PEZ Talk: Mountain Khakis’ Adam Myerson
As the Tour de France nears, our tendency is to put the blinders on and stare at France. That is all well and good, I will be doing the same soon as well, but in these final few days, it makes sense to get away from the hoopla of the Tour and, for me, take a look at a rider much closer to home, Mountain Khakis’ veteran captain, Adam Myerson.
Myerson has been a stalwart in American domestic racing for years. In a career that has spanned three decades, Myerson has seen a few things, and is not shy about commenting. He’s above all known for being a smart, savvy, tough racer who excels in criteriums, tough one day races, and cyclocross. Adam has an extensive palmares with results around the world, but he’ll always point to his victory in the final stage of Ireland’s FBD Milk Ras in 2003 as a career highlight. The Dorchester, Massachusetts native can also lay claim to Top 4 overall finishes at America’s premier criterium series, USA Crits: 4th in 2007 and 2nd in 2008.
PEZ recently caught up with Adam to take a look at the season so far.
PEZ: You’ve raced Philly every year since 2003 – was it different this year than in years past?
It was different for a few reasons, both in terms of the way the race played out, and what my personal tactics and goals for the race were. This year, with so many important criteriums in the month leading up to Philly, the uncertainty of the race happening at all, and the fact that it was only one race instead of three, I opted to not train specifically for it at all. I did one 7-hour ride on the Wednesday before the race, and that was it for long rides since March, and for long races since Battenkill.
10 times up Manayunk? Not an easy task.
I also had three teammates I felt very confident in supporting and racing for this year: Mark Hekman, Tom Soladay, and Dan Ramsey. I felt that I could be more useful using my speed and experience to work for them, bring them to the front, set them up for Manyunk each lap, and try to get them to the finishing circuits as fresh as possible. I was surprised that I was able to finish all of the big circuits, and wasn’t dropped until the 10th and final time up the Wall.
Adam with his Kazane bike.
The race itself was strange because the early break wasn’t an early break, exactly. With only one rider up the road, everyone seemed content to ride slow, knowing perfectly well the action doesn’t start until the final two or three circuits. I was in a crash on the approach to Manayunk one lap, and was able to catch back on before the descent was even over. But when the race starts slower than normal, it means it finishes faster than normal. Philly’s never easy.
PEZ: What is your role on Mountain Khakis? What is the team dynamic like? Do you feel at home?
I’m one of the two captains, with Dan Ramsey, so the role for the other guys is to lead by example. We want to help the kids get results and teach them how to be bike racers on and off the bike.
Sometimes you have to show the young ones how it’s done.
But you can’t pedal their bikes for them, so sometimes you have to go out and get the results, too, to show them how it’s done. That creates a positive, winning environment that everyone can participate in, and it’s a much better dynamic than just having the older guys working for the kids or leading out riders who just aren’t strong or experienced enough to come around.
The 2009 Mountain Khakis Professional Cycling Team.
You’ve seen guys like Soladay and Barlevav really step it up, but it took a whole season for them to do that. I like my job and I like my role. I think it’s a very good use of my particular skill set and experience, and I would like to finish my career on this team, doing this job.
PEZ: Mountain Khakis had a brilliant run at Tulsa Tough – how was it?
It was a lot of fun, honestly. Sometimes you need a trip like that, where you just take a few of the experienced guys, guys who know how to make money, keep the trip tight and prize split narrow.
Money isn’t everything, but a weekend where you finish with a very, very thick stack of 100s has to make it all a little bit more worthwhile.
We went out there with only four riders, but it was four riders who can win bike races. Each guys stepped up in his own way, and with the results Hekman and Ramsey pulled down, it was the most profitable weekend of racing I’ve had in my career.
PEZ: Battenkill-Roubaix: tell me about it. Do you see it becoming an American Classic?
I think it’s already there, at least in terms of participation and enthusiasm. It certainly has the potential to become a more professional event, with all the trappings that go with that. But from a participatory or grassroots standpoint, it’s the most fun I’ve had on my bike outside of cyclo-cross, ever. It’s epic in a way that feels within reach for me personally, and clearly for many other riders across all levels. I can handle the distance, and the climbs are just short enough that you don’t have to be a pure climber to get over them. The dirt sections are one of the rare chances I get to use my driving ability on the road to my advantage. If you’re racing in one of the lower categories, it’s one of those events where it doesn’t even really matter if you get dropped. Just completing the loop is a satisfying challenge. If you get dropped, just enjoy the dirt descents!
