Thursday, October 25, 2012

Training Your Weaknesses

"Haha, a wise man once told me keep me your friends close and keep your enemies closer
And he only got close enough to tell me that because, well he was a enemy
Shout out to all my frenemies"

That is a famous quote from the book The Prince by Machiavelli. Or Chamillionaire. One of the two. It does teach us a valuable lesson. One that never should be avoided and should be looked upon with great respect. Do what you shouldn't. Right? Maybe not, but you get the idea.

Now that I've started to think about that saying (Keep your friends close, enemies closer), I've started to realize that it doesn't really make sense and history is just one big floozy. I get the basics of it- you have to know your enemies to defeat them blah blah blah but in reality, when you keep your enemies close you get stabbed in the stomach with a toothbrush shank in the middle of the night. It's much safer to study your enemies from a reasonable distance. One where you can observe but be protected, watch and still be calm. That's why I propose that we edit this legendary saying to "Keep your friends close and your enemies far enough away where you are still able to learn about them and study their weaknesses without compromising your safety during times of sleep and malnutrition". Here is an example of how I could keep my enemy at this reasonable distance and still learn from it:
Phew, so safe.

However, many great philosophers like myself realize that you can't generalize. There are things that you just have to do. Aristotle said that "there must be a principle of such a kind that its substance is activity". I got a B- in English 101 so I'm not really sure what that means, but it sounds like Areesto (my nickname for Aristotle) wants you to go out and do things. Areesto also said "dealing with backstabbers, there was only one thing I learned. They're only powerful when you've got your back turned".

Is it a Federal Offense to blatantly misquote someone like that? It's not really plagiarism because I gave credit, but it was just the wrong credit. If I get arrested all of you should know that the above quote wasn't Aristotle.

WOW, world's longest introduction to my story. 

Unlike most other posts, that introduction actually fits excellently with my life lesson for the day. It involves befriending your enemies in order to destroy them.

Let me paint you a picture. I have sub-mediocre eyesight. This 9/10 times is not a problem for me. I can go about my life normally without corrective lenses. I can read, walk, watch tv, juggle (1 thing), and most importantly ride bikes. The one time where my glasses are pretty beneficial is when I am driving at night. I am FINE without them, it's just a little easier to wear them when I drive.

I hate to use them though. Not because David and Kennett throw me into garbage cans when I wear them, but because I hate admitting weakness like that. I will not give into my sub-par night vision. I also have another theory. I predict that by using my glasses, my eyes will adjust to its new found ability to see perfectly. Then, when I am not wearing them, my eyes will yearn for the magnifying lens of my glasses, essentially getting worse so that I am forced to wear my glasses more often.

That's right folks, I'm comparing vision to food cravings. Once my eyes, and therefore my medulla oblongata and cerebellum, get the taste of clarity they will want more. The glasses become a crutch and my life becomes dictated by the glasses that rest on my smushed-in nose.

Recently I've decided I'm not going to fall for these optometricks (see what I did there????) and I'm going to fix my eyes myself. Rather than aiming a laser pointer into my eye and assuming that since I watched a youtube video on D.I.Y laser eye surgery that I'm an expert, I can do it the Magyver way. With a Swiss Army Knife.

False. I decided that I was going to leave my glasses at my mom's house (on purpose, I swear) and navigate the rest of my life without them. I didn't want to become so needy on these glasses that eventually I couldn't bike pedal without them, because then David and Kennett would definitely throw me into garbage cans.

So I drove in the dark and the rain, intensely staring ahead. I don't want to exaggerate, so I'll only tell you that I could partially feel my orbital muscles twitching as they strengthened, bringing clarity through my cornea and eliciting a rushing sensation through my optic nerve resulting in an expansion of my pupils, all allowing me to see perfectly. I felt all of that.

Did it work? Why don't you take my eye test to find out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Should You Get a Bike Fit?


This past Friday I had the opportunity to get a BG fit from Dave Richter at Herriott Sports Performance. Many of you know that Dave is also my coach, so before I get into the details of the fit just know that was not  something I was asked to do. I was so pleased with the process and results of the fit that I felt the need to share.

