Saturday, October 27, 2012


This is my second winter in Texas. So far I'm finding the transition considerably rougher. Last year I was coming off a strong 2011 season, filled with wins and goals I had fulfilled. With morale high, the motivation was there. It made finding the momentum to get out the door and train that much easier.

Now, after being continuously battered and shot down for the last 7 months its been tough to pick up the pieces and start rebuilding. I started the season off with a hard hit from a pickup truck. Recovered, rebuilt, then a crash. Back on track once again, then another crash. After a hospital visit, stitches, and 3 weeks of indoor nothingness I rush the training for U23 Nationals, something I'd had my mind set on for over a year...

...Nats isn't something you "rush" the training for. It passes, leaving behind the eye opening truth of how far I still have yet to go to be on that level. A car crash a few weeks later proves to be the icing on the cake for my season of bad luck.

I took a while off and am now back on track towards 2013 but I've got a ways to go. Its a hard sport with a low exchange rate of work to reward. "Lose one thousand, win one." That "one," however, makes it all worth it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Speedweek: Part 1

Its easy for the high points of an experience to be overshadowed by the negatives. I'm writing this to recount the progress that was made throughout the racing at Speedweek and not just the final downfall of the trip.

I went into Speedweek not entirely sure what to expect. In the few months prior to the trip, I heard countless rumors of the week's ferocity and difficulty, "not like anything you've ever experienced" they said. "Intimidating" is the word that comes to mind. In reality, the mental battle that is Speedweek started long before the races had even begun.

Upon arrival, rumors, some of which I marked as myth or exaggeration, were soon molded into truth. The guy standing next to me at the start line, I've read articles in CyclingNews about him, I thought. That guy over there with the #1 on his jersey, he rode the Giro d'Italia two years ago...I had to continuously tell myself that I belonged there, in order to maintain some kind of false sense of confidence.

Never have I gone into a race with the goal just to finish the thing, its a bit absurd when you think about it. I spend hours and hours on the bike and in the gym, training and tuning my body to go into a race hoping to finish? What kind of exchange rate is that?

I'm not saying that the reasoning behind this isn't justified, its just a bit much to wrap your head around in one go. You've got Bobby Lea, who's headed to London this year for his second Olympics. John Murphy, who rode with BMC in the 2010 Giro. Dave Wenger, the 2011 US National Criterium Champion. Then there's like, 20 more of the top sprinters in the country and you're on the away team on their playing field. Its a little daunting.

It must be said though, once you suck it up and accept the fact that you're there simply to try and survive, it is a lot of fun.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Strava Battle

For a teenager, I'd say I'm pretty behind on the whole internet networking biz. Up until a week ago I had no idea about this whole "Strava" thing, where you can upload your workouts and actually compete with other people that have done the same ride or segment. At first I didn't think much of it, but after uploading my first workout into it yesterday I'm sort of hooked.

Its kind of like a drug, that works pretty much instantly, how long it will last I have no idea but I definitely want more of it, now. And the funny thing is, in order to get more of it, all I need to do is ride my bike, which I love anyway. Now, however, there is even more incentive to spend longer hours on the bike, so that I can visit KOM (King of the Mountain) spots and poach the hell out of them.

If said poaching is successful, this will then spark a competitive fire with those I have beaten, and will cause them to begin riding even more, on the quest to earn the little gold trophy icon engraved with the number "1" as a reminder that they were the fastest Strava user ever to go up this mountain.

Now this all sounds fun and great, but there are people that I like to call "ultimate poachers" out there that everyone needs to watch out for. These guys are ruthless, they feed off the glory of digital awards and bragging rights. They'll do anything, and I mean anything, for these KOM's.

They're a rare breed these guys, and some of them can be even your closest of friends. Rumor has it, their ringleader is the most notorious poacher Strava has ever seen, a man that has no remorse for the dreams he shatters when he logs a KOM. They say he rides to kill, leaving nothing but 2nd places in his path. His Jared Nieters.

These poachers like Nieters need to be stopped, and we as a cycling community can stop them. If we work together we can end the reign of ultimate poaching, and make the land of Strava a happy and peaceful place once again. Understand that not all of you will make it, but your efforts will forever be remembered as you fought for the future of Strava and the fun competitions that are KOM's.

