rowton on track in the Junior UCI race. (photo: PB Creative)

Quinn Simmons
Simmons hits the podium in both the cross country and short track races. (photo: PB Creative)

Christopher Blevins
Blevins in the Pro short track breakaway group on his way to a podium finish.

Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:
04/09/16 Bonelli Park ProXCT (Junior UCI)
Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Blevins Unbeatable as Whole Athlete / Specialized Lands Five Podium Finishes

Christopher Blevins led the charge at the Bonelli ProXCT #1 this weekend with a solo win in the Junior 17/18 Cross Country, followed by an impressive sprint victory in the Pro Short Track on Sunday. 

Christopher Blevins
Blevins wins the Pro Short Track the day before his 18th birthday. (photo: PB Creative)

Jason Rowton joined Blevins on Saturday's XC podium in 4th, a result that was nothing short of amazing after being airlifted to the hospital from a severe crash only three weeks prior. Teammate Anders Johnson also rode well, narrowly missing the podium in 6th. 

Jason Rowton
Rowton on his way to a podium finish in his first-ever Junior 17/18 race. (photo: PB Creative)

Anders Johnson
Johnson kicks off his season with a strong ride in the Junior XC. (photo: PB Creative)

And kicking off their seasons with pure podium performances, Kelsey Urban took 2nd in the Junior Women 15-18, while Quinn Simmons was also 2nd in his first-ever Junior 15/16 race. 

Kelsey Urban
Urban on her way to a podium finish in the Junior Women's Race. (photo: PB Creative)

Quinn Simmons
At only 14, Simmons has a bright future ahead. (photo: PB Creative)

Christopher Blevins
Resplendent in stars and stripes, Blevins takes victory in the Junior 17/18 XC. (photo: PB Creative)

Next up for the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team:

04/02/16 Fontana ProXCT (Junior UCI)
04/09/16 Bonelli Park ProXCT (Junior UCI)

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

2016 Whole Athlete/Specialized Team Presented at Season Kickoff Camp

Entering its eighth season, the 2016 Whole Athlete/Specialized Team was presented at the Whole Athlete Performance Center in Northern California this week. Seven riders from five states across the US came together for a team training camp filled with epic riding, functional strength testing, yoga, sponsor education, and much more. The camp concludes this weekend with the Bonelli ProXCT, the first national-level race of the year. 

Whole Athlete / Specialized Team
The 2016 Team: Christopher Blevins (Junior 18), Anders Johnson (Junior 18), Carson Beckett (U23), Kelsey Urban (Junior 18), Quinn Simmons (Junior 15), Jason Rowton (Junior 17), Cypress Gorry (U23).

The 2016 roster includes U23 Cross Country National Champion Cypress Gorry, Junior 17/18 National Champion Christopher Blevins, 2015 World Championship Team members Carson Beckett, Kelsey Urban, and Anders Johnson (recently crowned Fat Bike National Champ), and joined by new members Jason Rowton and Quinn Simmons

Whole Athlete / Specialized Team 

The team's accomplishments over the past seven seasons include 17 Junior and U23 National Titles, 21 athletes named to US World Championship Teams, and 14 top-10 World Cup & World Championship finishes. 

Whole Athlete / Specialized Team 

For 2016, the riders have their sights squarely set on the World Championships in the Czech Republic in late-June. Also targeted are the Marathon National Championships in early-June and the Cross Country National Championships in July.

The season starts in full swing this weekend with the first round of the 2016 ProXCT at Bonelli Park.

Upcoming Team Events:
03/12/16 Bonelli Park ProXCT
04/02/16 Fontana ProXCT (Junior UCI)
04/09/16 Bonelli Park ProXCT (Junior UCI)

Stay tuned for more exciting news...

Monday, February 29, 2016

Johnson Repeats as Junior Fat Bike National Champion

Whole Athlete/Specialized's Anders Johnson kicked off the team's 2016 season with a victory at the Junior Fat Bike National Championships in Utah this weekend. The win marks Johnson's second title in two years.

Anders Johnson
Johnson's successful title defense was earned with the fastest amateur time of the day.

Johnson will join the rest of the Whole Athlete/Specialized riders in Northern California next week as they come together for their 2016 season kickoff camp and team presentation. 