The basics- BG fit is the style of bike fitting that Specialized introduced to the world. All the World Tour teams sponsored by Specialized go through this fit process. I'll go into a bit more detail, but BG fits take into account the rider first, then the bike. Sure, with another type of fit you may be able to achieve what's considered the "perfect position". That position may be the best on paper, but it is not what works with each individual rider. The BG fit takes that into account.

Before even getting on the bike you go through a series of tests. These tests range from everything from flexibility to natural bone structure. Using these, the tester can determine how to best adjust your bike to the intricate details of your body (if you use that line in a Hallmark card I want 40%). Let me get personal here. I have wide sit bones. Ok, now that I've got that embarrassing detail out of the way, let's look at what we learned.

First, the measurement for this is basically done by sitting on a cushion and pressing all your weight down on it. Your bones leave an indentation in the material, and that distance is measured. I had been noticing that while I was riding I felt like I was very lopsided on the bike. I felt like I was sitting to the right of the top tube. Turns out that the distance between my sit bones was greater than the width of my saddle. Trouble! That means that without even realizing it, I was compensating how I was sitting to make it so at least one sit bone was on the saddle. We changed to a wider saddle, and just like that I was sitting straight on the bike again.

Many tests are done that help determine how your pedal stroke can be most efficient. Through a series of- flexibility tests, fancy tools like the "arch-o-meter" (that are actually REALLY fancy), one-legged squats, and even little observations like which way your feet naturally rest- the fitter (Dave) can use these to place your cleats in the optimal place. I've always felt like my left foot is good, but that the right foot was off. Part of this was how I was sitting, but my cleat was also positioned poorly. My feet naturally rest at an angle (some fancy science doctor term) which led to me feeling like I was pedaling with the side of my foot. Pulling the cleat back, adding a wedge underneath my sole, and rotating the cleat fixed that. Now I'm pedaling with two feet instead of one and a half. Watch out world.

There are many other features of the BG fit that are worthy of praise, but in reality you should check it out for yourself. This fit was more than two hours long, and every minute felt like it was benefiting my cycling.

Invest in a fit. You've already bought the nicest bike, wheels, saddle, shoes, name brand chamois creme, $300 leg warmers, Giro aero helmets and fancy training and race tires. Why even bother with any of that stuff if you don't have the optimal fit on your bike?

If you're looking for one thing to improve this winter, make it your fit. Get the most out of every time you are on the bike. Whether you are looking to improve your comfort or gain 10 precious watts, this is definitely the investment that you should make.

I took that step to get the most out of my bike. Will you?

Check out more details, including how to schedule the fit, here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Allure of the Holeshot

Most successful bike racers learn fairly quickly that winning at the beginning of the race does not really mean much. Everyone knows the last lap matters the most and that everything before that is simply your way to get to the finish line.

Sometimes though- there is something greater. Something that goes against every "smart" tactic in your brain and inspires you to potentially risk catastrophe just to check off a simple goal. A simple heroic task that stamps your authority on the race regardless of your finishing position. Sure, winning the first 1/4 lap means nothing in terms of the bike race, but there is nothing more beautiful than getting the holeshot. Well, except winning. Moving on.

Some people just don't get it. They don't see what drives someone to potentially ruin their whole race just to get to the first corner first. To those people I ask "have you ever felt glory?" If your answer is yes, then I am led to assume that you too have holeshotted in such glorious fashion that you end the race in 28th place, having spent a mere 14 seconds at the front of the field. But YOU WERE THERE. This method is for the dreamers. For those who pedal so hard in the first 30 seconds of the race that they need to stop for refreshments in order to survive the next 59.5 minutes. This is for those who pedal so hard that they get passed by the entire field over the course of one lap.

The holeshot (being the first person to the first corner) is an art form. Believe it.

Cat 3s in 200....9?
This past Saturday I competed in my annual cyclocross race. This past Saturday I got my 4th career holeshot at Starcrossed CX. I completed the quad-fecta. I dare someone else to claim ownership to this achievement. I have holeshotted at Starcrossed in EVERY category that I am eligible to have ever competed in.

