photo by BikeReg.comphoto by Jack Miltonphoto by JS McElveryphoto by JS McElveryphoto by JS McElvery


Mark McCormack’s 2005 Race Diary

 Diary EntriesMarch 11, 2005 – Winter Wonderland

    As most of you know, this has been a winter to remember. I have to admit that I feel better about my training this winter than I do about last winter. I don’t know why, but for some reason I had a much easier time getting onto my indoor trainer this year and really took advantage of the controlled environment of my basement to get in some extremely high quality and focused training in. For those of you that are completely sick of riding your bike and not going anywhere: there is a lot to be gained by riding on your trainer if you have a purpose for getting on the bike. As many riders have been known to do, pedaling aimlessly while watching a movie is not the ideal way to take advantage of the few precious training hours available.

    Besides the indoor trainer I took advantage of the snow to get in a few sessions of skate skiing over at the ski center in Carlisle, MA. I haven’t been skate skiing in about 4 or 5 years so the technique was a bit off but my fitness made my experience pleasurable. Paul Curley and my brother Frank were both game to join me on my few ski outings. It made the K’s tick by much more quickly.

    I also managed to get in a few games of ice hockey with my brothers Frank and Shawn in the 30+ league that they play in (not sure how Shawn got in the league since he isn’t an old man yet). For those that have not played hockey before, it is an amazing interval workout: 2 minutes of maximum effort followed by 2 minutes sitting on the bench, then repeat for the entire game. I felt like I was doing a VO2 workout on my trainer. I even convinced Paul Curley to join me for some public hockey at the new ice rink in Foxboro. We both had a good time skating against the local hot shots.

    My full suspension mountain bike didn’t get as much use as I would have liked due the depth of the snow. I did manage to get in a few MTB rides on the frozen snow. I can’t describe how challenging it is to do a 4 hour ride on top of the snow when the tires can’t decide whether to sink or stay on top of the frozen surface. Those rides didn’t cover much distance but the total energy consumption would be similar to a 6 hour road ride. I wish I could have done more of them.

    I guess what I am getting at with the above is that variety was the key to keeping my training interesting and productive. I would say that 90-95% of my training this winter has been done on my bike, but those few additional activities (skate skiing and ice hockey) were enough to give me the sense that I wasn’t always riding inside. More than anything, those activities were done in addition to the bike training I needed, they did not replace the bike training.

    2005 Team, Sponsors, and Rider Roster
    In 2005 I am once again returning to Colavita. This year we have a new co-sponsor and the name of the team is now Colavita/Sutter Home. Along with Colavita and Sutter Home the team has several sponsors: Felt Bikes, Shimano Components, MAVIC wheels, Maxxis Tires, Amino Vital, Giordana Clothing, Diadora Shoes (If you haven’t seen or tried the new Diadora racing shoes, make sure you give them a try before buying anything else) just to name a few. I am super excited to have been able to remain a sponsored athlete with Clif Bar and Clif Shot. I started using Clif Bars/Shots last season and have nothing but great things to say about them. I have been trying all the flavors and the different products that they make. I have recently discovered their MOJO Bars. WOW, these are amazing! I also have kept my relationship with Oakley and in my 10th season wearing their eyewear I can’t imagine using anything else.

    Here are the guys I have the good fortune of racing alongside this year:
    Sebastian Alexander
    Gustavo Artacho
    Ian Ayers
    Davide Fratini
    Juan Jose Haedo
    Todd Herriott
    Aaron Olson
    Jonathon Page
    Derek Wilkerson
    Tyler Wren
    Director Sportif: Frank McCormack
    Soigneur: Sophie St. Jacques
    Mechanics: Randy Villanueva, Eva Barabas

    Most of the guys are returning from last year. Todd, JJ, Tyler, Seba, Gus, Aaron and I were all together in 2004. We had a great time growing together and I know that I am extremely excited about the new riders Derek, Jon, Davide, and Ian and the talents that they each bring to our team. Derek and Jon will be critical in helping me out in the lead-outs for JJ while Davide will be a big asset when the road tilts upward. Ian is new to professional team racing and will learn a lot as the year progresses. I was surprised at how strong he was at camp and have high hopes that he will grow his personal confidence and become a vital teammate. Sophie, Randy, and Eva all worked for the team in 2004 and Frank is on full time. These four add so much to the total equation of our professional team.

    2005 Team Colavita/Sutter Home training camp
    I have just returned home after a two week trip to Napa Valley and Merced, California for my team training camp and the first two events of the NRC.

    Sutter Home hosted our camp by having us stay in their private cottages located on the “chicken farm” vineyard. It was amazing. No distractions, no outside noise, nothing but the smell of grapes (and our fine cooking). The weather for our camp was perfect. Mostly in the upper 50’s and very little rain.

    I managed to get in 39 hours of training in my 10 days of riding (and that includes two easy days of 1.5 hours each). Throughout the camp we also had several days of photographs for different sponsors. I was pleased that we were able to actually “train” while at camp. Most training camps I have attending are not really intended for training but rather media training, photos, other team building activities, sponsor meet-n-greets, etc. We still had the photos, a meet-n-greet with Sutter Home, an evening of team building (fun night of bowling along with some of the guys from MAVIC), but there was so much time to train. So, I did what anyone in my position would do: I trained.