Thank you.
- Darion

On a separate note, I will be racing in NY this weekend on dirt and gravel roads at the Tour of the Battenkill. It will be tough, painful, and hugely fun. As Jared Nieters says, "Seacrest out!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

XO Communications p/b Cisco

As many of you know I'll be joining team XO for the 2012 season. I'm excited about it, I think its a really good position for me to be in. The level of riders I'll be learning from is huge, a lot of ex-pros from pretty big teams like Rock Racing, Snow Valley, Rite-Aid and a few guys that have spent a lot of time racing in Belgium.

The team camp we had in Asheville, NC a couple weeks ago was a big confidence booster, for everybody. I think I speak for the team as a whole when I say that everyone on board this year is super strong, knowledgable and overall just a well rounded group of guys, both on and off the bike. Its important that a team get along well, and know each other, especially in a sport as trying as cycling. I'm happy to say, I think thats exactly what we have this year.

The riding in Asheville is great, its no wonder hat pro teams like United Healthcare choose the location for training camps. Whichever way you choose to ride you'll find yourself going uphill for hours at a time. The 12 days were filled with some long rides, a good focus on team building, and food, lots of food.

It was all fun. Except for a small run in I had with a pick-up truck that left my bike pretty hurt and my front wheel unusable, but I recovered just fine and thanks to a great teammate, Jared Nieters, the owner of the best bike shop in the world (Haymarket Bicycles), the bike was up and running the next day.

We were also lucky enough to get some good racing in at the Greenville Spring Training Series in SC. The first day was pretty rough for me, as I covered the first attack of the race which ended up turning into me and one other rider being chased down by the peloton for 40 miles. But, it meant my teammates in the race didn't have to chase, so they could sit back and rest up while I suffered. 

The next race, and final day of camp, turned into an awesome way to finish up the week as our teammate Adam Farabaugh took the win against a solid field. The guy is pretty strong. Overall it was a fantastic time. The team, sponsors, and everyone else involved is pretty excited for what should be a seriously successful season.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Training w/ Trek Livestrong

I've been back in TX since the start of January to finish up the last bit of aerobic capacity training for the winter with the usual 20+ hour weeks. The last 3 months of training have been hard to say the least but also extremely productive. Mentally, I feel really confident in my abilities on the bike, and physically, I can say without a doubt, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in.

The one thing that stands out to me the most though, is that my mentality hasn't been worn down at all. I think its the people I train with that I have to thank for this. Being in the saddle for 5 or 6 hours straight by yourself can be pretty wearing on the mind. Having a group or a training partner to ride with can make all the difference in the world when gathering the motivation for those longer hours.

As I said in my last post, I've met up with a few of the Trek Livestrong riders that are living in Austin for some training. Getting 5 hour rides in with Nate, Gavin and Lawson is always a great experience. There's always something to talk about as well, whether its asking for their advice on the sport, listening to Lawson make fun of my Garmin or just talking about what most teenagers talk about, girls and parties, haha. There's never a dull moment, except for the occasional short, 18% grade uphills known as "conversation killers." The point is, being able to train with other people makes the riding less painful, more enjoyable, and so much easier.

This past Sunday was my last ride with the guys before I head back to VA tomorrow morning to finish up winter training and get ready for the 2012 race season. We all met up at a cafe in downtown Austin for some coffee before heading off. The ride consisted of 5 hours with Kristian House, Nate, Lawson, Gavin and Glenn Kasin, Trek Livestrong's sponsorship manager, who only joined us for the first 30 minutes. The weather, besides being a little cold when we first got started, turned out to be nice enough for the gloves and arm-warmers to come off, which is always good.

Although the ride turned out to be great, I was having different thoughts in the beginning when less than 5 minutes into it I flatted...I'll be honest, having only been cycling for a little over a year now, I haven't had much practice when it comes to changing flats. Nevertheless I got to work. The extra stop gave Lawson some time to visit the gas station across the street for some extra snacks. So, in a way I was a hero (not really) and a few minutes later, we were back on the road.

As it turns out I wasn't the only one in store for a flat. Nate flatted right on the finishing stretch, an unlucky day for tubes. It did make me feel a little better about holding everyone up in the morning though.

So, other than the two flats, and also the devastation of finding out that Lawson's favorite pudding caffe is closed on Sundays, it was an awesome day. Oh and one final note, how about Will Clarke's 70k solo victory in yesterday's Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under?! EPIC!