The Cat 4s. CHECK. Juniors. CHECK. Cat 3s. CHECK. Cat 1/2. CHECK.

This is literally the only thing on my cyclocross palmares.

In honor of this great and monumental accomplishment I'd like to take the time to evaluate my .....

Top 3 holeshots of all time in my cyclocross career simply based on clipping in fast then pedaling hard on pavement and sometimes through bumpy grass.
By: Ian Crane


USGP Portland. Single Speed Category. 5th row call-up. Sometimes a holeshot is simply because, but other times it is absolutely necessary for success in the race. Racing a muddy single speed race in Portland is the definition of necessary. The range of abilities is large, and the chances are very high that there will be a crash in the start as soon as 150 half-costumed half-serious half-drunk racers hit the mud.

In my third favorite holeshot of all time, I pedaled at roughly 189 RPM for the entire ~250 meters of cement, swerving like I was trying to escape police on the autobahn and made my way to the first corner first. Glory. Success. Then, by avoiding all the carnage behind me, I was able to make my way to the second corner with a gap. Then promptly crashed and ended up back in 15th or so place.


Starcrossed. Cat 4's. Starcrossed used to be start order based on order of registration. Get there at three AM, camp out, harass Johnny Sundt, register early. Boom, front row starting spot. Even as a young buck I understood the value of the holeshot. Here's why this holeshot ranks at number two on Vh1's top holeshots of the 00's list:

That's right. Fame.

That picture is from the Seattle Times, folks. Seriously though, I holeshotted the cat 4s and the picture chosen for the "check out this crazy sport" article was the picture of me stamping my temporary authority on the guy with tennis shoes on a mountain bike. FULL PAGE COLOR PHOTO. Did the guy who won get a full page color photo? Definitely not. Word.


The moment you've all been waiting for. Numero 1.

I'd like to take you back in time to a year called 2006. Many things happened in this year: Twitter was launched, North Korea started testing nuclear bombs (prophetic to my starting style), it was designated National Asperger's year, and I traveled the country racing Elite Junior cyclocross races. 

Turns out I wasn't physically ready for these races. I was pretty irrelevant to the race and spent the 45 minutes riding as hard as I could in the back quarter of the field. This specific moment happened in Longmont, Colorado. Steve, Sean and myself all had quite terrible showings on day one- Sean and Steve had mechanical problems and I was racing like I hadn't been training hard enough. Truthfully, it was an embarrassing showing for our team. I knew that Sean and Steve could turn it around the next day (I think they both were in the top 5 on day 2?) but I knew that I in no way could contribute to restoring our team's dignity on the last lap.

But I happened to be a first 1/4 lap expert.

I made it my goal to get the holeshot on day two. This was my way of showing off our team in a positive way. This was a goal I knew was achievable. Ignore me shooting for the podium or even a top ten- those weren't possible. But me winning the start? That was something I could do.

I slayed the start, slayed the first corner, and bombed down the section paralleling the start-finish line: the best junior cyclocross racers in the country spread out in a line behind me; the announcer screaming my name, and more importantly, my team name. Then I went into a 5 mph corner at 20 mph, crashed and as I hit the ground a relatively unknown Boulder local named Taylor Phinney ran into me and flipped over his bars. Unluckily for him, this was pretty much the end of his cycling career. I got up, attacked him, and rode the rest of the race with a magnificent sense of accomplishment. 

I may have been a terrible elite level cyclocross racer, but there is no glory like winning the start.


My favorite non-me holeshot of all time!

Chris Johns. Some of you may know him, some of you may not. Chris was a friend of Rad Racing and came to the Sea Otter Classic with us to do some... mountain bike racing? Chris knew his chances in the 2+ hour mountain bike race were slim. But Chris also knew that the 2+k on pavement at the beginning of the race was a place to shine. He fought for the front row, and took off on the gun like it was the start of a 40 minute cyclocross race. 

Never have you seen a gap grow that quickly as when a man attacks a field from the start of a long beginners mountain bike race.