Anders Johnson
The 2016 Fat Bike National Championships Podium.

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quarq Factor Phase Three - The Elevation Effect

Quarq Factor   
  Phase Three - The Elevation Effect
In the last Quarq Factor Installment, we examined the "Euro Effect" on race power and how various International UCI events differ from those in the US. Specifically, the highly technical nature of the courses, larger fields, and higher and deeper level of competition than in the US requires a significantly higher initial output (1 to 2 min. peak power) to be competitive. How well riders deal with that initial effort and the highly intense first lap output determines subsequent lap output and ultimately their race performance. 

After the brief and illuminating foray into European Spring racing, for Phase Three of the Quarq Factor the remaining three US summer races provided an opportunity to examine the effects of moderate to very high elevation across three UCI Junior events: the Missoula ProXCT, Colorado Springs ProXCT, and the National Championships at Mammoth Mountain, CA. 
The Quarq Factor Criteria

At Whole Athlete, we use a standard called Maximal Steady State (MSS), a real-world performance threshold of 20-30 minute peak power and heart rate which reflect readily measurable and repeatable criteria confirmed with either a simple field test or through the validated MSS testing protocol used at the Whole Athlete Performance Center

During a mountain bike race, a better representation of the highly variable workload over time is normalized power since it represents the physiological demands by estimating the power that could have been maintained had it been constant. For each rider, normalized power as a percentage of their individual MSS gives the value relative meaning since each person's specific power levels can be quite different. We will keep each rider's actual power data confidential, yet still provide a representation that is meaningful and informative.

The Elevation Effect

With three domestic UCI events on tap for the Juniors, culminating with the very high elevation National Championship race at Mammoth Mountain, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team embarked on a four-week high elevation acclimation race camp to prepare the riders for the hypoxic demands of racing above 8000 ft. The first stop was the Missoula ProXCT where the course climbs up to moderate elevation at just under 4500 ft., followed by the Colorado Springs ProXCT at a high elevation of 6500 ft., and finally Nationals in Mammoth on a course that topped out at the very high elevation of 8800 ft. 

Many sea level riders experience adverse effects even at the moderate elevation of the Missoula ProXCT course. Given the pure climbing nature in which almost all the elevation gain occurs in the first 3/4 of each lap, pacing is critical. The race starts immediately up the main climb with little to no recovery until the highest point. Despite the successful outcome of the race for our riders, a few fell victim to an unsustainable initial output (Table 1). Athlete 3 and Athlete 4 both suffered later in the race from their first lap efforts, with Athlete 4 fading significantly from such a hard starting lap at 115% of MSS. Only those who are from high elevation were able to bounce back from the fast start, and those that rode the first lap at or below their MSS normalized power performed the best.

At the high elevation of Colorado Springs, the athletes from elevation performed best, as those from sea level were still in the acclimation process. Yet despite not being fully acclimated, all of the non-elevation athletes paced it well and thus performed well (Table 2). The punchy nature of the course resulted in lower average power for most of the riders as compared with Missoula. 

The main target - XC National Championships in Mammoth - posed a major challenge to those not fully acclimated to high elevation. With a course that climbed from 8000 to 8800 feet of elevation each lap, the thin, dry air was sure to be a factor. Even those who live at relatively high elevation are challenged to avoid the common pitfall of starting too hard at such altitude where it can be impossible to recover from going too deep early on. With this important strategy in mind, most of our athletes kept their initial lap under control, and those that did performed well. The exceptions were Athlete 3 who struggled to come back after an early crash, and Athlete 4 who started harder than sustainable at such high elevation, fading significantly in the last two laps (Table 3). Once again, the ability to start hard enough without going too deep, maintain steady pacing for the middle laps, and finish with a strong final lap resulted in the best performances.

Table 1: Missoula, MT ProXCT - Junior UCI
Normalized Power as Percentage of Maximal Steady State
Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6 Race Avg
Athlete 1 100% 89% 91% 89% 93%
Athlete 2 105% 94% 91% 97% 97%
Athlete 3 108% 90% 90% 96% 97%
Athlete 4 115% 103% 95% 78% 100%
Athlete 5 91% 86% 88% 85% 84% 88% 87%

Table 2: Colorado Springs, CO ProXCT - Junior UCI
Normalized Power as Percentage of Maximal Steady State
Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Lap 6 Lap 7 Race Avg
Athlete 1 77% 80% 76% 79% 83% 80%
Athlete 2 100% 97% 99% 101% 108% 102%
Athlete 3 105% 106% 100% 102% 114% 106%
Athlete 4 99% 85% 86% 90% 91%
Athlete 5 77% 80% 76% 77% 79% 79% 88% 80%
Athlete 6 88% 82% 86% 92% 88%
Athlete 7 87% 81% 80% 86% 84%
*Final lap for each was a half lap.

