Post Tour of California Interview with Tom Zirbel 2.26.08

Congrats on your time trial at the Tour of California. Was that your best TT ever? If so, could you describe why? If 'best tt ever' means: took corners perfect, effort doled out perfectly so that I was even paced and completely smashed by the finish, then...yeah it was up there. I was definitely pleased with my ride even before I knew my time or placing. It was surely my biggest tt result ever. I think it was a function of feeling great the last two weeks and finding that elusive 'top form', not catching the bug that everyone and their mechanic caught, being on great equipment and having my position dialed, and being ultra-motivated for a good result after a disappointing year with health problems in '07.

You have a lot of nicknames out there, which one would you like your fans to go by? I've learned that a person usually has no control over his/her nickname so I'm not going to try. "Thor" seems popular and Bob Hughes of Advantage Benefits insists on "The Mullet Missile" even though I've cut my hair. You can just call me "Handsome" if you like.

You went in the wind tunnel this winter – what did you learn and put to use that helped you in Stage 5? Actually, I learned that fundamentally my position is about as good as it can get by the UCI rules. There are some small tweaks here and there that helped slightly, and the only thing that I employed for ToC was a custom made Easton bar that allowed a slightly wider arm position.

Have long have you trained with Power? Since March '05

What’s your power at threshold? at 5500' elevation, my 25 minute power is around 460W

How important are your SRM files to your performance? I use power files as an indicator to let me know where I'm at in training and sometimes to keep me in desired zones but I am also using PE (perceived exertion) for particular zone riding more and more. Power training is important to me but I try not to let it "make or break" my ride.

When did you first know you were good at time trialing? I think the CO State TT Champs in 2005 is where I thought I could be pretty good if I worked at it. Although, it was pretty demoralizing to be beaten by my coach on that particular day who was a "part-time rider." But I recovered. Coach ed.: Well you did go on to kick my ass 3 weeks later @ TT Nationals

What’s your favorite workout? I love to do 5-6 hr rides in the mountains w/ "gas on" the entire time. Always pressure on the pedals and trying to free wheel as little as possible.

OK, what’s you favorite “business” workout? I would say sweet spot is my bread and butter. However, 4 minute VO2s are like nasty tasting medicine for me. I loathe them but usually respond quite well in the weeks to follow.

What’s the hardest workout you’ve ever done and why? Or what’s the hardest block of training you’ve ever done and describe what made it hard and how you succeeded? I just had a six-day block at the Bissell team camp in Santa Rosa before ToC that was very intense. I also seem to recall a stretch under the Fascat tutelage that was around 25,000kJs in 5 days? Coach ed.: 27hrs, 26,609kJ's, 1139 TSS and I recall the composition was predominantly freestyle sweet spot. End result: 1st GC Valley of the Sun It's all relative - every time that you're suffering seems like the worst you've ever suffered but somehow your mind recovers (forgets?) and you can do it all over again. You get thru it by taking it one step at a time, one hour at a time, one km, etc. When I was off the front in those finishing circuits at ToC, I wasn't trying to make it all five laps - I was trying to make it over the next hill! And when I got over that, I focused on the next hill like it was my last. The human mind is pretty amazing when you start to untap the potential for trumping the physicalities of your body. I have a long way to go.

For all the other time trailers out there, what’s the best piece of advice you can give them about TT’ing? Pedal circles and even pacing. Focus on complete pedal strokes in training and practice even pacing (factoring in race adrenaline!), a power meter is nearly essential to nail this. Even pros screw this up all the time!

If there was one race you could do, which one would it be? I don't know...the Saturn Cycling Classic (Boulder to Breck) sounded epic. I know I want no part of le Tour, I'm not quite man enough for that just yet.

Now that you are a rock star pro cyclist, what advice can you give to young up and comers about training, racing, and being a pro cyclists? Think long term and consistency. Things came very fast for me in this sport yet it still seems like it took (is taking?) ages for me to take the next step whether it be upgrading or cornering or tactics or whatever. Be patient. Valleys not too low and peaks not too high. Work hard on the order of years and be prepared to sacrifice a lot for this sport. To do it right at the highest level, it takes total commitment and a lot of sacrifices. The sooner you decide if you're willing to go there - and it's not an easy question - the better it will be for you.

What’s next? a month in Boulder hopefully Motorpacing with you (unless the weather acts up), then San Dimas, Redlands, Georgia, Gila, Hood, Cascade, Utah,and USPRO TT

Copyright © 2008 FasCat Coaching - all rights reserved Frank Overton, 2/26/08 Frank is a full time USA Cycling Elite certified coach and US National Team Coach. For more information please contact Frank at

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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