I really do prefer winning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tips for Navigating Crowded Spaces

This applies to you. I promise. Unless, without my knowing, several basement-dwelling hooligans who order out for take-out and never leave their dark cavernous trenches read my blog about cycling and playing wiffle ball outdoors. If you are one of those readers, thank you! Thanks for not only broadening the diversity of my audience but also thank you for using my blog as a place to imagine being outside.

For those of you who leave the dormant basement behind to participate in societally-normal things like walking where other people are, I have a list of tips and pointers for you.

This was inspired by myself. What I mean by that is I go to a school with 15000 people. At 11:20 when I get out of class at the Southernmost point of campus all 15000 people are out and about. Except the basement dwellers. I need to make my way to the Northernmost part of campus to catch a bus at 11:28. At 5:00 pm, not rushing, this walk would take me 7 minutes. However- in this crowd, at this time, and with these WWU hooligans- the full-campus walk would take in the area of 10-29 minutes. This means I'd miss the bus, get home 25 minutes later, miss midday coffee, starve, potentially perish AND have to spend more time on campus than I normally would. This 7-29 minute walk in HEAVY traffic took me 4 minutes and 12 seconds today. This blog is to teach you how to navigate your college campus, the walk to the bathroom at a club (Hornyfest maybe?), getting lunch in downtown, or pulling off the greatest heist ever.

It is important to know that under NO circumstances do I condone running. Even if you are late. In the case of a bus pulling out to leave, I've perfected the "look like I'm running" walk to get them to wait.

I realize that I've done a lot of geographical mathematics and statistical comparisons. Here's a map of campus to clear things up.
I kid. That's the map of the territories that I'm going to buy to make one large area that I will name Ianland. Pronounced "inland". You wouldn't understand.

Here is an actual map taken off Google Earth of my campus. The red is the path I need to take to get from my building (top of map) to the bus stop. Simple, right?

Here's the map that shows the areas of congestion. Heavy congestion is in blue.

You get the picture. Walking to the bus is like walking through a large circle of blue raspberry airheads.

We all can relate, but we don't often succeed. I've been keeping a list of things I've learned over the 4 years and 1 month I've been in College. There are three things- and one of those is how to successfully walk better than everyone else.

Call me cocky, call me confident, but you can NEVER call me Ian "Mr. missed the bus because I walked too slow and had to wait around for another" Crane. A) Because that's a terribly difficult nickname to say, and B) it is not even true. C'mon nickname givers, at least get creative.

I'm pleased to share with you:

The Top Six Ways to Walk Effectively and Briskly in Large Crowds:

Headphones people. Wear your headphones. This is number one because you can plan on getting offensive through the course of this walk. Your needs are what matter, not any one of those other 15,000 people. Wear the headphones and you enter a separate world. You are motivated by the Civil Wars or by MGK. You become one with yourself and walking in a crowd becomes just like walking alone.

Look ahead of you! Spy where those gaps are opening. Regardless if they are there when you get there, shoot through those gaps. Be aware of people stopping to chat. These are the BEST thing for you. Other walkers instinctively leave lots of room around the stopped friends. Learn to use this to your advantage and wait till the last minute to swerve around the group of stopped people. If your shoulders do not brush, you have inaccurately surfed the friend zone. Lil' Steve is very good at surfing this zone, probably because of his stature.

DO NOT GET OUT YOUR PHONE. In fact, treat people who are walking and texting as you would treat a drunk homeless man wandering the street. These people cannot be trusted with the consistency of their pace. Avoid these people at all costs. Sure, their paths may be good temporarily, but they do not walk in a straight line, they suddenly slow down and they often create more of a hazard then a consistent person to walk behind.

Do not acknowledge anyone. The first rule of speed-walking is to have no friends. (The others have been tips/suggestions. This is a rule).

Straight lines aren't for winners. Walk for efficiency, not for distance. Do not slow down at all costs. Regardless of how many people you impede as you: cut sharply to the left with no warning, veer at a 45 deg angle to the right, followed by a leapfrog over someone who is tying their shoe- do. not. slow. down.

I am a wolf. I'll let you decide which of these animals represents your walking efficiency.

If you walk naked while juggling rotten foods, people for some reason tend to get out of your way.

Now you know.