Healthy Living on November 22, 2011 by

Post Season Wrap Up: Mark Swartzendruber

As I sit here typing this post season report, it is early November (sorry for blowing my deadline, oops) It’s hard to imagine that just two months ago I won my 10th IL State time trial championship with an average speed over the 33 kilometer course of 28.7 miles per hour.  And then the following week, I teamed up with 3 team mates to compete in a 4 person team time trial of 55 kilometers and we averaged over 30 mph!

I did a 100k ride on Saturday and ran into a racing friend out on the route.  We were riding along at around 18-22 mph and it was genuinely a struggle at times!  It’s amazing how quickly competitive form is lost.  I find it difficult to reflect on the season past without wondering if I’ll ever be able to make a bike go fast again next season or was this the last year that I’ll win a race?

I generally struggle through the winters.  Living in Chicago makes it tough to get much training in other than what I can do indoors.  So, moored to my trainer, I play music sets that I saved from my days as an indoor cycling instructor at fitness club trying to pass the hours pretending I’m not on a trainer in the basement.  Last winter was a record year for snowfall in Chicago.  I get my upper body off season strength training by shoveling snow.  This photo of the alley behind my home will give you an idea.  The city doesn’t plow the alleys so I and the neighbors had to shovel and snow blow the alley just to be able to get our cars out of the garages.  It took 3 days.

At some point in January, I’ve generally had all I can take of indoor training and snow shoveling so I make travel arrangements to head to warmer weather.  I’m fortunate to have a good friend and former team mate as well as my bicycle sponsor Leader Bicycles in San Diego.  Between the two I can generally get lodging and food while I ride my bike up and down the coast and in the inland mountains.  In March I go back out to California.  This season, my March trip was to Ventura where my brother lives.  I was able to log over 600 miles and 30 hours of bike time in 6 days of riding and was beginning to feel like a bike racer rather than a pasty, chubby, Midwestern shut in.

The racing in the Midwest starts in March, but I generally skip the early season races unless the weather is good.  We had an absolutely miserable spring so I wasn’t racing.  Something about racing in two layers of tights, thermal jackets and wearing a balaclava under my helmet is less than appealing.


My racing started in April with a road race in the St Louis area in Southern IL.  My early season training paid off and I was able to break away with 21 time national champion on the track Curtis Tolson and another rider.  We built a good time gap and I finished 2nd.  A week later I won another tough road race in brutal weather conditions.  It was a good start.

After those two races, my season went into shut down mode as I promote a race weekend in my home town of Champaign and a two person time trial in May.  Those events require a good deal of planning and my ability and time to race was greatly diminished.  Those races were quite successful but my racing fitness was shot.  I am a guy that in addition to training, I need to race a lot to be sharp.  Add in more off time with a Memorial Day weekend vacation with my lovely wife and dog and a graduation ceremony for a daughter who had earned a Masters degree in Education and well, you can see I wasn’t getting much racing in.  In June, I was able to ride to a 3rd place in the Illinois state road championship which was won by a team mate of mine but I never felt really on top of things.  Then, it was back to off the racing scene with another daughter marrying in June.  Mind, you these are diversions from racing of the best kind and I am so proud of my girls.

I was finally able to get back to racing regularly in July, doing 10 days of the International Cycling Classic in Illinois and Wisconsin.  My best race was a 4th place finish at the Evanston Grand Prix criterium.

Photo @ Josh Dreyfus

The last week of July, I did RAGBRAI for the first time.  It was a blast to do this and believe it or not, it was one of the best training weeks of my life!  Something about sleep deprivation combined with alcohol abuse and heavy miles for a solid week leaves the body stronger after a week of rehab 🙂

In August I won the IL State road race sanctioned by American Bicycle Racing had good finishes in a couple of Pro 1, 2 criteriums and did a 40k time trial on the road bike you see in the photo and rolled a time of 54:06.  This indicated to me that I was on what we call diamond legs.

In September I set the course record and won the state time trial championship and that put a good bookend on the season.  Since then I’ve been playing more golf that riding. So, here it is November again. I wonder when the snow will begin…


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