Table 3: XC National Championships, Mammoth Mountain, CA
Normalized Power as Percentage of Maximal Steady State
Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5 Race Avg
Athlete 1 83% 85% 84% 86% 85%
Athlete 2 102% 99% 97% 96% 99%
Athlete 3 101% 87% 80% 78% 88%
Athlete 4 108% 95% 86% 76% 93%
Athlete 5 83% 80% 78% 80% 87% 82%
Athlete 6 92% 84% 87% 88%
Athlete 7 88% 82% 78% 83%

Table 4: Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power by Event
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140%
Event: Missoula Co Springs XC Nats Missoula Co Springs XC Nats Missoula Co Springs XC Nats
Athlete 1 9:05 7:08 8:38 11:00 9:15 10:15 7:40 4:30 2:45
Athlete 2 7:00 4:30 6:39 12:00 11:33 12:00 14:00 18:00 15:00
Athlete 3 8:48 7:15 8:40 11:30 16:00 9:10 6:00 12:20 3:45
Athlete 4 15:15 13:30 12:30 11:10 6:36 7:00 6:20 3:30 4:00
Athlete 5 12:00 11:51 10:00 14:15 12:15 9:15 7:45 7:15 4:15
Athlete 6 13:07 9:04 5:54 5:23 4:20 3:00
Athlete 7 10:41 9:09 5:15 4:14 6:30 3:15

Table 4 shows time at MSS power and above by event. Consistent with data from the spring races, the course profiles once again influence power distribution. Courses with more sustained climbing such as Missoula and Nationals tend to have less time spent at the highest power range, whereas the punchiness of a course like Co Springs results in more time >140% of MSS. It is interesting to note that individual differences between athletes show up in their time at various power ranges, which underscores where each athlete naturally excels. For example, Athlete 2 and Athlete 3 have excellent relative supra-threshold power. Athlete 1 and Athlete 5 also have good supra-threshold power, yet also show more depth of sustainable power and the ability to maintain a high "floor" of MSS to 140% of MSS power, even on punchier courses. Tables 5-11 below further demonstrate the individual differences when looking at each athlete's power separately.

Table 5: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 1
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Missoula 9:05 11:00 7:40 Sustained
Co Springs 7:08 9:15 4:30 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 8:38 10:15 2:45 Sustained

Table 6: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 2
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Missoula 7:00 12:00 14:00 Sustained
Co Springs 4:30 11:33 18:00 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 6:39 12:00 15:00 Sustained

Table 7: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 3
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Missoula 8:48 11:00 6:00 Sustained
Co Springs 7:15 16:00 12:20 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 8:40 9:10 3:45 Sustained

Table 8: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 4
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Missoula 15:15 11:10 6:20 Sustained
Co Springs 13:30 6:36 3:30 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 12:30 7:00 4:00 Sustained

Table 9: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 5
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Missoula 12:00 14:15 7:45 Sustained
Co Springs 11:51 12:15 7:15 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 10:00 9:15 4:15 Sustained

Table 10: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 6
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Co Springs 13:07 5:54 4:20 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 9:04 5:23 3:00 Sustained

Table 11: Comparison of US Summer Events - Athlete 7
Time at Maximal Steady State (MSS) and Supra-Threshold Power
MSS: 100 - 120% 120-140% >140% Climbing
Co Springs 10:41 5:15 6:30 Short/ Punchy
Nationals 9:09 4:14 3:15 Sustained

Season Summary - What have we learned?
The nature of cross country mountain bike racing, specifically at the international level has evolved into a shorter and more intense event than ever. Most UCI courses tend to favor those able to produce significant and repeated supra-threshold power, but also with a high sustainable power floor to back it up. The ability to start hard and produce a very high output without going too deep, recover well, and follow it up with strong pacing to finish without fading tends to result in the most successful performances.