A necessity for any race that dares carry the Roubaix moniker: very, very bad looking finishers. Myerson and Tom Soladay reflect on a hard race.
I was also amazed at the number of spectators who were out there in the middle of nowhere at the top of those dirt climbs cheering. It really made atmosphere special. I hope the race can continue to put more of the infrastructure in place to become a big show, but not so big like Tour of California that none of the American teams even get to do it.
PEZ: How did your winter training go? What do you focus on in the winter?
This was the best winter I had in my career. I finished the ‘cross season in December, took 10 days off, and drove to Tucson between Christmas and New Year. I was back on my bike the first week of the year, and was up to 35 hour weeks by February. February was 35 hours/week, every week, until I went to training camp in March.
In January I focused on increasing capacity by increasing duration without increasing intensity, but I did include one group ride each Saturday to try and maintain some of high end I had from ‘cross. In February, once I had maxed out the duration I was capable of, I started to increase the intensity of those rides with more tempo work, harder efforts on the group ride, and some structured threshold intervals on climbs like Madera Canyon, Kitt Peak, and Mount Lemmon.
Since I race 10 months of the year, January and February are really the only months I have to work on base, so that’s what I try to focus on.
PEZ: You seem to be getting better with age – what would you attribute this to?
I think there are a few key factors. One was separating amicably from my ex-wife in early 2006. Removing that stress and having room to focus on simply being happy made a huge difference, and things have been better and better for me every year from that point. That allowed me to really recommit to racing my bike, training more, and traveling more. Going away for the winter is key if you live in the Northeast; it’s not possible to do 35 hour training weeks in Boston in January.
A well-practiced leadout with Adam at the helm is something you can expect from Mountain Khakis.
Related to that is just finally understanding what my body is capable of, and not being afraid to train at higher workloads. I’ve focused on shorter rides and a lot of interval work in the past, and that’s served me well to a degree. But I find that I get the most benefit from maximizing my hours on the bike. I think my rides at Battenkill and Philly demonstrated that.
PEZ: What role do powermeters play in your training and racing?
At this point, having been racing and training with power for almost 10 years, I find that I use my powermeter primarily for workload management and post-workout evaluation. I rarely use it for interval pacing at this point, which is what I think we all relied on it for so heavily at first. I’ve found that the best use of a powermeter is to help you calibrate and trust your own sense of perceived exertion. You should know what “threshold” feels like, and when you’re done, you can see what kind of power performance you did, and how it tracks with your historical data.
Adam recognizes the importance of powermeters.
Tracking workload over the long and short term, primarily using the Performance Management Chart in WKO+, is the most important tool I think I have in my power training toolbox, both for myself and the clients I work with.
PEZ: Favorite race?
Athens Twilight, by a mile. There is no other race with that kind of atmosphere. Last season I also thought the San Francisco and Austin criteriums were really exceptional in terms of production, crowds, and atmosphere. This year was my first Battenkill, and I would say it’s my favorite road race now.
PEZ: Least favorite race?
I think the Elk Grove race is horrible. You’ll never do a more boring race in front of fewer people for more prize money than that. The imbalance between how much prize money is there and how few spectators is amazing.
PEZ: If you could race one race, ProTour or non, what would it be and why?
I always wonder what my career would have been like if I’d made a few different choices or had more resources. It’s been great to watch US riders be able to make the jump over to European events now and see that the differences in the level is not as wide as it once was. I would have loved the chance to race any of the cobbled classics like Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, or Roubaix. I’d have killed to even get to do smaller races like the Scheldeprijs. Just doing kermesses in Belgium would have been a lot of fun for me.
PEZ: Goals for the rest of the year?
I decided to split my season in half this year, rather than a road season followed by a ‘cross season. So after Philly I took a full week off, and am spending June building back up like it’s January, with an eye towards Fitchburg at the end of the month. I’ll take a break and build more in July, then hope to be good for as long as possible starting in August. Charlotte, Hanes Park, Downers Grove, DC, Chris Thater, Austin, Univest, Vegas, and into the ‘cross season from there. I’ll try to make that form last if possible, and then do some kind of late season rebuild for ‘cross nationals.
Adam made an impressive ‘cross trip to Europe last year, and rode more than ably against the best in the world.
Check out Adam’s excellent coaching company, Cycle-Smart.
Want to keep up with Adam on a more day to day basis? His blog on the Cycle-Smart website is quite the enjoyable ride.