Phil Gaimon, Professional Cyclist Team Garmin, Interview

FasCat Athlete Phil Gaimon spent a rest day answering the FasCat Coaches questions on training, cookies, host housing, Frankie Andreu, beer, the suck o meter, his VO2, skinny jeans, razors, Strava, mentors and his CTL. Read on:

Coach Nadia: How do you know when its better to turn the bike around and get some rest on a training day?

If I get out and can’t push the power or heart rate I expect after an hour or so, there’s usually a good reason, be it fatigue, oncoming illness, etc, and it’s best to go home and take a nap. It’s funny how overlooked this is. I once bailed on a ride and a friend was shocked at my lack of dedication, like it was a bad thing to listen to my body.

What's the recommended daily allowance of cookies for optimal happiness?

I need something with sugar and fat before I go to bed, but not necessarily a cookie these days. I think one good cookie per week gets the job done. It gives me something to hunt for and look forward to, and I don’t have to settle for a mediocre excuse for a cookie.

Phil Gaimon

Coach Jake: When sleeping in a gymnasium where should you not place your airmattress?

NOT UNDER THE BASKETBALL HOOP. To anyone who reads this, the question is a reference to host housing that Jake and I had at a gymnasium when we were teammates at the Tour of the Gila. Teammate Jim Stemper put all of his belongings under the basket, which didn’t work out for him when we played “HORSE” all week.

Do you still eat 2 cookies every night and not share as you only brought the appropriate quantity?

Nope. I’m proud to say that I’ve got the cookies under control, at least, relative to what it was then. These days, I have a cup of applesauce with a bug lump of almond butter mixed in, so I get the sugar and fat that I’m craving, but it’s natural, and YOUR TEAMMATES DON’T TRY TO STEAL YOUR COOKIES EVERY WEEK. THAT WASN’T FUNNY, JAKE!

What did you do when your director Frankie Andreu told the team to either get rested or get fit? How did you decide?

Always a safe bet to go for rest. Team directors rarely give you that choice, opting to race you into the ground. During the season, there’s not that much training to be done, and it’s more about damage control for your body.

Favorite Brew, besides Bud Light Lime? I’m not really a beer guy. I kind of missed the boat on drinking, I think because I was too busy racing bikes in college to party. I’m a fan of a glass of red wine with dinner, because someone told me that’s actually good for you. My favorite is when someone else picks it out because I don’t know anything about it. Even better when they also pay for it.

How many pairs of skinny jeans do you own?

Two, but I didn’t bring any to Europe. Those are only for Los Angeles. I’ve learned that the hard way.

What brand razor do you use? When I was 18, Gillette had a promotion that they sent out free Mach 3 razors, and that’s all I’ve ever used. I guess their investment paid off...

What's your favorite way to sell your old bikes: Craigslist or eBay? I think I have to give my old bikes back these days. I doubt if Garmin will forget about these Cervelos. I’ve always been a big fan of eBay, though. I survived on that for a couple years. I still send stuff to old teammates Nick Waite at Pro Tested Gear at the end of every year.

Coach Carson: What are some ways you cope with the powermeter 'o suck training ride? Does that just mean when your legs hurt because you have a hard ride? I just eat a lot. The more you eat, the more you have to turn.

What is your VO2? 86 ml/min/kg

Coach Melissa: What's the hardest/most epic race you've ever done and why? The Tour of San Luis probably just topped anything I’ve never done. Not because it was an incredibly hard course or anything (although it was plenty hard), but it was the first 7-day stage race where I’ve had to race for GC, meaning I can’t take a day off to recover. Every day there were crosswinds, mountaintop finishes, or heat to deal with, and there were a couple stages that I found myself collapsed in a heap after the finish, unable to get up.

What is your favorite Strava segment? I’ve avoided Strava, because I get my competition out of my system during the races, but I love all the canyons in the Santa Monica/Malibu area, and I have looked at the segment for Decker to compare my times after an interval session there (I smashed it).

What has kept you moving forward and motivated to train & race, especially when life has gotten tough (aka living off $167/month) ? I wrote a book with the answer to that question [ Ed: Pro Cycling on $10/Day] , so it’s hard to summarize, but bikes are a wonderful thing, and I love racing. It was a long journey, but it’s a huge privilege to be where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What's the most food you have ever eaten in a 1 day race? I think it was probably the first stage at San Luis. I was in the break all day with no peloton to deal with, and the car was right there, making it really eat to stay hydrated and fueled. In five hours, I probably had 8 bars, 10 gels, drank 10 bottles, and dumped 15 more bottles on my head.

Best advice for young up & comers, who want to race at a high level? Read my book, Pro Cycling on $10 a Day. It’s pretty much all the things I wish I’d known when I started: what you’re in for if you decide to chase pro cycling, what it’s really like on the way, and why it’s worth it.

Coach Frank: What cyclists do you look up to? Honestly, the ones that juggle bike racing with other things impresses me. I’ve focused on it and dedicated so much, that it’s always shocking to meet someone who can hang on the group ride, and then you find out they’re also a doctor or something. Like they’re 80% as good as I am, and this is all I do. My girlfriend works in TV, and she gets up at 6 AM, on the bike by 7, at work by 9, but she’s no slouch on race day.

Did you have any mentors along your way and why were they so helpful? Too many to mention here, between all the teammates and friends I’ve had over the years. The coaches at University of Florida (a married couple, Dan and Rebecca Larson) taught me a lot when I was coming up, and we’re still close friends. Jeremy Powers has always been a big help.

What's your CTL right now? CTL? I don’t know. Isn’t that your department? [Coach Frank: It's 97 and projected to go up 135 with Mallorca, training camp, and individual training before Catalunya.]

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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