While the unsustainable nature of the start of XC races is typical, the ability to regulate the initial output and ride within oneself is critical. There are many who are able to start fast, and even ride a very fast first lap. But without the depth and proper pacing to back up the initial lap, battling the inevitable fade throughout a race can be a losing struggle. Thus the dilemma we face in the need to start hard enough to be competitive, recover, and maintain a high output throughout. In US racing, there tends to be more opportunity to start a bit more conservatively, build throughout a race, and still perform well, while in Europe the level of competition and unyielding pace demands a fast start and the depth to back it up. With comprehensive power data now available thanks to the Quarq XX1 powermeter, we can see exactly what needs to happen to be successful at the highest level. 

Cypress Gorry
Gorry showed his consistency all season.

Kelsey Urban
Urban battles in Euro mud.

Haley Batten
Batten excelled at high elevation.

Anders Johnson 


About the Quarq Factor Project
A longtime tool for road racers worldwide, the powermeter has become a valuable asset for the mountain bike as well with the release of the Quarq XX1. For the 2015 season, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team has partnered with Quarq Powermeters to employ this powerful tool in an innovative project called The Quarq Factor


By analyzing race data throughout the year, the team will determine optimal pacing strategies, measure power requirements of each course, and explore what it takes for each rider to continue on an optimal development path with greater training specificity.

Whole Athlete/Specialized will publish an analysis of the data periodically to demonstrate the power of the Quarq for competitive cyclists looking to take their racing to the next level.

About the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team

A non-profit Junior / U23 development program, the Whole Athlete/Specialized Team's mission is to invest in the future of our youth and the sport of cycling by developing young athletes at the regional, national, and international levels with dedication, integrity, and fun. Our mission is enabled by coaches, mentors, volunteers, and donors of the Velo Development Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

The 2015 Whole Athlete / Specialized Cycling Team is a program of the the Velo Development Foundation, generously supported by Whole Athlete, Specialized Bicycle Components, Quarq Powermeters, Marin Natural Medicine Clinic, Marin Cyclists, DNA Cycling, Osmo Nutrition, ProBar, Oakley, Tam Bikes, KewlFit, Rock Tape, Elemental Herbs, DZ Nuts, ProGold Lubricants, Enduro Bearings, Feedback Sports, Play Hard Give Back, ESI Grips, Mellow Motors, Genuine Innovations, and Bungalow Munch Organic Granola.
WA Team Sponsors
© 2015 Whole Athlete / Specialized Team | www.wholeathlete.com/team

Monday, July 27, 2015

Six Whole Athlete/Specialized Riders Named to 2015 World Championship Team!

On the heels of a successful National Championships bid that saw the team earn three titles and five medals, Whole Athlete/Specialized was rewarded with selection of all six eligible athletes for the 2015 World Championships in Andorra on September 3rd!

Kelsey Urban, Christopher Blevins, Haley Batten, Cypress Gorry, Anders Johnson, and Carson Beckett
will represent the USA at the 2015 World Championships in Andorra.

Automatic selections include newly crowned U23 National Champion Cypress Gorry, Junior 17/18 Champion and world #1 ranked Christopher Blevins, and Junior 17/18 Women's Champion and world #1 ranked Haley Batten. The three well-deserving discretionary selections are Anders Johnson, Carson Beckett, and Kelsey Urban. Johnson and Beckett are the 2nd and 3rd highest ranked US Junior riders, while Urban has consistently maintained a top-10 world ranking all year. All three riders have been consistently on national-level podiums throughout the season.

Cypress Gorry
Gorry has been on the verge of breakthrough success all season.

Haley Batten
Batten has been unbeatable in the US.

Chris Blevins
Blevins aims to compete in both road and MTB Worlds this Fall.

Carson Beckett
Beckett is no stranger to the podium.

Kelsey Urban
Urban a model of consistency.

Anders Johnson
Johnson has been steadily on the rise all season.

Next up for the Whole Athlete / Specialized Team:

August 2nd: U23 World Cup #7 - Mont Saint Anne, CAN
August 9th: U23 World Cup #8 - Windham, NY

September 3rd: Junior and U23 World Championships - Valnord, Andorra

Stay tuned for more exciting news!