    The final two days of the trip were actual races. We raced the McLane Pacific race weekend in Merced, CA. These two races were a downtown, 6 corner flat criterium and a 120 mile rolling road race.

    The criterium is FAST! It is always a huge shock to me when I do this race. I go from doing my winter training with so much clothing, full fenders on my bike, cold air going in my lungs to shorts and shortsleeves, no fenders, and warm air going in my lungs. The speeds are so high and I always struggle to adapt to the cornering, sprinting, bumping, braking, and racing in this first event of the season. In the end, Team Colavita/Sutter Home put together a very nice lead-out. We hit the front with 10 guys and 13 laps to go. We didn’t quite make it all the way. With just under 1 lap remaining our train was overtaken by Health Net. Gord Frazer won with my two teammates Juan Jose Haedo (a.k.a. JJ) taking 2nd and Sebastian Alexander taking 3rd. My entire team had done a great job that day. Sure we didn’t win the race, but I felt as though we had done a better lead-out than at any point in 2004 and it was only our first attempt this year.

    The next day was the road race. There wasn’t much wind and the rolling hills aren’t enough to break up the field. Knowing that we had a very fast sprinter in JJ our plan was to save 4 guys for the finish and use the other 7 riders (Todd Herriott, Tyler Wren, Gustavo Artacho, Ian Ayers, Derek Wilkerson, Sebastian, and Davide Fratini) to cover the attacks for the first 110 miles. Those 7 riders did a perfect job: never missing a move that was threatening. In the final 10 miles the 4 fresh riders (myself, Aaron Olson, JJ, and Jon Page) were able to position ourselves for the sprint. I have to admit I never felt nervous during those 110 miles. I knew my teammates were going to do their jobs so well that I could sit back and conserve as much energy as possible. This is such a nice feeling.

    Team Director Frank made the call on the team radios with about 10 miles to go: Aaron, Mark, JJ, and JP. That was the order. JJ was the sprinter with JP as the sweeper and back up in case I left JJ too early and forced him to take it from too far out. Everything worked out perfectly. Aaron kept me out of the wind as much as possible so that I could set up my final kick. Health Net had the lead-out on the front and they were doing a solid job of controlling things for their sprinter. I waited until about 700 meters to go before I jumped. JJ was on my wheel and JP was on his just as we were instructed. When I crested the final hill with about 300 meters to go it was just JJ and I. JP had opened up a gap for us and the Health Net guys were caught off guard. When I turned around at the end of my lead-out to assess the situation JJ and I were 15 bike lengths in front of the field. It was perfect. JJ finished off the team effort by getting to the line ahead of everyone.

    It was our first victory of 2005 and if this weekend is any prediction of the year that we will have as a team, I am extremely excited to be a part of it. Colavita/Sutter Home is going to be a major threat in many races this year.

    Home Between the California Races
    I have decided not to stay out west between the big races this spring. I have so much at home that makes me want to return back to this frozen tundra. My wife Suzanne, my two boys Collin and Ian, and my dog Cassidy provide me with so much energy to continue with my passion to train and race, even if it means riding in a snow storm like I did today.

    I will be riding inside on my trainer for most of the time at home (9 days) before going back to CA for the San Dimas Stage Race. It doesn’t bother me that my tires will not touch pavement very much. I know that I can get the work done on my trainer that will prepare me to go fast in the coming races.

    On another topic all together, I was lucky enough to have a tooth pulled when I got home. Fortunately for me, a cycling friend of mine is a fantastic dentist in Mansfield (just 4 miles from my home). Dr. Ray Martin was willing to fit me into his schedule to give my tooth a look over. After his review it was determined that I needed to see an oral surgeon to have it removed. Thanks to Dr. Ray I was in a surgeons chair 3 hours later. And within 15 minutes I had that tooth out. Now I need to have a bridge made by Dr. Ray. Needless to say, I will be working closely with him to get my new teeth assembled and installed at a convenient time that won’t interrupt my racing, training, and travel schedule. Maybe lucky wasn’t really the right word to use? If you find yourself needing a dentist, look up Dr. Ray. He loves bikes as much as he loves teeth.

    What is in store for 2005
    My season this year will look mostly like 2004. I will do the big events: Redlands, Tour de Georgia, Wachovia Week/USPRO RR, Fitchburg, Altoona, USPRO Criterium, San Francisco, etc. The biggest changes are that I am hoping to do a 2 week trip to Belgium in May to get in some longer/faster racing prior to the USPRO road race and that I will not be able to return to Green MTN this year as San Francisco has moved its date to Labor Day weekend. I am very disappointed that I will not be able to race at the GMSR. I really enjoy that weekend of racing and golfing.

    I will be updating this journal at least 1 time each month. I hope to update it more often if possible. So please keep checking back in at NE-BRA.ORG to see the latest entries.

    Thanks for Reading.


photos by Jonathan McElvery, Jack Milton, and

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